The most recommended nonfiction books

Who picked these books? Meet our 7,880 experts.

7,880 authors created a book list connected to nonfiction, and here are their favorite nonfiction books.
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Book cover of Ethiopia: Through Writers' Eyes

Robert David Author Of Lights, Camera, Jemuru: Ethiopia through the lens of a community film school

From my list on that show you the real Ethiopia.

Why am I passionate about this?

I lived in Ethiopia for 7 years and arrived expecting to find a country beaten down by war and famine, I could not have been more wrong. Ethiopia covers a vast territory and is as deep in history and culture, while its myriad peoples speak over 80 different languages. It remains one of the most mysterious, misunderstood, and least visited countries on the planet, and a paradise for both physical and armchair travelers alike to explore one of the last great largely undiscovered places on earth. I continue to write articles for both national and international newspapers and magazines about Ethiopia and its many wonders. 

Robert's book list on that show you the real Ethiopia

Robert David Why did Robert love this book?

How do you describe and encapsulate a country that can trace its history back to the days of the Queen of Sheba, whose ethnic peoples speak over 80 separate languages and whose many traditions and culture remain untouched by time? The genius of Ethiopia: Through Writers’ Eyes is that it solves this conundrum brilliantly by compiling the writings of explorers, travel writers, and journalists dating from the ancient Greeks right up to the modern day. The result is a fascinating kaleidoscope of images and experiences that turn constantly in this reader’s mind long after putting the book down. It’s a book I return to time after time and it always transports me back to one of the most mysterious and beguiling countries on earth.       

By Yves-Marie Stranger,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ethiopia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There are only a handful of destinations left in the world that have retained their ability to shock the traveller with their unique perspective. These places still awaken a sense of deep wonder as they offer the rare opportunity to observe the world from a different angle. Ethiopia is one of those rare countries. This book is the perfect companion to any exploration of Ethiopia, be it in the precarious saddle of an Abyssinian pony, or from the folds of an armchair. A compendium of all things Ethiopian, the book throws wide open precious windows of understanding, allowing you to…

Book cover of Letters Of Transit: Reflections on Exile, Identity, Language, and Loss

Anna Müller Author Of An Ordinary Life?: The Journeys of Tonia Lechtman, 1918-1996

From my list on melancholy, love, and identity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of modern Poland. I teach, write, and think a lot about Poland and its place in Europe and the world. Regardless of where I live, Poland will always be my first home, where strawberries taste the best, the forest offers the most calming shade in the summer, and the language sounds the sweetest. But Poland is also a conundrum—perhaps similar to anywhere else and unique simultaneously. Its successes and failures, the traumas it caused and experienced, are part of me, and they keep pushing me to search for people and their stories that help us see the complexity of human life and individual choices.

Anna's book list on melancholy, love, and identity

Anna Müller Why did Anna love this book?

It’s a short book with 5 essays on displacement, loss, and ways to find a sense of belonging. The stories are personal; perhaps because of that, they touch on something that I think many of us carry in our hearts–a need to reflect on what it means to lose and rebuild a home.

The essays evoke many different themes–the power of movement and starting anew, but also a sense of alienation that even the voluntary wanderers may never lose. We carry the cultures that shaped us within us; as Eva Hoffman, one of the authors, says, “We are nothing more than the encoded memory of our heritage.” And feeling, even if a blessing, sometimes deepens our sense of alienation.

