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The best nonfiction books

If fantasy isn’t your thing, that doesn’t mean reading isn’t. The plethora of non-fiction books available is so broad that there really is something to spark anyone’s intrigue; from science to politics, religion, history, sports and even celeb biographies. Whatever floats your boat, there’s new nonfiction books hitting the shelves every day, 

Non-fiction can cover any and all issues from those that are fun and light-hearted, to stories that are a little deeper and cover relevant issues in today’s society, so it all depends on the mood you’re in and what issues take your interest. With all the political changes that happened in 2017, it’s no wonder people want to find out more about what went on behind the scenes, which is why you’ll find autobiographies that explore the lives of politicians such as Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton.

Other books we’ve included in our round up include memoirs from the likes of Roxane Gay and Ariel Levy, and science, history and political conspiracies by Stephen Hawking, Masha Gessen and David Grann. Not all of these stories are new for 2018, but what they all are is well written, gripping and so very true that you won’t want to put them down. Take a look at our list of the best nonfiction books to find out which one’s next on your reading list. 

1. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

A popular science book on cosmology

Best for: Science lovers
Published: 1988
Pages: 256
Publisher: Bantam Dell Publishing Group
Reasons to buy
+Fascinating page-turner+Not too long 
Reasons to avoid
-Can be a little tricky to get your head around 

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking has been regarded as fascinating read by both those who have an understanding of physics and those who don’t. The book itself explores the universe, beginning with theories from the likes of Newton and Einstein and then delving into the exploration of galaxies, black holes and everything in between. Undoubtedly, if you have never engaged in any literature surrounding physics then you may find this book a little bit of a slog, but if the interest is there, readers have encouraged others to persevere with this book. It’s only just over 200 pages long, and many said they felt smarter and had a better understand of our universe after, so it’s a win-win.  

2. Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari

A thought-provoking book about identity and consciousness

Best for: Thought-provoking
Published: 2015
Pages: 448
Publisher: Harvill Secker
Reasons to buy
+Questions our existence +Explores history 
Reasons to avoid
-A bit deep for some 

For the keen existentialist, Home Dues is regarded as an exhilarating journey through history and into the future, posing questions of identity; consciousness and intelligence to greater understand life as we know it. It combines philosophy, history and science in an entertaining and original way that readers found accessible and refreshing. It is a little deep, so you need to be in the right mood for it, but those who read it didn’t find it too heavy to cope with. For a book you won’t want to put down, Homo Deus will leave you with a tonne of questions that will only be answered by reading on.  

3. Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama

A revealing insight into the upbringing of One of America’s most-loved presidents

Best for: An interesting memoir
Published: 2017
Pages: 403
Publisher: Times Books
Reasons to buy
+Refreshing and honest+Moving tales 
Reasons to avoid
-A little slow  

Barack Obama is someone that everyone is talking about at the moment, and his latest book Dreams from my Father, is said to be a thoughtful insight into his life growing up and leading up to presidency. Those who are fans of Obama will undoubtedly love this book for its honesty and moving stories which show his life is far from perfect. Coming in at just over 400 pages, some readers found this book to be a little slow in places, so if you’re not all that interested in American Politics, you might want to avoid this one. However, if you followed his presidency and were left wanting more, this is definitely one of the best nonfiction books to read this year.  

4. Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

A moving and inspiring memoir about self-love

Best for: A sympathetic story
Published: 2017
Pages: 320
Publisher: HarperCollins
Reasons to buy
+Candid and honest+Feminist outlook
Reasons to avoid
-Very emotional in places 

Roxane Gay was made known for book Bad Feminist, and now she is back with a heart-wrenching memoir detailing the struggles she had with eating during her childhood all the way through to the present day. Some may find this book a little difficult to read, especially as she opens up about sexual assault and how this affected the way she saw and treated herself. However, Roxane’s writing is said to be extremely candid, which is very personable and easy to get into the rhythm of. Readers, particularly women, found it to be a smart and empowering read for all generations.  

