Time Magazine's All-TIME 100 Best Non-Fiction Books
Politics and war, science and sports, memoir and biography - there's a great big world of nonfiction books out there just waiting to be read. We pick the 100 best and most influential written in English since 1923, the beginning of TIME...magazine. Click here to view the All-TIME 100 Best Non-Fiction Books on TIME.com.
List Challenge
The average Goodreads member has read 6 out of 100 books on this list — how many have you read?
1 The Elements of Style
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4.17 of 5 stars 4.17 avg rating — 41,234 ratings
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2 In Cold Blood
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4.01 of 5 stars 4.01 avg rating — 304,450 ratings
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3 I Know Why the Caged Bird S...
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4.1 of 5 stars 4.10 avg rating — 164,433 ratings
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4 Fast Food Nation: The Dark ...
by
3.71 of 5 stars 3.71 avg rating — 164,918 ratings
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5 The Omnivore's Dilemma: A N...
by
4.16 of 5 stars 4.16 avg rating — 109,873 ratings
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6 Maus: A Survivor's Tale: My...
by
4.34 of 5 stars 4.34 avg rating — 120,345 ratings
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6 On Writing: A Memoir of the...
by
4.26 of 5 stars 4.26 avg rating — 93,950 ratings
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8 Silent Spring
by
3.9 of 5 stars 3.90 avg rating — 18,095 ratings
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9 Guns, Germs, and Steel: The...
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3.98 of 5 stars 3.98 avg rating — 133,518 ratings
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10 Hiroshima
by
3.88 of 5 stars 3.88 avg rating — 24,260 ratings
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11 A Walk in the Woods: Redisc...
by
4.05 of 5 stars 4.05 avg rating — 158,986 ratings
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12 The Autobiography of Malcolm X
by
4.25 of 5 stars 4.25 avg rating — 79,098 ratings
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13 Zen and the Art of Motorcyc...
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3.72 of 5 stars 3.72 avg rating — 106,165 ratings
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14 A Heartbreaking Work of Sta...
by
3.65 of 5 stars 3.65 avg rating — 122,095 ratings
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15 Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) ...
by
3.58 of 5 stars 3.58 avg rating — 141,826 ratings
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16 A Room of One's Own
by
4.03 of 5 stars 4.03 avg rating — 41,132 ratings
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17 Bury My Heart at Wounded Kn...
by
4.19 of 5 stars 4.19 avg rating — 31,180 ratings
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18 A Brief History of Time
by
4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 108,502 ratings
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19 Out of Africa
by
3.96 of 5 stars 3.96 avg rating — 15,666 ratings
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20 All the President's Men
by
4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 23,803 ratings
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21 A People's History of the U...
by
4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 75,634 ratings
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22 Our Bodies, Ourselves
by
4.32 of 5 stars 4.32 avg rating — 4,865 ratings
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23 Black Boy
by
3.96 of 5 stars 3.96 avg rating — 28,266 ratings
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24 The Feminine Mystique
by
3.8 of 5 stars 3.80 avg rating — 11,070 ratings
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25 The Selfish Gene
by
4.12 of 5 stars 4.12 avg rating — 53,353 ratings
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26 And the Band Played on
by
4.38 of 5 stars 4.38 avg rating — 12,183 ratings
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27 The Rise and Fall of the Th...
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4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 35,095 ratings
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28 What Color Is Your Parachut...
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3.59 of 5 stars 3.59 avg rating — 5,613 ratings
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29 A Moveable Feast
by
4.03 of 5 stars 4.03 avg rating — 60,614 ratings
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30 The Hero With a Thousand Faces
by
4.26 of 5 stars 4.26 avg rating — 14,209 ratings
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31 Dreams from My Father: A St...
by
3.77 of 5 stars 3.77 avg rating — 81,044 ratings
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32 The Electric Kool-Aid Acid ...
by
3.9 of 5 stars 3.90 avg rating — 44,163 ratings
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33 Mastering the Art of French...
by
4.32 of 5 stars 4.32 avg rating — 26,488 ratings
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34 The Joy of Sex: 30th Annive...
by
3.53 of 5 stars 3.53 avg rating — 1,339 ratings
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35 The Gnostic Gospels
by
3.9 of 5 stars 3.90 avg rating — 9,090 ratings
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36 The Beauty Myth
by
3.89 of 5 stars 3.89 avg rating — 9,965 ratings
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37 The Double Helix
by
3.86 of 5 stars 3.86 avg rating — 8,675 ratings
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38 How to Win Friends and Infl...
by
4.03 of 5 stars 4.03 avg rating — 137,171 ratings
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39 Homage to Catalonia
by
4.14 of 5 stars 4.14 avg rating — 15,136 ratings
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40 Baby and Child Care
by
3.67 of 5 stars 3.67 avg rating — 1,245 ratings
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41 The Fatal Shore: The Epic o...
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4.03 of 5 stars 4.03 avg rating — 5,121 ratings
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42 No Logo
by
3.85 of 5 stars 3.85 avg rating — 14,134 ratings
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43 The Executioner's Song
by
4.07 of 5 stars 4.07 avg rating — 10,708 ratings
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44 Alcoholics Anonymous - Big ...
by
4.39 of 5 stars 4.39 avg rating — 3,774 ratings
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45 Slouching Towards Bethlehem
by
4.26 of 5 stars 4.26 avg rating — 11,495 ratings
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46 Let Us Now Praise Famous Men
by
4.16 of 5 stars 4.16 avg rating — 2,070 ratings
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47 The Making of the President...
by
4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 3,528 ratings
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48 The Power Broker: Robert Mo...
by
4.51 of 5 stars 4.51 avg rating — 4,192 ratings
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49 Speak, Memory
