24 of the Year's Highest-Rated Nonfiction (So Far)

Posted by Cybil on May 14, 2018
We're almost halfway through 2018, and we thought it was high time to check in on the year's buzziest and most-loved nonfiction!

It's already been a fantastic year for memoirs, from an account of a woman's survivalist upbringing in Educated to a story of wrongfully convicted man being freed from death row in The Sun Does Shine. Readers have also been riveted as Michelle McNamara's posthumous true crime bestseller I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer aligned with the major arrest in the serial killer case.

To create this list, we looked at a book's popularity (through the number of ratings on Goodreads) and anticipation (measured by how many times a title was added to Want to Read shelves. To ensure that these 2018 nonfiction titles were the the best of the bunch, we then winnowed down our list further to focus only on books that have at least a four-star reader rating.


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What nonfiction would you recommend to your fellow readers? Let us know in the comments!

Find more ideas for your summer reading:
The Hottest Books of Summer
Get Ready for the Ultimate Summer Reading Challenge
20 Top-Rated Books for Every Kind of Getaway


Comments Showing 1-40 of 40 (40 new)

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message 1: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Of the four off this list that I have already read, they are all rated 5 stars by me. Time to check off some others from the list!


message 2: by Wayne (new)

Wayne Oldroyd Grant Grant by Ron Chernow
I would have to recommend grant although not a beach read it is easy to chew on and digest over the summer. Chernow works his magic with his biographical skills. You come to understand the person that is more than the general who happened to win the Civil War. Is not the worst president that has served this country, much higher on the presidential ladder . This book should be on the high school summer reading list.


message 3: by Richp (new)

Richp GR ratings are a crude indicator of quality, so I suspect only a few of the actual best 24 are on this list. It is OK to using ratings as a metric, but best is a misleading term.


message 4: by Silvia (new)

Silvia Most of these are memoirs, which I don't really count as non-fiction (and don't read). It would be nice to see what the list would look like without memoirs.


message 5: by Splmdllc (new)

Splmdllc The BEST reading gift I can give to you is Margaret Atwoods, The Handmaids Tale. Yes, in fact it has been made into a movie but you will be CHEATING yourself if you see that movie before you read her book!!! I'm a little hesitant to see the movie now because I cannot imagine how anybody can beat M. Atwoods' prose. I believe it will not be possible to accurately place the book's undertones and overtones on a movie screen. I suppose, TIME will tell.


message 6: by Splmdllc (new)

Splmdllc Richp wrote: "GR ratings are a crude indicator of quality, so I suspect only a few of the actual best 24 are on this list. It is OK to using ratings as a metric, but best is a misleading term."

Silvia, see my post on one of the many book's I've had the pleasure to read that is not a "memoir" and definitely one book you do not want to miss!!


message 7: by Jolene (new)

Jolene Barr Splmdllc wrote: "The BEST reading gift I can give to you is Margaret Atwoods, The Handmaids Tale. Yes, in fact it has been made into a movie but you will be CHEATING yourself if you see that movie before you read h..."

Especially the current HULU series based on the book; it is excruciatingly slow and takes quite a few departures from the book. Can’t believe that series has won EMMY awards !!


message 8: by Linda (new)

Linda I was recently privileged to hear a talk by the author Dr. Jack Mayer who wrote the book " Life in a Jar." His book is about a woman named Irena Sendler who saved 2500 Jewish children from the Polish Ghetto during the German invasion of Poland in the second World War. Her story was little known until a class of high school students in Kansas decided to explore her story for a class project. The story of Irena (whom they found was still alive and whom they would have the opportunity to meet and to interview along with the author of this book) is as important as the story of the three teenage girls who undertook this project. I would recommend this book not only to adults who are aware of the Holocaust but to the generations since who have little or no knowledge of the atrocities of the Nazis in Poland against the Jewish population.
Linda


message 9: by Teresa (new)

Teresa Metcalf I recommend The Falcon Diaries by Emily Lodge


message 10: by Kristen (new)

Kristen I just read " In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette" by Hampton Sides and was utterly enthralled throughout!

