25 Nonfiction Books Everyone Should Read

Posted by , Updated on January 11, 2024

In this era of video essays and documentaries, non-fiction books don’t get the love they deserve. Unless you’re in an academic setting, it’s pretty rare for an average Joe to sit down and read a non-fiction book. However, it’s incredibly important. Though some opt for fantasy lore or a romance novel, non-fiction books inform, challenge, and expand a person’s world and thinking. They broaden a reader’s horizon and could possibly even change their worldview for the better. So, when you’re searching for a good book, it makes sense to reach for the top shelf and check out these 25 Nonfiction Books Everyone Should Read.

Bad Blood by Lorna Sage

bad blood

There are a lot of books about dysfunctional families, but most are just patches from a lot of people’s harrowing experiences. Bad Blood is like a quilt of those odds and ends as it unravels a tale of a family and the negativities overwhelming each generation until the writer of the memoir defies it all.


Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

eat pray love

Self-discovery takes time and courage because sometimes, in order to find yourself, you have to do things you’ve never done before. That’s exactly what Elizabeth Gilbert did to save herself and the rest of her life.


The Power of Less by Leo Babauta

power of less

Like most self-help books, this one helps you simplify your life by targeting the habits keeping you from moving forward. Leo Babauta’s principles maybe a little difficult to follow but with an open mind and a drive to declutter, a simple lifestyle is not impossible.


A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

stephen hawking

Especially for those who have the knack for absorbing information about the universe and topics related to it, this best-seller is a must read. Despite its seemingly complicated content, it has sold more than 10 million copies and has been in the London best-seller list for more than four years.


Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media by Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman


This literary piece explains the propaganda model of the media which critiques the relationship between the mass media, corporations, and the government. It’s a good read since the power of mass media these days influences all factors of society.


Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom


Some points of this popular novel are somewhat related to the previous item since it also talks about popular culture and the influences of the media. This epic encounter between a dying sociology professor and an erstwhile student had such a strong positive influence on readers that it was turned into a TV movie.


I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

why the caged bird sings

Maya Angelou continues to be an inspiration among Americans for the eye-opening literary works she shared. Her memoir touched several delicate topics like racism, identity, and even rape, but it’s loved and cherished by the world.


A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

a room of one's own

Gender sensitivity and preference is the underlying theme in this symbolic essay written by one of the most celebrated and modernist writers in history. Although it has a fictional narrator and is a narrative which talks about women who are writers and characters of fiction, Virginia Woolf’s critically acclaimed work is considered nonfiction.


The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir

second sex

Like the previous items on this list, this 1949 book by Simone de Beauvoir tackles the treatment of women throughout history. A major work of feminist philosophy, it radically exposes the intensity of oppression that women have had to face and was published in two volumes. However, it received negative criticism because of the author’s personal stand on the subject of her work.


The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli

the prince

Claimed to be one of the first works of modern philosophy, specifically modern political philosophy, this treatise defined the word Machiavellian as a pejorative term and gave the words politics and politicians negative connotations. This is a must read especially for those who want to understand politics in a realistic light rather than as an abstract ideal.


Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson

small stuff

Richard Carlson was a psychotherapist and ran a stress management center when he wrote this inspirational book and the rest of his works. This best-seller aims to uncover the secrets of still being effective despite the stresses of everyday living.


The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

7 habits

For those business-minded book aficionados, this one’s for you. Truth be told, this bestseller has sold over a whopping 25 million copies in 38 languages worldwide. The audio version has also sold 15 million copies. It is also one of “The 25 Most Influential Business Management Books.”


Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell


To put in simple terms, this Malcolm Gladwell book emphasizes how spontaneous decisions, made in a blink of an eye, can sometimes be better than the ones which were carefully planned and thought about a million times. It also mentions about how people have an instinctive ability to mind read. If that doesn’t intrigue you, then what could?


Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau

the confessions

Also known as The Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, this is an autobiography which covers the first fifty three years of the author’s life and was published four years after his death. Other than two autobiographies with religious themes that were published before Rousseau’s work, his is the earliest known writing which talked about the author’s own life in terms of experiences and personal feelings.


Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer

under the banner of heaven

This shocking investigative book takes into account a gruesome murder of a mother and her baby, and it’s connection to a religion that has been subjected to criticism due to some beliefs which transcend the norms of the society.


Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth’s Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa by Mark Mathabane

kaffir boy

Another item on this list which deals with discrimination and prejudice, Mark Mathabane’s autobiography is about his life under the apartheid system in South Africa where he was born. Although it was banned in a number of schools due to very sensitive issues like child prostitution, the memoir received a score of awards after it was published.


Art of War by Sun Tzu

sun tzu

Considering many world leaders in diverse backgrounds, like General Douglas MacArthur and Mao Zedong, have drawn inspiration from this ancient military treatise, then it is, of course, a must read. It has undoubtedly been famous due to its influence on the Eastern and Western military thinking, business tactics, and other aspects.


Night by Elie Wiesel

elie wiesel

World War II gave humanity suffering that would last forever. Although the events only spanned for less than a decade, its after effects lived on in the hearts of many. Elie Wiesel’s Night illustrated those harrowing events via his experiences with his father in a Nazi German concentration camp in 1944 to 1945.


The Greatest Salesman In The World by Og Mandino

greatest salesman

This book may look like just another corporate self-help book because of it’s title and packaging, but think again. Not only do you obtain valuable trade secrets in salesmanship but spiritual motivation as well. Og Mandino’s bestseller, like his other equally motivating books, renders a different take on business as it forges a relationship with the heart and spirit of man.


The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck

road less traveled

M. Scott Peck’s bestselling inspirational book did not hit it off right away until he started having lectures and became known. The Road Less Traveled centers on the role of discipline as the main ingredient for a holistic disposition which he describes as “the means of spiritual evolution.”


The Story of My Experiments with Truth by Mahatma Gandhi


Who doesn’t know Mahatma Gandhi? In case you want to know him a bit further despite him being a famous figure in World history, his autobiography will surely help you get to know more about his teachings and his quest in leading India to independence through non-violent civil disobedience.


The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

anne frank

Hiding in a sealed off annex during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands was not what Anne Frank initially cared about because she thought she had a whole life ahead of her. In this coming of age autobiography based on the diary that she kept, the life and passions of a teenage girl are beautifully unraveled through her own words.


The Art of Happiness by Dalai Lama

art of happiness

If it’s all about happiness, then most often than not people would read through and find out how to achieve it. This philosophical book aims to help men understand that happiness is rooted more on the person’s state of mind rather than his environment. The systematic training of the heart and mind is explained and all other reflections by the Dalai Lama is beautifully written in this inspirational work.


The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud


We’ve always wondered what our dreams mean or if they really have any meaning at all. There are several books explaining what dreams mean, but perhaps the most celebrated is this one written by psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud who vies dreams as a form of “wish-fulfillment” and “The Royal Road to the Unconscious.”


Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

tao te ching

Considered as one of the most translated works in world literature, this Chinese classic text dates back to the late 4th century BC and has been an inspiration to humanity for centuries, especially across East Asia. “The Classic/Canon of the Way/Path and the Power/Virtue,” or simply “The Way” are just some of possible translations of the words in the title of the text which covers a variety of topics such as political advice for rulers and practical wisdom for everybody.

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