The Best Nonfiction Books of 2020 (A Year-End List Aggregation)

“What are the best Nonfiction books released in 2020?” We looked at 356 of the top Nonfiction books, aggregating and ranking them so we could answer that very question!

The top 37 books, all appearing on 3 or more “Best Nonfiction” book lists, are ranked below by how many times they appear. The remaining 300+ titles, as well as the sources we used, are in alphabetical order on the bottom of the page.

Our other Best Of 2020 Articles:

Previous Years: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015

All titles have been added to a Bookshop list as well!

Happy Scrolling!



Top 37 Best Nonfiction Books From 2020



37.) Children of the Land: A Memoir written byMarcelo Hernandez Castillo

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookpage
  • Bookshop Santa Cruz
  • NPR

An Entertainment Weekly, The Millions, and LitHub Most Anticipated Book of 2020 This unforgettable memoir from a prize-winning poet about growing up undocumented in the United States recounts the sorrows and joys of a family torn apart by draconian policies and chronicles one young man’s attempt to



36.) Desert Notebooks: A Road Map for the End of Time written byBen Ehrenreich

Lists It Appears On:

  • NY Times
  • NYPL
  • NPR

Layering climate science, mythologies, nature writing, and personal experiences, this New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice presents a stunning reckoning with our current moment and with the literal and figurative end of time. Desert Notebooks examines how the unprecedented pace of destruction



35.) Eat the Buddha: Life and Death in a Tibetan Town written byBarbara Demick

Lists It Appears On:

  • Washington Post
  • NY Times
  • NPR

A gripping portrait of modern Tibet told through the lives of its people, from the bestselling author of Nothing to Envy. “You simply cannot understand China without reading Barbara Demick on Tibet.”–Evan Osnos, author of Age of Ambition Just as she did with North Korea, award-winning journalist Ba



34.) Having and Being Had written byEula Biss

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookshop Santa Cruz
  • Time
  • NPR

A NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS’ CHOICE BEST BOOKS OF 2020, GOOD HOUSEKEEPING “A sensational new book [that] tries to figure out whether it’s possible to live an ethical life in a capitalist society. . . . The results are enthralling.” –Associated Press A timely and arresting new look at affluence by the



33.) His Truth Is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope written byJon Meacham

Lists It Appears On:

  • Washington Post
  • Bookshop Santa Cruz
  • Worldly Gentleman

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER – An intimate and revealing portrait of civil rights icon and longtime U.S. congressman John Lewis, linking his life to the painful quest for justice in America from the 1950s to the present–from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Soul of America John Lewis, who a



32.) Notes on a Silencing: A Memoir written byLacy Crawford

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookpage
  • NY Times
  • NPR

A “powerful and scary and important and true” memoir (Sally Mann, Carnegie Medal-winning author of Hold Still) of a young woman’s struggle to regain her sense of self after trauma, and the efforts by a powerful New England boarding school to silence her—at any cost. A New York Times Book Review Ed



31.) Once I Was You: A Memoir of Love and Hate in a Torn America written byMaria Hinojosa

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookpage
  • Bookshop Santa Cruz
  • NPR

“Anyone striving to understand and improve this country should read her story.” –Gloria Steinem, author of My Life on the Road The Emmy Award-winning journalist and anchor of NPR’s Latino USA tells the story of immigration in America through her family’s experiences and decades of reporting, painti



30.) Rage written byBob Woodward

Lists It Appears On:

  • Washington Post
  • Goodreads
  • Worldly Gentleman

Bob Woodward’s new book, Rage, is an unprecedented and intimate tour de force of new reporting on the Trump presidency facing a global pandemic, economic disaster and racial unrest. Woodward, the #1 international bestselling author of Fear: Trump in the White House, has uncovered the precise moment



29.) Surviving Autocracy written byMasha Gessen

Lists It Appears On:

  • Publishers Weekly
  • Powells
  • Bookshop Santa Cruz

“When Gessen speaks about autocracy, you listen.” –The New York Times “The Platonic ideal of the anti-Trump Trump book.” –The Washington Post As seen on MSNBC Morning Joe and heard on NPR All Things Considered: the bestselling, National Book Award-winning journalist offers an essential guide to un



28.) The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal about Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power written byDeirdre Mask

Lists It Appears On:

  • She Reads
  • Marginal Revolution
  • Publishers Weekly

Finalist for the 2020 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction An entertaining quest to trace the origins and implications of the names of the roads on which we reside. –Sarah Vowell, The New York Times Book Review When most people think about street addresses, if they think of them at all, it is in their capac



27.) The Book of Eels written byPatrik Svensson

Lists It Appears On:

  • Washington Post
  • Publishers Weekly
  • NY Times

Los Angeles Times BestsellerIndieBound BestsellerA New York Times Editor’s Choice One of Forbes’ “Best Summer Reads for Those Stuck Inside Working Remotely” One of the LA Times’ “21 New and Classic Books to Keep You in Touch with the Natural World”One of NPR Science Friday’s Best Science Books of th



26.) Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man written byMary L. Trump

Lists It Appears On:

  • Worldly Gentleman
  • Los Angeles Times
  • Washington Post

In this revelatory, authoritative portrait of Donald J. Trump and the toxic family that made him, Mary L. Trump, a trained clinical psychologist and Donald’s only niece, shines a bright light on the dark history of their family in order to explain how her uncle became the man who now threatens the w



25.) Untamed written byGlennon Doyle

Lists It Appears On:

  • Washington Post
  • Books A Million
  • Bookshop Santa Cruz

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER – “Packed with incredible insight about what it means to be a woman today.”–Reese Witherspoon (Reese’s Book Club x Hello Sunshine Book Pick) In her most revealing and powerful memoir yet, the activist, speaker, bestselling author, and “patron saint of female empowerment



24.) Yellow Bird: Oil, Murder, and a Woman’s Search for Justice in Indian Country written bySierra Crane Murdoch

