Best Nonfiction Books

Book rating updated 20.04.2024

Discover real stories and ideas that changed the world with our selection of the best non-fiction books of all time.

  1. When Breath Becomes Air

    4.7
    102 862 ratings
    Recommended by: Bill Gates, Julie Zhuo

    A memoir of a neurosurgeon who gets to know about his mortality once he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. It is about questions of life and death, and what makes us human. In chronicling his very own story, the author painted scenes where one would have to stand and face death and the transformation process from being a doctor to a patient. This powerful narrative is not only on the frailty of life but the meaning and purpose as well in an end that is always certain to come. Moving in remembering how all is really precious, reminding of every moment really being precious, reminding of how one always seeks understanding against the wild unknown.

  2. Born a Crime

    4.7
    104 982 ratings
    Recommended by: Bill Gates

    Journey through the early life of Trevor Noah, growing up in apartheid South Africa, where his birth—the result of a mixed-race union—was a crime. With humor and depth, he shares stories of his childhood with his fearless mother grappling with identity in a world determined to have his very existence be 'illegal' and finding one's place. This book is more than a personal story of survival and growth; it is, in fact, a powerful statement about race and resilience, characterized by the very strong love and nurturing of a mother's spirit. This book is truly one that is not only inspiring but also equally informative.

  3. Being Mortal

    4.7
    45 712 ratings
    Recommended by: Sophia Bush, Julie Zhuo

    Atul Gawande, in "Being Mortal," argues about the problems associated with aging and dying within modern medicine. He argues that modern medicine does focus too much on prolonging life at the expense of quality life. In that regard, using personal stories and research, Gawande recommends changing the way that the elderly and terminally ill are cared for to a way that treats the patients in a dignified manner and according to their wishes. He stresses the importance of finding out what makes life meaningful for patients, implying that such an approach can lead to more compassionate and fulfilling end-of-life care. This book calls us to rethink our approach to mortality. It is thought-provoking and should be read by all.

  4. Elon Musk (Ashlee Vance)

    4.6
    39 762 ratings
    Recommended by: Sam Parr, Steven Bartlett

    A deep plunge into the life of Elon Musk, this biography covers the entrepreneur who is a visionary behind such companies as SpaceX, Tesla, and PayPal. It follows his life from the tough childhood in South Africa to being one of the most powerful figures in technology and space travels. This book lays bare the drive that doesn't flag in Musk, a powerful mind that thinks innovatively and never abates, and the ambition to change the world through sustainable energy and interplanetary travel. This book, therefore, gives a stirring insight into what determination, coupled with a desire to make a difference, could mean for the future.

  5. Between the World and Me

    4.6
    39 414 ratings
    Recommended by: DeRay Mckesson, Jay-Z

    Written as a letter to his teenage son, this brief book—published by the same house that issued James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time—details what Coates has learned growing up black in America. He has explored the realities of Black life in a structure of society where racial discrimination was an integral part, grappling with themes on identity, fear, and resilience. He posits questions at large in his musings as to what then is the very basis of the American dream and what it makes of the Negro body. This is a deeply meditative work on race, power, and the ways in which the world continually asks those with less to offer more.

  6. The Diary Of A Young Girl

    4.8
    34 749 ratings
    Recommended by: Natalie Portman

    This book is a powerful, real-life account of a young Jewish girl hiding from the Nazis during World War II. And written as a diary, it gave a very private look into the fears, hopes, and daily life of Anne Frank and her family who are hiding in a secret annex to escape being captured. Her words have lent a voice to the hardships of living in hiding, to the intricacies of human nature, and to the resiliency of the human spirit. In fact, despite the very harsh conditions, Anne's keen observations and even her dreams of a better future stand out, and one should not hesitate to call this an unforgettable reading.

  7. On Writing

    4.7
    19 248 ratings
    Recommended by: Timothy Ferriss, Sam Parr

    Part memoir, part master class, this volume is a view, revealing and practical, into the life and approaches of one of the most successful writers. It begins with a lush recounting of his own experiences, shedding light upon his development as a writer. It later progresses to practical advice with emphasis on discipline and hard work, and the art of storytelling. The author elaborates on how a compelling narrative is created, how to develop characters, and the use of language. It's a valuable resource for wannabe writers, bringing both inspiration and real nuts-and-bolts guidance on the journey toward authorship.

  8. Superintelligence

    4.3
    4 275 ratings

    It researches about the future prospects of the development of artificial intelligence and the creation of superintelligent beings superseding human intelligence. Discussion will revolve around the outlooks to humanity, including the risks and opportunities at hand. It raises critical questions about control, ethics, and the future coexistence of humans and advanced AI. The narrative, with a blend of philosophical insight and scientific rigor, encourages one to prepare for a world where machines might outthink and outperform us in every imaginable domain, urging the importance of developing safeguards and ethical frameworks to guide this next leap in evolution.

