Go beyond just the current list of New York Times Nonfiction Best Sellers 2021 to discover every bestselling book listed on the NYT Bestseller List in 2021.
Since 1931, The New York Times has been publishing a weekly list of bestselling books. Since then, becoming a New York Times bestseller has become a dream for virtually every writer.
When I first started reading adult books, one of the first places I went for book recommendations was the New York Times Nonfiction Nonfiction Best Sellers. I wanted to know what books were the most widely read, and start with those.
However, scrolling through the list week by week on The New York Times website is rather annoying. I just wanted all the bestselling nonfiction books gathered together in one place.
When I couldn’t find it, I decided to create it.
Here are all the New York Times nonfiction bestsellers from 2021. Instead of just the current best seller list, which you can find all over the place, I’ve compiled a list of every book that has appeared on the New York Times Nonfiction Best Sellers list in 2021 for Hardcover Nonfiction.
Note: The week count in this list stops on the last week of 2021. Visit the 2022 Bestseller List if you want to find out which books kept ranking into the next year.
Since this is a bit of a sprawling post, feel free to jump to the section that most interests you or take your time scrolling through the complete list of New York Times nonfiction best sellers.
#1 New York Times Nonfiction Best Sellers of 2021
(138 Weeks) Westover grew up in the rural mountains of Idaho with no formal education. Despite her extremist survivalist parents and violent older brother, Westover managed to make her way into college, eventually earning a Ph.D. You’ll be inspired by her amazing determination but sadden by the circumstances of her childhood.
(107 Weeks) Detailing her childhood on the South Side of Chicago, her success as a working mother, and her years in the White House, Michelle Obama shows how her past has shaped her into who she has become today. A poignant memoir of a woman trying to do her best for her family while balancing the greater good of having a husband in politics.
(82 Weeks) After writing about recovering a marriage rocked by infidelity in Love Warrior, Glennon Doyle has a new memoir about her love story with US soccer star Abby Wambach. Doyle details how she found herself by realizing her true power comes from within and not from the expectations others put on her.
(58 Weeks) When you think of castes, India’s strict caste system likely comes to mind. Wilkerson argues that America has its own hidden caste system, a hierarchy that has influenced the United States both historically and currently. Using fascinating stories, Wilkerson points out that on top of race and class, our understanding of caste systems must also change if we are to better ourselves as a nation.
(50 Weeks) Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey offers a memoir on his approach to getting the most satisfaction out of life. McConaughey poured over decades of his diaries to share the highs and lows of his life and the funny stories that shaped him along the way.
Ibram X. Kendi
(47 Weeks) Ibram X. Kendi has penned the premier work on racial justice in America. Kendi’s premise is that the opposite of racist policies is antiracist policies that actively aid in creating more equity between races. Using history, law, ethics and, science, Kendi shows what an antiracist society would look like and helps illustrate how we can contribute to the building of a more equitable world.
(33 Weeks) Erik Larson turns his attention to Winston Churchill’s first year as Prime Minister as he unites a nation in the face of the horrors of the London Blitz. With thorough in-depth research, Larson brings Churchill to life – sharing details on his political and personal life.
(30 Weeks) After retiring from professional basketball, Kobe Bryant decided to share an intimate look at how he approached the game. Discussing the steps he took to mentally and physically prepare to excel at his chosen sport, Bryant provides a unique perspective from one of basketball’s greatest players.
Bruce D. Perry and Oprah Winfrey
(24 Weeks) Instead of asking What’s wrong with you?, we should be asking What happened to you? Oprah Winfrey teams up with neuroscientist Bruce D. Perry to discuss how understanding the trauma we faced at a young age can impact our behaviors now. By understanding our past, we can shift our viewpoint and see a clear path to healing.
(23 Weeks) Former United States President Barack Obama describes his political journey, from the grassroots movement that helped him rise to the presidency to the politics and diplomacy from his term in office. Along with intimate insights into his presidency, Obama ponders the reach and limits of presidential power.
