post written by: Marc Chernoff

40 Modern Nonfiction Books Everyone Should Read

Books Everyone Should Read

I credit a fraction of who I am today to each of these books.  Many of these titles challenged my internal status quo, opening my mind to new ideas and opportunities.  And together, they gave me a basic framework for living, loving, learning and working successfully.

If you haven’t taken the time to read them, do yourself a favor and do so.  It will be time well spent.

  1. The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck – Pretty much the granddaddy of all self-improvement books, it’s easily one of the best nonfiction works I’ve ever read.  By melding love, science, and spirituality into a primer for personal growth, Peck guides the reader through lessons on delaying gratification, accepting responsibility for decisions, dedicating oneself to truth and reality, and creating a balanced lifestyle.
  2. Radical Honesty by Brad Blanton – The book’s basic point is sound – honesty is the best policy.  With a brash, ‘in your face’ writing style, Blanton states that lying is the primary cause of human stress and advocates strict truthfulness as the key to achieving intimacy in relationships and happiness in life.
  3. The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin – Josh Waitzkin transformed himself from a championship chess master into an elite Tai Chi martial arts practitioner.  This book is part autobiography, part chess memoir, and part martial arts philosophy.  Essentially, Waitzkin offers his own approach to becoming a student and applying certain disciplines and habits toward learning and eventually mastering any skill.
  4. Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream by Adam Shepard – Shepard started his life over from scratch in Charleston, South Carolina, with $25 and the clothes on his back.  He lived in a homeless shelter while looking for work.  His goal was to start with nothing and, within a year, work hard enough to save $2500, buy a car, and to live in a furnished apartment.  “Scratch Beginnings” is sometimes sad, sometimes amusing, pointed and thought provoking - all the makings of a book well worth reading.
  5. The Joy of Simple Living by Jeff Davidson – A great resource for anyone wanting to cut down on the clutter and confusion in their life.  Davidson takes a step-by-step, easy to follow approach to simplifying your house, garage, office, car, etc.  Not only will you learn to create an orderly home, you’ll gain the knowledge necessary to be a more successful spouse, parent, and worker by learning how to prioritize and simplify.
  6. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini – Arguably the best book on the science of persuasion.  Cialdini explains the six psychological principles that drive our powerful impulse to comply to the pressures of others and shows how we can defend ourselves against manipulation (or put these principles to work for our own interests).
  7. Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Ecker – This book competently discusses the missing link between wanting success and achieving it.  If you suspect that your mindset is holding you back from making more money and achieving your goals, you’d be wise to give this title a thorough read.
  8. Management of the Absurd by Richard Farson – Farson zeros in on the paradoxes of communication, the politics of management, and the dilemmas of change, exploring relationships within organizations and offering a unique perspective on the challenges managers face.  I highly recommend this book for anyone in a management or leadership role, including parents and teachers.
  9. Overachievement by John Eliot – According to Eliot, in order to achieve spectacular success, one must change his or her thoughts about pressure and learn to welcome it, enjoy it, and make it work.  Eliot says that goal-setting, relaxation, and visualization, the typical self-help suggestions, just don’t work well for most people.  This book provides some great food for thought that attempts to counteract the primary points of other major self-help gurus.
  10. The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz – This is another classic self-improvement book.  Schwartz gives the reader useful, proactive steps for achieving success.  He presents a clear-cut program for getting the most out of your job, marriage, family life, and other relationships.  In doing so, he proves that you don’t need to be an intellectual or have innate talent to attain great success and satisfaction in life.
  11. An Incomplete Education: 3,684 Things You Should Have Learned but Probably Didn’t by Judy Jones – Simply fun and insightful, this book is truly a wonderful supplement to any person’s mental knowledgebase.  It’s basically an intellectual outline of history with a lot of helpful charts and guides.  It’s written in a very humorous tone and nails the humor attempts more often than not.  Whether you’re interested in a ‘refresher’ or just a quick briefing on an academic area you never had time for, this book is for you.  It’s not in depth, but it does tell you what you should know in all areas, including history, philosophy, music, art, and even film.
  12. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie – Easily one of the best and most popular books on people-skills ever written.  Carnegie uses his adept storytelling skills to illustrate how to be successful by making the most of human relations.
  13. How to Talk to Anyone by Leil Lowndes – Another practical book about conversational people skills.  Lowndes helps the reader discover how to make small talk work, how to break the ice, how to network at a party, how to use body language to captivate your audience, and much more.
