The Greatest Nonfiction Books Since 1900

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. 851 . Borrowed Time by Paul Monette

  2. 852 . My Life as an Explorer by Sven Hedin

    Sven Anders Hedin was a Swedish geographer, topographer, explorer, photographer, and travel writer, as well as an illustrator of his own works. During four expeditions to Central Asia he discovered...

  3. 853 . Praying for Sheetrock by Melissa Fay Greene

  4. 854 . In Trouble Again by Redmond O'Hanlon

  5. 855 . The Man Who Walked Through Time by Colin Fletcher

    The Man Who Walked Through Time (1968) is Colin Fletcher's chronicle of his trek inside the rim of The Grand Canyon from one end to the other. He was the first person to do so in one continues trek...

  6. 856 . K2 The Savage Mountain by Charles Houston, Robert Bates

    K2 is the second-highest mountain on Earth (after Mount Everest). With a peak elevation of 8,611 metres (28,251 ft), K2 is part of the Karakoram range, and is located on the border between the Taxk...

  7. 857 . Gipsy Moth Circles the World by Francis Chichester

  8. 858 . Man-Eaters of Kumaon by Jim Corbett

  9. 859 . Alone by Richard Byrd

  10. 860 . Stranger in the Forest by Eric Hansen

    Stranger in the forest (subtitle: on foot across Borneo) is a 1988 book by Eric Hansen about a seven months and 4000 km long journey (of which 2300 km on foot) through the heartland of Borneo in 19...

  11. 861 . The Royal Road to Romance by Richard Halliburton

  12. 862 . The Long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz

  13. 863 . North Toward Home by Willie Morris

    With his signature style and grace, Willie Morris, arguably one of this country's finest Southern writers, presents us with an unparalleled memoir of a country in transition and a boy coming of age...

  14. 864 . Imperial Life in the Emerald City by Rajiv Chandrasekaran

    Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone is a 2006 book by Rajiv Chandrasekaran that takes a critical look at the civilian leadership of the American reconstruction project in Ir...

  15. 865 . The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

  16. 866 . My Journey to Lhasa by Alexandra David-Neel

  17. 867 . Running the Amazon by Joe Kane

    Joe Kane is an American author of two books and is also a journalist who writes for numerous publications such as The New Yorker, National Geographic, and Esquire.

  18. 868 . Alive by Piers Paul Read

    Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors is a 1974 book by the British writer Piers Paul Read documenting the events of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571.

  19. 869 . Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth by Andrew Smith

    Andrew Smith is the author of Moondust : In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth. HarperCollins. 2005. ISBN 0-00-715541-7. , which tells the story of the twelve U.S. astronauts who journeyed to the ...

  20. 870 . Collapse by Jared Diamond

  21. 871 . Mystery and Manners by Flannery O'Connor

  22. 872 . The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker

  23. 873 . Writing Degree Zero by Roland Barthes

    Is there any such thing as revolutionary literature? Can literature, in fact, be political at all? These are the questions Roland Barthes addresses in Writing Degree Zero, his first published book ...

    - Google
  24. 874 . My Life As an Explorer (Amundsen) by Roald Amundsen

  25. 875 . News from Tartary by Peter Fleming

  26. 876 . Annapurna: A Woman's Place by Arlene Blum

  27. 877 . Peeling the Onion by Günter Grass

    Peeling the Onion (German: Beim Häuten der Zwiebel) is an autobiographical work by German Nobel Prize-winning author and playwright Günter Grass, published in 2006. It begins with the end of his ch...

  28. 878 . The Order of Things by Michel Foucault

    In the work that established him as the most important French thinker since Sartre, Michel Foucault offers startling evidence that "man"—man as a subject of scientific knowledge—is at best a recent...

    - Google
  29. 879 . Adrift by Steven Callahan

    Adrift (subtitle: Seventy-six days lost at sea) is a book by Steven Callahan about his survival in a life raft in the Atlantic Ocean, which lasted 76 days, a staggering record; he is the only man i...

  30. 880 . Salvation on Sand Mountain by Dennis Covington

    Dennis Covington (b. October 30, 1948) is an American writer. He studied fiction writing, and earned a BA degree from the University of Virginia. He served in the US Army. He earned an MFA in the e...

  31. 881 . Lanterns on the Levee by William Alexander Percy

    The Southern poet's memoirs recreate his childhood years on the Mississippi Delta, his service in Belgium with Hoover, and his conflict with the Ku Klux Klan in Greenville

  32. 882 . Touching the Void by Joe Simpson

  33. 883 . Tracks by Robyn Davidson

  34. 884 . Cooper's Creek by Alan Moorehead

  35. 885 . The Fearful Void by Geoffrey Moorhouse

  36. 886 . No Picnic on Mount Kenya by Felice Benuzzi

    No Picnic on Mount Kenya: The Story of Three P.O.W.s' Escape to Adventure, by Felice Benuzzi is a mountaineering classic recounting the 1943 attempt of three escaped Italian prisoners of war to rea...

  37. 887 . Friday Night Lights by H. G. Bissinger

  38. 888 . Through the Brazilian Wilderness by Theodore Roosevelt

  39. 889 . Écrits: The First Complete Edition in English by Jacques Lacan

    Presents an English translation of Jacques Lacan's most famous work, with translations of all the papers featured in the original French edition.

    - Google
  40. 890 . England in Particular by Sue Clifford, Angela King

    Sue Clifford co-founded Common Ground, an organisation which campaigns to link nature with culture and the positive investment people can make in their own localities, with Angela King in 1983.

  41. 891 . Minus 148 by Art Davidson

  42. 892 . The Theater and Its Double by Antonin Artaud

    A collection of manifestos originally published in 1938, in which the French artist and philosopher attacks conventional assumptions about the drama, and calls for the influx of irrational material...

    - Google
  43. 893 . Giving up the Ghost by Hilary Mantel

  44. 894 . Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

    Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia is a 2006 memoir by American author and memoirist Elizabeth Gilbert. The memoir chronicles the author's trip aro...

  45. 895 . Jaguars Ripped My Flesh by Tim Cahill

  46. 896 . Journal of a Trapper by Osborne Russell

  47. 897 . Full Tilt by Dervla Murphy

  48. 898 . I'll Take My Stand by Twelve Southerners

    The Southern Agrarians (also known as the Twelve Southerners, the Vanderbilt Agrarians, the Nashville Agrarians, the Tennessee Agrarians, or the Fugitive Agrarians) were a group of twelve American ...

  49. 899 . Let's Talk About Love by Carl Wilson

  50. 900 . Terra Incognita by Sara Wheeler