by
4.2 of 5 stars 4.20 avg rating — 6,629 ratings
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50 The Naked Ape: A Zoologist'...
by
3.92 of 5 stars 3.92 avg rating — 4,704 ratings
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51 Notes of a Native Son
by
4.3 of 5 stars 4.30 avg rating — 5,016 ratings
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52 Working: People Talk About ...
by
4.23 of 5 stars 4.23 avg rating — 2,976 ratings
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53 The Lives of a Cell: Notes ...
by
4.16 of 5 stars 4.16 avg rating — 4,426 ratings
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54 The Autobiography of Alice ...
by
3.62 of 5 stars 3.62 avg rating — 4,687 ratings
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55 The Best and the Brightest
by
4.24 of 5 stars 4.24 avg rating — 5,826 ratings
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56 The Civil War: A Narrative
by
4.58 of 5 stars 4.58 avg rating — 4,038 ratings
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57 Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Ete...
by
4.3 of 5 stars 4.30 avg rating — 22,774 ratings
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58 Coming of Age in Samoa: A P...
by
3.5 of 5 stars 3.50 avg rating — 1,593 ratings
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59 Capitalism and Freedom
by
3.93 of 5 stars 3.93 avg rating — 4,932 ratings
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60 Manchild in the Promised Land
by
4.3 of 5 stars 4.30 avg rating — 4,309 ratings
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61 The Emperor of All Maladies
by
4.25 of 5 stars 4.25 avg rating — 27,574 ratings
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62 A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll...
by
4.28 of 5 stars 4.28 avg rating — 17,219 ratings
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63 Against Interpretation and ...
by
4.09 of 5 stars 4.09 avg rating — 3,220 ratings
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64 The Structure of Scientific...
by
3.98 of 5 stars 3.98 avg rating — 10,769 ratings
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65 The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda...
by
4.35 of 5 stars 4.35 avg rating — 9,074 ratings
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66 Why We Can't Wait
by
4.43 of 5 stars 4.43 avg rating — 2,272 ratings
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67 Ball Four
by
4.01 of 5 stars 4.01 avg rating — 9,197 ratings
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68 Unsafe at Any Speed
by
3.59 of 5 stars 3.59 avg rating — 105 ratings
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69 Animal Liberation
by
4.15 of 5 stars 4.15 avg rating — 3,124 ratings
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70 Orientalism
by
4.04 of 5 stars 4.04 avg rating — 7,535 ratings
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71 The General Theory of Emplo...
by
3.76 of 5 stars 3.76 avg rating — 2,254 ratings
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71 The Closing of the American...
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3.7 of 5 stars 3.70 avg rating — 2,704 ratings
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73 God and Man at Yale: The Su...
by
3.68 of 5 stars 3.68 avg rating — 488 ratings
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74 The Other America: Poverty ...
by
4.0 of 5 stars 4.00 avg rating — 431 ratings
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75 The Origins of Totalitarianism
by
4.2 of 5 stars 4.20 avg rating — 2,654 ratings
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76 Dispatches
by
4.23 of 5 stars 4.23 avg rating — 6,821 ratings
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77 The American Way of Death R...
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4.01 of 5 stars 4.01 avg rating — 1,020 ratings
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78 The Clash of Civilizations ...
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3.57 of 5 stars 3.57 avg rating — 4,202 ratings
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79 The Last Lion 2: Winston Sp...
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4.53 of 5 stars 4.53 avg rating — 3,031 ratings
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80 The End of History and the ...
by
3.43 of 5 stars 3.43 avg rating — 2,175 ratings
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81 Syntactic Structures
by
3.88 of 5 stars 3.88 avg rating — 340 ratings
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82 On Human Nature
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4.02 of 5 stars 4.02 avg rating — 1,207 ratings
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83 The Paranoid Style in Ameri...
by
4.19 of 5 stars 4.19 avg rating — 438 ratings
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84 The Conscience of a Conserv...
by
3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 1,161 ratings
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85 The Death and Life of Great...
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4.31 of 5 stars 4.31 avg rating — 5,531 ratings
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86 Carry Me Home: Birmingham, ...
by
4.02 of 5 stars 4.02 avg rating — 263 ratings
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87 Nature and Destiny of Man, ...
by
4.07 of 5 stars 4.07 avg rating — 57 ratings
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88 The Story of Art
by
3.83 of 5 stars 3.83 avg rating — 57,421 ratings
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89 How to Cook a Wolf
by
4.22 of 5 stars 4.22 avg rating — 1,224 ratings
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90 A Theory of Justice
by
3.89 of 5 stars 3.89 avg rating — 6,210 ratings
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91 The American Cinema: Direct...
by
4.03 of 5 stars 4.03 avg rating — 210 ratings
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91 A Child of the Century
by
4.3 of 5 stars 4.30 avg rating — 27 ratings
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93 Sexual Behaviour in the Hum...
by
3.61 of 5 stars 3.61 avg rating — 190 ratings
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94 What It Takes: The Way to t...
by
4.38 of 5 stars 4.38 avg rating — 903 ratings
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95 Understanding Media: The Ex...
by
4.1 of 5 stars 4.10 avg rating — 1,664 ratings
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96 Within the Context of No Co...
by
3.86 of 5 stars 3.86 avg rating — 220 ratings
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97 Mystery Train: Images of Am...
by
4.07 of 5 stars 4.07 avg rating — 1,906 ratings
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98 The Sweet Science
by
4.14 of 5 stars 4.14 avg rating — 409 ratings
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99 The Great War and Modern Me...
by
4.23 of 5 stars 4.23 avg rating — 2,636 ratings
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100 Imagined Communities: Refle...
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4.08 of 5 stars 4.08 avg rating — 4,443 ratings
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Comments (showing 1-50 of 67) (67 new)