  14. The Irresistible Offer by Mark Joyner – Create an irresistible offer.  Present it to people who need it.  And sell it almost instantly.  A great sales and marketing primer for anyone trying to sell something.
  15. Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich – This is the book that provoked Adam Shepard to write “Scratch Beginnings.”  It’s another first person perspective on poverty in America.  In the book, Ehrenreich moves into a trailer and works as a waitress, hotel maid, and Wal-Mart sales clerk.  Nickel and Dimed reveals low-rent America in all its tenacity, anxiety, and duality.  I found it to be an extremely thought-provoking read.
  16. The Power of Less by Leo Babuta – Babuta’s message is simple:  Identify the essential.  Eliminate the rest.  Get on your way to living a simpler life in order to do and achieve the things that are of real value to you and your family.  This is my favorite book on the art of simplicity.
  17. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell – Gladwell embarks on an intellectual journey to figure out what separates the best, the brightest, and the most successful people from everyone else.  He investigates these high achievers by looking closely at their culture, family, generation, and the individual experiences of their upbringing.  This book really gets you thinking about success from a totally different perspective.
  18. Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner – This book just may redefine the way you look at the modern world.  Through skillful storytelling and wry insight, Levitt and Dubner set out to explore the hidden side of everything from the inner workings of a crack gang to the myths of political campaign finance to the true importance or unimportance of gun control.  It’s an eye-opening read.
  19. Maximum Achievement by Brian Tracy – This book is probably exactly what you would expect from a well-written, classic self-improvement book.  Tracy’s straightforward advice is accompanied by easy-to-do exercises and enhanced with inspiring stories of successful, highly motivated achievers in many fields.
  20. You, Inc.: The Art of Selling Yourself by Harry Beckwith – Beckwith concentrates on the importance of being a considerate human being as it relates to running a successful business or living a successful life.  The title is somewhat deceiving because the book is more about giving than it is about selling… or should I say, it’s about giving as a way to sell yourself.  Either way, this book is packed with practical tips and insightful stories.
  21. Getting Things Done by David Allen – The ultimate ‘organize your life’ book.  Allen’s ideas and processes are for all those people who are overwhelmed with too many things to do, too little time to do them, and a general sense of unease that something important is being missed.  The primary goal of this book is to teach you how to effectively get your ‘to-do inbox’ to empty.
  22. The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit by Seth Godin – Godin challenges the age old idea that winners never quit.  He states that every new project or career starts out exciting and fun.  Then it gets hard and less fun, until it hits a low point - and at that point you have to figure out if you’re in a dip or at a dead-end.  This book provides a look at how the market actually expects people to quit and what to do about it.  It’s a short and insightful read.
  23. Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely – Looks at the reasons so many of us continuously make irrational decisions on a daily basis.  It’s a scientific but easily readable and unquestionably insightful look about why we do what we do on a daily basis, and why we never change our ways even though we often ‘know better.’
  24. The Smartest Investment Book You’ll Ever Read by Daniel R. Solin – A short, no-fluff guide to investing.  Solin provides an easy-to-follow four step plan that allows investors to create and monitor their portfolios in 90 minutes or less per year, explaining how to asses risk and how to allocate assets to maximize returns and minimize volatility.  This book was absolutely invaluable to me when I first started investing my money.
  25. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey – A classic self-improvement book.  Covey presents a principle-centered approach for solving personal and professional problems by delivering a step-by-step guide for living with integrity and honesty and adapting to the inevitable change life brings us everyday.  It’s a must-read.
  26. Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath – Why do some ideas and stories thrive while others die?  And how do we improve the chances that our ideas and stories will catch on with others?  Heath and Heath tackle these questions head-on.  This book is extremely entertaining, while simultaneously providing practical, tangible strategies for makings things stick.
  27. Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser – “What we eat has changed more in the last forty years than in the last forty thousand,” Schlosser observes, yet most Americans know very little about how that food is made, where, by whom, and at what cost.  In a wonderfully horrifying way, this book exposes the American fast food industry’s evil side.  It’s a true eye-opener.
