Best Non-Spiritual Nonfiction Books

Image from the law of attraction book list featuring all major law of attraction authors at lawofattractionproject.com

So, it’s a break from this blog’s usual theme of spirituality. But I think today’s post is tangentially related. After all, today’s nonfiction isn’t what it used to be; it’s not just interesting, important information. It changes lives. It allows us to come up with new goals, new ideas about what our lives can encompass–then takes our hands and helps us draw the circles.

Put simply, modern nonfiction is some of the most enjoyable, well-written stuff you can find. (After all, if you want to make money writing about neuroscience, for example, you’d better make it relevant, understandable, and full of fascinating anecdotes, right?)

Following is a curated list of what are, in my humble opinion, the best, most inspiring works of nonfiction in existence. To make the list, books must be:

  • Engaging;
  • Perspective-altering; and
  • Uniquely informative.

For the most part, the books listed here aren’t stuffed with humdrum filler; they’re solid.

Also, they’re books I’ve actually read. Which is why this list is definitely a work in progress; I will update this page regularly and keep a permalink to the list on my site in my table of contents.

It’s such a great time to be a reader, isn’t it?

I invite you to recommend your favorite nonfiction in the comments below.

Best Non-Spiritual Nonfiction Categories:

Best Nonfiction Books on History
Best Nonfiction Books on Science
Best Nonfiction Books on Politics and Economics
Best Nonfiction Books on Psychology and Sociology
Best Nonfiction Books on Diet and Health
Best Nonfiction Books on Writing
Best Nonfiction Books on Education
Best Nonfiction Books on Marketing
Best Nonfiction Books on Relationships
Best Nonfiction Books on Parenting
Best Memoirs
Best Textbooks and Encyclopedias
Best How-To Books
Best Nonfiction Classics
Other Best Nonfiction

Best Nonfiction Books on History:

Alexander of Macedon, 356-323 B.C.: A Historical Biography, Peter Green

Gulp!, Mary Roach
The Devil’s Triangle, Richard Winer
Treblinka, Jean-Francois Steiner
The War Magician, David Fisher
Is Paris Burning?, Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre
An American Life: The Autobiography, Ronald Reagan
Eight Men and a Duck, Nick Thorpe
A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney, Andy Rooney
Jackie Oh!, Kittie Kelly
Plain Speaking: An Oral Biography of Harry S. Truman, Merle Miller
My Life as an Illustrator, Norman Rockwell
My Life With Elvis, Becky Yancey and Cliff Lindecker
Up and Down with the Rolling Stones, Tony Sanchez
Gandhi: Portrayal of a Friend, E. Stanley Jones
Einstein: The Life and Times, Ronald W. Clark
The Lyndon Johnson Story, Booth Mooney
Jay J. Armes, Investigator, Jay J. Armes and Fredrick Nolan
Lies My Teacher Told Me, James W. Loewen
Twelve Great Philosophers, Wayne Pomerleau
Mythology, Edith Hamilton
Aku-Aku: The Secret of Easter Island, Thor Heyerdahl
1776, David McCullough
The Bridge at Chappaquiddick, Jack Olsen
The Man with the Candy, Jack Olsen
The Night of the Grizzlies, Jack Olsen
Enola Gay, Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan Witts
My Wicked, Wicked Ways, Errol Flynn
Murder Man, Thomas Downs
Iacocca, Lee Iacocca
Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, Paul Theroux
Don’t Know Much About History, Kenneth Davis
Blue Collar Intellectuals: When the Enlightened & the Everyman Elevated America, Daniel Flynn
Bomb, Steve Sheinkin
Cyberpunk: Outlaws and Hackers on the Computer Frontier, Katie Hafner
How the Web Was Won, Paul Andrews
The Fasting Girl: A True Victorian Medical Mystery, Michelle Stacy
The Hundred Year Diet: America’s Voracious Appetite for Losing Weight, Susan Yager
Inside the Third Reich, Albert Speer
Citizen Soldiers, Stephen E. Ambrose
Miracle at Philadelphia, Catherine Drinker Bower
Something Beautiful for God: Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Malcom Muggeridge
The Rick Steves Europe series
The Lonely Planet series