message 1: by David (new)

David Campton this is a ridiculously US-centric list


message 2: by Ben (new)

Ben David wrote: "this is a ridiculously US-centric list"

Time Magazine is a ridiculously US-centric magazine.


message 3: by David (new)

David Campton accepted


message 4: by Leah (new)

Leah David wrote: "this is a ridiculously US-centric list"

Then add some non-US works! Vote wisely. :)


message 5: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Brown Actually, this is meant to be a static list -- not one that can have books added to it. We're working on fixing that now.


message 6: by Zachary (new)

Zachary Barker No Hunter S Thompson?! I'm insulted!


message 7: by Dan (new)

Dan Why is the list not changeable if people can still vote? Only one of these would be in my top 100!


message 8: by Yolanda (new)

Yolanda Next I'd like to see a list of influential non-fiction books translated into English from other languages. I'd top the list with Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.


message 9: by Michelle (new)

Michelle I really don't agree with many books on this list. Many are too new to see if the deserve to be in the "Top 100 Best Books."


message 10: by Thom (new)

Thom Dunn There are two lists here, neither one adequate: 1) a lot of contemporary OK books with some good stuff, e.g. The Omnivore's Dilemma, and 2) The greatest non-fiction books of all time: e.g., The Origin of Species.


message 11: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl It is a weird list. Fast Food Nation? Francis Fukuyama, who claimed that history had ended and was quickly proven ridiculous when history kept on going?


message 12: by Mimi (new)

Mimi Thom wrote: "There are two lists here, neither one adequate: 1) a lot of contemporary OK books with some good stuff, e.g. The Omnivore's Dilemma, and 2) The greatest non-fiction books of all time: e.g., The Ori..."

