50 Must-Read Nonfiction Audiobooks

If you’re an audio fan, perhaps you turn to nonfiction audiobooks first. I’ve heard from many people that they prefer to listen to nonfiction because it can be easier to follow on audio than fiction is. On the other hand, if you’re not a regular audiobook listener, perhaps nonfiction would be a good place to begin. Regardless of whether you’re a nonfiction audiobook fan or not, I hope you find this list useful. I have included memoirs, essay collections, history, sociology, self-help, and more. There should be something for everybody!

Book descriptions come from Goodreads. Let me know in the comments what your favorite nonfiction audiobooks are.

Headphones in 50 Must-Read Nonfiction Audiobooks | Bookriot.com

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a comprehensive program based on developing an awareness of how perceptions and assumptions hinder success—in business as well as personal relationships. Here’s an approach that will help broaden your way of thinking and lead to greater opportunities and effective problem solving.”

1776 cover1776 by David McCullough

David McCullough tells the intensely human story of those who marched with General George Washington in the year of the Declaration of Independence—when the whole American cause was riding on their success, without which all hope for independence would have been dashed and the noble ideals of the Declaration would have amounted to little more than words on paper.

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

Ron Chernow presents a landmark biography of Alexander Hamilton, the Founding Father who galvanized, inspired, scandalized, and shaped the newborn nation. In the first full-length biography of Alexander Hamilton in decades, Ron Chernow tells the riveting story of a man who overcame all odds to shape, inspire, and scandalize the newborn America.”

All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation by Rebecca Traister

A nuanced investigation into the sexual, economic, and emotional lives of women in America. In a provocative, groundbreaking work, National Magazine Award finalist Rebecca Traister…traces the history of unmarried and late-married women in America who, through social, political, and economic means, have radically shaped our nation.

The ARgonauts by Maggie Nelson

An intrepid voyage out to the frontiers of the latest thinking about love, language, and family. Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts is a genre-bending memoir, a work of ‘autotheory’ offering fresh, fierce, and timely thinking about desire, identity, and the limitations and possibilities of love and language.

Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell

From Buffalo to Alaska, Washington to the Dry Tortugas, Vowell visits locations immortalized and influenced by the spilling of politically important blood, reporting as she goes with her trademark blend of wisecracking humor, remarkable honesty, and thought-provoking criticism.

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes and Joe Laydon

From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin.

The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt by Eleanor Roosevelt

“[Eleanor Roosevelt’s] autobiography constitutes a self-portrait no biography can match for its candor and liveliness, its wisdom, tolerance, and breadth of view—a self-portrait of one of the greatest American humanitarians of our time.

bad-feminist-by-roxane-gay-coverBad Feminist by Roxane Gay

In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman of color while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years and commenting on the state of feminism today. The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott returns to offer us a new gift: a step-by-step guide on how to write and on how to manage the writer’s life. From ‘Getting Started,’ with ‘Short Assignments,’ through ‘Shitty First Drafts,’ ‘Character,’ ‘Plot,’ ‘Dialogue.’ all the way from ‘False Starts’ to ‘How Do You Know When You’re Done?’ Lamott encourages, instructs, and inspires.

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande

We live in a world of great and increasing complexity, where even the most expert professionals struggle to master the tasks they face. Longer training, ever more advanced technologies‚neither seems to prevent grievous errors. But in a hopeful turn, acclaimed surgeon and writer Atul Gawande finds a remedy in the humblest and simplest of techniques: the checklist.

The Clancys of Queens: A Memoir by Tara Clancy

Fifth-generation New Yorker, third-generation bartender, and first-time author Tara Clancy was raised in three wildly divergent homes: a converted boat shed in working class Queens, a geriatric commune of feisty, Brooklyn-born Italians, and a sprawling Hamptons estate she visited every other weekend.

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Physician, researcher, and award-winning science writer, Siddhartha Mukherjee examines cancer with a cellular biologist’s precision, a historian’s perspective, and a biographer’s passion. The result is an astonishingly lucid and eloquent chronicle of a disease humans have lived with—and perished from—for more than five thousand years.”

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

A national bestseller when it first appeared in 1963, The Fire Next Time galvanized the nation and gave passionate voice to the emerging civil rights movement. At once a powerful evocation of James Baldwin’s early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice, the book is an intensely personal and provocative document.

Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement by Angela Davis

Reflecting on the importance of black feminism, intersectionality, and prison abolitionism for today’s struggles, Davis discusses the legacies of previous liberation struggles, from the Black Freedom Movement to the South African anti-Apartheid movement. She highlights connections and analyzes today’s struggles against state terror, from Ferguson to Palestine.