For many of the authors, it’s the language and writing that make sense of the discomfort and find a ‘home.’ It’s a small but beautifully written book and one that inspires…

By Andre Aciman (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Letters Of Transit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Moving, deeply introspective and honest" (Publishers Weekly) reflections on exile and memory from five award-winning authors. All of the authors in Letters of Transit have written award-winning works on exile, home, and memory, using the written word as a tool for revisiting their old homes or fashioning new ones. Now in paperback are five newly commissioned essays offering moving distillations of their most important thinking on these themes. Andre Aciman traces his migrations and compares his own transience with the uprootedness of many moderns. Eva Hoffman examines the crucial role of language and what happens when your first one is…

Book cover of Junk Science and the American Criminal Justice System

Maurice Possley Author Of Hitler in the Crosshairs: A GI's Story of Courage and Faith

From my list on true stories with meaning and power.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who has worked for the past 10 years as the senior researcher for the National Registry of Exonerations. In that capacity, I have written nearly 2,500 individual accounts of men and women and teenagers who were wrongly convicted of crimes they did not commit. Some of them were sentenced to death. I have seen and written about these tragedies firsthand.

Maurice's book list on true stories with meaning and power

Maurice Possley Why did Maurice love this book?

Chris Fabricant has written a compelling account of how the “junk science” of connecting bitemarks to human teeth has resulted in dozens of wrongful convictions of innocent people in America. I have known Chris for many years. He is a fierce advocate for truth and justice. This book powerfully exposes how forensic dentists have used methods with no scientific basis to convict the wrong people and the guilty people went free.

By M. Chris Fabricant,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Junk Science and the American Criminal Justice System as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Innocence Project attorney M. Chris Fabricant presents an insider’s journey into the heart of a broken, racist system of justice and the role junk science plays in maintaining the status quo.

Praise from John Grisham, author of A Time for Mercy: "No one in America will ever know the number of innocent people convicted, sent to prison, and even executed because of the flood of rotten forensics and bogus scientific opinions presented to juries. In this intriguing and beautifully crafted book, Innocence Project lawyer M. Chris Fabricant illustrates how wrongful convictions occur, and he makes it obvious how they could…

The Pianist's Only Daughter: A Memoir

By Kathryn Betts Adams,

Book cover of The Pianist's Only Daughter: A Memoir

Kathryn Betts Adams Author Of The Pianist's Only Daughter: A Memoir

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I was first a clinical social worker and then a social work professor with research focus on older adults. Over the past few years, as I have been writing my own memoir about caring for my parents, I’ve been drawn to memoirs and first-person stories of aging, illness, and death. The best memoirs on these topics describe the emotional transformation in the writer as they process their loss of control, loss of their own or a loved one’s health, and their fear, pain, and suffering. In sharing these stories, we help others empathize with what we’ve gone through and help others be better prepared for similar events in their own lives.

Kathryn's book list on Memoirs illness aging death moving vivid prose

What is my book about?

The Pianist's Only Daughter is a frank, humorous, and heartbreaking exploration of aging in an aging expert's own family.

Social worker and gerontologist Kathryn Betts Adams spent decades negotiating evolving family dynamics with her colorful and talented parents: her mother, an English scholar and poet, and her father, a pianist and music professor. Their vivid emotional lives, marital instability, and eventual divorce provided the backdrop for her 1960s and ‘70s Midwestern youth.

Nearly thirty years after they divorce, Adams' newly single father flies in to woo his ex-wife, now retired and diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Their daughter watches in disbelief…

The Pianist's Only Daughter: A Memoir

By Kathryn Betts Adams,

What is this book about?

Grounded in insights about mental health, health and aging, The Pianist’s Only Daughter: A Memoir presents a frank and loving exploration of aging in an aging expert's own family.

Social worker and gerontologist Kathryn Betts Adams spent decades negotiating evolving family dynamics with her colorful and talented parents: her English scholar and poet mother and her pianist father. Their vivid emotional lives, marital instability, and eventual divorce provided the backdrop for her 1960s and ‘70s Midwestern youth.

Nearly thirty years after they divorce, Adams' father finds himself single and flies in to woo his ex-wife, now retired and diagnosed with…

Book cover of Prisoners of the Castle: An Epic Story of Survival and Escape from Colditz, the Nazis' Fortress Prison

Larry Enmon Author Of The Burial Place

From Larry's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Retired Secret Service Traveler Adventurer Historian Avid cook

Larry's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Larry Enmon Why did Larry love this book?