5. We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates

A political discussion on the Obama era

Best for: Powerful essays
Published: 2017
Pages: 416
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
Reasons to buy
+Sharp and insightful commentary +A passionate read 
Reasons to avoid
- Causes some controversy

If you like a good debate then this series of essays by Ta-Nehisi Coates gives a powerful and authoritative account of how Obama’s presidency reshaped America. For those who passionately followed Obama’s time in office, you can expect to feel passionately about this book. Some readers though, did find there to be some very bold and opinionated statements that could be seen as rather controversial, but for the most part, those who read the book found that Coates presents this in a controlled and critical way.  The book is broken down into 8 essays, which are designed to make you think about the world we live in today. Heavy, but in little chunks.  

6. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Kolbert

A consideration of life as we know it and what it means to be human

Best for: A fascinating read
Published: 2014
Pages: 319
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
Reasons to buy
+Eloquently written+Engaging concept
Reasons to avoid
-Will leave you feeling confused and scared 

Human extinction is not something we necessarily want to think about, but it’s definitely something we should be thinking about. This book by Kolbert is both fascinating and terrifying, but readers found themselves not able to put this book down.  She whizzes you through the history of species, forcing you to question what it means to be human. Many say they read this book quickly and with ease, stating that Kolbert has managed to turn an otherwise dull and depressing subject into something accessible through the use of dark humour which keeps the book light-hearted from start to finish.  

7. What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton

A raw look inside the life of the first woman nominated for president by a major partyA raw look inside the life of the first woman nominated for president by a major party

Best for: A compelling read
Published: 2017
Pages: 512
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Reasons to buy
+Honest and humorous+Entertaining
Reasons to avoid
-Goes into lots of detail about the past 

Those who were devastated at Hilary Clinton’s loss of the presidential election will be keen to read this tale of what went on behind the scenes. The book aims to tell the story behind the election in total honesty without the need to keep up appearances, and many readers found this to be a troubled yet humorous account from Clinton. Some readers have said they were disappointed with the fact there was a lot of past history covered and not enough of the election itself, but overall fans of Hilary see this as one of her most personal memoirs to date.  

8. The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy

An emotional feminist journey towards “having it all” as a woman

Best for: Feminists
Published: 2017
Pages: 207
Publisher: Random House
Reasons to buy
+Witty+A feminist piece of writing
Reasons to avoid
-Quite an emotional rollercoaster 

Ariel Levy is known for her feminist writings, and in this book she explores the desire and struggle as a woman to have everything- a marriage, a child, a career, and she tells us the story of her own life and the emotional ups and downs of being a woman who has the freedom to do whatever she chooses, yet sadly suffers a number of losses that make her feel completely shattered. It’s a heart-wrenching story, but readers think it’s written with wit and overall comes across as uplifting and inspiring to women. Some have argued this book comes across as a a little whiny, but the consensus among readers is that this is a compelling read.  

9. Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

A murder mystery of the truest form

Best for: Gripping mystery story
Published: 2017
Pages: 352
Publisher: Doubleday
Reasons to buy
+A riveting true story+Not too long
Reasons to avoid
-A sudden ending 

If you’re a fan of murder mysteries, then Killers of the Flower Moon is even more enthralling as it tells the true story of members of the Osage Indian nation in Oklahoma who were killed off one by one. The story follows the FBI’s investigation to uncover one of the biggest conspiracies in American History. Readers found this book both informative and entertaining, but some were disappointed with the ending. If you want a page turner that you’re bound to get through quickly, you can expect good things from this book.  

10. The Future is History by Masha Gessen

A worthwhile read for history enthusiasts

Best for: History
Published: 2017
Pages: 528
Publisher: Granta Books
Reasons to buy
+Intimate look into post-soviet Russia+Great journalistic piece
Reasons to avoid
-Very long 

For those history buffs, this is a powerful and insightful look into post-soviet Russia that will take you on a journey that shines a light on Putin’s story. This is one of the longest books in the list, which makes it a bit of a heavy read, but the writing style has been regarded as graceful and courageous and has been deemed “dangerously good”. This book is designed to tell people's stories and shed light on what is going on in the world around us. If you’re interested in current events then this book is for you.  


If nonfiction isn't your thing, check out our list of the best young adult books and for those who like to listen to books in the car, we've also rounded up the best audio books for you to enjoy.