The Greatest Nonfiction Books


How is this list generated?


This list is generated from 130 "best of" book lists from a variety of great sources. An algorithm is used to create a master list based on how many lists a particular book appears on. Some lists count more than others. I generally trust "best of all time" lists voted by authors and experts over user-generated lists. On the lists that are actually ranked, the book that is 1st counts a lot more than the book that's 100th. If you're interested in the details about how the rankings are generated and which lists are the most important(in my eyes) please check out the list details page.

If you have any comments, suggestions, or corrections please feel free to e-mail me.


  1. 1301 . Mencken Chrestomathy by H. L. Mencken

    Edited and annotated by H.L.M., this is a selection from his out-of-print writings. They come mostly from books—the six of the PREJUDICES series, A BOOK OF BURLESQUES, IN DEFENSE OF WOMEN, NOTES ON...

    - Google
  2. 1302 . Awakenings by Oliver Sacks

    Awakenings--which inspired the major motion picture--is the remarkable story of a group of patients who contracted sleeping-sickness during the great epidemic just after World War I. Frozen for dec...

    - Google
  3. 1303 . The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell

    In this New York Times bestseller, the author of Assassination Vacation "brings the [Puritan] era wickedly to life" (Washington Post). To this day, America views itself as a Puritan nation, but Sar...

    - Google
  4. 1304 . Reliable Essays: The Best of Clive James by Clive James

    Including his most memorable pieces – his ‘Postcard from Rome’, his observations on Margaret Thatcher, his insights into Heaney, Larkin and Orwell – this book also contains brilliantly funny examin...

    - Google
  5. 1305 . A Homemade World by Hugh Kenner

    William Hugh Kenner (January 7, 1923 – November 24, 2003), was a Canadian literary scholar, critic and professor.

  6. 1306 . The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery

    The Weather Makers: The History and Future Impact of Climate Change (2005) is a book by Tim Flannery.

  7. 1307 . Little Wilson and Big God by Anthony Burgess

    These are Anthony Burgess's candid confessions: he was seduced at the age of nine by an older woman; whilst serving in Gibraltar in World War II he was thrown into jail on VE Day for calling Franco...

    - Google
  8. 1308 . Nothing to be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes

    "I don’t believe in God, but I miss him." So begins Julian Barnes’s brilliant new book that is, among many things, a family memoir, an exchange with his brother (a philosopher), a meditation on mor...

    - Google
  9. 1309 . Collected essays by Aldous Huxley

  10. 1310 . Lit: A Memoir by Mary Karr

    The author reveals how, shortly after giving birth to a child she adored, she drank herself into the same numbness that nearly devoured her charismatic but troubled mother, reaching the brink of su...

    - Google
  11. 1311 . How the Other Half Lives by Jacob A. Riis

  12. 1312 . Crazy Salad: Some Things about Women by Nora Ephron

    A glimpse into the absurdities and realities of female existence in the early 1970s discusses the media, politics, the first female umpire, and beauty products.

    - Google
  13. 1313 . Catiline's War, The Jugurthine War, Histories by Sallust

    The only surviving works from one of the world's earliest historians, in important new translations Sallust's first published work, Catiline's War, contains the memorable history of the year 63, in...

    - Google
  14. 1314 . Enthusiasms by Bernard Levin

  15. 1315 . On the Fabric of the Human Body by Andreas Vesalius

    De humani corporis fabrica libri septem (Latin for "On the fabric of the human body in seven books") is a set of books on human anatomy written by Andreas Vesalius (1514–1564) and published in 1543.

    - Google
  16. 1316 . The Crack-Up by F. Scott Fitzgerald

    The Crack-Up (1945) is a collection of essays by American author F. Scott Fitzgerald. It consists of previously unpublished letters, notes and also three essays originally written for and published...

  17. 1317 . The Power Elite by C. Wright Mills

    The Power Elite is a book written by the sociologist, C. Wright Mills, in 1956. In it Mills called attention to the interwoven interests of the leaders of the military, corporate, and political ele...

  18. . Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

    Into the Wild is a 1996 non-fiction book written by Jon Krakauer. It is an expansion of a 9,000-word article by Krakauer on Chris McCandless titled "Death of an Innocent", which appeared in the Jan...

  19. . Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder by Lawrence Weschler

    Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder: Pronged Ants, Horned Humans, Mice on Toast, and Other Marvels of Jurassic Technology is a book by Lawrence Weschler primarily about the Museum of Jurassic Technology...