Wonderfully told story of one ship's race to the North Pole, and the various tragedies and victories that befall the crew.


message 11: by Jessica (new)

Jessica My highest recommendations for "I'm Just Happy To Be Here" by Janelle Hanchett. It's a raw and riveting memoir about young motherhood, addiction, and the nonlinear nature of recovery.


message 12: by Will (new)

Will Byrnes I really loved The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Stephen Brusatte, a wonderful, pop-sci book. Lands of Lost Borders by Kate Harris is a thoughtful, literary look at the nature of borders, inspired by her bike ride across the Silk Road. Top notch. The Line Becomes a River by Francisco. Cantú, is a smart, insightful look at immigration issues at the US-Mexico border by a man who used to be a border guard. Automating Inequality by Virginia Eubanks is an alarming look at how the poorhouse of old has been reimagined and implemented through high-tech. Be afraid. Be very afraid. From the list of 24, William Comey's memoir, A Higher Loyalty, does more than merely take shots at Swamp Thing, as he recounts the struggles, both political and moral, that made him who he is, and Tara Westover's Educated is both a tale of hope and a record of horror


message 13: by Vannessa (new)

Vannessa Anderson I recommend The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America

by
Richard Rothstein
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3...


message 14: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Doyle I highly recommend Kate Moore's The Radium Girls.
A harrowing story of the expoitation of women working in a radium factory, painting dials on watches with radioactive paint, and the
terrible result of their exposure to radium. A must read.


message 15: by Holly (new)

Holly Silvia wrote: "Most of these are memoirs, which I don't really count as non-fiction (and don't read). It would be nice to see what the list would look like without memoirs."

Agreed! My non-fiction tastes are widely varied, but there is nothing on this list for me. :(


message 16: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine Kevin wrote: "I highly recommend Kate Moore's The Radium Girls."

That was an excellent book!


message 17: by Kristin Katsuye (new)

Kristin Katsuye Just curious are any of these poem books?


message 18: by Katsuro (new)

Katsuro Ricksand Kristin Katsuye wrote: "Just curious are any of these poem books?"

As far as I can tell, nope, no poetry collections.


message 19: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Cox Non-fiction I've enjoyed this year:
In Order to Live A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom by Yeonmi Park 90 Minutes in Heaven A True Story of Death and Life by Don Piper Daughter of the Ganges The Story of One Girl's Adoption and Her Return Journey to India by Asha Miró


message 21: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Where are the non-memoirs? :(


message 22: by Mary (new)

Mary I recommend...and I also generally prefer non-fiction that is historical or social science type.

"In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer" by Irene Gut Opdyke- it is YA themed and I agree as someone else said, a good read for adults aware of the Holocaust and younger generations not so aware.

"The Gift of Fear" by Gavin De Becker- all about personal safety awareness, geared towards women

"Dinner with Edward" by Isabel Vincent- a great read about relationships with those of different ages/eras

"Left of Bang" by Patrick Van Horne- another personal safety book. More of a military perspective.

"The Unthinkable" by Amanda Ripley- interesting read on why/how people react in dangerous situations and (maybe) why some survive or act in certain situations

"In Sheep's Clothing" by George K. Simon Jr.- a great read for the workplace and life on dealing with manipulative people

I could add so many more that are my favorite non-fiction reads, but I will leave it at this.


message 23: by Susan (new)

Susan Kristen wrote: "I just read " In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette" by Hampton Sides and was utterly enthralled throughout!

Wonderfully told story of one ship's race to ..."


I agree! My daughter read the book, gave it to my husband and he gave it to me. We all highly recommend it.


message 24: by Vannessa (new)

Vannessa Anderson Andrea wrote: "Non-fiction I've enjoyed this year:
In Order to Live A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom by Yeonmi Park90 Minutes in Heaven A True Story of Death and Life by Don Piper[bookcover:D..."


Andrea, how did you get the covers to line up like that?


message 25: by Andrea (last edited May 19, 2018 06:27AM) (new)

Andrea Cox Vannessa, I'm happy to help.

I've heard this can't be done on the mobile app, but don't use it myself to know. However, here is what I do on my desktop:

1. Click on the "add book/author" button above the comment box.
2. Click "cover" at the bottom of the box that pops up.
3. Type in the title of the book you'd like to find, and hit "search."
4. Click "add" beside the cover when you find the correct one in the list that comes up.

It should look like this, with no spaces in "bookcover" (but with the HTML code for the book you chose): [book cover:In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom|24611623]

When you preview the comment, it will look like this (but with the book cover you chose): In Order to Live A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom by Yeonmi Park

When you're happy with the preview, click "post." :)

Test it out and let me know if you need more clarification.

