What is narrative nonfiction?
Narrative nonfiction is nonfiction that reads like a novel. It's also called creative nonfiction. Narrative nonfiction is popular because it is informational, well-written, and reads like a story.
Literature and Language
- The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession by Allison Hoover Bartlett
- The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester
- Plain and Simple by Sue Bender
- The Year of Living Biblically by A. J. Jacobs
- Man Seeks God: My Flirtations with the Divine by Eric Weiner
- Catch Me If You Can by Frank Abagnale
- Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
- Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi
- As decapitated heads and dismembered body parts surfaced in the Seine, Commissaire Georges-Victor Massu, head of the Brigade Criminelle, was tasked with tracking down the elusive murderer in a twilight world of Gestapo, gangsters, resistance fighters, pimps, prostitutes, spies, and other shadowy figures of the Parisian underworld.
- The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
- Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets by Sudhir Venkatesh
- Coal: A Human History by Barbara Freese
- Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach
- Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Saved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time by Dava Sobel
- At the height of WWI, history’s most lethal influenza virus erupted in an army camp in Kansas, moved east with American troops, then exploded, killing as many as 100 million people worldwide.
- The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors and the Collision of Two Cultures by Anne Fadiman
- Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder
- Doctor, Harvard professor, renowned infectious-disease specialist, anthropologist, the recipient of a MacArthur “genius” grant, world-class Robin Hood, Paul Farmer was brought up in a bus and on a boat, and in medical school found his life’s calling: to diagnose and cure infectious diseases and to bring the lifesaving tools of modern medicine to those who need them most.
- Intern: A Doctor's Initiation by Sandeep Jauhar
- The Hot Zone by Richard Preston
- Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
- An Anthropologist on Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales by Oliver Sacks
- Huck by Janet Elder
- After being diagnosed with cancer, author Janet Elder finally relents to her son's pleas to get a dog, and they bring home a mischievous toy poodle, Huck. When Huck runs away while they are on vacation, the family is frantic, and the search to find him becomes community-wide, bringing together strangers and family like never before.
- We Bought a Zoo by Benjamin Mee
- The true story about a family who buys a zoo and the 200 animals with it, which ultimately changes their lives. Made into a motion picture.
- The Good, Good Pig: The Extraordinary Life of Christopher Hogwood by Sy Montgomery
- Dewey: The Small-town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron
- Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story Between an Owl and His Girl by Stacey O'Brien
- No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach by Anthony Bourdain
- Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver
- Cod: a Biography of the Fish that Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky
- Julie and Julia by Julie Powell
- Cooking Dirty: A Story of Life, Sex, Love, and Death in the Kitchen by Jason Sheehan
Sports and Entertainment
- The Boys in the Boat by Daniel Brown
- It was an unlikely quest from the start. With a team composed of the sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the University of Washington’s eight-oar crew team was never expected to defeat the elite teams of the East Coast and Great Britain, yet they did, going on to shock the world by defeating the German team rowing for Adolf Hitler.
- Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
- Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster by John Krakauer
- Heroism and sacrifice triumph over foolishness, fatal error, and human frailty in this bone-chilling narrative in which the author recounts his experiences on an ill-fated, deadly climb on Mount Everest.
Travel & Exploration
- Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng
- Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
- The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann
- In 1925, the legendary British explorer Percy Fawcett ventured into the Amazon jungle, in search of a fabled civilization. He never returned. Over the years countless perished trying to find evidence of his party and the place he called “The Lost City of Z.”
- Skeletons on the Zahara by Dean King
- When the American cargo ship Commerce ran aground on the northwestern shores of Africa in 1815, along with its crew of 12 Connecticut-based soldiers, the misfortunes that befell them came fast and hard, from enslavement to reality-bending bouts of dehydration.
- Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy by Frances Mayes
- In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick
- In 1819, the Essex left Nantucket for the South Pacific with twenty crew members aboard. In the middle of the South Pacific the ship was rammed and sunk by an angry sperm whale. The crew drifted for more than ninety days in three tiny whaleboats, succumbing to weather, hunger, disease, and ultimately turning to drastic measures in the fight for survival.