Best Nonfiction Books on Science:

A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking
The Particle at the Edge of the Universe, Sean Carroll
The Pleasure of Finding Things Out, Richard Feynman
The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of A Citizen Scientist, Richard Feynman
Zoobiquity, Barbara Natterson-Horowitz
Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex Borrowed Mary Roach
Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, Mary Roach
The Rise of the Robots

Best Nonfiction Books on Politics and Economics:

Freakonomics, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
Superfreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, Ayn Rand
The Virtue of Selfishness, Ayn Ran
Ayn Rand Answers, Ayn Rand
For the New Intellectual, Ayn Rand
The Four -our Work Week, Timothy Ferriss
Discover Your Inner Economist, Tyler Cowen
Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Robert T. Kiyosaki
God and Man at Yale, William F. Buckley
You, Inc.: The Art of Selling Yourself, Harry Beckwith
Never Eat Alone, Expanded and Updated: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time, Keith Ferrazzi

Best Nonfiction Books on Psychology and Sociology:

The Disappearance of Childhood, Neil Postman
Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman
The Plug-In Drug, Marie Winn
Reviving Ophelia, Mary Pipher
The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg
The War Against Boys, Christina Hoff Summers
Telling Yourself the Truth, William Backus and Marie Chapian
The Science of Happiness, Stefan Klein, PhD
The War Against Boys, Christina Hoff Summers
The How of Happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky
The Compass of Pleasure, David J. Linden
Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice, Robert Firestone
The Consuming Instinct: What Juicy Burgers, Ferraris, Pornography and Gift Giving Reveal About Human Nature, Gad Saad
Switch, Chip Heath and Dan Heath
The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home, Dan Ariely
Happiness: The Science Behind Your Smile, Daniel Nettle
Happiness: Lessons from a New Science, Richard Layard
Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth, Ed Diener & Robert Biswas-Diener
Exploring Happiness, Sissela Bok
The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin
Happiness, Ed Diener
What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite, David DiSalvo
Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmivaly
Learned Optimism, Martin Seligman
The Inner Game of Work, W. Timothy Gallway
The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz
Authentic Happiness, Martin Seligman
Blink, Malcom Gladwell
The Progress Paradox, Gregg Easterbrook
The Mindful Brain, Daniel Siegel
Flourish, Martin Seligman
Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath
How We Decide, Jonah Lehrer
Blissology, Cindy Baggott
The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg
The Hidden Brain: How Our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars, and Save Our Lives, Shankar Vedantarn
The Naked Brain, Richard Restak
Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation, Daniel J. Siegel
Heal your Mind, Rewire Your Brain: Applying the Exciting New Science of Brain Synchrony for Creativity, Peace, and Presence, Patt Lind-Kyle
The Happiness Equation: Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything, Neil Pasricha
Engineering Happiness: A New Approach for Building a Joyful Life, Manel Baucells and Rakesh Sarin
Manage Your Depression Through through Exercise: A 5-Week Plan to a Happier, Healthier, You, Jane Baxter
The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work, Shawn Achor
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead,
Rising Strong: The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution. Borrow Expired Brené Brown
I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I Am Enough” Borrow Expired Brené Brown
The Feeling Good Handbook, Kenneth Burns
Stumbling on Happiness
Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work, Chip Heath and Dan Heath
Irrationally Yours: On Missing Socks, Pickup Lines, and Other Existential Puzzles, Dan Ariely
The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home, Dan Ariely
What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures, Malcom Gladwell
David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, Malcom Gladwell

Best Nonfiction Books on Diet and Health:

The Diet Alternative, Diane Hampton
French Women Don’t Get Fat, Mireille Guiliano
What Time Tuesday?, James Tomasi
Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser
The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan
Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, Michael Pollan
Good Calories, Bad Calories, Gary Taubes
Neanderthin, Ray Audette
The Paleo Solution, Robb Wolf
Overcoming Emotional Eating, Geneen Roth
Intuitive Eating, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch
Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, Brian Warsink
How to Make Almost Any Diet Work, Anne Katherine
Fasting and Easting for Health, Joel Fuhrman
How I Gave Up My Low-Fat Diet and Lost 40 Pounds, Dana Carpender
Overeater’s Anonymous
The Twelve Steps of Overeater’s Anonymous
Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It,
Gary Taubes
The Diet Cure: The 8-Step Program to Rebalance Your Body Chemistry and End Food Cravings, Weight Gain, and Mood Swings–Naturally, Julia Ross