Edit: I misread your comment. So sorry I didn't answer your question correctly! Let me try again:

To get them lined up, I just post them back-to-back with no space in between, following the steps above for each cover.

Example (but the spaces in "bookcover" would not be there):
[book cover:In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom|24611623][book cover:90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Death and Life|89375][book cover:Daughter of the Ganges: The Story of One Girl's Adoption and Her Return Journey to India|896639]

Here's what that would look like:
In Order to Live A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom by Yeonmi Park 90 Minutes in Heaven A True Story of Death and Life by Don Piper Daughter of the Ganges The Story of One Girl's Adoption and Her Return Journey to India by Asha Miró


message 26: by Adrian (new)

Adrian Rodriguez hidalgo Non ficton worth reading The Blank Slate The Modern Denial of Human Nature by Steven Pinker Modern Times The World from the Twenties to the Nineties by Paul Johnson The True Believer Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements by Eric Hoffer The Vital Question Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex Life by Nick Lane


message 27: by Celise (new)

Celise Will wrote: "I really loved The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Stephen Brusatte, a wonderful, pop-sci book. Lands of Lost Borders by Kate Harris is a thoughtful, literary look at the nature of borders, inspi..."

I've heard of The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs A New History of a Lost World by Stephen Brusatte, but it kind of fell off of my radar until now. Thanks for the recommendation, I've added it to my to-read list!


message 28: by Brooklyn (new)

Brooklyn Some good choices!


message 29: by Suror (new)

Suror Mahmoud like


message 30: by Julie (new)

Julie Weston Madeline Albright's book, Fascism, a Warning. Also Craig Child's book, Atlas of a Lost World.


message 31: by Laura (new)

Laura I am just finishing "The Sun Does Shine" and I highly recommend it. I was moved to tears in some places.


message 32: by Judith (last edited May 23, 2018 08:57AM) (new)

Judith Flynn Why Time Flies A Mostly Scientific Investigation by Alan Burdick
Why Time flies by Alan Burdick
Fascinating questions are raised: “how long is now?” “is there such a thing as a present”. Wonderful read.


message 33: by Judith (last edited May 23, 2018 10:19AM) (new)

Judith Flynn If We Were Villains by M.L. RioIf We Were Villains

A terrific read for Shakespeare fans. Chock-a-block with quotations, a mystery involving 7 fourth year drama students specializing in Shakespeare, and the murder of one of them. Clever, literary, and lots of fun.


message 34: by Richp (new)

Richp Judith wrote: "If We Were Villains by M.L. RioIf We Were Villains

A terrific read for Shakespeare fans. Chock-a-block with quotations, a mystery involving 7 fourth year drama students sp..."


I thought this blog entry was about nonfiction.


message 35: by Cathy (new)

Cathy Jasmine wrote: "Kevin wrote: "I highly recommend Kate Moore's The Radium Girls."

That was an excellent book!"


I agree, this is an excellent book.


message 36: by Christian (new)

Christian  Durrett Although it makes sense that a lot of the NF on this list may be memoirs or bios considering today's activism and progression in people's rights and lives, BUT I really would like to see a wider variety of NF on the list. Math, physics, some bio or maybe a good book with technical knowledge coming out.


message 37: by Mell (new)

Mell Splmdllc wrote: "The BEST reading gift I can give to you is Margaret Atwoods, The Handmaids Tale. Yes, in fact it has been made into a movie but you will be CHEATING yourself if you see that movie before you read h..."

Good book to suggest. And also fiction. This is a non-fiction list.


message 38: by Diana (last edited Jun 20, 2018 10:24AM) (new)

Diana Damnation Island Poor, Sick, Mad, & Criminal in 19th-Century New York by Stacy Hornby Stacy Horn I just read it but wow was it intense. It's hard to say it was enjoyable due to the subject matter but it was a great book.


message 39: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Silvia wrote: "Most of these are memoirs, which I don't really count as non-fiction (and don't read). It would be nice to see what the list would look like without memoirs."

Memoirs are one of the core components of creative nonfiction. A list of CNF would be incomplete without memoir.


message 40: by Katsuro (new)

Katsuro Ricksand Silvia wrote: "Most of these are memoirs, which I don't really count as non-fiction (and don't read). It would be nice to see what the list would look like without memoirs."

All due respect, I'm not sure why a (truthful) memoir wouldn't count as non-fiction.


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