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Best Nonfiction Books of 2018

“Susan Orlean has long been one of our finest storytellers, and she proves it again with The Library Book. A beautifully written and richly reported account, it sheds new light on a thirty-year-old mystery—and, what’s more, offers a moving tribute to the invaluableness of libraries.”
—David Grann, author of Killers of the Flower Moon 

“After reading Susan Orlean’s The Library Book, I’m quite sure I’ll never look at libraries, or librarians, the same way again. This is classic Orlean—an exploration of a devastating fire becomes a journey through a world of infinite richness, populated with unexpected characters doing unexpected things, with unexpected passion.”
—Erik Larson, author of The Devil in the White City


“With echoes of Roxane Gay and John Edgar Wideman, Laymon defiantly exposes the ‘aches and changes’ of growing up black in this raw, cathartic memoir reckoning with his turbulent Mississippi childhood, adolescent obesity, and the white gaze.”
—O Magazine

“Oh my god. Heavy is astonishing. Difficult. Intense. Layered. Wow. Just wow.”
–Roxane Gay, author of Hunger

“A ballad of honesty and humanness, of vulnerabilities and fortitude, stark and raw, reflections and love filled testaments to a mother..”
– More2Read Reviews



“Arnold handles all of the narrative strands expertly and shows a keen eye for detail…The reader leaves with a newfound understanding of the diversity, complexity, and corruption to be found in the modern Amazon.”
– Publishers Weekly

“The reader will learn of the plight of people, against webs and layers of entanglement, corruptions and atrocities, in no words wasted writing, all layered out in easy reading style, in this passionate heart guided honest search of Amazonian histories.”
– More2Read Reviews


“Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison for opposing a racist system in South Africa. Anthony Ray Hinton spent 30 years on death row because a racist system still exists in America. Both emerged from their incarceration with a profound capacity to forgive. They are stunning examples of how the most horrendous cruelty can lead to the most transcendent compassion. The Sun Does Shine is both a cautionary tale for all who think that a great nation can easily forget its past and inspiring proof of the inability to condemn a man’s capacity for hope, love, and joy. An amazing and heartwarming story, it restores our faith in the inherent goodness of humanity.”
– Archbishop Desmond Tutu

“In this intense memoir, [Anthony Ray] Hinton recounts his three-decade nightmare: awaiting execution for crimes he didn’t commit. … Hinton’s life is one of inspiration, which he wonderfully relays here in bitingly honest prose.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review



“The difficulty of transcending poverty is the message behind this personal history of growing up in the dusty farmlands of Kansas, where “nothing was more painful … than true things being denied” … The takeaway? The working poor don’t need our pity; they need to be heard above the din of cliché and without so-called expert interpretation. Smarsh’s family are expert enough to correct any misunderstandings about their lives.”

“Candid and courageous … Smarsh’s raw and intimate narrative exposes a country of economic inequality that has ‘failed its children.'”
Publishers Weekly




“Reading Kelly Sundberg’s writing—fresh, luminous, spirited—is a pleasure second only to witnessing her decision to survive. Goodbye Sweet Girl is a meditation on what it takes to save your own life.”
Ariel Levy

“In this powerful debut memoir, Sundberg delivers a harrowing account of an abusive marriage and how she left it….Sundberg cogently ties together the painful chain of events in her life and the personal growth that resulted from it.”
Publishers Weekly


“Again and again, Impossible Owls proves that Brian Phillips is a cultural codebreaker of the highest order, unlocking the hidden systems of our mad world. Hilarious, nimble, and thoroughly illuminating.”
– Colson Whitehead, author of The Underground Railroad

“Brian Phillips’s essays are out of this world: big-hearted, exhaustive, unrelentingly curious, and goddamned fun. It’s about time he graced us with this collection.”
Nick Moran, The Millions

“Revitalized essay writing of world histories that are revealing, stark, nostalgic, deep and informative.”
– More2Read Reviews


“A dazzling compendium of fiction and literary essays selected by the author himself at the end of his life … The book is a banquet … joyous … superb.”
–Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal

“A meaty book of more than 900 pages of short stories, excerpts from his novels, and critical and theoretical essays … a monument to Gass’s brilliance as a postmodern fictioneer and a peerless genius of a critic.”
–Joseph Peschel, St. Louis Post-Dispatch



“This book tells the hard poetry of the desert heart. If you think you know about immigration and the border, you will see there is much to learn. And you will be moved by its unexpected music.”
–Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The Devil’s Highway 

“A beautiful, fiercely honest, and nevertheless deeply empathetic look at those who police the border and the migrants who risk – and lose — their lives crossing it. In a time of often ill-informed or downright deceitful political rhetoric, this book is an invaluable corrective.”
—Phil Klay, author of Redeployment


“David Goggins is a being of pure will and inspiration. Just listening to this guy talk makes you want to run up a mountain. I firmly believe people like him can change the course of the world just by inspiring us to push harder and dig deeper in everything we do. His goal to be ‘uncommon among uncommon people’ is something we can all use to propel ourselves to fulfill our true potential. I’m a better man having met him.”
–Joe Rogan, Standup Comedian and Host of the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast

“David Goggins lives out every goal, every dream no matter what. PERIOD. He’s unstoppable. There’s no limit to him because he doesn’t live in a comfort zone. His mental and physical capacity are equal. Goggins proves that your body can handle anything if you let your mind keep up. There’s no way to stop something or someone that doesn’t understand the concept of being beat.”
–Marcus Luttrell, Retired Navy SEAL, Author of New York Times Best Seller Lone Survivor

Review to come

The Stuff teaches its lessons of survival and success through the poignant, inspiring stories of everyday heroes and heroines. Sampson and Sharlee’s message of the power of positivity, hard work, and resilience is one that we need to hear right now.”   
—  Chris Gardner, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling The Pursuit of Happyness

“One of the most inspiring and motivating books of our time. Sampson and Sharlee solidify their contribution to our society by writing something that is lasting, important, and impactful—a must-read for employers and employees, athletes, parents, and students everywhere.” 
—  Wes Moore, author of The Other Wes Moore

“Choosing to hope is the first step in overcoming any difficulty, large or small. With The Stuff, Sampson and Sharlee show you how that power feeds into the whole process of success. What a wonderful handbook for hope.” John O’Leary, #1 national bestselling author of On Fire



“Through prose that is at once passionate and percussive, Lacy Johnson’s The Reckonings demands that we place justice and discovery at the center of our conversations, memories, imaginations, and art. I don’t know that I’ve ever been happier to be alive after reading any book. In this weird way that probably says way too much about the smallness of my life, I felt like everything would be okay — like we will make and sustain justice — because a book I needed but never imagined reading was in the world. The Reckonings is as important as it is masterful on the sentence and conceptual level. The Reckonings is proof that caring about this place, and getting lost in the minutiae of what makes us unjust might actually be a pre-req for creating incredible, life-altering, just art.”
—Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy and How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America