- The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story Diane Ackerman
- Roar of the Heavens by Stefan Bechtel
- Six Days in October: The Stock Market Crash of 1929 by Karen Blumenthal
- The Forger's Spell: A True Story of Vermeer, Nazis, and the Greatest Art Hoax of the Twentieth Century by Edward Dolnick
- Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
- The Lost Painting by Jonathan Harr
- Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
- Larson brings the story of the 1915 sinking of the luxury ocean liner Lusitania to life, switching between hunter and hunted while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. Enhancing the narrative with great characterization, he tells a story that many of us thing we know, but don’t.
- A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-torn Skies of World War I by Adam Makos
- December, 1943: A badly damaged American bomber struggles to fly over wartime Germany. At the controls is twenty-one-year-old Second Lieutenant Charlie Brown. Half his crew lay wounded or dead on this, their first mission. Suddenly, a Messerschmitt fighter pulls up on the bomber’s tail. The pilot is German ace Franz Stigler—and he can destroy the young American crew with the squeeze of a trigger.
- Frozen in Time by Mitchell Zuckoff
- On November 5, 1942, a US cargo plane slammed into the Greenland Ice Cap. Four days later, the B-17 assigned to the search-and-rescue mission became lost in a blinding storm and also crashed. Miraculously, all nine men on board survived, and the US military launched a daring rescue operation. But after picking up one man, the Grumman Duck amphibious plane flew into a severe storm and vanished.
- Eiffel's Tower and the World's Fair Where Buffalo Bill Beguiled Paris, the Artists Quarreled, and Thomas Edison Became a Count by Jill Jonnes
- In this marvelously entertaining portrait of Belle Époque France, fear and loathing over Eiffel's brash design share the spotlight with the celebrities that made the 1889 Exposition Universelle an event to remember.
- One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson
- The summer of 1927 saw Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight, Babe Ruth’s home run record, the first true talking picture, and Al Capone’s reign on bootlegging. All this and much, much more transpired in the year Americans attempted and accomplished outsized things—and when the twentieth century truly became the American century.
- The Presidents Club by Nancy Gibbs
- The Presidents Club, established at Dwight Eisenhower’s inauguration by Harry Truman and Herbert Hoover, is a complicated place: its members are bound forever by the experience of the Oval Office and yet are eternal rivals for history’s favor.
Memoirs and Biography
See also Outstanding Memoirs
- The Language of Baklava by Diana Abu-Jaber
- The Prisoner's Wife: a Memoir by Asha Bandele
- Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson
- My Life in France by Julia Child
- Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert
- From the author of Eat, Pray, Love comes the follow-up story, where Gilbert chronicles how she comes to terms with the idea of marriage, which she and Felipe (the man she fell in love with in Bali) now contemplate as it is the only way they can live together in America.
- Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution by Ji-Li Jiang
- Angela's Ashes: A Memoir by Frank McCourt
- The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
- On a winter day in 1903, in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, two unknown brothers from Ohio changed history. But it would take the world some time to believe what had happened: the age of flight had begun, with the first heavier-than-air, powered machine carrying a pilot. Who were these men and how was it that they achieved what they did?
- Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah
- Look Me in the Eye: My Life With Aspergers by John Elder Robison
- Galileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel
- The Death Class: A True Story About Life by Erika Hayasaki
- When nurse Norma Bowe decided to teach a course on death at a college in New Jersey, she never expected it to be popular. But year after year students crowd into her classroom, and the reason is clear: Norma’s “death class” is really about how to make the most of our “one wild and precious life.”
- A Civil Action by Jonathan Harr
- In an epic courtroom showdown, two of the nation's largest corporations stand accused of causing the deaths of children. Representing the bereaved parents, the unlikeliest of heroes emerges: a young, flamboyant Porsche-driving lawyer who hopes to win millions of dollars and ends up nearly losing everything, including his sanity.