Back-to-School Reading for Adults: The Best New Nonfiction

Posted by Hayley on August 13, 2018
Who says old dogs can't learn new tricks? Inspired by all the kids heading back to school, we rounded up the best recently published books for curious grown-ups.

Whether you're eager to know more about the planet or politics, want to change the world or yourself, we've got you covered. To find the most educational and entertaining books published from January to August of this year, these are the books that have been added the most to Goodreads members' shelves. Then we narrowed down our list to contain only books with at least a four-star average rating.

Ready to hit the books? Check out the recommendations, divided by subject matter, and add what catches your eye to your Want to Read shelf.


Recent Events 101

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History 101

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Self Help 101

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True Crime 101

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Business 101

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Present Matters 101

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Parenting 101

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Science 101

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Planet Earth 101

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Politics 101

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The Future 101

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What's the best nonfiction book you've read this year? Let's talk in the comments!

Check out more recent blogs:
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Published from Prison: The Books that Inspired a Former Bank Robber
The 21 Most-Popular Graphic Novels for Middle Grade Readers

Comments Showing 1-50 of 77 (77 new)


message 1: by Karen (new)

Karen Sadler Goodreads, why are you promoting Jordan Peterson's racist, sexist bullshit?


message 2: by Revati (new)

Revati @Karen Sadler Exactly!


message 3: by Revati (new)

Revati Was not expecting this from Goodreads. That book is total BS.


message 4: by Rubal (new)

Rubal Karen wrote: "Goodreads, why are you promoting Jordan Peterson's racist, sexist bullshit?"

MTE!


message 5: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Rubal wrote: "Karen wrote: "Goodreads, why are you promoting Jordan Peterson's racist, sexist bullshit?"

MTE!"
agreed!!


message 6: by Shabbeer (new)

Shabbeer Hassan @ Karen Yeah, thats what I was wondering too!


Samantha Pauline Karen wrote: "Goodreads, why are you promoting Jordan Peterson's racist, sexist bullshit?"

Racist and sexist how? I would love an explanation here.


message 8: by Courts (new)

Courts So did the publishing company pay Goodreads to promote Jordan Peterson's "book"? I thought that maybe you guys might not want to promote sexism and racism.


message 9: by Karen (new)

Karen Christian Karen wrote: "Goodreads, why are you promoting Jordan Peterson's racist, sexist bullshit?"

From one Karen to another, exactly.


message 10: by Marcus (new)

Marcus Welsh Racist? Sexist? How so exactly? I still have two chapters left to read, but I never felt that the first 10 chapters were racist or sexist.


Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* Marcus wrote: "Racist? Sexist? How so exactly? I still have two chapters left to read, but I never felt that the first 10 chapters were racist or sexist."

It's probably a case where he's banned in general because he's said something someone doesn't agree with elsewhere.


message 12: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey The whinging about Peterson was expected; the part of the political spectrum the most vocal Goodreads readers belong to is largely only "tolerant" of things that they already agree with (and therefore don't have to tolerate).

I haven't read Peterson's book yet but plan to. Well done, Goodreads, on adding a book outside the usual leftist / statist swill.


message 13: by Samantha Pauline (new)

Samantha Pauline Jeffrey wrote: "The whinging about Peterson was expected; the part of the political spectrum the most vocal Goodreads readers belong to is largely only "tolerant" of things that they already agree with (and theref..."

Yes, thank you, Goodreads.


message 14: by Cassie (new)

Cassie Fischer For those complaining about Jordan Peterson's book (who I have never heard of and had to look up) this is what Goodreads said in the above message. Did anyone read it?
"we focused on the books that have been added the most to Goodreads members' shelves. Then we narrowed down our list to contain only books with at least a four-star average rating."
It wasn't Goodreads that focused on a particular book, it was the members. And that being said, there is clearly more that one side to any conversation. Can you guys not handle having ONE book in an entire list that you don't like?


message 15: by Sally (new)

Sally I will definitely read Madeleine Albright's book.


message 16: by Katie (new)

Katie Haddon @karen Sadler why what’s it about?


message 17: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Cassie wrote: "For those complaining about Jordan Peterson's book (who I have never heard of and had to look up) this is what Goodreads said in the above message. Did anyone read it?
"we focused on the books that..."


I was coming down to say this exactly.


message 18: by Cassie (new)

Cassie Fischer Stephanie wrote: "Cassie wrote: "For those complaining about Jordan Peterson's book (who I have never heard of and had to look up) this is what Goodreads said in the above message. Did anyone read it?
"we focused on..."