I've always been a sucker for escape stories. This one ranks right up there with The Great Escape.

During World II, Colditz Castle in Germany housed the unruliest group of Allied officers in the country. If you were so bad or escaped too many times from other POW camps, you went to Colditz. This made for a prisoner population of the most interesting characters in the world. 

I love interesting characters because wherever they are and whatever they're doing, it always makes for a good story. I also love books that show the depths of the human spirit and the will to survive. This book hits all the right notes at the right time.

By Ben Macintyre,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Prisoners of the Castle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'A master at setting the pulse racing' Daily Mail
'A fine feat of storytelling . . . will surely become the last word on the subject' Telegraph


Colditz Castle: a forbidding Gothic tower on a hill in Nazi Germany. You may have heard about the prisoners and their daring and desperate attempts to escape, but that's only part of the real story.

In Colditz: Prisoners of the Castle, bestselling historian Ben Macintyre takes us inside the walls of the most infamous prison in history to meet…

Book cover of Taylor Swift: A Little Golden Book Biography

David Seow Author Of The Power of Michelle Yeoh: Ballet, Stunts, Stardom!

From my list on picture books on the rocky road to stardom.

Why am I passionate about this?

My name is David Seow, I’ve been a huge entertainment fan since I was a child and met Jack Lord when he came to Singapore. I’ve been fascinated by celebrities and what drove them to succeed. Since then, I’ve amassed a collection of over 400 celebrity autographs. My passion for the entertainment scene and celebrities led me to work as a freelance entertainment journalist and a sitcom scriptwriter. For the past 26 years, I have followed my other passion of writing children’s picture books, and I have published 48 books to date, some of which I’ve gifted to some of my favourite celebrities.

David's book list on picture books on the rocky road to stardom

David Seow Why did David love this book?

A little star swiftly turns into a superstar!

I was lucky enough to meet Taylor, so I dove into this book with gusto. It’s an easy and highly engaging read. I love how the author emphasizes the importance of Taylor’s values: hard work, perseverance, and love of a supportive family. What I found particularly appealing was the adorable description of how an 11-year-old Taylor had the gumption to hand out CDS of her music to record execs in Nashville! Five years later, she released her first album and it was a hit!

I love how this talented young lady has used her life experiences—both good and bad—to build a bridge to success. This is a well-researched, inspirational, and enjoyable read. 

By Wendy Loggia, Elisa Chavarri (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Taylor Swift as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER • Celebrate global superstar Taylor Swift with this collectible Little Golden Book, which tells her inspiring life story alongside gorgeous original illustrations!

“A must-have for any Taylor Swift collection.”—Rolling Stone

Taylor never lets anything hold her back from creating music she loves.

With full-color illustrations on every page, Taylor Swift: A Little Golden Book Biography brings her story to life—from her childhood living on a Christmas tree farm, where she discovered her passion for songwriting, to her early days on Nashville’s Music Row and her rise as one of the biggest stars in pop music. When you’re…

Book cover of The History of Emotions: An Introduction

Barbara H. Rosenwein Author Of Love: A History in Five Fantasies

From my list on the history of emotions.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer, teacher, and researcher who has always been interested in my own emotions and those of others. But I decided to write about the emotions of the past only after I became a historian of the Middle Ages. My discoveries began with the early medieval period. Now I enjoy looking at the full sweep of Western history. I have come to realize that at no time did we all share the same feelings nor evaluate them the same way. Instead, we live and have always lived in “emotional communities” with others who share our feelings—and alongside still others who do not. I hope my booklist will pique your interest in this new and exciting field.

Barbara's book list on the history of emotions

Barbara H. Rosenwein Why did Barbara love this book?

Himself a brilliant historian of emotion, Jan Plamper here surveys the field as a whole.  He notes some little-known predecessors to the Stearnses, and he devotes chapters to the contributions of anthropologists, the findings of psychologists, and modern historical approaches, methods, and theories. Always he “gets behind” the research to discover its underlying assumptions.This is a book packed with hard-won insights.