  28. Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert – Gilbert, a Harvard professor of psychology has studied happiness for decades, and he shares scientific findings that just might change the way you look at the world.  His primary goal is to persuade you into accepting the fact that happiness is not really what or where you imagined it would be.  This is my favorite book on happiness by a long shot.
  29. The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki – Surowiecki argues that “under the right circumstances, groups are remarkably intelligent, and are often smarter than the smartest people in them.”  He uses statistical examples to backup this theory.  For example: “…the TV studio audience of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire guesses correctly 91 percent of the time, compared to ‘experts’ who guess only 65 percent correctly.”  Hmm… perhaps this is why Wikipedia is so successful.
  30. The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss – Ferris challenges us to evaluate our perspective on the cost and availability of our dreams.  And he teaches us that hard work isn’t very hard when you love what you’re doing.  Although there’s certainly some pages of self promotion within, Ferris provides invaluable tips to help us remain aligned with our goals, set expectations on our terms, and eliminate unnecessary time-sinks while increasing our overall effectiveness.
  31. Personal Development for Smart People by Steve Pavlina – A surprisingly well-written, broad, and totally raw look at the different aspects of self-improvement.  Pavlina skillfully unveils the truth about what it takes to consciously grow as a human being by teaching what he calls ‘the seven universal principles’ behind all successful personal growth efforts.
  32. The Now Habit by Neil Fiore – Quite possibly the best book ever written on overcoming procrastination.  Fiore provides an optimistic, empathetic, and factual explanation of why we procrastinate and then delivers practical, immediately applicable tips for reversing the procrastination spell.  On many levels, this book saved my life.
  33. Ignore Everybody by Hugh MacLeod – Where does inspiration and creativity come from?  This little book attempts to uncover this mystery.  MacLeod states that creativity is not a genetic trait, nor is it reserved for professionals.  Everyone is creative sooner or later, but unfortunately, most people have it drilled out of them when they’re young.  MacLeod’s primary goal is to un-drill it and unleash your creative mind.
  34. Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi – Ferrazzi explains the guiding principles he has mastered over a lifetime of personal and professional networking and describes what it takes to build the kind of lasting, mutually beneficial relationships that lead to professional and personal success.  Most of this book is fantastic - you learn how to relate to people, how to establish contacts and maintain connections, and how to create a social network.  If you interact with a lot of people on a regular basis, it’s a great read.
  35. Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki – This inspiring work ranks with the great Zen classics, in a voice and language completely adapted to modern-day sensibilities.  Suzuki’s words breathe with the joy and simplicity that make a liberated life possible.  As he reveals the actual practice of Zen as a discipline for daily life, the reader begins to understand what Zen is truly about.  If you’re even slightly curious about the practice of Zen Buddhism, you’ll find this book to be extremely enlightening.
  36. Eating Well For Optimum Health by Andrew Weil – If you only read one health and nutrition book in your whole lifetime, read this one.  Weil sheds light on the often confusing and conflicting ideas circulating about good nutrition, addressing specific health issues and offering nutritional guidance to help heal and prevent major illnesses.  Of particular value is his examination of recent dieting fads, such as low-carbohydrate, vegan and ‘Asian’ diets, with an eye toward debunking the myths about them while highlighting their benefits.
  37. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell – Gladwell looks at how small ideas can spread like viruses, sparking global sociological changes.  The ‘tipping point’ is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.  Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate.
  38. A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn – Although this book is likely to be more interesting to Americans than citizens of other countries, it’s truly a great read either way.  Covering Christopher Columbus’s arrival through President Clinton’s years in office, as well as the 2000 election and the War on Terrorism, the book features an insightful and frank analysis of the most important events in American history told from the perspective of minorities and the working class.
  39. I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi – This is the ultimate personal finance book for twenty-somethings (and anyone else in need of a financial planning makeover).  It’s one thing to know about finance, another to be able to write about it, and another entirely to write about it in a way that aptly motivates the younger generation.  Ramit hits the tri-fecta here.  He tells you exactly what to do with your money and why.
  40. Career Renegade by Jonathan Fields – This book is simply about building a great living around what you love to do most.  And it’s one of the best guides I’ve ever read on the subject.  Fields, a big-time lawyer turned serial entrepreneur, shows you how to turn your passion - whether it’s cooking or copywriting, teaching or playing video games - into a better payday and a richly satisfying career.