Lists It Appears On:

  • NPR
  • Publishers Weekly
  • NY Times

The gripping true story of a murder on an Indian reservation, and the unforgettable Arikara woman who becomes obsessed with solving it–an urgent work of literary journalism. “I don’t know a more complicated, original protagonist in literature than Lissa Yellow Bird, or a more dogged reporter in Ame



23.) Conditional Citizens: On Belonging in America written byLaila Lalami

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookpage
  • Los Angeles Times
  • Bookshop Santa Cruz
  • NPR

What does it mean to be American? In this starkly illuminating and impassioned book, Pulitzer Prize­­-finalist Laila Lalami recounts her unlikely journey from Moroccan immigrant to U.S. citizen, using it as a starting point for her exploration of the rights, liberties, and protections that are tradi



22.) Dirt: Adventures in Lyon as a Chef in Training, Father, and Sleuth Looking for the Secret of French Cooking written byBill Buford

Lists It Appears On:

  • Amazon
  • Washington Post
  • Publishers Weekly
  • NPR

A hilariously self-deprecating, highly obsessive account of the author’s adventures, in the world of French haute cuisine, for anyone whose ever found joy in cooking and eating food with their family–from the author of the best-selling, widely acclaimed Heat. A New York Times Book Review Editors’ C



21.) Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor written byLayla F. Saad

Lists It Appears On:

  • Washington Post
  • Goodreads
  • Bookshop Santa Cruz
  • NPR

Based off the original workbook, Me and White Supremacy teaches listeners how to dismantle the privilege within themselves so that they can stop (often unconsciously) inflicting damage on people of color, and in turn, help other white people do better, too.When Layla Saad began an Instagram challeng



20.) The Dragons, the Giant, the Women: A Memoir written byWayétu Moore

Lists It Appears On:

  • Time
  • Publishers Weekly
  • Bookshop Santa Cruz
  • NY Times

An engrossing memoir of escaping the First Liberian Civil War and building a life in the United States When Wayétu Moore turns five years old, her father and grandmother throw her a big birthday party at their home in Monrovia, Liberia, but all she can think about is how much she misses her mother,



19.) The End of Everything written byKatie Mack

Lists It Appears On:

  • Powells
  • Publishers Weekly
  • Bookshop Santa Cruz
  • NY Times

“[A] pleasure…I found it helpful–not reassuring, certainly, but mind-expanding–to be reminded of our place in a vast cosmos.” –James Gleick, The New York Times Book Review “A thrilling tour of potential cosmic doomsdays….Beyond her deep expertise, Ms. Mack’s infectious enthusiasm for communic



18.) War: How Conflict Shaped Us written byMargaret MacMillan

Lists It Appears On:

  • NY Times 2
  • NY Times
  • Five Books
  • CBC

Is peace an aberration? The bestselling author of Paris 1919 offers a provocative view of war as an essential component of humanity. “Margaret MacMillan has produced another seminal work. . . . She is right that we must, more than ever, think about war. And she has shown us how in this brilliant, el



17.) Why Fish Don’t Exist: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life written byLulu Miller

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookshop Santa Cruz
  • Washington Post
  • Book Riot
  • NPR

A “remarkable” (Los Angeles Times), “seductive” (The Wall Street Journal) debut from the new cohost of Radiolab, Why Fish Don’t Exist is a dark and astonishing tale of love, chaos, scientific obsession, and–possibly–even murder.​ “At one point, Miller dives into the ocean into a school of fish…c



16.) World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments written byAimee Nezhukumatathil

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookpage
  • NYPL
  • Bookshop Santa Cruz
  • NPR

A Barnes & Noble 2020 Book of the Year Finalist A Kirkus Prize Finalist for Nonfiction An Indie Next Pick, September 2019 A Publishers Weekly “Big Indie Book of Fall 2020” A BuzzFeed Best Book of Fall 2020 A Literary Hub “Most Anticipated Book of 2020 An Esquire Best Book of Fall 2020 A Ralph Lauren



15.) Wow, No Thank You written bySamantha Irby

Lists It Appears On:

  • Washington Post
  • Book Riot
  • Bookpage
  • NPR

*AN INSTANT #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER* “Stay-up-all-night, miss-your-subway-stop, spit-out-your-beverage funny…. irresistible as a snack tray, as intimately pleasurable as an Irish goodbye.” –Jia Tolentino From Samantha Irby, beloved author of We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, a rip-roaring,



14.) Intimations: Six Essays written byZadie Smith

Lists It Appears On:

  • Los Angeles Times
  • Bookshop Santa Cruz
  • Financial Times
  • NYPL
  • NPR

“Smith does more than illuminate what we’re going through right now. She offers a model of how to think ourselves through a fraught historical moment without getting hysterical or sanctimonious, without losing our compassion or our appreciation for what’s good in other people. She teaches us how to



13.) Memorial Drive written byNatasha Trethewey

Lists It Appears On:

  • Los Angeles Times
  • NY Times
  • Bookpage
  • Time
  • NPR

An Instant New York Times BestsellerA chillingly personal and exquisitely wrought memoir of a daughter reckoning with the brutal murder of her mother at the hands of her former stepfather, and the moving, intimate story of a poet coming into her own in the wake of a tragedy At age nineteen, Natasha



12.) Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You written byJason Reynolds

Lists It Appears On:

  • Chicago Public Library
  • Goodreads
  • Book Riot
  • Worldly Gentleman
  • NPR

The #1 New York Times bestseller and a USAToday bestseller! A timely, crucial, and empowering exploration of racism–and antiracism–in America This is NOT a history book. This is a book about the here and now. A book to help us better understand why we are where we are. A book about race. The const



11.) A Promised Land written byBarack Obama

Lists It Appears On:

  • Washington Post
  • Books A Million
  • Los Angeles Times
  • NY Times
  • NY Times 2
  • NPR

