14 Nonfiction Books Your Book Club Needs To Read Now

From memoirs and biographies to explorations of human behavior, these fourteen nonfiction books will inspire lively discussion in book clubs—and probably teach you something you didn’t already know…

1. Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

Through forceful storytelling and wry insight, Levitt and Dubner show that economics is, at root, the study of incentives—how people get what they want, or need, especially when other people want or need the same thing. In Freakonomics, they explore the hidden side of … well, everything. The inner workings of a crack gang. The truth about real-estate agents. The myths of campaign finance. The telltale marks of a cheating schoolteacher. The secrets of the Klu Klux Klan.

2. The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester

The Professor and the Madman, masterfully researched and eloquently written, is an extraordinary tale of madness, genius, and the incredible obsessions of two remarkable men that led to the making of the Oxford English Dictionary — and literary history.

3. Lost Girls by Robert Kolker

Award-winning investigative reporter Robert Kolker delivers a haunting and humanizing account of the true-life search for a serial killer still at large on Long Island, in a compelling tale of unsolved murder and Internet prostitution. Lost Girls is a portrait not just of five women, but of unsolved murder in an idyllic part of America, of the underside of the Internet, and of the secrets we keep without admitting to ourselves that we keep them.

4. Following Atticus by Tom Ryan

Following Atticus is the remarkable true story of a man and a dog embarking on the challenge of a lifetime. This is author Tom Ryan’s inspiring tale of how he and his miniature schnauzer companion, the “Little Buddha” Atticus M. Finch, attempted to scale all forty-eight of New Hampshire’s four thousand foot White Mountains twice in the dead of winter.

5. The Honest Truth About Dishonesty by Dr. Dan Ariely

Dan Ariely, behavioral economist and the New York Times bestselling author of The Upside of Irrationality and Predictably Irrational, examines the contradictory forces that drive us to cheat and keep us honest, in this groundbreaking look at the way we behave: The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty.

6. Prague Winter by Madeleine Albright

From former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright comes a moving and thoughtful memoir of her formative years in Czechoslovakia during the tumult of Nazi occupation, World War II, fascism, and the onset of the Cold War. An intensely personal journey into the past that offers vital lessons for the future, Prague Winter combines the intimacy of an autobiography with the drama of an exciting and well-told story—all underpinned by the gravity and intelligence of a serious work of history. The result is a highly readable and incisive work filled with tragedy and triumph, a resonant narrative informed by Albright’s remarkable life experience and her characteristic candor in speaking hard truths.

7. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

Author Barbara Kingsolver and her family abandoned the industrial-food pipeline to live a rural life—vowing that, for one year, they’d only buy food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it. Part memoir, part journalistic investigation, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is an enthralling narrative that will open your eyes in a hundred new ways to an old truth: You are what you eat.

8. Who’s in Charge? by Michael S. Gazzaniga

There is no “you” consciously making decisions. So how do we make decisions? How can we have free will if we don’t pull the levers on our own behavior? What moral and legal implications follow if we don’t have free will? Who’s in Charge? is a primer for a new era in the understanding of human behavior that ranges across neuroscience, psychology, ethics, and the law with a light touch but profound implications.

9. Have Mother, Will Travel by Claire Fontaine and Mia Fontaine

The Fontaines are back with Have Mother, Will Travel, a beautiful, thoughtful, insightful, inspiring book that brilliantly captures the changing relationship between a mother and her adult daughter. Seen within the context of an unforgettable round-the-world adventure, the emotional milestones reached and the new understandings and appreciations achieved will warm the heart and nourish the soul—an extraordinary journey that should not be missed by armchair travelers and by mothers and daughters everywhere.

10. Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Cokie Roberts comes New York Times bestseller Founding Mothers, an intimate and illuminating look at the fervently patriotic and passionate women whose tireless pursuits on behalf of their families–and their country–proved just as crucial to the forging of a new nation as the rebellion that established it.

11. A Crack in the Edge of the World by Simon Winchester

Unleashed by ancient geologic forces, a magnitude 8.25 earthquake rocked San Francisco in the early hours of April 18, 1906. Less than a minute later, the city lay in ruins. In A Crack in the Edge of the World, bestselling author Simon Winchester brings his inimitable storytelling abilities to this extraordinary event, exploring the legendary earthquake and fires that spread horror across San Francisco and northern California in 1906 as well as its startling impact on American history and, just as important, what science has recently revealed about the fascinating subterranean processes that produced it—and almost certainly will cause it to strike again.

12. Just Kids by Patti Smith

In Just Kids, Patti Smith’s first book of prose, the legendary American artist offers a never-before-seen glimpse of her remarkable relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the epochal days of New York City and the Chelsea Hotel in the late sixties and seventies.

13. Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff

Award-winning former Boston Globe reporter Mitchell Zuckoff unleashes the exhilarating, untold story of an extraordinary World War II rescue mission, where a plane crash in the South Pacific plunged a trio of U.S. military personnel into a land that time forgot. A riveting work of narrative nonfiction that vividly brings to life an odyssey at times terrifying, enlightening, and comic, Lost in Shangri-La is a thrill ride from beginning to end.

14. The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli

The Art of Thinking Clearly by world-class thinker and entrepreneur Rolf Dobelli is an eye-opening look at human psychology and reasoning — essential reading for anyone who wants to avoid “cognitive errors” and make better choices in all aspects of their lives.

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