Photo by: Joel Bedford

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  • I loved Scratch Beginnings. I wish more people noticed and read it.


  • Great list. Some brilliant books there.

    I would add:
    The Power of Now - Eckhart Tolle (Amazing Book!)
    Focal Point - Brian Tracy (A life plan within a book)
    Rich Dad Poor Dad - Robert Kiyosaki

  • Awesome recommendations!

    I second “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”, “The 4-Hour Workweek”, “The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit” and “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind”

    Shun Jian
    Personal Development for the Book Smart

  • Nice list! I have #17 in the book-shelf, waiting to be read. #25: Covey: I have listened to the audio broadcasts and loved it. Never read the book but I imagine the concept is similar. #31 Steve Pavlina is the first one who turned me into early rising (& blogging), and I have read #34 and #37. I look forward to reading more. I write book reviews on every book I read, mainly because I want to remember the main takeaways, and also to share how that particular book impacted my life. Now I have more great reads to look forward to. Thanks!

  • Thanks for this lovely/wonderful list of books. I’m always looking for good ones. There are several on this list that I’ve read and loved (Nickel and Dimed, Fast Food Nation, etc.). So I am excited to start reading some of the others that have caught my eye. Thanks again guys!

  • What a great list! I consider myself a pretty big reader but I’ve only read about 10 of these. I’m looking forward to checking the others out. :)

  • Where are the best modern nonfiction books by female authors? Seriously, are there only two worth noting? Yikes. Not a slam to this list, just saying that it’s disappointing to see female authors under-represented in this realm.

  • @Kaizan: Thanks for the book suggestions. I agree, those are great reads.

    @Erin: Sorry. I certainly didn’t select only 2 female authors for this list on purpose. The 40 titles listed here just happen to be the modern nonfiction books that I feel have had the most impact on my life.

    @All: Thanks for the comments. Feel free to leave us with additional book suggestions.

  • Did you really not include “A Reasonable Life” by Ferenc Mate? A little surprised, but maybe this just means you haven’t read it…which is great news for you. Pick it up and you’ll never forget it.

  • Hi Marc,

    Great list. Have read some. Will look into reading the ones I have not.

    The book that changed my life? “Women who run with the wolves” by clarissa pinkola estes.



  • F Wall Street - Joe Ponzio. No nonsense guide to separating “the market” from the true businesses underlying it that make and lose money.

  • Just a comment on Zinn’s History of the U.S.– not a bad read, but one should realize Zinn is coming in with a strong bias, and his selection of sources and how he shapes his narrative reflect that. As it happens, I’m sympathetic to where he’s coming from, but as a classroom teacher, would never use his book. I’ve examined many textbooks and narrative histories of the United States. The more readable almost always have some slant or bias (after all, history a story, which everyone tells differently), so even if history isn’t your thing, better to read bits and pieces from several books than to rely on a single author.

  • I also vote for Clarissa Pinkola Estes “Women Who Run with the Wolves” - my mother gave it to me for my 29th birthday and it grew in value to me over the years. The others I would add are Heeding the Urgent Message from Mother: Gather the Women, Save the World by Jean Shinoda Bolen, by a wise wise woman writer / “The Gift of a Year” by Mira Kirshenbaum on the importance of finding your passion & bliss, even in short bursts of time over a year, / and for validation of how we all contribute to team collaboration at work by using our own gifts:
    “The Power of Followership” by Robert E. Kelley

  • Well of course you knew out-front that you’d get dozens of additional recommendations. Which is sort of how it works: we’re all trading ideas and clues. I’m familiar w/ several titles on your list. A great list too, btw! The one currently relevant title I’d add, especially in light of a. how popular social media sites are now and theh way many people use them and b. the current economy & how it got that way. Check the premise of this book published this past spring:

    The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement
    by Jean M. Twenge Ph.D. & W. Keith Campbell Ph.D.

  • Hi Marc,

    Thanks for the list. It makes me my job easier of finding great books to read.


