The best nonfiction books to read right now

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With such diverse and captivating fiction available in every physical location and digital corner, it’s no wonder readers looking for intrigue tend to skip the nonfiction section. But true doesn’t have to mean boring. If you’re looking to cross over into the realm of reality but aren’t sure where to start, these 14 captivating nonfiction books might be your gateway.

Whether you’re looking for a riveting memoir, an eye-opening story, or a scandal tale so shocking you’ll wonder how true the story can be, there’s a nonfiction book on this list with your name on it. Go ahead and clear your weekend, once you grab one of these and open the first page you won’t want to do anything else until you read the last one.

Hampton Sides

Hellhound on his way

The minute-by-minute details and the pacing of a thriller make Hellhound on his way a hard one to leave. But far from being a John Grisham fable, this book tells the true story of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. by James Earl Ray and the persecution that followed, offering a look at a pivotal moment in American history. which is both exciting and complete.

Carmen Maria Machado

in the house of dreams

In a memoir unlike any other, author Carmen MarĂ­a Machado reviews her years trapped in an abusive relationship through a series of vignettes that span multiple genres. The result is not only an exceptionally striking piece of art, but also a much-needed spotlight on the reality of domestic violence within same-sex relationships.

Ken Auletta

The end of Hollywood: Harvey Weinstein and the culture of silence

Decades after his New Yorker profile shed light on the dark side of Harvey Weinstein, writer Ken Auletta delves into the life of the disgraced Hollywood mogul. Now that the world is aware of Weinstein’s crimes, this interesting biography tries to discover the motives.

Kendra James


I loved Curtis Sittenfeld Homework? you’ll get lost in admissions, an unflinching look at the systemic problems plaguing elite academic institutions. Having spent her early career as a high school admissions officer focused on diversity recruiting, writer Kendra James reflects on her time as one of the only black students at Tony’s boarding school.

erik larson

The devil in the white city

Erik Larson combines meticulous investigation with biting prose in this true story of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and the serial killer who used the fair as a backdrop for his crimes.

Devil in the White City is the story of HH Holmes as you have never heard it before.

sarah weinman

the real lolita

More than half a century after its publication, we are still debating whether Nabokov’s text Lolita is remarkable, repulsive, or both. But the real-life crime that inspired the novel is often left out of the debate. the real lolita recounts the 1948 kidnapping of Sally Horner in vivid detail, refocusing the young woman on the never-ending discussion of the story she inspired.

Juan Carreyro

Bad blood

Before the HBO documentaries and the Hulu miniseries, there was Bad bloodthe amazing written account of the fraudulent rise and disastrous fall of Elizabeth Holmes. Bad blood brings readers the shocking journey of Holmes’ startup Theranos and his costly claim that he had devised technology capable of diagnosing a host of medical conditions from a single drop of blood.

qian julie wang

Beautiful country

Beautiful country it’s an invigorating memoir you’ll wish was fiction. Author Qian Julie Wang came to the US from China full of hope at just seven years old, only to find hunger and hardship due to her family’s immigration status. Incisive, challenging, and ultimately uplifting, this inside look at navigating the US as an undocumented family is a must-read.

Yuval Noah Harari


A “brief history of mankind” may sound impossible to write and laborious to read. But historian Yuval Noah Harari manages to weave a fascinating story of the past and future of Homo sapiens that doesn’t seem like homework. Both expansive and focused, Harari’s exploration of human cognition and its impact on politics and the environment belongs on any shelf.

Tara Westover


Tara Westover was seventeen years old before she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivors in the mountains of Idaho, Westover’s family was so isolated from society that there was no one to make sure she received an education and no one to intervene when one of her older brothers turned violent. When Tara finally decided to try a new way of life, she found herself traveling around the world and eventually to Harvard and Cambridge University.

Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The true story of a woman who lived forever, so to speak, but never knew her own longevity. Taken without her consent, the cells of black southern farmer Henrietta Lacks were grown to become the first immortal human cell line, contributing to the polio vaccine, IVF and other crucial medical advances. Rebecca Skloot’s gripping story tackles the sordid history of forced experimentation on African Americans and its continuing ramifications.

Lulu Miller

Why don’t fish exist?

This unusual memoir-biography explores the often surprising resilience of humans. Lulu Miller reviews her own struggles along with those of taxonomist David Starr Jordan, whose bountiful discoveries of fish species were thwarted by one natural disaster after another. Both Miller and Jordan persevere in this unique text.

Masha Gessen


Renowned journalist Masha Gessen takes a closer look at the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings and the siblings behind it. Gessen asks the hard questions to uncover how the Tsarnaevs’ time in the US went so wrong and produced such tragic results in this difficult but essential read.

susana orlean

the library book

Bookworms unite! Apparently a story of the Los Angeles Public Library fire of 1986, the library book it functions as an ode to libraries, librarians and reading itself. Whether your tastes lean towards fiction or not, this is the best gift for book lovers.

stray cheryl


Read the true story that earned Reese Witherspoon an Oscar nomination in 2014. At 22, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything: her mother, her family, and her marriage. Four years later, she Strayed had nothing to lose and she made the most impulsive decision of her life: she was going to hike over 1,000 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, alone and without training.

15 books to read if you feel like traveling back in time

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