Curious about the best nonfiction books of 2023? Read stunning memoirs and learn more about history, science, or self-improvement with these must-read nonfiction books.
While I will admit that I absolutely love reading fiction, the older I get the more I seem to crave nonfiction books.
Fiction allows you to feel powerful emotions – sobbing when a character dies, exploring magical worlds, or laughing at bizarre scenarios – without having to leave your bed. Yet, in the back of your mind, you know the story is made up.
With the best nonfiction books, you get that feeling that only comes from a true story. You know these things actually happened to real people. You get to learn new skills, discover your self-worth, and examine the truths of the world around us.
I think good nonfiction books are harder to find than fiction titles, so to help you out, here is my list of the best nonfiction books of 2023. Some I’ve read, some I can’t wait to read, but all are getting plenty of buzz this year.
The Best Memoirs of 2023
The second son of King Charles III and his first wife, Diana, Princess of Wales, Harry felt the eyes of all the world on him when he had to walk behind his mother’s coffin. In his own words (including narrating the audiobook version), Prince Harry tells about his life as the second child in line for succession and about his marriage that has led to much drama with the British press and in the royal family.
Lauren Fleshman is one of the most decorated distance runners in the United States. In Good for a Girl, Fleshman tells of how she fell in love with running as a girl and shares her own running journey. Yet, Good for a Girl isn’t just a memoir; it’s a powerful look at how competitive sports are designed for men and boys and routinely fail female athletes, leading to injuries, eating disorders, and mental health issues. Fleshman uses her personal experiences to bravely address a larger narrative about women in sports that is much needed to make the world a better place for our daughters.
In the 1990s, Britney Spears burst onto the scene and became a cultural pop icon and leading the way for the teen pop revival of the 90s and 00s. Yet fame brought personal struggles and a shocking conservatorship that trapped her for decades. In her new memoir, Britney Spears discusses her journey and the power of telling your own story. Though not the best-written memoir of the year, The Woman in Me shocks with details about Spears’s life and contemplates the private pain of a public figure.
Poet Maggie Smith never imagined that her career success would lead to the deterioration of her marriage. In her lyrical memoir, Smith tells her tale of heartbreak and rebuilding as she is determined to become a fierce mother even as she finds herself. More than just her story, You Could Make This Place Beautiful contemplates modern womanhood, traditional gender roles, patriarchy’s role in society, and the challenges facing women today.
Just as Elliot Page was discovering his identity as a trans man, he rose to acclaim for his portrayal of a pregnant teenage girl in Juno. Just as his acting dreams were coming true, Elliot found himself struggling to portray the young starlet that everyone in Hollywood expected of him. In his memoir, Page describes his experience finding himself in a society that doesn’t want the status quo broken.
Lara Love Hardin
In a stunning memoir, Lara Love Hardin writes of her unexpected life and her hard journey toward redemption. Suburban soccer mom Lara Love Hardin was the last person you’d expect to be arrested, but she was secretly funding her heroin addiction by stealing her neighbor’s credit cards. Using her PTA skills, Love Hardin quickly rises in the prison ranks. After being released, she manages to establish herself as a successful ghostwriter. Yet, the shame and guilt are harder to let go of, forcing her to figure out a way to forgive herself.
Must-Read Nonfiction Books of 2023
The United States of America is one of the wealthiest nations in the world, yet has more poverty than any other advanced democracy. Sociologist Matthew Desmond explores the root of poverty in America. From concentrating wealth (and poverty) to subsidizing those already financially secure, Desmond gives a searing look into how America keeps the rich rich and the poor poor.
Who doesn’t want to live longer? Peter Atria has all the strategies that will help you live longer … and better. Using the latest science, Atria explains how to improve your physical, cognitive, and emotional health so that you can help prevent chronic disease and extend your lifespan.
Award-winning biographer Walter Isaacson takes on the life story of the richest man on Earth, by shadowing Elon Musk for two years. From his difficult childhood in South Africa, Musk developed into a risk-taking entrepreneur with unpredictable mood swings and hyperintensity. But are the demons that drive Musk the same that drive his innovation?
Hospice nurse Hadley Vlahos shows palliative care teaches as much about how to live your life as how to die. Vlahos recounts the most memorable patients she’s worked with: a woman who never questioned her faith until death, a man seeing visions of his late daughter, and a young patient regretting how much she cared about others’ opinions.
After tackling the financial sector in The Big Short and Flash Boys, Michael Lewis dives deep into the collapse of the crypto company FTX. Virtually overnight, Sam Bankman-Fried shot onto Forbes’ billionaire list and captivated the world as he played video games during meetings. Lewis paints a character profile of Bankman-Fried, a man who never liked playing by the rules, a trait that led to immense success and an even more immense failure.
Can’t Miss History Books 2023
In 1742, a patched-together vessel washed up on the shores of Brazil with thirty emaciated men. They told an astounding tale of surviving after the HMS Wager was shipwrecked chasing a Spanish treasure galleon. After cobbling together a raft, they floated for 100 days and traveled 3,000 miles. The sailors were lauded as heroes until six months later when three more castaways washed ashore accusing the first men of mutiny. With accusations of treachery and murder, a court-martial is convened to find the truth, with the guilty party likely to be hung.
For over a decade, Stéphane Breitwieser plagued the art world, carrying out over two hundred heists in museums and cathedrals throughout the world. Using his girlfriend as a lookout, Breitwieser used his incredible athleticism and ability to crack surveillance systems to pull off spectacularly audacious thefts. But not for money. Breitwieser kept all his stolen goods in a single room for him to admire at his leisure. Yet, as Breitwieser’s heists grew bolder and bolder he eventually pushed too far and his operation came tumbling down.
Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch
In 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed a bold meeting with Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill to build a crucial strategy for the war. As soon as Hitler’s regime learned of the meeting, the Nazis hatched a plot to assassinate the three world leaders. Full of political intrigue and daring rescues, The Nazi Conspiracy details a close call that could have changed history forever.
As America entered World War II, plenty of Americans actually thought the nation’s natural ally should be with the Nazis in Germany. Forming a well-connected and well-funded clandestine network, they flooded the country with disinformation, spreading antisemitism and distrust against elected officials. Although journalists and law enforcement worked to reveal and prosecute those involved, the bulk of the action was blamed on a few fringe players and most conspirators escaped punishment. Maddow looks at a chilling episode in American history but leaves you to come to your own conclusions on how it connects with current events.
In a New York Times best seller, Ilyon Woo describes a daring escape from slavery by husband and wife Ellen and William Craft. In 1848, the Crafts were determined to free themselves from slavery. So they hatched a plan to disguise Ellen as a wealthy, disabled white man and pretend that William was her slave. Their bold escape made headlines, but when a new fugitive slave law was passed, they were forced to flee again or they could be returned to slavery, realizing that freedom would only lie in leaving the United States entirely.
What Would You Say Are The Best Nonfiction Books of 2023?
What nonfiction books did you enjoy most this year? Did I miss any of the Best Nonfiction Books of 2023 that you loved? As always, let me know in the comments!
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