(19 Weeks) Among the best new nonfiction books is James Nestor’s interesting exploration of something as basic as breathing. Nestor has traveled the world to understand the lost art of breathing correctly, studying ancient breathing practices, and modern-day scientific research to show that how we inhale and exhale matters.
Mark R. Levin
(19 Weeks) Fox News political commentator and radio host Mark Levin theorizes that the core principles of Marxism are pervasive in America. Levin describes his views on such liberal policies as the Green New Deal, critical race theory, and social activism.
Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard
(14 Weeks) The tenth book in Bill O’Reilly’s narrative histories, Killing the Mob traces the brutal history of organized crime in the United States in the 20th century. From Prohibition-era bank robbers to the legendary Teamsters, O’Reilly and Dugard bring together the true stories of legendary criminals.
(12 Weeks) Photographer Brandon Stanton became famous for his photography and storytelling blog covering intimate stories of the humans of New York. Now he expands his focus, traveling around the world to share personal interviews with people throughout the globe.
(10 Weeks) Published just days before her death, Just As I Am is a memoir from the iconic actress with six decades of experience on screen and stage. Cicely Tyson examines her life and discusses how she worked to change perceptions of Black women through her career choices.
(10 Weeks) Known for his work as a drummer for Nirvana and the founder of The Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl reflects on how much life has changed from his childhood in Springfield, Virginia. Reflecting on his fame, Grohl focuses on his love of the music that has underscored his life.
(8 Weeks) A look at the life and work of Nobel Prize winner Jennifer Doudna, who pioneered the development of CRISPR. With this new genetic ability, scientists can cure diseases and create vaccines, including the coronavirus. But Doudna has also wrestled with the ethical and moral issues of this new technology.
(8 Weeks) Adapted and expanded from his podcast, The Anthropocene Reviewed is a collection of essays about how humans have reshaped the planet and its biodiversity. John Green focuses on the complexities and contradictions inherit in humankind with wit and humor.
Bob Woodward and Robert Costa
(8 Weeks) The Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa take a deep dive into the transition between the US Presidencies of Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Looking at the challenges faced as the nation’s leadership switches between two opposing political parties, Woodward and Costa paint a picture of a nation at the brink.
(7 Weeks) Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates sets out a detailed practical guide to how the world can achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions in time to prevent a climate disaster. Leaning on experts in physics, engineering, political science, and finance, Gates shares an analysis of the challenge we face and the potential solutions that, although difficult, are doable.
(7 Weeks) Fox News political commentator Jesse Watters reflects back on his career and life and comments on his plan to save the world from left-wing radicalism. With plenty of tongue-in-cheek humor and lots of conservative political theory, Watters plays to his fan base in his new book.
(6 Weeks) Pairing the text of 154 of Paul McCartney’s songs with first-person commentary, The Lyrics takes an in-depth look at a musical legend. McCartney explains how each song came to be and tells about the people who inspired them, from his songwriting partner John Lennon to his parents and even Queen Elizabeth.
Edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain
(6 Weeks) A one-volume “community” history of African-Americans edited by Ibram X. Kendi (author of How to Be an Antiracist) and Keisha N. Blain. From the year before the Mayflower to the present-day, over ninety of today’s Black authors explore history through various methods to give this book a unique feel.
by James Patterson and matt Eversmann
(6 Weeks) Master storyteller James Patterson and Retired First Sergeant US Army Matt Eversmann, (part of the Ranger unit portrayed in the movie Black Hawk Down) share brutally honest tales of life in combat based on hundreds of interviews of troops who fought overseas.
(5 Weeks) Fox News political anchor Bret Baier details the life of Ulysses S. Grant as he rose to become the Lieutenant General of the Union Army in the Civil War. After Lincoln’s assassination left the country with an unexpected successor, Grant rose to office boldly accepting the Reconstruction. Yet, after leaving office, the election produced on clear winner and Grant had to use all his power to stop a constitutional crisis in a country still deeply divided.
