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17 Essential Non-Fiction Books to Add to Your Shelves

In these times, especially, when the world around you has more or less shrunk to the space between your couch and your bed, a good nonfiction book will not only keep you entertained, but you will most likely learn something while you’re at it. Trying to pick the best nonfiction books, though, is tough. With countless subjects, how and where do you start? Well, you don’t have to, because we did.

We’ve managed to round up a few of our favorite non-fiction books that are essential to any man’s library. From harrowing tales of adventure to memoirs from some of the most famous men in recent history to one of the most talked-about reports in the world of politics, this list includes books that will inspire you and cause you outrage — one even details a step-by-step guide on how to influence others.

A Brief History of Time

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

Could time run backwards? Was there a beginning of time? These are just some of the questions considered in an internationally acclaimed masterpiece by one of the world’s greatest minds.

Author: Stephen Hawking
Rating: 4.18 out of 5

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of The American West

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee generated a lot of buzz with its frank and heartbreaking depiction of the systematic annihilation of American Indian tribes across the Western frontier.

Author: Dee Brown
Rating: 4.23 out of 5

Looking for more like this? We’ve also found the best history books to add to your shelves.

In Cold Blood

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were brutally murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. The crime offered no apparent motive and almost no clues. Capote reconstructs the murder and investigation that led to the capture, trial, and execution of the killers.

Author: Truman Capote
Rating: 4.07 out of 5

Hiroshima

Hiroshima by John Hersey

On August 6, 1945, Hiroshima was destroyed by the first atomic bomb ever dropped on a city. This masterpiece by Hersey documents what happened on that day.

Author: John Hersey
Rating: 3.97 out of 5

Out of Africa

Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen

The author of Seven Gothic Tales gives a true account of her life on her plantation in Kenya.

Author: Isak Dinesen
Rating: 3.96 out of 5

We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our FamiliesWe Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow

This is first-hand account of one of the defining outrages of modern history — an unforgettable anatomy of Rwanda’s decimation.

Author: Philip Gourevitch
Rating: 4.24 out of 5

Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage

Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing

The harrowing tale of British explorer Ernest Shackleton’s 1914 attempt to reach the South Pole, Endurance is one of the greatest adventure stories of the modern age.

Author: Alfred Lansing
Rating: 4.4 out of 5

Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors

Alive by Piers Paul Read

On October 12, 1972, a plane carrying a team of young rugby players crashed into the remote, snow-peaked Andes. Out of the 45 original passengers and crew, only 16 made it off the mountain alive.

Author: Piers Paul Read
Rating: 4.11 our of 5

Kitchen Confidential

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

Kitchen Confidential is an incredibly funny yet shocking collection of wild but true tales of life in the culinary world from the beloved chef. And if you’re interested in this, you’ll also want to take a look at some of the best food shows.

Author: Anthony Bourdain
Rating: 4.08 out of 5

Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama

In this unsentimental and compelling memoir, the former President, who was the son of a Black African father and a white American mother, searches for a workable meaning to his life as an African American.

Author: Barrack Obama
Rating: 3.88 out of 5

How to Win Friends and Influence People

How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

This book is filled with advice on how to make friends quickly and easily, win people over to your way of thinking, and become a better speaker. This is one of the best self-help books money can buy.

Author: Dale Carnegie
Rating: 4.2 out of 5

Friday Night Lights

Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger

Friday Night Lights is a timeless account of the Permian Panthers of Odessa, a winning high school football team in Texas that was socially and racially divided.

Author: H.G. Bissinger
Rating: 4.13 out of 5

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

This is a telling account of when Krakauer reached the summit of Mt. Everest on May 10, 1966.

Author: Jon Krakauer
Rating: 4.17 out of 5

Life on the Mississippi

Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain

Life on the Mississippi is a romantic history of a mighty river, an autobiographical account of Twain’s early steamboat days, and a storehouse of humorous anecdotes and sketches. We’ve also found some of the best biographies if you’re looking for more like this.

Author: Mark Twain
Rating: 3.89

Good-Bye to All That: An Autobiography

Good-Bye to All That by Robert Graves

Published a decade after the end of World War I, poet and novelist Robert Graves was preparing to leave England for good.

Author: Robert Graves
Rating: 4.05 out of 5

The Right Stuff

The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe

Millions of words have poured forth about man’s trip to the moon, but until now, few people have had a sense of the most engrossing side of the adventure.

Author: Tom Wolfe
Rating: 4.24 out of 5

The Mueller Report

The Mueller Report by The Washington Post

As one of the most important sets of words to be published during the Trump presidency, The Mueller Report is a Washington tell-all that reveals the president in all his impulsiveness, insecurity, and disregard for rules and norms. Published with the intent to inform the American public, the damning report hasn’t been read by most Americans and is a rather disturbing true crime book.

Author: The Washington Post
Rating: 4.29 out of 5

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