Furiously Happy A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny LawsonFuriously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

In Furiously Happy, a humor memoir tinged with just enough tragedy and pathos to make it worthwhile, Jenny Lawson examines her own experience with severe depression and a host of other conditions, and explains how it has led her to live life to the fullest.”

The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan

In The Girls of Atomic City, Denise Kiernan traces the astonishing story of these unsung WWII workers through interviews with dozens of surviving women and other Oak Ridge residents…This is history and science made fresh and vibrant—a beautifully told, deeply researched story that unfolds in a suspenseful and exciting way.

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

Even as Virginia’s Jim Crow laws required them to be segregated from their white counterparts, the women of Langley’s all-black ‘West Computing’ group helped America achieve one of the things it desired most: a decisive victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War, and complete domination of the heavens.

How to be Black by Baratunde Thurston

Baratunde Thurston shares his 30-plus years of expertise in being black, with helpful essays like ‘How to Be the Black Friend,’ ‘How to Speak for All Black People,’ ‘How To Celebrate Black History Month,’ and more, in this satirical guide to race issues—written for black people and those who love them.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara

A masterful true crime account of the Golden State Killer—the elusive serial rapist turned murderer who terrorized California for over a decade—from Michelle McNamara, the gifted journalist who died tragically while investigating the case.

In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

Despite the fact that Australia harbors more things that can kill you in extremely nasty ways than anywhere else, including sharks, crocodiles, snakes, even riptides and deserts, Bill Bryson adores the place, and he takes his readers on a rollicking ride far beyond that beaten tourist path.

In The Country We Love by Diane GuerreroIn the Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero

Diane Guerrero was just fourteen years old on the day her parents and brother were arrested and deported while she was at school. Born in the U.S., Guerrero was able to remain in the country and continue her education, depending on the kindness of family friends who took her in and helped her build a life and a successful acting career for herself, without the support system of her family.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls.

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann

A grand mystery reaching back centuries. A sensational disappearance that made headlines around the world. A quest for truth that leads to death, madness or disappearance for those who seek to solve it. The Lost City of Z is a blockbuster adventure narrative about what lies beneath the impenetrable jungle canopy of the Amazon.

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

Sedaris’s caustic gift has not deserted him in his fourth book, which mines poignant comedy from his peculiar childhood in North Carolina, his bizarre career path, and his move with his lover to France. Though his anarchic inclination to digress is his glory, Sedaris does have a theme in these reminiscences: the inability of humans to communicate.

My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor

The first Latinx (Puerto Rican) and third woman appointed to the US Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor has become an instant American icon. Now, with a candor and intimacy never undertaken by a sitting Justice, she recounts her life from a Bronx housing project to the federal bench, a journey that offers an inspiring testament to her own extraordinary determination and the power of believing in oneself.”

My-Own-Words-Ruth-Bader-Ginsburg-coverMy Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The first book from Ruth Bader Ginsburg since becoming a Supreme Court Justice in 1993—a witty, engaging, serious, and playful collection of writings and speeches from the woman who has had a powerful and enduring influence on law, women’s rights, and popular culture.

One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul

Scaachi deploys her razor-sharp humour to share her fears, outrages and mortifying experiences as an outsider growing up in Canada. Her subjects range from shaving her knuckles in grade school, to a shopping trip gone horribly awry, to dealing with internet trolls, to feeling out of place at an Indian wedding (as an Indian woman), to parsing the trajectory of fears and anxieties that pressed upon her immigrant parents and bled down a generation.

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach

As Mary Roach discovers, it’s possible to preview space without ever leaving Earth. From the space shuttle training toilet to a crash test of NASA’s new space capsule (cadaver filling in for astronaut), Roach takes us on a surreally entertaining trip into the science of life in space and space on Earth.

A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn

Known for its lively, clear prose as well as its scholarly research, A People’s History of the United States is the only volume to tell America’s story from the point of view of—and in the words of—America’s women, factory workers, African Americans, Native Americans, working poor, and immigrant laborers.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. With penetrating intelligence and an ability to distill vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives, Duhigg brings to life a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential for transformation.

Priestdaddy: A Memoir by Patricia Lockwood

“When the expense of a medical procedure forces the 30-year-old Patricia to move back in with her parents, husband in tow, she must learn to live again with her family’s simmering madness, and to reckon with the dark side of a childhood spent in the bosom of the Catholic Church.

Redefining Realness by Janet MockRedefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock

This powerful memoir follows Mock’s quest for identity, from an early, unwavering conviction about her gender to a turbulent adolescence in Honolulu…With unflinching honesty, Mock uses her own experience to impart vital insight about the unique challenges and vulnerabilities of trans youth and brave girls like herself.”

Sapiens: A Brief history of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

In Sapiens, Dr. Yuval Noah Harari spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the earth to the radical—and sometimes devastating—breakthroughs of the Cognitive, Agricultural and Scientific Revolutions. Drawing on insights from biology, anthropology, paleontology and economics, he explores how the currents of history have shaped our human societies, the animals and plants around us, and even our personalities.

Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman by Lindy West

Coming of age in a culture that demands women be as small, quiet, and compliant as possible—like a porcelain dove that will also have sex with you—writer and humorist Lindy West quickly discovered that she was anything but.”

SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard

In SPQR, world-renowned classicist Mary Beard narrates the unprecedented rise of a civilization that even two thousand years later still shapes many of our most fundamental assumptions about power, citizenship, responsibility, political violence, empire, luxury, and beauty…SPQR examines not just how we think of ancient Rome but challenges the comfortable historical perspectives that have existed for centuries by exploring how the Romans thought of themselves.”

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi

Americans like to insist that we are living in a post-racial, color-blind society. In fact, racist thought is alive and well; it has simply become more sophisticated and more insidious. And as award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi argues in Stamped from the Beginning, racist ideas in this country have a long and lingering history, one in which nearly every great American thinker is complicit.

Tears We Cannot Stop by Michael Eric Dyson coverTears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson

In his 2016 New York Times op-ed piece ‘Death in Black and White,’ Michael Eric Dyson moved a nation. Now he continues to speak out in Tears We Cannot Stop—a provocative and deeply personal call for change. Dyson argues that if we are to make real racial progress we must face difficult truths, including being honest about how black grievance has been ignored, dismissed, or discounted.”

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Kahneman takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. Kahneman exposes the extraordinary capabilities—and also the faults and biases—of fast thinking, and reveals the pervasive influence of intuitive impressions on our thoughts and behavior.

This is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidibe

Sidibe’s memoir hits hard with self-knowing dispatches on friendship, depression, celebrity, haters, fashion, race, and weight. Irreverent, hilarious, and untraditional, This Is Just My Face takes its place and fills a void on the shelf of writers from Mindy Kaling to David Sedaris to Lena Dunham.

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed

Life can be hard: your lover cheats on you; you lose a family member; you can’t pay the bills—and it can be great: you’ve had the hottest sex of your life; you get that plum job; you muster the courage to write your novel. Sugar—now revealed as Cheryl Strayed, author of the bestselling memoir Wild—is the person thousands turn to for advice.

Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup

Northup’s memoir became a bestseller in 1853. With its eloquent depiction of life before and after bondage, Twelve Years a Slave was a unique and effective entry into the national debate over slavery. Rediscovered in the 1960s and now the inspiration for a major motion picture, Northup’s poignant narrative gives readers an invaluable glimpse into a shameful chapter of American history.

Unbroken-Lauren-Hillenbrand-coverUnbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.

Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer

Weaving the story of the Lafferty brothers and their fanatical brethren with a clear-eyed look at Mormonism’s violent past, Krakauer examines the underbelly of the most successful homegrown faith in the United States, and finds a distinctly American brand of religious extremism.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi ADichie

What does ‘feminism’ mean today? That is the question at the heart of We Should All Be Feminists, a personal, eloquently-argued essay—adapted from her much-viewed TEDx talk of the same name—by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the award-winning author of Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun.”

We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families: Stories from Rwanda by Philip Gourevitch

In April of 1994, the government of Rwanda called on everyone in the Hutu majority to kill everyone in the Tutsi minority. Over the next three months, 800,000 Tutsis were murdered in the most unambiguous case of genocide since Hitler’s war against the Jews. Philip Gourevitch’s haunting work is an anatomy of the killings in Rwanda, a vivid history of the genocide’s background, and an unforgettable account of what it means to survive in its aftermath.”

White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg

Surveying political rhetoric and policy, popular literature and scientific theories over four hundred years, Isenberg upends assumptions about America’s supposedly class-free society—where liberty and hard work were meant to ensure real social mobility.

year of yes by shonda rhimes coverYear of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

Profound, impassioned and laugh-out-loud funny, in Year of Yes Shonda Rhimes reveals how saying YES changed—and saved—her life. And inspires readers everywhere to change their own lives with one little word: Yes.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

“[Amy Poehler] offers up a big juicy stew of personal stories, funny bits on sex and love and friendship and parenthood and real life advice (some useful, some not so much), like when to be funny and when to be serious. Powered by Amy’s charming and hilarious, biting yet wise voice, Yes Please is a book full of words to live by.

You Can’t Touch My hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson

A hilarious and affecting essay collection about race, gender, and pop culture from celebrated stand-up comedian and WNYC podcaster Phoebe Robinson.

For more nonfiction audiobook content, check out 50 Must-Read Nonfiction Audiobooks Under 10 Hours, 6 Short Non-Fiction Audiobooks, and 10 Hilarious Nonfiction Audiobooks. Finally, we have even more posts about audiobooks here!

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