I found this list while reading the Guardian*: The 100 best nonfiction books of all time: the full list. It is a great article. The list was compiled by Robert McCrum and here is the link to his article, How I chose my list of the 100 best nonfiction books of all time.
See also my post A List Of 100 Best Books (Novels) From The Guardian.
*The Guardian is an outstanding progressive newspaper that is available for no charge online. It is at least as good as the New York Times. You can help support the paper by making a donation – a monthly donation is best.
I am going to start reading the following from the list:
- 2. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (2005)
- 55. Personal Memoirs by Ulysses S Grant (1885)
- 66. London Labour and the London Poor by Henry Mayhew (1851)
And here is a sample of some of the books from the list:
2. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (2005)
This steely and devastating examination of the author’s grief following the sudden death of her husband changed the nature of writing about bereavement.
19. The Making of the English Working Class by EP Thompson (1963)
This influential, painstakingly compiled masterpiece reads as an anatomy of pre-industrial Britain – and a description of the lost experience of the common man.
25. The Uses of Literacy: Aspects of Working-Class Life by Richard Hoggart (1957) This influential cultural study of postwar Britain offers pertinent truths on mass communication and the interaction between ordinary people and the elites.
26. Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin (1955)
Baldwin’s landmark collection of essays explores, in telling language, what it means to be a black man in modern America.
There was a documentary last year based on another of James Baldwin’s books called I Am Not Your Negro which is currently available online.
28. The Hedgehog and the Fox by Isaiah Berlin (1953)
The great historian of ideas starts with an animal parable and ends, via a dissection of Tolstoy’s work, in an existential system of thought.
39. The Road to Wigan Pier by George Orwell (1937)
Orwell’s unflinchingly honest account of three northern towns during the Great Depression was a milestone in the writer’s political development.
44. Goodbye to All That by Robert Graves (1929)
Graves’s account of his experiences in the trenches of the first world war is a subversive tour de force.
55. Personal Memoirs by Ulysses S Grant (1885)
The civil war general turned president was a reluctant author, but set the gold standard for presidential memoirs, outlining his journey from boyhood onwards.
66. London Labour and the London Poor by Henry Mayhew (1851)
The influence of the Victorian journalist’s detailed, dispassionate descriptions of London lower-class life is clear, right up to the present day.