My Favorite Nonfiction of 2018

This year has been packed with amazing factoids, and over 160 books. These are all the nonfiction books that earned five stars from me on Goodreads. I can confidently recommend these to you and your friends, and guarantee you will—at the very least—learn something new.

If I had to pick one book to rule them all, my most favorite read I would most likely purchase as a gift for someone would be, hands down: Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage. (My review.)

An explorer turned entrepreneur of survival, Shackleton led all 28 men of the ill-fated Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition to safety in 1916. After losing their ship Endurance to the ice, the men wandered through harrowing conditions for 497 days, surviving thanks to the indefatigable leadership of Ernest Shackleton.

If that doesn’t float your boat, here are a bunch of other top choices broken up into five main categories: Social/Science, Business, Feminism, True Crime/Adventure/History, and Biography/Autobiography. Honorable mentions below each category include four star reads.

L.Noggz’ Favorite Nonfiction of 2018

Social/Science

Honorable Mention

The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli (Poetic, but lighter on the science than A Briefer History of Time.)

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari (Almost as good as Sapiens, however, I’m hesitant to give any speculative futurecasting five stars.)

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach (Inspired me to donate my body to science.)

But What If We’re Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past by Chuck Klosterman (Compelling, thought provoking read.)


Business

Honorable Mention

Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence-and How You Can, Too & The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk (Classic Gary V! His audiobooks rock; very energetic.)

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel (Co-founder of PayPal.)

Mastery by Robert Greene (Big fan of Greene, The 48 Laws of Power is one of my all-time favorites.)

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams (Creator of Dilbert, this book was surprising in a good way.)


Feminism

Although I didn’t read it this year, We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is also excellent. Must read.


True Crime/Adventure/History

Honorable Mention

In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides (Almost as good as Alfred Lansing’s Endurance … almost.)

The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story by Douglas Preston (Indiana Jones-esque.)

Thunderstruck by Erik Larson (Big Larson fan, I’ve read four of his books and they are all excellent.)

The Library Book by Susan Orlean (One of the best books about books I’ve ever read.)


Biography/Autobiography

Honorable Mention

Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness by William Styron (“Perhaps the first writer to convey the full terror of depression's psychic landscape, as well as the illuminating path to recovery.”)

Cleopatra a Life by Stacy Schiff (Excellent coverage stymied by a lack of reliable sources.)

Yes Please by Amy Poehler (Fun audiobook.)

How to American: An Immigrant's Guide to Disappointing Your Parents by Jimmy O. Yang (Jian Yang! From HBO’s Silicon Valley.)


All in all, not a bad year for nonfiction consumption:

  • 24 five-star nonfiction books

  • 36 four-star nonfiction books

  • 85 nonfiction books total

Top 3 Favorite Nonfiction Books:

  1. Endurance

  2. Sapiens

  3. A Briefer History of Time