Absolutely--can't believe that was left out. What criteria were used? Some of these books are quite thought-provoking or influential, while others are no more than popular. How can a cookbook even be considered in the same field as works like Wilson's "On Human Nature"? Obviously, the idea behind most lists like this is to generate a buzz and they can't be taken very seriously.


message 13: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth A agree with Lobster girl, what a weird list. I guess that's what Time Magazine calls "All Time Best," but I have no desire to read many of those books.


message 14: by Ali (new)

Ali There are a few head-scratchers included here that put the lie to the title's claim to represent both "best" and "non-fiction". Clash of Civilizations, really?


message 15: by Bobbie (new)

Bobbie I have read parts of many of these books, for example COMING OF AGE...; however, I am only selecting the ones that I completed.


message 16: by Jamie (new)

Jamie This list IS weird. Then again, Time magazine is pretty weird. Still, I've only read nine of these - if you include the Joy of Sex, which I'm not sure counts - Oh! the sting of being so close to average. It's almost enough to make me consider reading one of the many (far too many) conservative polical tracts on here... almost.


message 17: by Thom (new)

Thom Dunn Jamie wrote: "This list IS weird. Then again, Time magazine is pretty weird. Still, I've only read nine of these - if you include the Joy of Sex, which I'm not sure counts - Oh! the sting of being so close to..."

I have learned from My HIndu Shrink that the Kama Sutra was written by an ascetic. Even so, it should perhaps be first among How-To-Do-IT books, agreed ?


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Is there some reason I can "compare with friends" but can't actually vote on the list?


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Patrick wrote: "Actually, this is meant to be a static list -- not one that can have books added to it. We're working on fixing that now."

Oh, I see.


message 20: by Zachary (new)

Zachary Barker I wouldn't include the Clash of Civilizations in that list either. It generalises entire distinct civilizations just to fit it's conclusions. I am sure the people who would fall under the so called 'Oriental' culture label would agree.


message 21: by Thom (new)

Thom Dunn Zachary wrote: "I wouldn't include the Clash of Civilizations in that list either. It generalises entire distinct civilizations just to fit it's conclusions. I am sure the people who would fall under the so call..."

Time-honored research method: When your data don't yield your conclusion, change the data.


message 22: by Diana180 (new)

Diana180 I've read about 19 of them. There should be ways to vote for Isn't this a reference book? (Our Bodies, Ourselves), Isn't this fiction? (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance), Isn't this about five books long - I have only read three books' worth of it (Rise and Fall of the Third Reich), and No and I don't think I will ever read it (God and Man at Yale).


message 23: by Thom (new)

Thom Dunn Diana180 wrote: "I've read about 19 of them. There should be ways to vote for Isn't this a reference book? (Our Bodies, Ourselves), Isn't this fiction? (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance), Isn't this about ..."

Zen and the Art of M. M. is standard length. Just one book.


message 24: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl I agree that a lot of what editors are trying to do is create buzz. If they truly find the 100 best books, 98% of America won't have read them. They have to stick Nickel and Dimed on there because a lot of people have actually read it - and part of the fun of the list is checking off the ones one has read. (I'm not saying Nickel and Dimed is a bad book, just that it doesn't belong on a top 100 list.)


message 25: by Linda (new)

Linda Martin I can't believe I've only read 6 of these(I'm average!!). Unless I've read some and forgotten---defintely a possibility, since I am of the opinion these can't be the 100 "Most Interesting" Best Non-Fiction Books. Oh, I'll just admit the truth---I read alot more fiction than non-fiction. How embarrassing!


message 26: by Jason (new)

Jason Slovak Pretty disappointed to not see Alive  The Story of the Andes Survivors by Piers Paul Read


message 27: by Jamie (last edited Sep 02, 2011 12:42PM) (new)

Jamie Jason "Slo" wrote: "Pretty disappointed to not see Alive  The Story of the Andes Survivors by Piers Paul Read"

Ah, Alive, the reason I always pack Oreos in my carry-on.


message 28: by Rita (last edited Sep 03, 2011 04:53AM) (new)

Rita Ben wrote: "David wrote: "this is a ridiculously US-centric list"

Time Magazine is a ridiculously US-centric magazine."