A riveting, deeply personal account of history in the making–from the president who inspired us to believe in the power of democracy In the stirring, highly anticipated first volume of his presidential memoirs, Barack Obama tells the story of his improbable odyssey from young man searching for his



10.) Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot written byMikki Kendall

Lists It Appears On:

  • Washington Post
  • Book Riot
  • Goodreads
  • Bookshop Santa Cruz
  • NYPL
  • NPR

“If Hood Feminism is a searing indictment of mainstream feminism, it is also an invitation. . . . Kendall] offers guidance for how we can all do better.”–NPR.org “A rousing call to action for today’s feminists. It should be required reading for everyone.”–Gabrielle Union, author of We’re Going to



9.) The Undocumented Americans written byKarla Cornejo Villavicencio

Lists It Appears On:

  • Los Angeles Times
  • Bookshop Santa Cruz
  • NY Times
  • Time
  • NYPL
  • NPR

FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD – One of the first undocumented immigrants to graduate from Harvard reveals the hidden lives of her fellow undocumented Americans in this deeply personal and groundbreaking portrait of a nation. “Karla’s book sheds light on people’s personal experiences and allow



8.) Uncanny Valley written byAnna Wiener

Lists It Appears On:

  • Washington Post
  • Los Angeles Times
  • Powells
  • NY Times
  • NY Times 2
  • NPR

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER “A definitive document of a world in transition: I won’t be alone in returning to it for clarity and consolation for many years to come.” –Jia Tolentino, author of Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice and a January 2020



7.) Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning written byCathy Park Hong

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookpage
  • Time
  • Washington Post
  • Book Riot
  • Bookshop Santa Cruz
  • NYPL
  • NPR

A ruthlessly honest, emotionally charged, and utterly original exploration of Asian American consciousness and the struggle to be human “Brilliant . . . To read this book is to become more human.”–Claudia Rankine, author of Citizen Poet and essayist Cathy Park Hong fearlessly and provocatively blen



6.) The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X written byLes Payne and Tamara Payne

Lists It Appears On:

  • Worldly Gentleman
  • Bookpage
  • Time
  • Powells
  • Washington Post
  • Bookshop Santa Cruz
  • NY Times
  • NPR

Finalist — National Book Award for Nonfiction – Excerpted in The New Yorker – Longlisted — Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction – New Books to Watch Out for in October — New York Times – Best Books of Fall 2020 — O, the Oprah Magazine, The Week, St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Best New B



5.) The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz written byErik Larson

Lists It Appears On:

  • Worldly Gentleman
  • Bookpage
  • NYPL
  • Washington Post
  • Books A Million
  • Bookshop Santa Cruz
  • NY Times
  • NPR

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER – The author of The Devil in the White City and Dead Wake delivers an intimate chronicle of Winston Churchill and London during the Blitz–an inspiring portrait of courage and leadership in a time of unprecedented crisis One of Chicago Tribune’s Best Books of the Year So



4.) Vesper Flights written byHelen Macdonald

Lists It Appears On:

  • Amazon
  • Powells
  • Bookshop Santa Cruz
  • Financial Times
  • Bookpage
  • Time
  • NYPL
  • NPR

Animals don’t exist in order to teach us things, but that is what they have always done, and most of what they teach us is what we think we know about ourselves. In Vesper Flights Helen Macdonald brings together a collection of her best loved essays, along with new pieces on topics ranging from nost



3.) Just Us: An American Conversation written byClaudia Rankine

Lists It Appears On:

  • Bookpage
  • Time
  • Amazon
  • Publishers Weekly
  • Bookshop Santa Cruz
  • Financial Times
  • NY Times
  • NYPL
  • NPR

Claudia Rankine’s Citizen changed the conversation–Just Us urges all of us into it As everyday white supremacy becomes increasingly vocalized with no clear answers at hand, how best might we approach one another? Claudia Rankine, without telling us what to do, urges us to begin the discussions that



2.) Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family written byRobert Kolker

Lists It Appears On:

  • Worldly Gentleman
  • Bookpage
  • NY Times 2
  • Amazon
  • Goodreads
  • Publishers Weekly
  • Bookshop Santa Cruz
  • NY Times
  • NYPL
  • NPR

OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB PICK #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER The heartrending story of a midcentury American family with twelve children, six of them diagnosed with schizophrenia, that became science’s great hope in the quest to understand the disease. Don and Mimi Galvin seemed to be living the American dre



1.) Caste: The Origins Of Our Discontents written byIsabel Wilkerson

Lists It Appears On:

  • Books A Million
  • Los Angeles Times
  • Powells
  • Readings
  • Amazon
  • Publishers Weekly
  • Bookshop Santa Cruz
  • NY Times
  • Bookpage
  • Time
  • NYPL
  • Worldly Gentleman
  • NPR

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER – OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB PICK – LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD – “An instant American classic and almost certainly the keynote nonfiction book of the American century thus far.”–Dwight Garner, The New York Times The Pulitzer Prize-winning, bestselling author of The W




