#38: 50 Must Read Nonfiction Books

Our 38th prompt comes from Caudex. They ask:

What are some magnificent nonfiction, non-management, non-self-help books you’d recommend?



It’s as if you know how much I love reading and recommending books to people. This is a pretty solid reading list that should last you a year or two depending on your reading pace. The books are listed in no particular order, and span a wide range of topics, from big data, behavioural science, physics, decolonization, humour, feminism, economics, autobiographies, philosophy and identity.

  1. Weapons of Math Destruction – Cathy O’Neil
  2. Sex at Dawn – Christopher Ryan & Cacilda Jetha
  3. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches – Audre Lorde
  4. Why Nations Fail – Daron Acemoglu & James Robinson
  5. Unbowed – Wangari Maathai
  6. Capital in the Twenty First Century – Thomas Piketty [really long, a bit boring]
  7. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened – Jenny Lawson
  8. The Wretched of the Earth – Frantz Fanon
  9. Men Explain Things To Me – Rebecca Solnit
  10. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind – Yuval Noah Harari
  11. Feminism is For Everybody: Passionate Politics – bell hooks
  12. Death by Black Hole – Neil deGrasse Tyson
  13. What Moves at the Margin – Toni Morrison
  14. The Dilbert Principle – Scott Adams
  15. Hyperbole and a Half – Allie Brosh
  16. I Write What I Like – Steve Biko
  17. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood – Marjane Satrapi
  18. Women’s Liberation and the African Freedom Struggle – Thomas Sankara
  19. Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman – Lindy West
  20. Freakonomics – Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner
  21. This Bridge Called My Back – Cherrie Moraga& Gloria Anzaldua
  22. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  23. The Confidence Game – Maria Konnikova
  24. Pedagogy of the Oppressed – Paulo Freire
  25. How To Be A Woman – Caitlin Moran
  26. Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature – Ngugi wa Thiong’o
  27. Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do About It – Kate Harding
  28. Predictably Irrational – Dan Ariely
  29. Ain’t I A Woman? – bell hooks
  30. Development as Freedom – Amartya Sen
  31. Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner? – Katrin Marcal
  32. The Muqaddimah – Ibn Khaldun
  33. On Identity – Amin Maalouf
  34. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
  35. Pale Blue Dot – Carl Sagan
  36. Sex From Scratch – Sarah Mirk
  37. The Big Short – Michael Lewis [I’d say read all his books]
  38. We Are Never Meeting In Real Life – Samantha Irby
  39. Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman
  40. Bossypants – Tina Fey
  41. Man’s Search For Meaning – Victor Frankl
  42. Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error – Kathryn Schulz
  43. When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi
  44. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History – Elizabeth Kolbert
  45. Hyperspace – Michio Kaku
  46. Delusions of Gender – Cordelia Fine
  47. The Education of a British-Protected Child – Chinua Achebe
  48. This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate – Naomi Klein
  49. Conversations with Myself – Nelson Mandela
  50. The Second Sex – Simone de Beauvoir

Of course there are books that should be here but aren’t because I have yet to read them or because I didn’t want to make a very long list – please recommend them in the comments! 🙂


This post is part of a daily writing experiment that I’m running for a year. I’d love it if you took part! ?

2 thoughts on “#38: 50 Must Read Nonfiction Books

  1. Thank you for this list. I’m so excited because I have only read like 4 books on this list; When Breath Becomes Air, Freakonomics, Sapiens and Unbowed. I absolutely loved all of them, which makes me highly trust your taste 🙂

    I’d recommend The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee (everything that man writes is pretty damn great) and Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed. I also just finished Kofi Annan’s memoir and it’s wild.

    1. You’re welcome, share it far and wide! 😀 I like your taste too! I’ve added all three of them to my list as well, thank you!!

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