15 Nonfiction Books You Need To Read, According To People On Reddit
The next time you're looking for book recommendations, hop on Reddit. The "front page of the Internet" has some great communities where readers can share their favorite titles and request readalikes from other book nerds. To show you how the site can be a fantastic resource for bookaholics, I've got 15 nonfiction reading recommendations pulled from Reddit for you to scan through below.
I know that Reddit can be a threatening, soul-sucking place for people who aren't cishet white men, but the site's book nerd community has been more than welcoming, in my experience. There's the granddaddy subreddit, r/Books, but you can also check out r/SuggestMeABook, r/WhatsThatBook, r/Romance, or r/Literature. There are way too many book-related subreddits to list here, but if none of the above interests you, trust me, there are tons more to choose from.
For the list below, I've picked out 15 nonfiction titles from among hundreds of recommendations posted to Reddit over the last few years. If you're an avid reader of nonfiction, you may have already read most of the titles on this list, but no worries. Just click on the embedded Reddit comment and check out what nonfiction titles other Redditors recommended in the same thread.
'The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks' by Rebecca Skloot
In 1951, a cervical cancer patient at Johns Hopkins unwittingly provided science with the cells it needed to change the world. They became a thriving business for those who would distribute and use them, but the family of Henrietta Lacks would never see a penny of the money made from their mother's body.
'In Cold Blood' by Truman Capote
While working for The New Yorker, Truman Capote was assigned to report on the quadruple murder of the Clutter family in Kansas. His interviews with the Clutters' neighbors, police investigators, and the convicted killers themselves shot In Cold Blood to its lofty place in crime-writing history.
'Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking' by Susan Cain
A Goodreads Choice Award winner in 2012, Quiet is the book that stands up for the introverts among us, arguing that they are undervalued in spite of their contributions to science, medicine, art, literature, and history. As an introvert, I approve.
'The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic — And How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World' by Steven Johnson
Surrounded by a cholera outbreak in 1854 London, Dr. John Snow tasked himself with learning how the disease spread so rapidly through the city, and stopping it in its tracks. At a time when many believed that foul smells spread disease, Snow's work was undeniably life-saving.
'Farewell to Manzanar' by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston
Born in the United States, but eyed with the same suspicion as a Japanese soldier, seven-year-old Jeanne Wakatsuki was wrested from her stable life and shipped off with her family to the U.S. internment camp Manzanar in 1942. Farewell to Manzanar was one of the earliest insider accounts of internment life to be published in the U.S., and it deserves your attention.
'Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind' by Yuval Noah Harari
How did Homo sapiens win out over all of the other human species that once inhabited the Earth? With this question driving his research, Yuval Noah Harari dives into the complete history of humanity in Sapiens.
'The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women' by Kate Moore
Working in one of the best-paying jobs for women at the time, Kate Moore's titular Radium Girls were responsible for painting glow-in-the-dark dials. Then they started to die, and their employers did nothing to help. This is their story.
'The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales' by Oliver Sacks
Awakenings author and neurologist Oliver Sacks tackles prosopagnosia — also known as face-blindness — and other neurological disorders from his patients' case histories in The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales. Sacks himself had prosopagnosia, and also features as one of the book's clinical tales, but is not the titular patient.
'Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity' by Katherine Boo
Set in a tent city called Annawadi, Behind the Beautiful Forevers moves through the lives of the Annawadians as they reckon with a terrible charge against one of the slum's most successful citizens, 19-year-old Abdul.
'When Breath Becomes Air' by Paul Kalanithi
Neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi was nearly finished with his residency when he learned that he had stage 4 lung cancer. Over the next two years, he and his wife had a daughter, he wrote When Breath Becomes Air, and the cancer spread to his brain. The book was not published until after his death, but it earned Kalanithi a Pulitzer Prize nomination.
'Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present' by Harriet A. Washington
Harriet A. Washington's Medical Apartheid examines the long and terrible history of non-consensual medical experimentation on African Americans, which has lasted into the 21st century.
'The Lifespan of a Fact' by John D'Agata and Jim Fingal
When John D'Agata's 2003 essay was rejected for factual errors, it landed on Jim Fingal's death. Fingal and D'Agata began a seven-year volley over the contentious bits of the article, and both their correspondence and D'Agata's essay are reproduced in The Lifespan of a Fact.
'Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea' by Barbara Demick
If you've ever wondered what life is like for the average North Korean, look no further than this. Assembled from interviews with defectors living in South Korea, Barbara Demick's Nothing to Envy provides an eye-opening look at the daily lives of North Korea's most average citizens.
'Priestdaddy' by Patricia Lockwood
Years after a loophole led to her married, child-supporting father's entry into the Catholic priesthood, Patricia Lockwood moves back home with a husband in tow, re-immersing herself in her family's shenanigans.
'The Confidence Game: Why We Fall For It . . . Every Time' by Maria Konnikova
How do con men manage to fleece an otherwise canny public out of so much money? In The Confidence Game, Maria Konnikova examines how the most successful swindlers work, and why we believe in them until the bitter end.