By Jan Plamper,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The History of Emotions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The history of emotions is one of the fastest growing fields in current historical debate, and this is the first book-length introduction to the field, synthesizing the current research, and offering direction for future study. The History of Emotions is organized around the debate between social constructivist and universalist theories of emotion that has shaped most emotions research in a variety of disciplines for more than a hundred years: social
constructivists believe that emotions are largely learned and subject to historical change, while universalists insist on the timelessness and pan-culturalism of emotions. In historicizing and problematizing this binary, Jan Plamper…

Book cover of Stealing Hollywood

Marshall Dotson Author Of Actions and Goals: The Story Structure Secret

From my list on story structure.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a student of story structure for decades. As a novelist, this initially started as a means to learn as much as I could from those with more experience than myself, but quickly grew into a passion. I read everything on the subject I could get my hands on and eventually began analyzing the plots of novels and movies for myself, amalgamating what I had learned with my own theories and insights which coalesced into a wholly new structural paradigm. Since then, I’ve had the privilege of working with many talented screenwriters and novelists to help them shape their stories using Six Act Structure. 

Marshall's book list on story structure

Marshall Dotson Why did Marshall love this book?

I read Alexandra’s book years ago and she’s since released several revised editions. This book provides an insightful history of the 3-act and eight sequence structures she uses, and offers invaluable insight into overcoming the pitfalls of the dreaded “second-act sag”. But perhaps the most important lesson her book instilled in me is the importance of taking the time to analyze the structure of your own favorite movies and novels to understand why they resonate with you. She calls this your Master List and it’s a tool that every writer should have in their toolbox to improve their craft. 

By Alexandra Sokoloff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stealing Hollywood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Are you finally committed to writing that novel or screenplay, but have no idea how to get started? Or are you a published author, but know you need some plotting help to move your books and career up to that next level? You CAN write better books and scripts—by learning from the movies. Screenwriting is based on a simple (and powerful) structure that you already know from watching so many movies and television shows in your lifetime. And it's a structure that your reader or audience unconsciously expects, and is crucial for you to deliver. In this textbook of the…

Book cover of European Integration: From Nation-States to Member States

Philip Cunliffe Author Of The New Twenty Years’ Crisis 1919-2019: A Critique of International Relations

From my list on liberal international order in the 21st century.

Why am I passionate about this?

Having come of age at the End of History in the late 1990s, it seemed to me back then that the only big political questions left were international ones. Everything in domestic politics appeared to be settled. As I pursued this interest through my scholarly work as an academic, I came to understand how questions of international and domestic order were intertwined – and that one could not be understood without the other. As we’re now living through the end of the End of History, unsurprisingly we’re seeing tremendous strain on political systems at both the national and international level. These books will provide, I hope, some signposts as to what comes next.  

Philip's book list on liberal international order in the 21st century

Philip Cunliffe Why did Philip love this book?

A brilliant book that succeeded in snapping the contrastive manacles that had hitherto hobbled our understanding of European integration. These conceptual manacles bound us either to over-emphasizing supranationalism on the one hand, or on the other, to claiming that European integration was nothing but an adornment for nation-states. Bickerton shows not only that supranationalism grows out of dynamics that are internal to European states, but that this out-growth involves a profound transformation of the structure of states themselves – the shift, as described in the sub-title, from nation-states to member-states. This brilliant insight illuminates so much politics today, from domestic struggles between liberals and populists to geopolitical rivalries. 

By Chris J. Bickerton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked European Integration as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

European integration confuses citizens and scholars alike. It appears to transfer power away from national capitals towards Brussels yet a close study of the EU reveals the absence of any real leap towards supranationalism. The EU is dominated by cooperation between national representatives and national officials yet it continually appears to us as something external and separate from national political life.