The 300+ Additional Best Nonfiction Books Released In 2020



# Book Author Lists
38 Becoming Duchess Goldblatt Anonymous
Washington Post
She Reads
39 Breath: The New Science Of A Lost Art James Nestor
Washington Post
NPR
40 Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies: And Other Rituals to Fix Your Life, from Someone Who’s Been There Tara Schuster Book Riot
Goodreads
41 Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics Dolly Parton
Books A Million
Washington Post
42 Eat a Peach: A Memoir David Chang
Bookshop Santa Cruz
NPR
43 Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our World, Change Our Minds, & Shape Our Futures. Merlin Sheldrake
Marginal Revolution
Bookshop Santa Cruz
44 Fallout: The Hiroshima Cover-Up and the Reporter Who Revealed It to the World Lesley M. M. Blume
Publishers Weekly
NY Times
45 Father of Lions: One Man’s Remarkable Quest to Save the Mosul Zoo Louise Callaghan NPR
She Reads
46 Ghosting the News: Local Journalism and the Crisis of American Democracy Margaret Sullivan
Washington Post
NPR
47 Good Boy: My Life in Seven Dogs Jennifer Finney Boylan
Publishers Weekly
Bookshop Santa Cruz
48 Here for It: Or, How to Save Your Soul in America R. Eric Thomas Book Riot
NPR
49 Humankind: A Hopeful History Rutger Bregman Readings
Washington Post
50 Is Rape a Crime? A Memoir, an Investigation, and a Manifesto Michelle Bowdler Bookpage
Publishers Weekly
51 Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio Derf Backderf NYPL
NPR
52 My Autobiography of Carson McCullers Jenn Shapland Book Riot
NPR
53 Nobody Will Tell You This But Me: A True (as Told to Me) Story Bess Kalb Bookpage
She Reads
54 Owls of the Eastern Ice: A Quest to Find and Save the World’s Largest Owl Jonathan C. Slaght NPR
NY Times
55 Pelosi Molly Ball
Washington Post
Bookshop Santa Cruz
56 Reaganland: America’s Right Turn 1976–1980 Rick Perlstein
Publishers Weekly
NY Times
57 Shakespeare in a Divided America: What His Plays Tell Us About Our Past and Future James Shapiro NY Times 2
NY Times
58 Shit, Actually: The Definitive, 100% Objective Guide to Modern Cinema Lindy West She Reads
Bookshop Santa Cruz
59 The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win Maria Konnikova
Washington Post
NY Times
60 The Man Who Ran Washington: The Life and Times of James A. Baker III Peter Baker and Susan Glasser
Washington Post
NY Times
61 The Next Great Migration: The Beauty and Terror of Life on the Move Sonia Shah NYPL
Publishers Weekly
62 The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard Keynes Zachary D. Carter
Publishers Weekly
Marginal Revolution
63 The Quiet Americans: Four CIA Spies at the Dawn of the Cold War — a Tragedy in Three Acts Scott Anderson NY Times
Bookshop Santa Cruz
64 The Sirens of Mars: Searching for Life on Another World Sarah Stewart Johnson
Bookshop Santa Cruz
NY Times
65 The Weirdest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous Joseph Henrich NY Times
Marginal Revolution
66 Tom Stoppard: A Life Hermione Lee
Financial Times
The Times
67 Tomboyland: Essays Melissa Faliveno NYPL
NPR
68 Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism Anne Applebaum Five Books
Washington Post
69 Unforgetting: A Memoir of Family, Migration, Gangs, and Revolution in the Americas Roberto Lovato
Los Angeles Times
Bookshop Santa Cruz
70 Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe Brian Greene Amazon
NY Times
71 Unworthy Republic: The Dispossession of Native Americans and the Road to Indian Territory Claudio Saunt
Publishers Weekly
NPR
72 Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music Alex Ross NY Times
NPR
73 Wandering in Strange Lands: A Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her Roots Morgan Jerkins She Reads
Bookshop Santa Cruz
74 We Keep the Dead Close: A Murder at Harvard and a Half Century of Silence Becky Cooper Amazon
Publishers Weekly
75 Where Things Touch: A Meditation On Beauty Bahar Orang CBC
NPR
76 Why We Can’t Sleep: Women’s New Midlife Crisis Ada Calhoun Amazon
Goodreads
77 Wilmington’s Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy David Zucchino Bookpage
Publishers Weekly
78 Year of the Rabbit Tian Veasna NYPL
NPR
79 10% Less Democracy: Why You Should Trust the Elites a Little More and the Masses a Little Less. Garett Jones
Marginal Revolution
80 13th Balloon Mark Bibbins NPR
81 97,196 Words: Essays Emmanuel Carrère NY Times
82 A Dominant Character: The Radical Science and Restless Politics of J. B. S. Haldane Samanth Subramanian NY Times
83 A Furious Sky: The Five-Hundred-Year History of America’s Hurricanes Eric Jay Dolin
Washington Post
84 A Knock at Midnight: A Story of Hope, Justice, and Freedom Brittany K. Barnett Amazon
85 A Life on Our Planet David Attenborough Readings
86 A Little History of Poetry John Carey The Times
87 A Mind Spread Out on the Ground Alicia Elliott
Bookshop Santa Cruz
88 A Peculiar Indifference: The Neglected Toll of Violence on Black America Elliott Currie NY Times
89 A Pilgrimage to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search of a Faith Timothy Egan NY Times
90 A Silenced Voice: The Life Of Journalist Kim Wall Ingrid Wall and Joachim Wall NPR
91 A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig
Washington Post
92 A Woman Like Her: The Story Behind the Honor Killing of a Social Media Star Sanam Maher NY Times
93 A World Without Work: Technology, Automation, and How We Should Respond Daniel Susskind Five Books
94 Abe: Abraham Lincoln in His Times David S. Reynolds
Washington Post
