Share The Best Narrative Nonfiction Books for Non-Nonfiction Readers

The Best Narrative Nonfiction Books for Non-Nonfiction Readers

Kerry Fiallo is a New York native and copywriter at Simon & Schuster. A lifelong voracious reader, she has a particular fondness for ghost stories, history, and anything to do with Mary Shelley, Ada Lovelace, and the Brontë sisters. The only thing she may love more than books is black tea, but they do often go well together. You can find her as she navigates through literature and history on Twitter @ReadingInNYC and on Tumblr.

Nonfiction is an expansive and overwhelming description and can be intimidating for fiction readers. If you’re interested in jumping into the wide world of nonfiction, narrative nonfiction books are compulsively readable for readers of all backgrounds and interests. From the hilarious highs and lows of Hollywood to stunning tales of activists throughout time, these remarkable books read like novels and are all the more extraordinary because they’re true.


Hillbilly Elegy
by J. D. Vance

So much more than simply a memoir, HILLBILLY ELEGY is an evocative and thoughtful cultural exploration of white working-class Americans. From postwar struggles to the difficulty of upward mobility, this is a familiar and haunting tale of the American dream and a crucial look at the United States at this point in time.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
Hillbilly Elegy
J. D. Vance

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

The Best Narrative Nonfiction Books for Non-Nonfiction Readers

By Kerry Fiallo | April 4, 2019

Close

In Cold Blood
by Truman Capote

The true crime classic that perfected and popularized the narrative nonfiction genre (and sparked debates about the importance of accuracy in nonfiction), Truman Capote wove a chilling and moving account of the shocking murders of the Clutter family. A spellbinding look at violence in the heart of America, IN COLD BLOOD has had a lasting influence since 1966.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
In Cold Blood
Truman Capote

Laconic and atmospheric, this intensively researched narrative of the Clutter family of Holcomb, Kansas, and the two men who brutally murdered them on the night of November 15, 1959, generates both mesmerizing suspense and astonishing empathy. In Cold Blood is a work that transcends its moment, yielding poignant insights into the nature of American violence.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
Close

The Disaster Artist
by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell

For movie buffs, there’s few films as infamously terrible as 2003’s The Room. In THE DISASTER ARTIST, the astonishing true story of how this film was made is revealed from one of the main players. Hilariously funny and surprisingly endearing, this book is a unique look at Hollywood and friendship.

 

Read the full review of THE DISASTER ARTIST.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
The Disaster Artist
Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell

Hailed by The Huffington Post as “possibly the most important piece of literature ever printed,” The Disaster Artist is the hilarious, behind-the-scenes story of a deliciously awful cinematic phenomenon as well as the story of an odd and inspiring Hollywood friendship. Greg Sestero, Tommy’s costar, recounts the film’s bizarre journey to infamy, explaining how the movie’s many nonsensical scenes and bits of dialogue came to be and unraveling the mystery of Tommy Wiseau himself. But more than just a riotously funny story about cinematic hubris, “The Disaster Artist is one of the most honest books about friendship I’ve read in years” (Los Angeles Times).

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

The Best Narrative Nonfiction Books for Non-Nonfiction Readers

By Kerry Fiallo | April 4, 2019

The 10 Most Popular Lists on Off the Shelf in 2017

By Off the Shelf Staff | December 12, 2017

Staff’s Choice: 12 Recently Shelved Books from the Off the Shelf Team

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 24, 2017

10 Books to Read Before You See the Movies This Fall

By Tolani Osan | October 3, 2017

#TheDisasterArtist and Other Mistakes I’ve Made on Instagram

By Grace Stearns | November 11, 2014

Close

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace
by Jeff Hobbs

In this unforgettable, moving, and ultimately tragic story, Robert Peace escapes the ghettos of Newark to attend Yale University and move beyond the crime and struggles of his youth. But it isn’t easy to leave behind your past or reinvent yourself, even in a country that extols the importance of personal success. Written by a close friend of Peace’s, this is an empathetic and challenging read.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace
Jeff Hobbs

Written by his friend and college roommate, this intimate portrait of Robert Peace’s life encompasses America’s most enduring conflicts: race, poverty, drugs, and education. The story of a brilliant young man who escaped the dangerous streets of Newark to graduate from Yale University, only to be the victim of a gang-related assassination at the age of thirty, this powerful and unforgettable account challenges the assumption that education is the great equalizer.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

The Best Narrative Nonfiction Books for Non-Nonfiction Readers

By Kerry Fiallo | April 4, 2019

12 Essential Books About Race in America

By Eloy Bleifuss Prados | January 18, 2016

Close

On Trails
by Robert Moor

Life is a journey, and Robert Moor’s seminal and insightful book effortlessly illustrates the importance of the trails of this journey. From the prehistoric migrations of early animals to the superhighway of the internet, ON TRAILS helps us view and understand the world and ourselves in an entirely new way.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
On Trails
Robert Moor

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

The Best Narrative Nonfiction Books for Non-Nonfiction Readers

By Kerry Fiallo | April 4, 2019

Close

The Monster of Florence
by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi

From two journalists who inadvertently found themselves in the middle of Italy’s most infamous unsolved case, THE MONSTER OF FLORENCE is an edge-of-your-seat and astonishing true story that reads like a thriller. Featuring horrifying murders, baffling superstitions, and more twists and turns than you can count, this is an unputdownable true crime book.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
The Monster of Florence
Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
Close

Assassination Vacation
by Sarah Vowell

In this dark but incredibly fascinating (and charmingly witty) travelogue, Sarah Vowell visits the sites of some of the most infamous violent acts in American history. With her unique and illuminating voice, Vowell explores the first three presidential assassinations and how they relate to our modern, complex political landscape.

Read the full review of ASSASSINATION VACATION.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
Assassination Vacation
Sarah Vowell

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

The Best Narrative Nonfiction Books for Non-Nonfiction Readers

By Kerry Fiallo | April 4, 2019

A Laugh-Out-Loud Look at American History

By Kerry Fiallo | July 22, 2016

Close

The Gay Revolution
by Lillian Faderman

The most comprehensive and expansive depiction of the struggle for LGBT rights in the United States, THE GAY REVOLUTION is so much more than just facts and figures. With fascinating insights and anecdotes from the people who lived through the lows and highs of the gay rights movement. Inspirational, heart-wrenching, and compulsively readable, this is a breathtaking work of research.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
The Gay Revolution
Lillian Faderman

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

The Best Narrative Nonfiction Books for Non-Nonfiction Readers

By Kerry Fiallo | April 4, 2019

Close

Thirteen Days
by Robert F. Kennedy

With sparse prose and remarkable insight, Robert F. Kennedy’s memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis is a tense, heart-pounding, and unforgettable read. An authoritative and behind-the-scenes look at just what was at stake at the height of the Cold War, THIRTEEN DAYS transports you to one of the most terrifying experiences in the twentieth-century White House.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
Thirteen Days
Robert F. Kennedy

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

The Best Narrative Nonfiction Books for Non-Nonfiction Readers

By Kerry Fiallo | April 4, 2019

12 Great Movies You Didn’t Know Were Based on Nonfiction Books

By Kerry Fiallo | February 26, 2018

Close

Thank you for joining our email list!

If you create an Off the Shelf account, you'll be able to save books to your personal bookshelf, and be eligible for free books and other good stuff.

Click here to create your free account.

You must be logged in to add books to your shelf.

Please log in or sign up now.