Thank you. I never comment on stuff like this, because I know I'll get torn to shreds. In this case, it's not a matter of politics or even a matter of racism or whether the author is a jerk. It's about how many times it was marked "Want to read" and how high a rating it has.


message 19: by Moss (new)

Moss 慈映夢図 Anyone to the right of Chairman Mau is a sexist/racist according to these morons.

Give up.
Your stupid crusade against common sense and decency is dying.


message 20: by Iset (new)

Iset As a non-American I am sick and tired of hearing "Left!" "Right!" "Left!" "Right!" Sit down and read a book. You think I come to GoodReads for this?!


message 21: by Iset (new)

Iset Quit it with the bilateral partisanship already.


message 22: by Vikas (new)

Vikas Karen wrote: "Goodreads, why are you promoting Jordan Peterson's racist, sexist bullshit?"

Agreed, Me Too


message 23: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Kate wrote: "Btw, you can spare us your whining about sexism, Leftist ladies. We all know you’d vote for Bill Clinton TOMORROW if he was eligible to run for the presidency again. We see you. We know you are fak..."

The exact same people are, no doubt, perfectly fine with Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein, and Brett Ratner keeping their star on the Hollywood walk of fame. Some folks make "Do as I say not as I do" an entire political philosophy.


message 24: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Carbery Sally wrote: "I will definitely read Madeleine Albright's book."

I could not recommend it more! If you haven't read her "Prague Winter" already, please do. I think when you put the pair together it is extremely powerful. Obviously one is a history and one is about the times, but I think "Prague Winter" gave me so much context about her family and personal life for her new one!
<3 Much love from one smartie to another!


message 25: by Jehona (new)

Jehona At least his book isn't listed in the "science 101" category.
I have to admit that I have never seen any of his racist and sexist stuff. I tried to watch a video of him on YouTube once. Most of it was general stuff you learn in a high school psychology class, and then he went totally out of reality saying that ancient civilizations knew about the DNA because they used symbols with snakes twisted together which look sort of, kind of, approximately, like the DNA double helix. I have avoided his stuff ever since. It was too much like watching the guys from Ancient Aliens.


message 26: by M. (new)

M. *Comes onto this blog post so that I can explore some options for my nonfiction reading later this year* *reads post’s comments*
*resolves to just ask my local librarian for options instead of looking on Goodreads blog posts*


message 27: by Mandy (new)

Mandy Edwards I want to read Jordan Peterson's book. He's a very interesting man.


message 28: by Cheryl A (new)

Cheryl A Mary Dearest wrote: "*Comes onto this blog post so that I can explore some options for my nonfiction reading later this year* *reads post’s comments*
*resolves to just ask my local librarian for options instead of look..."

As a public library employee...Thank You!!


message 29: by Lance (new)

Lance I think the guy is right on the money. Maybe time to stop watching Fake News and read the book hey?


message 30: by Rory (new)

Rory Another knee-jerk lashing for Jordan Peterson...yawn.

Not interested in it or in his book, he ain't my cup 'o tea. That said I do feel that his book is a good addition to a good list.

Well done Goodreads.

(please continue to promote the freedom of ideas to the very end, regardless of what the fringes say).


message 31: by Iset (new)

Iset Frankly I'm astonished at the hate-fest of this thread. It is actually shocking. I'm absolutely sick to the back teeth of American partisanship. Why does every space on the internet have to be taken over by this?

GoodReads is one of the few websites where I can indulge in a quiet pastime and meet other book-lovers. This spew of vitriol is ruining one of life's true pleasures and after several months of watching every single damn blog post descend into a flaming bin fire, I have had enough.


message 32: by Emma (new)

Emma Iset wrote: "Frankly I'm astonished at the hate-fest of this thread. It is actually shocking. I'm absolutely sick to the back teeth of American partisanship. Why does every space on the internet have to be take..."

And everyone ignored you to continue their argument. Not everyone on this website is American, not everyone on this website even sees 'Left' and 'Right' the same as Americans. I'd much rather the comments discussed what books people did enjoy than which authors people dislike, it's far more useful for me to gauge whether to read it or not.


message 33: by Karen (new)

Karen Sadler Though I shouldn't have to explain Peterson's BS (Google is free!), some reviews of his book:
LA Review of Books: https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/a...#!
Johannesburg Review of Books: https://johannesburgreviewofbooks.com...
The Globe and Mail: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/...