95 Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, And The Meaning Of Sex Angela Chen NPR
96 Active Measures: The Secret History of Disinformation and Political Warfare Thomas Rid
Washington Post
97 Alien Oceans: The Search For Life In The Depths Of Space Kevin Hand NPR
98 All Boys Aren’t Blue George M. Johnson
Chicago Public Library
99 All I Ever Wanted Kathy Valentine
Washington Post
100 All The Way To The Tigers: A Memoir Mary Morris NPR
101 Almost American Girl: An Illustrated Memoir Robin Ha NPR
102 American Cheese: An Indulgent Odyssey Through the Artisan Cheese World Joe Berkowitz She Reads
103 American Oligarchs: The Kushners, The Trumps, And The Marriage Of Money And Power Andrea Bernstein NPR
104 Apple: (Skin To The Core) Eric Gansworth NPR
105 Arts & Minds: How the Royal Society of Arts Changed a Nation. Anton Howes
Marginal Revolution
106 Atomic Women Roseanne Montillo
Chicago Public Library
107 Banned Book Club Kim Hyun Sook and Ryan Estrada NPR
108 Barry Sonnenfeld, Call Your Mother: Memoirs Of A Neurotic Filmmaker Barry Sonnenfeld NPR
109 Becoming Wild: How Animal Cultures Raise Families, Create Beauty, and Achieve Peace Carl Safina NY Times
110 Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own Eddie S. Glaude Jr.
Washington Post
111 Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist Judith Heumann
Publishers Weekly
112 Between Two Fires: Truth, Ambition, And Compromise In Putin’s Russia Joshua Yaffa NPR
113 Beyond the Gender Binary Alok Vaid-Menon Ashley Lukashevsky (Illustrator)
Chicago Public Library
114 Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman NPR
115 Black Heroes Of The Wild West James Otis Smith NPR
116 Black Water David A. Robertson CBC
117 Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Forty-Year Rivalry That Unraveled Culture, Religion, and Collective Memory in the Middle East Kim Ghattas NY Times
118 Bland Fanatics Pankaj Mishra Powells
119 Blood On The River: A Chronicle Of Mutiny And Freedom On The Wild Coast Marjoleine Kars NPR
120 Blueberries Ellena Savage Readings
121 Born To Be Public Greg Mania NPR
122 Boys & Sex: Young Men on Hookups, Love, Porn, Consent, and Navigating the New Masculinity Peggy Orenstein Amazon
123 Britain’s War 1942-1947. Daniel Todman
Marginal Revolution
124 Broken Faith: Inside The Word Of Faith Fellowship, One Of America’s Most Dangerous Cults Mitch Weiss and Holbrook Mohr NPR
125 Burning Down the House: Newt Gingrich, the Fall of a Speaker, and the Rise of the New Republican Party Julian E. Zelizer NY Times
126 Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation Anne Helen Petersen Amazon
127 Capital And Ideology Thomas Piketty NPR
128 Changing the Face of Canadian Literature, edited Dane Swan CBC
129 Clanlands: Whisky, Warfare, and a Scottish Adventure Like No Other Sam Heughan Goodreads
130 Clean: The New Science Of Skin James Hamblin NPR
131 Concrete Kids Amyra León Ashley Lukashevsky (Illustrator)
Chicago Public Library
132 Cool Town: How Athens, Georgia, Launched Alternative Music And Changed American Culture Grace Elizabeth Hale NPR
133 Counterpoint: A Memoir Of Bach And Mourning Philip Kennicott NPR
134 Cry Wolf Harold R. Johnson CBC
135 Dancing After TEN Vivian Chong and Georgia Webber NPR
136 Dancing Man: A Broadway Choreographer’s Journey Bob Avian with Tom Santopietro NPR
137 Dark Mirror: Edward Snowden and the American Surveillance State Barton Gellman
Washington Post
138 Death in Mud Lick: A Coal Country Fight against the Drug Companies That Delivered the Opioid Epidemic Eric Eyre She Reads
139 Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism Anne Case and Angus Deaton NY Times
140 Disfigured Amanda Leduc CBC
141 Don’t Overthink It Anne Bogel Goodreads
142 Editing Humanity: The CRISPR Revolution and the New Era of Genome Editing. Kevin Davies
Marginal Revolution
143 Everything Beautiful in Its Time: Seasons of Love and Loss Jenna Bush Hager She Reads
144 Everything Man: The Form And Function Of Paul Robeson Shana L. Redmond NPR
145 Ex Libris: 100+ Books to Read and Reread Michiko Kakutani
Financial Times
146 Exercise of Power: American Failures, Successes, and a New Path Forward in the Post-Cold War World Robert M. Gates NY Times
147 Facebook: The Inside Story. Steven Levy
Marginal Revolution
148 Family In Six Tones: A Refugee Mother, An American Daughter Lan Cao and Harlan Margaret Van Cao NPR
149 Fathoms Rebecca Giggs Bookpage
150 Fauja Singh Keeps Going: The True Story Of The Oldest Person To Ever Run A Marathon Simran Jeet Singh NPR
151 Feasting Wild: In Search of the Last Untamed Food Gina Rae La Cerva Amazon
152 Field Notes from a Pandemic Ethan Lou CBC
153 Field Notes from an Unintentional Birder Julia Zarankin CBC
154 Figure It Out Wayne Koestenbaum
Los Angeles Times
155 Fire Country Victor Steffensen Readings
156 Forms of Contention: Influence and the African-American Sonnet Tradition. Hollis Robbins
Marginal Revolution
157 Fossil Men: The Quest for the Oldest Skeleton and the Origins of Humankind Kermit Pattison She Reads
158 From My Mother’s Back Njoki Wane CBC
159 Frontier Follies: Adventures in Marriage & Motherhood in the Middle of Nowhere Ree Drummond She Reads
160 Fully Grown: Why a Stagnant Economy is a Sign of Success. Dietrich Vollrath
Marginal Revolution
161 Funny Weather: Art In An Emergency Olivia Laing NPR
162 Gabrielle Chanel: Fashion Manifesto Miren Arzalluz NPR
163 Galileo: And the Science Deniers Mario Livio
Washington Post
164 Get Out of Your Head: Stopping the Spiral of Toxic Thoughts Jennie Allen Goodreads