  9. Complications

    4.6
    5 462 ratings

    The story unveils doubts and complexes underpinning a surgeon's career on its quest into the murky world of surgery. The narration is laid upon personal narratives to emphasize challenges in decision-making when an individual has to face conditions of high stakes, inevitable human error, and importantly moral dilemmas tied to medical practice. It provides the audience with a rare glance into the educational phase of surgeons, the advancement of medical practices, and the slim tightrope between knowledge and instinct. The story brought in the light of the reader to understand the pressures that come in the medical field as it gives light towards the achievement and downfall of modern medicine.

  10. How the World Really Works

    4.4
    3 914 ratings
    Recommended by: Bill Gates

    This tale minutely dissects the things that make up the modern world, piece by piece, revealing the true mechanics behind the prominent systems of global stature such as energy, food production, and technology. Breaking down the interaction between these core domains and their influence on human life presented to them encourages questioning and demystifies common misunderstandings and overly technical ideas. It is really an interesting piece of reading for an independent reader of any kind and his or her interest into the true forces creating our world. The author, well known in his interdisciplinary competences, leads through the workings of our world and stresses the understanding of those systems as a crucial precondition for sustainable decision-making and the future designs.

  11. She Said

    4.5
    3 798 ratings
    Recommended by: Natalie Portman

    Storytellers Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, the journalists from The New York Times who took up the gauntlet to lay bare the truth behind the decades of Harvey Weinstein's sexual abuses and harassment of women in Hollywood. They display how a culture of secrecy and silence sometimes from the highest levels of institutions consciously or unconsciously serving the powerful producer is the enabler of this kind of behavior as norm. Their reporting not just spotlighted what Weinstein was doing but brought this kind of sexual harassment to the attention of the whole world, along with the #MeToo movement, as a discussion which could be against the way of a society to let victims speak out. This book is evidence of the power of investigative journalism and the courage of all those who tell their stories.

  12. Lights Out

    4.5
    2 280 ratings
    Recommended by: Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos

    Read an excerpt from General Electric – once the epitome of American innovation and economic might, now on the verge of its This book explores how specific strategic missteps, market pressures, and leadership challenges combined to result in the slow but steady decline of one of the world's largest conglomerates. The decisions and events that ate away GE's market dominance and financial solidity were exhaustively researched through investigative research and interviews. It is a warning voice on the necessity of adaptation and the complexities of managing a sprawling global business.

  13. The End Is Always Near

    4.6
    2 081 ratings
    Recommended by: Morgan Housel, Andrej Karpathy

    This book by Dan Carlin takes one on an exhilarating ride through those apocalyptic moments in history, from empire falls to mass global catastrophes. He tells interesting stories of how societies deal with their darkest hours and how, despite chaos, they find a way to rise above it. It challenges one to look deeply at the struggles of fragile civilisations and what historical light can throw positive rays on modern attempts to survive or thrive through holistic annihilation.

  14. A Thousand Brains

    4.4
    1 900 ratings
    Recommended by: Bill Gates

    In this groundbreaking book, he puts forward a new theory of intelligence that up-ends our understanding of both the brain and the future of AI. It argues that the brain works not like a single organ but as a network of thousands of tiny brains. This concept offers fresh insights into how humans think, learn, and interact with the world. The author, being a pioneer in neuroscience and artificial intelligence, ventured into the exploration of the implications of this theory to both development of artificial intelligence and our knowledge about the human brain - pushing forward the fence of what we know about intelligence and consciousness.

  15. Mama's Last Hug

    4.6
    1 110 ratings

    In "Mama's Last Hug," Frans de Waal peeks into the emotional lives of animals, centering on a moving goodbye between a dying chimpanzee and her human friend. Building on this story and others, de Waal writes how animals live across the full emotional range, from joy to grief, thereby challenging the notion of unique human feelings. The book examines scientific research and personal stories into animals' emotional landscapes that are complex. It seeks a greater understanding and respect for our fellow beings. Full of poignant stories and rigorous science, this book calls on readers to expect and respect the emotions of animals.

  16. Wanting

    4.5
    1 021 ratings

    Examine the hidden forces behind shaping our desires and making them real social phenomena as mimetic desire. Engage in powerful narratives on how our wants often do not belong to us and how understanding this can lead to a more fulfilling life.

  17. Blueprint

    4.5
    606 ratings

    In "Blueprint," Nicholas A. Christakis traces the ancient social patterns that sculpt human society. According to him, in a world dramatically full of diverse cultures, there are nevertheless universal social behaviors that spring from our humanity. Christakis delves into how friendship, love, social networks, and even our tendency for violence are part of a "social blueprint" that encourages cooperation and survival. A fascinating look at the forces that bind and separate us – be they at the microbe level or in how human beings come together to form groups.

FAQ

  • What are the most popular authors of non-fiction books?

    Here are authors of good nonfiction books:

    • Malcolm Gladwell - social psychology, outliers.
    • Bill Bryson - travel, science, language.
    • Jon Krakauer - adventure, nature, risk.
    • Mary Roach - science, the quirky side of human experience.
    • Yuval Noah Harari - human history, societal evolution.

List of top rated Non-fiction books everyone should read. Best sellers only!