Well it IS an American publication. Why are you so surprised? But there are English titles on the list, such as Virginia Woolf (a Brit!) and Karen Blixen (a Dane!)!


message 29: by James (new)

James Yes! I have read twelve, so I'm over the average! I'm glad there's still a place where I can get a tiny bit of admiration for reading so much... in most contexts I'm a dinosaur. :)


message 30: by John (new)

John Slaney This is a good, well-rounded list of books. TIME's 100 best Fiction/Novel list is also pretty good.


message 31: by Steve (new)

Steve Silent Spring, Nickel and Dimed, A People's History Of The United States, Obamas "Memoir"? Lots of leftist/socialist claptrap on this list. That's kind of what I expect from Time. Credit them for putting Goldwater and Buckley on the list.


message 32: by James (new)

James Piper I see Dawkins, but no Darwin. No 'On the Origin of Species'? Yikes. He explained how and why evolution happens. So fundamental to our existence.


message 33: by Anabel (new)

Anabel David wrote: "this is a ridiculously US-centric list"

Completely agree


message 34: by John (new)

John Not only are many of the best non-fiction books not on this list, but some of those on the list are no where near the best. While our personal view of what constitutes one of the "best" books in any category is clearly subjective, there must be some kind of criteria to be met to actually GET on a list like this. Time magazine must have people smart enough to figure this out, I just wonder why they didn't and what criteria they actually used.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Darwin published just a few years before Time started publication, which is why he's not on.

It's a "US-centric" list because Time's a US-centric magazine.


message 36: by Ruby (new)

Ruby Hollyberry In my opinion, the best nonfiction books would be, other factors taken into account, the best WRITTEN nonfiction books. Not all of these would qualify, certainly.


message 37: by John (new)

John Slaney It's just a list. If you don't like this one, you can find a thousand more to choose from. Lists are everywhere and they sell magazines; and attract readers who enjoy neatly-packaged bundles of easily digestible information.

It's not definitive. It's TIME magazine.


message 38: by Nafees (new)

Nafees John wrote: "It's just a list. If you don't like this one, you can find a thousand more to choose from. Lists are everywhere and they sell magazines; and attract readers who enjoy neatly-packaged bundles of eas..."

i agree. its just a list. and its Times


message 39: by Nafees (new)

Nafees but a interesting list, if not all some are worth reading.


message 40: by John (new)

John Slaney Nafees wrote: "but a interesting list, if not all some are worth reading."

Agreed.


message 41: by [deleted user] (new)

James wrote: "I see Dawkins, but no Darwin. No 'On the Origin of Species'? Yikes. He explained how and why evolution happens. So fundamental to our existence."

I was surprised by this as well. I thought I'd missed it at first.


message 42: by Kim (new)

Kim Interesting list of books from a magazine


message 43: by Larisa (new)

Larisa Lesnik intresting list, is it possible to somehow "save" this list for future reference on what to read?


message 44: by Laura (new)

Laura Not only is Time's "100 Best Books of All Time" list extremely US-centric, but it is heavily weighted toward the recent past. Lists of these type tend to have a recent focus since humans quickly forget anything that doesn't immediately impact their lives. As other people have said, lists are simply created to sell publications. If Time had accurately named the list ("100 Important Books Published in the U.S. in the Last 50 Years"), no one would be arguing about the list's contents -- nor would they have bought the magazine.


message 45: by Mary (new)

Mary What a stupid list. I am not impressed.


message 46: by Peter (new)

Peter No John McPhee


message 47: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Absolutely useless list.


message 48: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Laura wrote: "Not only is Time's "100 Best Books of All Time" list extremely US-centric, but it is heavily weighted toward the recent past. Lists of these type tend to have a recent focus since humans quickly fo..."

x2


message 49: by Will (new)

Will Riddle Absolutely Amazing. This is a socialist book list posing as the "best books of all time"


message 50: by Fungus (new)

Fungus Gnat This list doesn't seem all that weird or bad to me. The entries, particularly in retrospect, seem perhaps more often to fit Time's "most influential" descriptor than its "best." Given that, I found myself nodding most of the way down the list. It is surely not THE best list possible but it is A good list. Of course it's U.S.-centric. It's a U.S. magazine with largely a U.S. audience, and it is explicitly restricted to books written in English. And "The Origin of Species" is not on it because that was written before the cut-off date of 1923. (And I would not use this as a reading list. Some of the titles were important in their day, but have since become dated. In nonfiction, I'd rather read stuff that's more current.)


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