165 Glitter Up the Dark: How Pop Music Broke The Binary Sasha Geffen NPR
166 God-Level Knowledge Darts: Life Lessons From The Bronx Desus & Mero NPR
167 God’s Shadow: Sultan Selim, His Ottoman Empire, and the Making of the Modern World Alan Mikhail
Publishers Weekly
168 Good Morning, Destroyer of Men’s Souls: A Memoir of Women, Addiction, and Love Nina Renata Aron
Bookshop Santa Cruz
169 Good Morning, Monster: A Therapist Shares Five Heroic Stories of Emotional Recovery Catherine Gildiner Amazon
170 Group: How One Therapist and a Circle of Strangers Saved My Life Christie Tate Amazon
171 Hanging Tree Guitars Freeman Vines with Zoe van Buren NPR
172 Himalaya: A Human History. Ed Douglas
Marginal Revolution
173 His Very Best: Jimmy Carter, A Life Jonathan Alter NPR
174 History has Begun: The Birth of a New America. Bruno Macaes
Marginal Revolution
175 Hitler: Downfall Volker Ullrich Time
176 Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, And The Dangerous Distortion Of Truth Brian Stelter NPR
177 Honeybee: The Busy Life Of Apis Mellifera Candace Fleming NPR
178 How the South Won the Civil War: Oligarchy, Democracy, and the Continuing Fight for the Soul of America Heather Cox Richardson
Washington Post
179 How to Live a Good Life: A Guide to Choosing Your Personal Philosophy Daniel Kaufman, Massimo Pigliucci & Skye C Cleary Five Books
180 I Don’t Want To Die Poor: Essays Michael Arceneaux NPR
181 I Got A Monster: The Rise And Fall Of America’s Most Corrupt Police Squad Baynard Woods and Brandon Soderberg NPR
182 I Overcame My Autism and All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder Sarah Kurchak CBC
183 I Want You to Know We’re Still Here: A Post-Holocaust Memoir Esther Safran Foer NPR
184 I You We Them: Volume 1: Walking Into the World of the Desk Killer Dan Gretton
Washington Post
185 Imaginary Borders Xiuhtezcatl Martinez Ashley Lukashevsky (Illustrator)
Chicago Public Library
186 Indian Sun: The Life and Music of Ravi Shankar. Oliver Craske
Marginal Revolution
187 Inferno Catherine Cho Bookpage
188 Into the Streets
Chicago Public Library
189 Inventing Latinos: A New Story Of American Racism Laura E. Gómez NPR
190 Is This Anything? Jerry Seinfeld Amazon
191 Katrina: A History, 1915–2015 Andy Horowitz
Publishers Weekly
192 Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art. Rebecca Wragg Sykes
Marginal Revolution
193 Kleptopia: How Dirty Money Is Conquering the World Tom Burgis
Washington Post
194 Larger Than Life: A History Of Boy Bands From NKOTB To BTS Maria Sherman NPR
195 Later: My Life At The Edge Of The World Paul Lisicky NPR
196 Leave Only Footprints: My Acadia-to-Zion Journey Through Every National Park Conor Knighton She Reads
197 Legendary Children: The First Decade Of RuPaul’s Drag Race And The Last Century Of Queer Life Tom Fitzgerald and Lorenzo Marquez NPR
198 Leonhard Euler: Mathematical Genius of the Enlightenment. Ronald S. Calinger
Marginal Revolution
199 Let’s Do It: The Authorised Biography of Victoria Wood Jasper Rees
Financial Times
200 Life Of A Klansman: A Family History In White Supremacy Edward Ball NPR
201 Lifting As We Climb: Black Women’s Battle For The Ballot Box Evette Dionne NPR
202 Like a Boy but Not a Boy Andrea Bennett CBC
203 Looking To Get Lost: Adventures In Music And Writing Peter Guralnick NPR
204 Love After the End, edited Joshua Whitehead CBC
205 Lowitja Stuart Rintoul Readings
206 Mad at the World: A Life of John Steinbeck William Souder
Publishers Weekly
207 Magdalena: River of Dreams—A Story of Colombia Wade Davis NYPL
208 Magnetized: Conversations With A Serial Killer Carlos Busqued NPR
209 Max Jacob Rosanna Warren
Washington Post
210 Mill Town: Reckoning with What Remains Kerri Arsenault
Publishers Weekly
211 MS-13: The Making Of America’s Most Notorious Gang Steven Dudley NPR
212 Mutations: The Many Strange Faces Of Hardcore Punk Sam McPheeters NPR
213 Neon Girls: A Stripper’s Education In Protest And Power Jennifer Worley NPR
214 Nerve Eva Holland CBC
215 Night Letters: Gulbuddin Hekmatyar And The Afghan Islamists Who Changed The World Chris Sands with Fazelminallah Qazizai NPR
216 No Filter: The Inside Story Of Instagram Sarah Frier NPR
217 No Modernism Without Lesbians Diana Souhami The Times
218 No Rules Rules: Netflix And The Culture Of Reinvention Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer NPR
219 Notes From An Apocalypse: A Personal Journey To The End Of The World And Back Mark O’Connell NPR
220 One Billion Americans. Matthew Yglesias
Marginal Revolution
221 One Day I’ll Remember This Helen Garner Readings
222 One Life Megan Rapinoe and Emma Brockes NPR
223 One Mighty and Irresistible Tide: The Epic Struggle Over American Immigration, 1924-1965 Jia Lynn Yang
Washington Post
224 Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America Candacy Taylor NY Times
225 Parisian Lives: Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir and Me — a Memoir Deirde Bair The Times
226 Poet of Revolution: The Making of John Milton. Nicholas McDowell
Marginal Revolution
227 Political Sign (Object Lessons) Tobias Carroll NPR
228 Postcolonial Love Poem Natalie Diaz NPR
229 Race Against Time: A Reporter Reopens The Unsolved Murder Cases Of The Civil Rights Era Jerry Mitchell NPR
230 Race For Profit: How Banks And The Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor NPR
231 Radical Wordsworth: The Poet Who Changed the World Jonathan Bate The Times
232 Reaching Mithymna Steven Heighton CBC
233 Rebel Chef: In Search of What Matters Dominique Crenn