Best Nonfiction Books on Writing and Art:

The Elements of Style, William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White
Spunk & Bite, Arthur Plotnik
Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This, Luke Sullivan
A Whack On the Side of the Head, Roger von Oech
Plot and Structure, James Scott Bell
On Writing, Steven King
Save the Cat!, Blake Snyder
Save the Cat! Goes to the Movies, Blake Snyder
The War of Art, Steven Pressfield
The Writer’s Journey, Christopher Vogler
Writing the Breakout Novel, Donald Maas
The Fire in Fiction, Donald Maas
How Fiction Works, James Wood
The Well-Fed Writer, Peter Bowerman
Writing Irresistible Kidlit: The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Fiction for Young Adult and Middle Grade Readers, Mary Kole
Aspects of the Novel, E.M. Forster
Manuscript Makeover: Revision Techniques No Fiction Writer Can Afford to Ignore, Elizabeth Hyon
Your Life Is A Book: How to Craft & Publish Your Memoir, Brenda Peterson and Sarah Jane Freymann,
Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Them Go, Leslie Edgerton
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, Elizabeth Gilbert

Best Nonfiction Books on Education:

Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book of Homeschooling, John Holt
How Children Fail, John Holt
How Children Learn, John Holt
Learning All the Time, John Holt
Instead of Education: Ways to Help People Do Things Better, John Holt
Punished by Rewards, Alfie Kohn
The Homework Myth, Alfie Kohn
No Contest: The Case Against Competition, Alfie Kohn
Einstein Never Used Flash Cards: How Our Children Really Learn—And Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less, Roberta Michnick Golinkoff and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek
The Art of Learning: A Journey in the Pursuit of Excellence, Josh Waitzkin
The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home, Susan Wise Bauer
The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to Classical Education You Never Had, Susan Wise Bauer
Books Children Love, Elizabeth L. Wilson
Study Is Hard Work, William H. Armstrong
In Their Own Way: Discovering and Encouraging Your Child’s Multiple Intelligences, Thomas Armstrong
Seven Kinds of Smart, Thomas Armstrong
Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, Howard Gardner
Unschooling Rules, Clark Aldrich
Un-Jobbing: The Adult Liberation Handbook, Michael Fogler
The Unschooling Handbook, Mary Griffith
The Home School Source Book, Jean and Don Reed
The Mismeasure of Man, Stephen Jay Gould

Best Nonfiction Books on Marketing:

Life After the 30-Second Spot, Joseph Jaffe
The New Influencers: A Marketer’s Guide to the New Social Media, Paul Gillin
What Would Google Do?, Jeff Jarvis
Viral Loop, Adam L. Peneberg
The Whuffie Factor, Tara Hunt
The Long Tail, Chris Anderson
Trust Agents, Chris Brogan
Get Slightly Famous, Steven Von Yoder
Delivering Happiness, Tony Hsich
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini
Grapevine: The New Art of Word-of-Mouth Marketing,
Dave Balter and John Butman
Permission Marketing, Seth Godin
Purple Cow, Seth Godin
Linchpin, Seth Godin
Whatcha Gonna Do With That Duck?, Seth Godin
Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcom Gladwell

Best Nonfiction Books on Relationships:

His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage, Willard F. Harley, Jr.
Nonviolent Communication, Marshall Rosenberg
Venus on Fire, Mars on Ice, John Gray
The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages: The Little Things That Make a Big Difference, Shaunti Feldhahn
For Better: How the Surprising Science of Happy Couples Can Help Your Marriage Succeed, Tara Parker-Pope
The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands, Dr. Laura Schlessinger
Love Is Never Enough: How Couples Can Overcome Misunderstanding, Beck M.D.
For Better: How the Surprising Science of Happy Couples Can Help Your Marriage Succeed, Tara Parker-Pope
Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage: Unlock the Secrets of Life, Love and Marriage, Mark Gungor
The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages: The Little Things That Make a Big Difference, Shaunti Feldhahn