  • I love Dale Carnegie How To Win Friends and Influence People. The one powerful tool that I didn’t know was to remember and address people by first name. Before I thought that there are so many people passing through your life everyday, how am I going to remember all of their names and more importantly, why should I remember their names. Apparently, the name IS the sweetest sound to a person ear. Just think, it doesn’t matter how noisy your surroundings are, if someone calls your name loud enough, you will look around to find out who that is. Knowing one’s names is so simple but it can help break the awkward silence. Good read.

  • I’ll give partial credit for Dale Carnegy and Suzuki’s books, both excellent and must-reads. Google some of these author’s names: Robert Pirsig, Will Durrant, Jared Diamond, Douglas Hofstadter, Milton Friedman, Bertrand Russel, Stephen J. Gould, Elain Pagels, Richard Feynman, S.I. Hayakawa, William James, Harold Bloom, Aldous Huxley, Joseph Campbell, Eugen Herrigel… And that’s without getting out of my chair (although I can see the bookcase from here.)

  • Great List, what about Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand?

  • Great list! I’ve read most of them, and plan to read the rest. Some that I’d add are: Richard Carlson: You Can Be Happy No Matter What, Jared Diamond: Collapse, Marvin Harris: Cows Pigs Wars & Witches, Eckart Tolle: The Power of Now, Lao Tsu (Translated by Stephen Mitchell): Tao Te Ching

  • And a couple books by female authors I recommend:
    Change Your Life In 30 Days
    Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

  • Some really great books there. Dale Carnegie is the only one I am not happy about…it doesn’t fit in with another one on the list, “Seven Habits…” by Stephen Covey. In fact, Covey encourages on developing what he calls character ethic whereas Carnegie’s formula was personality ethic.

    I think one book that must be added to this list is “Your erroneous zones” by Wayne Dyer. It helps to take charge of your life and be able to differentiate judgment from reality.

    Overall a lovely list!

  • Great list, I have read all of these and would def recommend them!

  • I love Dr. Covey’s classic “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and Leo Babauta’s volume on living simply and happily, “The Power of Less.” At this stage, I’m trying to implement some of the suggestions outlined in Tim Ferriss’ “4-Hour Work Week,” to find more time for myself and my family. Excellent list, there’s so much here that I need to add to my reading list. Thanks.

  • Marc,

    Good list, I read a lot, but there a few on the list that I have yet to read, so it is on do read list now. Thanks.

  • What a great post! I’ve read a few of these and agree that they are “must reads.” I cannot wait to dive into some of the others. Thanks for the leads.

    It might be helpful to add a list of just the titles and authors that could easily be printed so people could have a “shopping list” for the book store. Just a thought.


  • This is a great list. I’ve read Covey’s book and I’m currently reading Dale Carnegie’s book. This will give me more idea’s for future reading. Thank you.

  • You’ve labeled this as a list of “non-fiction” books? Isn’t that a little broad? This is almost entirely self-help related non-fiction. Mind you, these are not bad works… the list is just a little misleading based on the title.

  • I will take the list to the library and get the ones I haven’t read. I’d add my own, “Flying by the Seat of My Soul.”

  • Great list - thanks for putting them together Marc! Some of the books on my list are on my to-read list, while I haven’t heard of the others. I’ve bookmarked this and I’m going to check out the books.

  • Hey,
    The list is just great! My personal fav is #10..the Magic of thinking big. I have read that book nearly 50 times..and every time i read it i still learn something new.
    Thank you for sharing such an awesome list. I ma gonna save it for future reference.

  • Thanks for the list. I’ve read about a dozen of those and seeing them among the list, I now have a few more to add to my own reading list if they are of the same calibre. Thanks!

  • I do so love a good reading list!

    And I second @Brandon’s recommendation of “A Reasonable Life”. It’s insightful and irreverent - one of my favourite combinations in a book!

  • While I agree wholeheartedly with almost every book on your list, but I would have to say the Four Hour work week should be dropped. This book is a fake and I know that the author personally lives in fear that the world will find this out. He does not live by what he preaches about and says first hand to his friends that he fears being found out.