This book takes on these paradoxes by arguing that European integration should no longer be studied as the transcendence of states or as merely an expression of national interests. Rather, we should approach it as a process of state…

Book cover of Wicked Mortals

Sylvia Shults Author Of Spirits of Christmas: The Dark Side of the Holidays

From my list on nonfiction books that read like a novel.

Why am I passionate about this?

Sylvia Shults is a librarian by day, a ghost hunter by night, and the “hostess with the mostest ghosties” of the Lights Out podcast. During her twenty-plus-year career in libraries, she has managed to smuggle enough words out in her pockets to put together several books of her own, including 44 Years in Darkness, Fractured Spirits: Hauntings at the Peoria State Hospital, and Spirits of Christmas. She sits in dark, spooky places so you don't have to, and shares her experiences of her brushes with the other side of the Veil.

Sylvia's book list on nonfiction books that read like a novel

Sylvia Shults Why did Sylvia love this book?

The Lore series, based on the World of Lore podcast, is a wonderful collection of the strange, bizarre, and creepy. This particular book focuses on people who gained fame through their disturbing hobbies and unpleasant predilections: serial killers, criminals, psychopaths, and other associated weirdos. I've always been drawn to collections like these, and this is one of the best. Check out the others in the series too.

By Aaron Mahnke,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wicked Mortals as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A chilling, lavishly illustrated who's-who of the most despicable people ever to walk the earth, featuring both rare and best-loved stories from the hit podcast Lore, now an online streaming series.

Here are the incredible true stories of some of the mortals who achieved notoriety in history and folklore through horrible means. Monsters of this sort - serial killers, desperate criminals, and socially mobile people with a much darker double-life - are, in fact, quite real . . . including H. H. Holmes, the infamous Chicago serial killer; William Brodie, the Edinburgh criminal mastermind who inspired The Strange Case of…

Book cover of Memoirs of the Comtesse de Boigne 1815 - 1819

Philip Mansel Author Of King of the World: The Life of Louis XIV

From my list on French Court.

Why am I passionate about this?

The French court has fascinated me since boyhood visits to Blois and Versailles. The appeal of its unusually dramatic history is heightened by the prominence of women, by the number and brilliance of courtiers’ letters and memoirs, and by its stupendous cultural patronage: Even after writing seven books on the French court, from Louis XIV to Louis XVIII, I remain enthralled by Versailles, Fontainebleau, and Paris where, as the new science of court studies expands, there is always more to see and learn. The power and popularity of the French presidency today confirm the importance of the French monarchy, to which it owes so much, including its physical setting, the Elysée Palace.

Philip's book list on French Court

Philip Mansel Why did Philip love this book?

Madame de Boigne describes the same period as Chateaubriand, whom she disliked, from a liberal perspective. Both had their style and mind improved by suffering during the Emigration, which also made both, for a time, feel half-English. Boigne married a French officer who had made a fortune in India, but failed to tell her he had brought back an Indian wife. She took his money and returned to live with her parents. 

Born with what she called a ‘taste for royalty and the instinct for court life’, she described salons and quarrels, royalty and revolution, Paris and England, from 1780 to 1840. Her friend Count Pozzo di Borgo, for example, she says, would have descended into hell to find enemies for Napoleon, whom he had hated since their childhood in Corsica. She blamed the long foretold revolutions of 1830 and 1848 on monarchs’ exaggerated sense of their infallibility. A genius…

By Charles Nicoullaud (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Memoirs of the Comtesse de Boigne 1815 - 1819 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The personal writings of a 18th-19th century French Noble woman taken from her personal writings. Her papers (published in several volumes) throw many side-lights upon a long period extending from the reign of Louis XIV to the Revolution of 1848, and this rather by means of the special details which are narrated than by any generalizations from a wider outlook. This period was in every respect one of the most troubled and extraordinary in French history, and is fertile in events and changes, important though not always fortunate. Mme. De Boigne held an important social position and for nearly sixty…