Bookshop Santa Cruz
234 Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath Heather Clark The Times
235 Relax, Dammit! Timothy Caulfield CBC
236 Resilience is Futile Julie S. Lalonde CBC
237 Rigged: America, Russia, and One Hundred Years of Covert Electoral Interference David Shimer
Washington Post
238 Roadside Americans: The Rise And Fall Of Hitchhiking In A Changing Nation Jack Reid NPR
239 Rust Belt Femme Raechel Anne Jolie NPR
240 Rust: A Memoir Of Steel And Grit Eliese Goldbach NPR
241 Say Her Name Zetta Elliott Loveis Wise (Illustrator)
Chicago Public Library
242 Say It Louder!: Black Voters, White Narratives, and Saving Our Democracy Tiffany Cross Powells
243 Seeing The Body Rachel Eliza Griffiths NPR
244 Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain Lisa Feldman Barrett Amazon
245 Sex Matters Alyson J. McGregor Book Riot
246 Sexual Citizens: A Landmark Study Of Sex, Power, And Assault On Campus Jennifer S. Hirsch and Shamus Khan NPR
247 Shame on Me Tessa McWatt CBC
248 She Come By It Natural: Dolly Parton and the Women Who Lived Her Songs Sarah Smarsh She Reads
249 Sisters In Hate: American Women On The Front Lines Of White Nationalism Seyward Darby NPR
250 Sisters Of The War: Two Remarkable True Stories Of Survival And Hope In Syria Rania Abouzeid NPR
251 Sitting Pretty: The View from My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body Rebekah Taussig
Bookshop Santa Cruz
252 Slavery and Bristol GM Best Five Books
253 Solutions And Other Problems Allie Brosh NPR
254 Something That May Shock And Discredit You Daniel M. Lavery NPR
255 Soul Full of Coal Dust: A Fight for Breath and Justice in Appalachia Chris Hamby NY Times
256 Spirit Run: A 6,000-Mile Marathon Through North America’s Stolen Land Noé Alvarez Book Riot
257 Square Haunting: Five Women, Freedom and London Between the Wars Francesca Wade The Times
258 Standoff: Race, Policing, and a Deadly Assault That Gripped a Nation Jamie Thompson She Reads
259 Stranger in the Shogun’s City: A Japanese Woman and Her World Amy Stanley
Washington Post
260 Supreme Inequality Adam Cohen Powells
261 Sybille Bedford: An Appetite for Life Selina Hastings The Times
262 Taking on the Plastics Crisis Hannah Testa Ashley Lukashevsky (Illustrator)
Chicago Public Library
263 Talking to GOATs: The Moments You Remember and the Stories You Never Heard Jim Gray She Reads
264 Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World Fareed Zakaria Amazon
265 The Age Of Phillis Honorée Fanonne Jeffers NPR
266 The Art of Her Deal: The Untold Story of Melania Trump Mary Jordan
Washington Post
267 The Artful Dickens: the Tricks and Ploys of the Great Novelist John Mullan The Times
268 The Autobiography Of Alice B. Toklas Illustrated Gertrude Stein NPR
269 The Beauty in Breaking: A Memoir Michele Harper NY Times
270 The Big Goodbye: Chinatown and the Last Years of Hollywood Sam Wasson
Washington Post
271 The Bird Way: A New Look at How Birds Talk, Work, Play, Parent, and Think Jennifer Ackerman
Bookshop Santa Cruz
272 The Book Collectors: A Band Of Syrian Rebels And The Stories That Carried Them Through A War Delphine Minoui NPR
273 The Book Of Atlantis Black: The Search For A Sister Gone Missing Betsy Bonner NPR
274 The Bridge: Natural Gas in a Redivided Europe. Thane Gustafson
Marginal Revolution
275 The Chiffon Trenches: A Memoir André Leon Talley NPR
276 The Daughters of Yalta: The Churchills, Roosevelts, and Harrimans: A Story of Love and War Catherine Grace Katz
Publishers Weekly
277 The Decadent Society: How We Became the Victims of Our Own Success. Ross Douthat
Marginal Revolution
278 The Deepest South Of All: True Stories From Natchez, Mississippi Richard Grant NPR
279 The Details Tegan Bennett Daylight Readings
280 The Deviant’s War: The Homosexual vs. the United States of America Eric Cervini
Washington Post
281 The Doctor Who Fooled the World Brian Deer Readings
282 The Fall of a Sparrow: Vivien Eliot’s Life and Writings Ann Pasternak Slater The Times
283 The Fall of the House of Byron: Scandal and Seduction in Georgian England Emily Brand The Times
284 The Fire of Joy: Roughly Eighty Poems to Get by Heart and Say Aloud Clive James The Times
285 The Hardhat Riot: Nixon, New York City, and the Dawn of the White Working-Class Revolution David Paul Kuhn NY Times
286 The Hidden Habits of Genius: Beyond Talent, IQ, and Grit—Unlocking the Secrets of Greatness Craig M. Wright Amazon
287 The Human Cosmos: Civilization And The Stars Jo Marchant NPR
288 The Imperilled Ocean Laura Trethewey CBC
289 The Inevitability of Tragedy: Henry Kissinger and His World Barry Gewen NY Times
290 The Jakarta Method: Washington’s Anticommunist Crusade And The Mass Murder Program That Shaped Our World Vincent Bevins NPR
291 The Journeys Of Trees: A Story About Forests, People, And The Future Zach St. George NPR
292 The Last Million: Europe’s Displaced Persons From World War To Cold War David Nasaw NPR
293 The Lights And Types Of Ships At Night Dave Eggers NPR
294 The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist Adrian Tomine NY Times
295 The Look Of The Book: Jackets, Covers, And Art At The Edges Of Literature Peter Mendelsund and David J. Alworth NPR
296 The Madman’s Library: The Greatest Curiosities of Literature Edward Brooke-Hitchin The Times
297 The Man Who Ate Too Much James Birdsall
Publishers Weekly
298 The Meaning Of Mariah Carey Mariah Carey with Michaela Angela Davis NPR
299 The Most Beautiful Thing Kao Kalia Yang NPR
300 The Mystery of Charles Dickens AN Wilson The Times
