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Reddit's 15 Best Nonfiction Books Are Well Worth the Read

Reddit‘s Best Nonfiction Books: Enlightening Reads That Will Expand Your Mind

As an avid reader and lifelong learner, I‘m always on the hunt for great nonfiction books that will teach me something new about the world. Luckily, Reddit is an invaluable resource for uncovering fascinating reads thanks to its community of passionate bibliophiles. From memoirs to pop science to gripping reportage, these Redditor-approved picks represent some of the best that nonfiction has to offer.

If you‘re looking to expand your knowledge, gain new perspectives, and dive into some page-turning prose, you can‘t go wrong with these Reddit-recommended nonfiction reads. Fair warning: your TBR list is about to get a whole lot longer! Let‘s explore fifteen of Reddit‘s most beloved nonfiction books and what makes them so special.

Where Redditors Find the Best Nonfiction Books

With its vast network of subreddits, Reddit has no shortage of forums for discussing and discovering great nonfiction. Book lovers of all stripes flock to r/books to share their latest reads, discuss book news, and solicit recommendations. Given the subreddit‘s 20 million+ members, you‘ll find an extremely diverse range of reading tastes represented here.

For a more niche community dedicated exclusively to nonfiction, r/nonfiction is the place to be. With nearly 70k members, this subreddit is an oasis for factual literature. Readers here tend to be quite discerning and are great at differentiating the stellar nonfiction works from the so-so.

Another subreddit I find myself frequently consulting for nonfiction recs is r/suggestmeabook. The beauty of this forum is that you can post about the specific topics, writing styles, or themes you‘re interested in, and the well-read members will surface spot-on suggestions. It‘s like having a personalized book concierge at your fingertips.

Of course, niche subreddits catering to specific nonfiction categories, like r/history, r/science, and r/truecrime, are also treasure troves for finding quality reads. But in general, r/books, r/nonfiction, and r/suggestmeabook are my go-to spots when I‘m itching for a new nonfiction title.

The Cream of the Nonfiction Crop, According to Reddit

Now that you know where to look for nonfiction book recommendations on Reddit, let‘s dive into the cream of the crop. These fifteen titles are the ones that come up again and again in Reddit discussions, with readers waxing poetic about their poignancy, fascinating subject matter, and indelible impact. If you read anything this year, make it one (or all!) of these riveting works of nonfiction.

  1. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is one of my all-time favorite books. It‘s a gut-wrenching and gorgeously written memoir of Angelou‘s childhood…I love the book because of Angelou‘s incredible way with words and metaphor." (Reddit user MelbaTotes)

Maya Angelou‘s debut memoir, which chronicles her childhood up to age 17, is a bona fide classic for good reason. Published in 1969 at the height of the civil rights movement, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings candidly depicts the racism, trauma, and discrimination Angelou faced growing up as a Black girl in the South.

But that‘s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this book‘s impact. Angelou‘s poetic yet accessible language, stirring coming-of-age story, and ultimate message of resilience in the face of adversity make it a soul-nourishing read. As Angelou so eloquently writes, "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." Caged Bird unleashes hard truths and unlocks the cage.

  1. Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer

"Braiding Sweetgrass has become one of my absolute favorite books…blending indigenous storytelling and wisdom with scientific knowledge to examine the reciprocal relationship between people and the land." (Reddit user Grouchy-Condition-66)

Part memoir, part scientific inquiry, Braiding Sweetgrass is a one-of-a-kind reading experience. Robin Wall Kimmerer, a botanist and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, interweaves her personal story and indigenous worldview with a naturalist‘s curiosity to explore humanity‘s role in and responsibility to the living world around us.

Nature lovers and environmentalists in particular will find much to appreciate in this book. Kimmerer opens our eyes to the wondrous intelligence of plants and animals while also awakening us to the consequences of failing to see the Earth as sacred. At a time of escalating climate change, the lessons and perspective in Braiding Sweetgrass feel more urgent than ever. It‘s a celebration of our connection to the land laced with a vital plea for better stewardship.

  1. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson

"Erik Larson expertly weaves together the tales of the World‘s Fair and a prolific serial killer, making a book that is impossible to put down. It‘s a must-read for any fans of true crime, history, or just captivating non-fiction." (Reddit user starkindled)

Two parallel storylines – one thrilling, one chilling – converge in this gripping work of narrative nonfiction. The Devil in the White City transports readers to the dazzling spectacle of the 1893 World‘s Fair in Chicago while simultaneously unraveling the sinister exploits of serial killer H.H. Holmes, who used the fair to lure unsuspecting victims to their doom.

Erik Larson‘s knack for bringing history to vivid life through meticulous research and novelistic prose makes this an unputdownable read. You‘ll be dazzled by the feats of engineering and innovation that went into staging the World‘s Columbian Exhibition and disturbed to your core by the macabre motivations of the murderous Dr. Holmes. Rarely do you get such a perfect blend of historical edification and true crime thrills in one book.

  1. The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk

"The way trauma manifests in the body and mind isn‘t an easy or comfortable topic but this book explains it in a very accessible way, even for the layperson. I have a much greater understanding now of how trauma lodges in the body and why therapeutic approaches that incorporate physical movement can be so effective…" (Reddit user redditor5690)

Trauma is epidemic yet still so deeply misunderstood. Enter psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk‘s illuminating exploration of how traumatic experiences reverberate in the body, brain, and nervous system long after the fact. Weaving together neuroscience, case studies, and his own experience treating patients, The Body Keeps the Score sheds light on the myriad ways trauma can manifest, from PTSD to chronic pain to substance abuse.