Disengaging now, because if you're a Peterson fan, there's nothing I can do to convince you he's dangerous and irresponsible.
But I will end on a positive note - Ijeoma Oluo's book "So You Want To Talk About Race" is also highlighted and it is full of wonderful advice and insight. I recommend it to everyone, both white people and people of colour.


message 34: by Holly (last edited Aug 14, 2018 07:37AM) (new)


message 35: by Nic (new)

Nic Iset wrote: "Frankly I'm astonished at the hate-fest of this thread. It is actually shocking. I'm absolutely sick to the back teeth of American partisanship. Why does every space on the internet have to be take..."

No one is forcing you to be here, let alone forcing you to read the comments. It's quite narcissistic to think that because you are personally sick of something other people can't discuss it. I always see people descending into English language spaces created by Americans, run in America, populated mainly by Americans who then complain about how American it is. It's ludicrous. The world doesn't revolve around you, if they want to talk about their politics they are welcome to do so.


message 36: by Jaclyn, Goodreads employee (new)

Jaclyn Woods Hi everyone! Just a gentle reminder to keep comments civil and on topic. Please also keep in mind that attacks on other members are not permitted as per our Community Guidelines.


message 37: by Cassie (new)

Cassie Fischer YAAAASSSS! We got reminded by a Goodreads Expert guys!!!


message 38: by Silvia (last edited Aug 15, 2018 11:33PM) (new)

Silvia I never heard of Jordan Peterson before this blog post, and hadn't planned on reading his book, but now I'm curious because of all this chatter and just put it on hold at the library (I'm 278th in line, proving it is indeed a popular book). So what is the saying, something about no such thing as bad publicity?


message 39: by J (new)

J Gallo Not to mention his rampant transphobia and homophobia


message 40: by Judy Stewart (new)

Judy Stewart I have read Jordan Petersen’s book and see nothing wrong. He does challenge the reader to think, and people with minds made up don’t want to.


message 41: by Monica (new)

Monica Matthews Lol I feel like I'm reading through NPR's stories


message 42: by Evelyn (new)

Evelyn Free speech


message 43: by Bandit (last edited Aug 23, 2018 11:26AM) (new)

Bandit I remember stumbling on a youtube video of that Jordan guy and it was about gender roles and his opinions were from the dark ages. Make your own damn sandwich Jordan.


message 44: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen Noonan I just looked up this author as I didn't know who he was and he got 81% 5 star reviews on his last book. Everyone is so intolerant of everything right now. If someone has a different opinion you attack them instead of just listening and hearing their side and their thoughts on an issue. Perhaps you all need to open your minds and stop being so closed off to any thought that differs from your own. The left is moving backward to a "fascist" state of mine. They only want people with the same exact thoughts and ideas and that's called discrimination and intolerance. If we want to find peace in this world we all need to respect others and their opinions. You don't have to accept them or like them but you need to start realizing we are all very different an all have varying views on life and start to shut your mouths. I'm sick of your BS and constant vocal outbursts and protest about everything. Go find another book! No one is forcing you to read this book, right? Right? Man, the small-minded idiots in this world are pathetic and I feel bad for you.


message 45: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen Noonan Bandit wrote: "I remember stumbling on a youtube video of that Jordan guy and it was about gender roles and his opinions were from the dark ages. Make your own damn sandwich Jordan."

He can think what he wants. Get a life and read a different book.


message 46: by Dena (new)

Dena There are a lot of books to read in the world out there, people. If you don't agree with one don't read it - it's as simple as that. I believe the key word here is RECOMMENDED. It doesn't say you have to read it.


message 47: by Annamae (new)

Annamae Sterling I have most recently read "One thousand gifts," and "The Broken Way" by Ann Voskamp.. I will be reading this fall "Leading From your Gut" buy Dr. John Townsend."


message 48: by Chrystal (new)

Chrystal I do wish that Goodreads' recommendations were less US centric. It can be challenging to find singular, reliable sources for international, critically acclaimed books, non-fiction and otherwise.


message 49: by Kimberley (new)

Kimberley For those who are bashing a published author, no matter who he is - what’s next in your world? Banning books? Denying freedom of speech because you don’t agree? That, by the way is called Fascism. And it’s how Hitler began his rise to power. Be careful of what you revolt against - lest you become the very thing you despise.


message 50: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Schaffer Karen wrote: "Goodreads, why are you promoting Jordan Peterson's racist, sexist bullshit?"

Revati wrote: "Was not expecting this from Goodreads. That book is total BS."
Karen, have you actually read the book or just heard the silly hype? I just finished reading it and thouroughly enjoyed it! Jordan Peterson is brilliant and sensitive, and one could learn very much from reading this book. I dare you to defy the silly hype and allow yourself to make up your own mind - you will see that Mr Peterson is open minded, whilst his detractors are the opposite.


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