10 Fascinating Nonfiction Books that Will Leave You Wanting More

fascinating nonfiction

In the right author’s hands, true stories can be just as engrossing as fiction. Plus, the best nonfiction books teach you about a number of topics, including history, famous and non famous people, and both well-known and obscure events and locations.

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Great nonfiction always leaves me wanting more, which in my case usually means looking up photos and more information about the topics, people, and settings discussed in the book. Use of Google is my sign that a fascinating nonfiction book has drawn me in.

Here is a list of nonfiction books that are sure to capture your interest.

1. The House by the Lake by Thomas Harding

Thomas Harding researches his grandparents former, beloved lake house near what used to be East Berlin and discovers its fascinating history. He shares that history with his readers as well as providing a summarized master class on 20th century German history, from World War I through unification of East and West Germany. If you’re a Cold War geek like me, you’ll enjoy The House by the Lake.

Read my review of The House by the Lake here.

2. Sidecountry by John Branch

Sidecountry is a collection sports articles written by Pulitzer Prize winner John Branch. Not just for sports fans, this nonfiction gem will capture your attention as Branch eloquently describes the human side of athletic endeavors and provides a glimpse of an America most of us have never seen.

Read my review of Sidecountry here.

3. Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Infidel is Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s gripping memoir about growing up as an impoverished Muslim girl in Africa, overcoming huge obstacles to become a member of the Dutch parliament, and her fall from grace due to a scandal with her immigration records. Infidel is both inspirational and harrowing and an overall great and educational read.

Read my review of Infidel here.

4. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

Stephen King pulls back the curtain and lets us peer into his mind. Surprisingly, it isn’t full of creepy crawlies. In fact, On Writing is charming, insightful and full of practical advice. Not just for writers, it should appeal to anyone interested in how a master craftsman approaches the creative process.

Read my review of On Writing here.

5. Educated by Tara Westover

Educated is Tara Westover’s remarkable account of how she transformed herself from an inadequately homeschooled daughter of paranoid survivalists to earning a Harvard PhD. Her accomplishments (she taught herself math!) will leave you motivated to keep on learning.

Read my review of Educated here.

6. The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story by Douglas Preston

The Lost City of the Monkey God is a fascinating mash-up of archaeology, cutting edge technology, treasure hunting, history, Central American politics and epidemiology. Author Douglas Preston, who also writes about archaeology for National Geographic, covers some complex topics in a manner that’s easy to understand and also very interesting.

Read my review of The Lost City of the Monkey God here.

7. Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Lab Girl is Hope Jahren’s memoir about her life, her work, and the special relationship she has with her lab partner. Dr. Jahren’s personal anecdotes and experiences as a woman in scientific academia are interesting in and of themselves. By weaving in related, and understandable, examples of plant science, she creates a truly unique piece of nonfiction.

Read my review of Lab Girl here.

8. The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson

Erik Larson is the king of making history interesting. In the Splendid and the Vile, he chronicles Winston Churchill’s first year as Prime Minister of England as he defies Adolf Hitler and uses his amazing leadership skills to keep his citizens resolute in the face of great hardship. Larson uses plenty of letters and journals as sources, making this a very intimate biography.

Read my review of The Splendid and the Vile here.

9. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

This is one of my all-time favorite works of nonfiction. The Boys in the Boat tells the remarkable story of the young crew team that won a gold medal at the 1936 Olympics. These were college boys whose hard work and dedication allowed them to outshine Nazi Germany’s rowing team on the world stage. Truly inspirational!

Read my review of The Boys in the Boat here.

10. Making the Best Years of Our Lives: The Hollywood Classic That Inspired a Nation by Alison Macor

Last but certainly not least on this list of hard to put down nonfiction books is Making the Best Years of Our Lives. This well-written work tells the behind-the-scenes story of a movie classic and multiple Oscar winner. Not just for movie buffs, Making the Best Years of Our Lives also goes into the historical context of the movie and discusses its impact on society. Another fascinating read from Alison Macor! (Full disclosure: Alison is my former college roommate.)

There you have it – ten nonfiction books that will pull you in and have you Googling.

What are some of your favorite nonfiction books?

12 thoughts on “10 Fascinating Nonfiction Books that Will Leave You Wanting More

  1. Aww, thanks for including me in this list! It’s pretty amazing (and daunting) company! And a good reminder that after reading your review, I wanted to read The House By The Lake. And Lab Girl will be the perfect gift for my niece, who works in forensics–thank you! I am also a big fan of Stephen King’s On Writing. Thanks, Michelle! Your lists never disappoint, and this one is extra-special. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oooohhhh noooo–haha! I am chuckling at how you just quintupled (and more) my must-read list with just one post!
    Love this very thoughtful list–some absolutely fascinating titles that once again, I would not have found without your recommendations. And so very fun that Sidecountry made the list! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Educated is one of my all-time favorites. I have recommended it to multiple people. My Dad continues to talk about it. I see a few on your list that I will check out.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for sharing this great list of nonfiction books! I’ve only read one of them — Educated — which was such a powerful story that stuck with me for days & days after I read it. Two of my fave nonfiction reads have really long titles: Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen (Christopher McDougall) and Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II (Robert Kurson). Happy Spring to all!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Ellen! Thanks for commenting and recommending some good nonfiction reads. They both sound great, and I’m somewhat familiar with the second one because I read Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship by the same author and about the same divers, which was really interesting. (the author seems to like long titles :-)).


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