Best Nonfiction Books

10 Best Nonfiction Books of All-Time

This is my list of the 10 best nonfiction books. These are the pillar books that have helped shape my thinking and approach to life. In my opinion, these are 10 nonfiction books everyone should read. They are listed here in no particular order.

When Breath Becomes Air
by Paul Kalanithi
Print | eBook | Audiobook

The Book in Three Sentences: The memoir of Paul Kalanithi, a neurosurgeon at Stanford University, who is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in his mid-thirties. Kalanithi uses the pages in this book to not only tell his story, but also share his ideas on how to approach death with grace and what it means to be fully alive.

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Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
by Yuval Noah Harari
Print | eBook | Audiobook

The Book in Three Sentences: Human history has been shaped by three major revolutions: the Cognitive Revolution (70,000 years ago), the Agricultural Revolution (10,000 years ago), and the Scientific Revolution (500 years ago). These revolutions have empowered humans to do something no other form of life has done, which is to create and connect around ideas that do not physically exist (think religion, capitalism, and politics). These shared “myths” have enabled humans to take over the globe and have put humankind on the verge of overcoming the forces of natural selection.

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Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster
by Jon Krakauer
Print | eBook | Audiobook


Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!
by Richard P. Feynman
Print | Audiobook


Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
by Jared Diamond
Print | eBook | Audiobook

The Book in Three Sentences: Some environments provide more starting materials and more favorable conditions for utilizing inventions and building societies than other environments. This is particularly notable in the rise of European peoples, which occurred because of environmental differences and not because of biological differences in the people themselves. There are four primary reasons Europeans rose to power and conquered the natives of North and South America, and not the other way around: 1) the continental differences in the plants and animals available for domestication, which led to more food and larger populations in Europe and Asia, 2) the rate of diffusion of agriculture, technology and innovation due to the geographic orientation of Europe and Asia (east-west) compared to the Americas (north-south), 3) the ease of intercontinental diffusion between Europe, Asia, and Africa, and 4) the differences in continental size, which led to differences in total population size and technology diffusion.

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Manual for Living
by Epictetus
Print | Audiobook

The Book in Three Sentences: Some things are in your power and some are not—do not confuse the two and do not desire the things that are not in your power. It is our opinion of things that determines how we feel about a particular event, not the event itself. Think carefully about how you spend your life because people often spend their lives chasing things that are neither as desirable nor as important as they seem.

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Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
by Robert Cialdini
Print | eBook


Meditations
by Marcus Aurelius
Print | eBook | Audiobook


A Brief History of Time
by Stephen Hawking
Print | Audiobook


The War of Art: Break Through Your Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles
by Steven Pressfield
Print | Audiobook


This is Water
by David Foster Wallace
Print | eBook | Audiobook

The Book in Three Sentences: Learning “how to think” really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It can be easy to spend our entire lives accepting our natural default ways of thinking rather than choosing to look differently at life. The only thing that is capital-T True is that you get to decide how you’re going to try to see life and how you construct meaning from experience.

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The Best Nonfiction Books by Category

In addition to the top 10 nonfiction books listed above, I have put together more specific book recommendations by category. The top one or two books in each category are listed at the beginning of each page. Simply click the links below to check them out.

  1. Best Art and Creativity Books
  2. Best Biographies and Memoirs
  3. Best Business Books
  4. Best Fitness Books
  5. Best History Books
  6. Best Philosophy Books
  7. Best Psychology Books
  8. Best Science Books
  9. Best Self-Help Books
  10. Best Writing Books

Or, browse all book recommendations.