  • Nice list, I have been searching hard for some good books to add to my learning experience. I have read some of the listed but the rest I will surely acquire. :-)

  • I respectfully submit: Wooden: A lifetime of Observations and Reflections on and Off the Court.

    This is a short synopsis of the philosophies of Coach John Wooden, who is the growth mindset incarnate.

  • An excellent list of books for achieving greater success and happiness in life! I have read around 10 of these books. I would like to add that “Think and grow rich” by Napolean Hill is also an excellent Non Fiction book one might read to gain some amazing insights.

  • Great list, look forward to reading some of these.

  • Nice list! Never Eat Alone was fantastic. I agree with Emmanuel Gonot and would also nominate The Power of Less by Leo Babauta and would also suggest The Power of Small: Why Little Things Make All the Difference by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval. If you liked Outliers, it will be right up your alley.

  • Thanks for this great list. I’ve just finished listening to the audiobook of Brian Tracy’s Maximum Achievement and come out with 13 pages of notes, feeling truely motivated. I also picked up Gilbert’s Stumbling on Happiness from the library, an interesting read so far!

    You’ve also motivated me to read more. It’s hard to want to read when you dont know if what you’re picking up will be any good. Not all of these books sound like my cup of tea, but it’s surely a good starting point.


  • Great list. I have read a few.
    I would also add Michael Pollan’s books, specifically: The Omnivore’s Dilemna, and In Defense Of Food.
    Great companions for after you are depressed and down after reading Fast Food Nation.

  • […] books (including self-improvement and self-help in addition to traditional nonfiction topics) 40 Modern Nonfiction Books Everyone Should Read at Marc and Angel.Kristen: Food blog Store that supports nonprofits and highlights design […]

  • Great list. But I second Jared’s suggestion of adding Michael Pollan’s books, especially Omnivore’s Dilemma. It really changed how I eat. I now go out of my way to support local farmers. I buy grass fed, organic beef and lamb from a local rancher, buy a majority of my veggies at local farmer’s markets or from my veggie garden, and have a VERY different opinion of Whole Foods. The only struggle has been finding a local source of free range chicken and eggs here in Salt Lake City. I may have to raise my own.

  • Great list! At this point, I have only read 4 of these titles, but I have had my eye on numerous others that you have recommended here. I’ll have to check them out after I get through the stack waiting on my bedside table!


  • Great List,

    I am familiar with many of them, but thank you for the incredible list. I will be adding several to to my reading list. This time I will write them down before I forget them again.


  • thank you for not including deepak chopra. he’s the worst.

  • Really good list :). I’ve only read 2 or 3 of these, but always looking for some more acclaimed books. Thank you!

  • I had to read outliers for a class and it was very interesting. I liked how he related what he was saying to real life people. Thanks for the great list, I just added 39 more books to my already long list…

  • Most interesting list.
    Well done!
    Would agree about adding “Think And Grow Rich”.
    Do not agree that Deepak Chopra is the worst.
    He has made to valuable contributions.
    Thanks again for a great list.

  • How to win friends and influence people literally turn my life around.
    I will suggest two other books.

    Every woman and The Richest man in Babylon.

  • This is great. Exactly what I needed to update my library. I’ve read quite a few of these but there are tons that I’ve never even heard of. Thanks for this great list.

  • I don’t think #4 should be included. The guy did it with a privileged white kid background with a good education and family life. That is completely and utterly important when it comes to confronting challenges. If it was someone who had actually had a hard time in life, it would be a good story. That’s why real triumph stories are so compelling, because they are REAL.

    He had no mental illness, no family problems, no lack of support and he could his experiment at any point. That’s comfort actualy homeless people don’t have. It’s almost insulting what he did and to give him credit for a struggle he didn’t really have is wrong. On top of that, all of the resources he used in his experiment could have gone to someone who really needed it, not just someone who was playing at it.

  • I would add four books to that list, which is pretty complete but lacks 4 I find interesting :)
    * Eat that frog (Brian Tracy)
    * Questions to a Zen master (Taisen Deshimaru)
    * On writing well (William Zinsser)
    * The right stuff (Tom Wolfe)

    The last one is just because when I read ‘Nonfiction’ in your title I thought it was about that, nonfiction writing. And for me, this is one fine example of non-fiction.