Best Nonfiction Books on Parenting:

Between Parents and Child, Haim G. Ginott
Liberated Parents, Liberated Children, Adele Faber
Siblings Without Rivalry, Adele Faber
How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen, Norman H. Wright
Beyond the Sling, Mazim Balik
When Your Kids Push Your Buttons, Bennie Harn’s
Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv
The Case for Make-Believe, Susan Linn
Unconditional Parenting, Alfie Kohn
Punished by Rewards, Alfie Kohn
Brain Rules for Baby, John Medina
Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child, John Mordechai
Attachment Parenting, Katie Allison Granju
The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby From Birth to Age Two, Dr. Barry Sears
The Discipline Book: Everything You Need to Know to Have A Better-behaved Child–from Birth to Age Ten, Dr. Barry Sears
Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier and More Secure Kids, John Kim Payne
Parenting with Dignity, Mac Bledsoe
Mothering Your Nursing Toddler, Norma J. Bumgarner
Parenting with Love and Logic: Teaching Children Responsibility, Foster Cline
The Case for Make-Believe, Susan Linn
Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv
Siblings Without Rivalry, Adele Faber
How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen, Norman H. Wright
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, Diane Wiessinger
The Child Whisperer: The Ultimate Handbook for Raising Happy, Successful, Cooperative Children, Carol Tuttle
If I Have to Tell You One More Time
Nurture Shock: New Thinking About Children, Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman
Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids
Oh, Crap! Potty Training

Best Memoirs:

Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert
A Severe Mercy, Sheldon Vanauken
A Stolen Life, Jaycee Dugard
Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs, Chuck Klostermann
Klostermann II, Chuck Klostermann
Fargo Rock City, Chuck Klosterman
Killing Yourself to Live, Chuck Klosterman
Easting the Dinosaur, Chuck Klosterman
11 Presidents, 4 Wars, 32 Political Conventions, 1 Moon Landing, 3 Assassinations, 2000 Weeks of News and Other Stuff on Television and 18 Years of Growing Up in North Carolina: A Memoir, David Brinkley
A Few Moments with Andy Rooney, Andy Rooney
An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination, Elizabeth McCracken
Committed, Elizabeth Gilbert
Iacocca, Lee Iacocca
Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, Paul Theroux
Massive, Julia Bell
The Taming of the Chew, Denise Lamothe
Angry Fat Girls, Frances Kuffel
It Was Food vs. Me-And I Won, Nancy Goodman
iWant, Jane Velez-Mitchell
Hungry, Allen Zadoff
The Good Eater, Ron Saxen
The Fat Girl’s Guide to Life, Wendy Shanker
Locked Up for Eating Too Much, Debbie Danowski
Purge: Rehab Diaries, Nicole Johns
Official Book Club Selection, Kathy Griffin
How Starbucks Saved My Life, Michael Gill
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig
Mennonite in A Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home, Rhoda Janzen
Wild, Cheryl Strayed
Bossypants, Tina Fey
A Year of No Sugar: A Memoir, Eve O. Schaub
Confessions of A Latter-Day Virgin: A Memoir, Nicole Hardy
A House in the Sky: A Memoir, Amanda Lindhout
The Two Kinds of Decay, Sarah Manguso
Go Ask Alice, Anonymous
Life and Adventures of A-No.1, Anonymous
Into the Wild, John Krakauer
The Ego Is Always at the Wheel, Delmore Schwartz
The Big Picture: Who Killed Hollywood? And Other Essays, William Goldman
Double Vision: American Thoughts Abroad, John Knowles
The Craggy Hole in My Heart and the Cat Who Fixed It, Geneen Roth
Wild, Cheryl Strayed
Traveling Mercies, Anne Lamott
Plan B, Anne Lamott
Grace, Eventually, Anne Lamott
Some Assembly Required, Anne Lamott
Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace, Anne Lamott
Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair, Anne Lamott
Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers, Anne Lamott
Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year, Anne Lamott
He Came to Set the Captives Free, Rebecca Brown
A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis
Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl: A Memoir, Carrie Brownstein
The Cross and the Switchblade, David Wilkerson
Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis
Girl in the Woods: A Memoir, Aspen Matis
Devotion: A Memoir, Dani Shapiro
Found: A Memoir, Jennifer Lauck
Straight Pepper Diet: A Memoir, Joseph W. Naus
Manic, Terri Cheney
It Was Me All Along: A Memoir, Andie Mitchell
Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and Saint
Let’s Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship
Fifty Years in Polygamy: Big Secrets and Little White Lies, Kristyn Decker
Why I Left the Amish: A Memoir, Saloma Miller Furlong
Cult Child, Vennie Kocsis
Favorite Wife: Escape From Polygamy, Susan Schmidt
Triumph: Life After the Cult—A Survivor’s Lessons
“It’s Not About the Sex” My Ass, Joanne Hanks and Steve Cuno
Banished: Surviving My Years In the Westboro Baptist Church
Growing Up Amish: A Memoir
Primates of Park Avenue: A Memoir, Wednesday Martin
Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me, Chelsea Handler
My Horizontal Life, Chelsea Handler
Coming Clean: A Memoir
Escape
A Queer and Pleasant Danger, Kate Bornstein
Eva’s Story: A Survivor’s Tale by the Stepsister of Anne Frank
Cult Insanity: A Memoir of Polygamy, Prophets, and Blood Atonement
A Lucky Child: A Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy
What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding: A Memoir, Kristin Newman
A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka: A Memoir, Lev Golinkin
It Was Me All Along: A Memoir, Andie Mitchell
Primates of Park Avenue: A Memoir, Wednesday Martin
Madness: A Bipolar Life, Marya Hornbacher
Kathy Griffin’s Celebrity Run-Ins, Kathy Griffin
MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend, Rachel Bertsche
The Wishing Year: A House, a Man, My Soul: A Memoir of Fulfilled Desire, Noelle Oxenhandler
Girl in a Band: A Memoir, Kim Gordon
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Haruki Murakami
Sex Object: A Memoir, Jessica Valenti
They Left Us Everything: A Memoir, Plum Johnson
In Memory of Bread: A Memoir
Ordinary Light: A Memoir
Passage, Connie Willis
Full: How I Learned to Satisfy My Insatiable Hunger and Feed My Soul, Kimber Simpkins

Best Textbooks and Encyclopedias:

The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child, Susan Wise Bauer
The Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World History
The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia
The Usborne Internet-Linked Science Encyclopedia
The Usborne Internet-Linked First Encyclopedia of Science
The Kingfisher Geography Encyclopedia
The Story of the Incredible Orchestra: An Introduction to Musical Instruments and the Symphony Orchestra, Bruce Koscielniak

Best How-To Books:

Drawing with Children, Mona Brookes
The Joy of Cooking, Irma S. Rombauer and Marior Rombauer Becker

Best Nonfiction Classics:

Autobiography of Malcom X, Malcom X
The Story of My Life, Helen Keller
Walden, Henry David Thoreau
Escape from Freedom, Erich Fromm
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Frederick Douglass
The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Olaudah Equiano
Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville
The Naked and the Dead, Norman Mailer

Other Best Nonfiction:

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, Malcom Gladwell
What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures, Malcom Gladwell
50 Things You’re Not Supposed to Know, Russell Kick
The Wisdom of the Desert, Thomas Merton

 

I’ve also compiled my Best Classic Fiction Works, which includes the following:

Adaptations of Classics for Younger Readers
Classics for Younger Readers
Classics for Readers of High School Age and Beyond

***

More mystical reading choices:

Top 20 Spiritual Memoirs

Top 150 Meditation Books

Top 20 Near Death Experience Books

Top 100 Channelled Books

Top 1000+ Law of Attraction Books

Top 25 Scientific Spiritual Books

Top 20 Spiritual Self-Help Books

Top 15 Blogs for Mystics

My 40 Favorite Books for Mystics

150 Law of Attraction Success Stories

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