Best Non-Fiction Writers
Often the truth is not only stranger but much more entertaining – and thought-provoking – than fiction so if you’re looking for that next page-turner to settle down with, why not make it a true story? There are some amazing non-fiction writers out there, some world famous, others a little less known, but they all share the ability to spin a real-life yarn that will leave you wanting more.
To help you add some of the best non-fiction to your home library, we’ve put together a list of some amazing writers you simply need to check out. Spanning a range of genres, get ready for these masters of the true story to capture your imagination and let you see the world in a whole new way.
Poet, singer, writer, actress and political activist, Maya lead an amazing life and her seven autobiographies beautifully bring you into the heart of her story and the issues she faced, from racism and teenage pregnancy to poverty and the civil rights movement. Her writing style is both lyrical and captivating and shines a light on the life of a remarkable black woman from St Louis growing up in the 40s and 50s. Start with the first book – I Know Why a Caged Bird Sings – and you’ll quickly see why Maya easily makes it onto our best non-fiction writer list.
US literary icon and author of ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’, Capote also penned one of the most remarkable true-life crime books of all-time, In Cold Blood. Labeled a ‘non-fiction novel’ by the writer himself, In Cold Blood is a journalistic account of the brutal murder of a farming family at their Kansas home in the 1950s. Written in real time as the local police department worked to solve the murders, Capote immersed himself into the community, creating a disturbing but compelling non-fiction account he wrote as if it was a novel. It was the last book Capote wrote and brought him international acclaim.
Yuval Noah Harari
Historian and philosopher Harari is the author of the best-selling books, Sapiens – a brief history of mankind and Homos Deus – a brief history of tomorrow. If this all sounds a tad heavy, stick with us as Harari will take you on a fascinating and brilliantly readable journey through the development of humanity and where he thinks we could well be heading, in this digital and A.I age. Timely and totally relevant, Harari is a writer of our time and an absolute essential for your non-fiction wish-list.
Piers Paul Read
If you remember the film Alive, about the Uruguayan rugby team whose plane crashed in the Andes and what they had to do to survive, then you need to read the original true-life account by historian Piers Paul Read. Written in 1974 and just two years after the crash, Read captures your imagination (and the horror) of that fateful flight, which left 45 dead and only 16 alive and fighting for survival in sub-zero temperatures high in the mountains. Read writes in an honest and unflinching style, interviewing both survivors and the families of the deceased to piece together a narrative that has since become a classic in true life survival literature.
World-renowned British physicist, Professor Stephen Hawking broke new ground with his best-selling book, A Brief History of Time, which has gone on to be seen as the ultimate book on cosmology ‘for the masses’. An engagingly good read, A Brief History of Time has sold over 10 million copies, making quantum physics and Hawking’s view on space and time a staple for home libraries and coffee tables the world over. Hawking, who also battled motor neuron disease, is still considered one of the world’s leading scientists and in this book, made his subject matter surprisingly accessible and readable.
Totally heartbreaking, the Diary of Anne Frank is a true diary-style account of a young Jewish girl in hiding during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. Anne was just 13 when she started her diary and she makes a remarkable non-fiction writer, writing as a young teenager of the claustrophobic and terrifying two years she and her family spent in hiding before they were discovered and sent to a concentration camp. Anne died of typhus aged just 15 but her remarkable diary and its legacy lives on. A must-have for your non-fiction collection.
American mountaineer Jon Krakauer is a best-selling non-fiction writer with some seriously good books under his climbing harness. Not least, Into Thin Air, his compelling account of an ill-fated expedition to climb Mount Everest in 1996 which saw eight climbers perish on the mountain’s summit. Krakauer was well-placed to write the book as he was in one of the climbing teams and his book is a fascinating and unflinching first-hand account of that fateful day. If climbing and the natural world are your passion or you are curious about what makes people want to conquer mountains, Krakauer is your non-fiction go-to.
A professor of Neurology at the NYU School of Medicine, Oliver Sacks is a stand-out star in the non-fiction arena, as he brilliantly recounts his experiences as a neurologist at the cutting edge, in a series of fascinating books on his case histories. One of his most famous books is Awakenings, which was made into an Oscar-winning film starring Robert De Niro and recalls a sleeping epidemic in the 1920s, and the short-term wonder drug L-Dopa which brought his patients out of their coma-like state. Fascinating, human and compassionate, all of the Sacks’ books are both informative and life-affirming and bring the complex world of the human brain into an illuminating and ultimately enjoyable sharp focus.
So, there you have it…. just some of the amazing non-fiction writers you should add to your bookshelf. It has been so hard to whittle it down to just eight but if you are looking to read more real-life, then our awesome eight are a really good place to start. Happy reading.