But this book isn‘t just an inventory of the insidious impact of trauma. It‘s ultimately a hopeful testament to human resilience and the availability of cutting-edge treatments, from EMDR to yoga to neurofeedback, that help trauma survivors reclaim ownership of their bodies and minds. Both a rigorous scientific text and a deeply humane portrait of the road to recovery, The Body Keeps the Score is essential reading for both trauma sufferers and anyone seeking to support a loved one on their healing journey.

  1. Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez

"Invisible Women uses data to highlight the multitude of ways the world has been designed around the default male, and how detrimental this data gap is to women. As a woman in tech I found myself nodding along to a depressing number of points…" (Reddit user Droidaphone)

It‘s a man‘s world out there – and not just figuratively. As feminist advocate Caroline Criado Perez reveals, the data, systems, and structures that shape our daily lives are rife with hidden gender bias. From smartphone sizes to office temperatures to public transportation schedules, the world as we know it has been designed with a male default in mind, leaving women‘s needs and experiences discounted.

Invisible Women is a thoroughly researched, rage-inducing, and eye-opening look at the myriad ways in which half the population is routinely left out of the equation. Perez‘s lucid and witty prose guides readers through example after example of how the gender data gap perpetuates discrimination and disadvantages women, often with life-or-death consequences.

If you‘re a woman, you‘ll find validation for a lifetime‘s worth of frustrations within these pages. And if you‘re a man, well, prepare to have your eyes opened to the invisible struggle happening all around you. Invisible Women is a potent and necessary call to action for a more equitable world – one that accounts for 100% of the population in its decision-making.

  1. Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

"This book is a heartbreaking, infuriating, and inspiring look at the brokenness of the U.S. criminal justice system and one man‘s fight to bring a measure of justice to death row inmates. It‘s an emotional gut-punch that sheds light on systemic failures without ever moralizing." (Reddit user InARealReboot)

Just Mercy recounts lawyer Bryan Stevenson‘s tireless efforts to defend wrongfully convicted and unjustly treated inmates on death row in a criminal justice system marred by racial discrimination. Weaving together legal drama, personal narrative, and searing commentary on mass incarceration, Stevenson makes a persuasive case that "the opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."

This book packs an emotional wallop from start to finish. From the case of Walter McMillian, a young Black man sentenced to die for a crime he didn‘t commit, to the plight of the intellectually disabled navigating a merciless legal labyrinth, the human cost of inequality in the American justice system is laid bare.

At times, Stevenson‘s stories from the front lines of the fight against injustice will leave you despondent and shaken. How can a nation founded on liberty and justice for all continue to deny both to so many of its citizens? But ultimately, Just Mercy shines a beacon of hope and humanity into some very dark places. It‘s a powerful testament to one man‘s unwavering crusade for compassion, mercy, and equality before the law.

  1. The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis

"The Big Short manages to turn the story of the astonishingly complex and catastrophic housing/credit bubble into a racy, fascinating, character-driven page-turner. Michael Lewis succeeds at making a byzantine financial tale accessible and riveting." (Reddit user random_number_string)

Who knew that a minute-by-minute account of the 2008 financial crisis could read like a white-knuckle thriller? Leave it to Michael Lewis, author of iconic Wall Street yarn Liar‘s Poker, to perform that magic trick. The Big Short reveals how a small group of rogue investors managed to predict the housing bubble‘s spectacular pop while the rest of the market remained blissfully oblivious.

Between the eccentric, antisocial hedge fund gurus who managed to beat the system by betting against it and the arrogant bankers who fiddled while the global economy burned, this book has no shortage of colorful characters and jaw-dropping drama. It‘s a wild-eyed ride through the greed, hubris, and corruption that birthed an era-defining crash.

But beyond just telling a ripping yarn, Lewis also serves as an eminently clear guide through the labyrinth of subprime mortgages, synthetic CDOs, and credit default swaps that ensnarled so many investors in over their heads. You‘ll emerge with a trenchant understanding of not just how the housing bubble inflated to ruinous proportions, but why it was destined to burst in spectacular fashion.

In short (pun intended), The Big Short reads like finance‘s most riveting cautionary tale – a reminder to never get too comfortable or complacent in the often irrational exuberance of the free market. Thanks to Lewis‘s gripping storytelling, you almost forget how the story ends. Almost.

Honorable Mentions
The titles above may represent Reddit‘s absolute favorite nonfiction reads, but they‘re really just the tip of the iceberg. Here are a few more hugely popular books that Redditors rave about:

  • Educated by Tara Westover – a breathtaking memoir of growing up in an abusive, survivalist Mormon family and finding liberation through education

  • The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson – an ambitious and novelistic history of the Great Migration of African Americans from the South to the North

  • Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari – a sweeping and provocative look at the cognitive, agricultural, and scientific revolutions that shaped our species

  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot – the incredible true story of how one woman‘s cells, taken without consent, revolutionized modern medicine

  • Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe – a haunting investigation into a notorious crime and its legacy from the Troubles

  • Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond – an infuriating deep-dive into the vicious cycle of housing insecurity and its impact on America‘s poor

Reading nonfiction doesn‘t have to feel like a chore or an obligation. As these Reddit-endorsed titles prove, some of the most thrilling, moving, and mind-expanding stories can be found in the pages of carefully researched reportage, candid memoir, and illuminating pop science.

Whether you gravitate towards sweeping histories, hard-hitting social commentary, or intimate personal narratives, this list offers a little something for every curious reader looking to better understand the world around them and their place in it. Pick one up and prepare to have your perspective shifted, your empathy deepened, and your thirst for knowledge stoked. You might just discover a new favorite book – or fifteen.