  • i would add “the world is flat ” by Thomas L. Friedman.

  • You forgot one important book: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

    The best book I’ve ever read!

  • a great list, that’s for sure

  • Good List. Thanks for the Suggestions. I’m concerned that “The World Is Flat” by Thomas Friedman didn’t make the cut. It seems to me that anyone interacting with the modern world needs to know this book. It makes light years of difference to your conversation’s relevance quotient. Thanks again, and Here’s to the Future!

  • I think this is a good list, but it seems like way too many of them are in the “advice and self-help” category. I’d like to seem more like A People’s History of the United States and less like How to Win Friends and Influence People.

  • I’ve read quite a few of these but I think you should add in Malcolm Gladwell’s other awesome book “Blink”. It changed my thinking about quite a few things.

  • I read a few of these, But I have alot of reading to do now =] Thanks alot

  • Fantastic list. I’ve read quite a few of them, and many others are on my must read list. I have bookmarked this and plan on reading my way through it!

  • I don’t have time to read! I’m too busy Stumbling around the internet, lol - Jk, great list.


  • Some good ones there, for sure.

    But, The Dip and I Will Teach You To Be Rich, are both a waste of time.

  • Check out A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, by Donald Miller.
    Changed my life completely. :)

  • Interesting titles.
    I would add:

    Wikinomics and Macrowikinomics, The Necessary Revolution and The Life You Can Save

    I would remove:

    The 4 Hour Work Week

  • I would add the Bible.

  • This is a great list of books and I have already read about a dozen of them. Good suggestions for future reading. The two that I have problems with, though, are Howard Zinn’s book and anything by Barbara Ehrenreich. For US history, I would recommend anything by David McCullough. Ehrenreich’s attitude is such a passive, “someone else take care of me” childish way of thinking that I am sure there are other writers out there who have more “can do”, positive ways of thinking. I can’t think of anyone right at the moment, but I know there are others out there.

  • I know many books from the list above. Some only hear about some are my best. For me is nice that you put ‘Eating Well For Optimum Health’ Also i would recommend to everyone this book which is as guide for healthy nutrition.
    Great post!

  • I came across this site & it has been wonderful so far :)

    This is a good book list. I would definitely add the 2 below:

    Improv Wisdom: don’t prepare just show up - by Patricia Ryan Madson
    What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20 - by Tina Seelig

  • This is a great reading list. I have read some of the books already such as “Freakonomics” which is an excellent book. I will definitely check out some of the other books listed.

  • You forgot any of the books by Mary Roach. Stiff, Spook, Bonk, Packing for Mars. All fantastic books.

  • Great book list. Thanks for sharing!

  • Nice list! I would have made space for ” Autobiography of a Yogy” by Paramahansa Yogananda.


  • This article should be named “popular nonfiction books everyone should read.” I throw in the word “popular” because all of the most important nonfiction starts and stays within academia. I hate to say it, but its so unlikely (but not impossible, and depending on the topic) for the most important non fiction to not come from academia, which is where all these books come. All these books offer relevant insight, but they’re all on topics the best educators better explain in one fifth of the words in articles no one ever reads.

  • Thanks a lot! Added these books to my reading list.

  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a great book with wonderful guidelines for the busy one!

  • some ok books but scope is pretty narrow. mainly self-help & stuff

    non-fiction i read is more diverse but also a bit heavier (i try to find mind-changing books on subjects i know little or nothing about). some are a bit hard work but the rewards are usually greater…

    anyway, case anyone’s interested, here r a few of my top picks…

    1. secrets of the soil (agriculture)
    2. the unnatural history of the sea (ecology)
    3. straight & crooked thinking (how to think)
    4. the lost science of money (intro to weird subject of money)
    5. images of organization (how to design organizations. bit technical but v profound stuff)
    6. living water (mystical properties of water)
    7. a pattern language (ground breaking book about architecture)
    8. permaculture: a designers manual (big book about alternative agriculture)
    9. bitter fruit (good for finding out what mischief the US government get up to. this time in guatemala)
    10. desmond morris’s Naked Ape & Human Zoo (easy to read. very good at seeing people as animals)

    honourable mention…
    elements of typographic thinking (about typography but actually very well written)

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