301 The New Map: Energy, Climate And The Clash Of Nations Daniel Yergin NPR
302 The New Queer Conscience Adam Eli Ashley Lukashevsky (Illustrator)
Chicago Public Library
303 The Origins of You: How Childhood Shapes Later Life. Jay Belsky, Avshalom Caspi, Terrie E. Moffitt, and Richie Poulton
Marginal Revolution
304 The People, No: A Brief History of Anti-Populism Thomas Frank
Washington Post
305 The Professor and the Parson Adam Sisman
Washington Post
306 The Riches Of This Land Jim Tankersley NPR
307 The Saddest Words: William Faulkner’s Civil War Michael Gorra NY Times
308 The Selected Letters of Ralph Ellison John F. Callahan and Marc C. Conner NY Times
309 The Self-love Revolution Virgie Tovar
Chicago Public Library
310 The Skin We’re In Desmond Cole CBC
311 The Socrates Express: In Search Of Life Lessons From Dead Philosophers Eric Weiner NPR
312 The Sprawl: Reconsidering The Weird American Suburbs Jason Diamond NPR
313 The Story of China: A Portrait of a Civilization and its People. Michael Wood
Marginal Revolution
314 The Talk: Conversations About Race, Love & Truth Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson (editors) NPR
315 The Things They Fancied Molly Young NPR
316 The Third Rainbow Girl: The Long Life of a Double Murder in Appalachia Emma Copley Eisenberg NY Times
317 The Vapors: A Southern Family, the New York Mob, and the Rise and Fall of Hot Springs, America’s Forgotten Capital of Vice David Hill NY Times
318 The Wax Pack: On The Open Road In Search Of Baseball’s Afterlife Brad Balukjian NPR
319 The Way Home David A. Neel CBC
320 The Yellow House Sarah M. Broom Readings
321 The Zealot and the Emancipator H.W. Brands
Worldly Gentleman
322 They Said This Would Be Fun Eternity Martis CBC
323 Thin Places: Essays From In Between Jordan Kisner NPR
324 This Is All I Got: A New Mother’s Search for Home Lauren Sandler NY Times
325 This Is Not the End of Me Dakshana Bascaramurty CBC
326 This Is One Way To Dance: Essays Sejal Shah NPR
327 This Is What I Know About Art Kimberly Drew Ashley Lukashevsky (Illustrator)
Chicago Public Library
328 This Too Shall Last K.J. Ramsey Book Riot
329 To Start a War Robert Draper Bookpage
330 To the Lake Kapka Kassabova Powells
331 Tomboy: The Surprising History and Future of Girls Who Dare to Be Different Lisa Selin Davis
Publishers Weekly
332 Transcendence: How Humans Evolved Through Fire, Language, Beauty, and Time Gaia Vince Five Books
333 Two Trees Make a Forest Jessica J. Lee CBC
334 Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man Emmanuel Acho Amazon
335 Unspeakable Acts: True Tales Of Crime, Murder, Deceit, And Obsession Sarah Weinman (editor) NPR
336 Up All Night: Ted Turner, CNN, And The Birth Of 24-Hour News Lisa Napoli NPR
337 Very Important People: Status and Beauty in the Global Party Circuit. Ashley Mears
Marginal Revolution
338 Virginians and Their History. Brent Tarter
Marginal Revolution
339 Warhol Blake Gopnik
Publishers Weekly
340 We Are Water Protectors Carole Lindstrom NPR
341 We Have Been Harmonized: Life in China’s Surveillance State Kai Strittmatter
Washington Post
342 What Can A Body Do?: How We Meet The Built World Sara Hendren NPR
343 What It’s Like to Be a Bird: From Flying to Nesting, Eating to Singing — What Birds Are Doing, and Why David Allen Sibley
Washington Post
344 What Were We Thinking: A Brief Intellectual History of the Trump Era Carlos Lozada
Washington Post
345 Whistleblower: My Journey To Silicon Valley And Fight For Justice At Uber Susan Fowler NPR
346 White Tears/Brown Scars: How White Feminism Betrays Women of Color Ruby Hamad
Publishers Weekly
347 Who Gets in and Why: A Year Inside College Admissions Jeffrey Selingo NY Times
348 Why We Swim Bonnie Tsui NPR
349 Wild Thing: The Short, Spellbinding Life of Jimi Hendrix Philip Norman
Publishers Weekly
350 Willie Willie O’Ree, with Michael McKinley CBC
351 Wine Girl: The Trials and Triumphs of America’s Youngest Sommelier Victoria James Amazon
352 Wintering: The Power Of Rest And Retreat In Difficult Times Katherine May NPR
353 Wuhan Diary: Dispatches From a Quarantined City Fang Fang
Washington Post
354 X+Y: A Mathematician’s Manifesto For Rethinking Gender Eugenia Cheng NPR
355 You Never Forget Your First: A Biography Of George Washington Alexis Coe NPR
356 You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters Kate Murphy
Washington Post


24 Best Nonfiction Book Sources/Lists



Source Article
Amazon Best nonfiction of 2020
Book Riot Best Books of 2020 (So Far)
Bookpage Best Books of 2020: Nonfiction
Books A Million Our Top 5 Non-Fiction Books of 2020!
Bookshop Santa Cruz Best Nonfiction of the Year
CBC The best Canadian nonfiction of 2020
Chicago Public Library Best Teen Nonfiction of 2020
Financial Times Best books of 2020: Literary non-fiction
Five Books The Best Nonfiction Books of 2020
Goodreads Best Nonfiction
Los Angeles Times The 20 reads book people actually want this year
Marginal Revolution Best non-fiction books of 2020
NPR NPR’s Book Concierge
NY Times 100 Notable Books of 2020
NY Times 2 The 10 Best Books of 2020
NYPL Best Books for Adults 2020
Powells Best Nonfiction of 2020
Publishers Weekly Best Non-fiction Books of 2020
Readings The best non-fiction books of 2020
She Reads Best non-fiction books of 2020
The Times Best literary nonfiction books of the year 2020
Time The 10 Best Nonfiction Books of 2020
Washington Post 50 notable works of nonfiction in 2020
Worldly Gentleman The Best Books of 2020
A.M. Anderson:
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