(5 Weeks) In a seeing contemporary look at America, Clint Smith shows how deeply slavery has imprinted on the United States. From Monticello to Angola Prison in New Orleans, Smith takes you on a tour of monuments and landmarks through America showing how slavery has shaped the nation.
(5 Weeks) The celebrated actor, producer, and musician describes his transformation from a terrified child in West Philadelphia to a well-known rapper and an all-star actor. Yet, at the top of his game, Smith still felt lost, realizing that despite his outer accomplishments, he still needed to work on his inner self.
Created by Nikole Hannah-Jones
(4 Weeks) In 1619, a ship arrived in the Virginia colony with the first enslaved people from Africa. Thus began the unprecedented system of slavery that has shaped America ever since. Based on The New York Times Magazine‘s Pulitizer Prize-winning articles, The 1619 Project combines essays, poems, and works of fiction to chronicle how the legacy of slavery impacts America today.
(4 Weeks) In a bold memoir, Katie Couric gives you a behind-the-scenes look at both her personal and professional lives. Couric describes her journalistic journey to become the first solo woman anchor of a major newscast and the politics and sexism she faced on the way, all while dealing with the trauma of her husband’s death from colon cancer.
(4 Weeks) Don Lemon, America’s only Black prime-time anchor, considers the ways that racism has impacted his life. From his slave ancestors to his confrontations with politicians, Lemon shows how systemic racism affects America and proposes ways we can address and resist racism in America.
(4 Weeks) Fox News contributors Rachel Campos-Duffy and Sean Duffy present a collection of Christmas stories from across the nation. From recipes to family photographs and emotional memories, All American Christmas traces different Christmas traditions from around the United States.
(3 Weeks) Six-time Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Brandi Carlile recounts how her childhood has shaped her into the woman she is today. Growing up in an impoverished family, Carlile moved around constantly, almost died from bacterial meningitis, and struggled as an openly gay teenager. Yet her struggles informed her art, helping her as she pursued hard-won success in music.
(3 Weeks) Former Speaker of the House John Boehner tells of his time in Washington including the ups and downs of his political careers. In his memoir, Boehner shares his unvarnished thoughts on the key political figures he interacted with and his opinions on the state of the Republican Party.
George W. Bush
(3 Weeks) A collection of oil paintings and stories from President George W. Bush. Showcasing forty-three full-color portraits of men and women who have immigrated to the United States, Out of Many, One shares the stirring stories of how these immigrants have pursued the American Dream.
(1 Week) Full of wit and humor -and lots of pop culture references – (Re)born in the USA tells of the soccer commentator and podcaster Roger Bennett’s love affair with America. From growing up an outcast Jewish teenager in Liverpool, Bennett always dreamed of coming to America. When a friend invited him over for the summer, Bennett found he could remake himself in this new land.
(10+ Weeks on the NYT Bestseller List)
(26 Weeks) Grant reminds us that just like we refresh our wardrobe from time to time, we need to routinely reexamine our beliefs and ways of thinking. Often our beliefs become habits, and Grant argues that being too attached to one identity and thought process can kill our creativity. Instead, we need to start spending as much time rethinking as we do thinking.
(21 Weeks) A powerful memoir about growing up a Korean American from the indie singer known for her Japanese Breakfast project. Growing up in Eugene, Oregon, Michelle Zauner struggled to fit in as the only Asian-American student in high school, burdened by the high expectations of her mother. Moving East, she began working in the restaurant industry and joined a fledgling band. But not until her mother’s terminal cancer diagnosis did Zauner feel liked she discovered her identity and understand her Koreanness.
(16 Weeks) For over three decades, Trebek hosted the trivia game show Jeopardy before his death this fall. Grateful for the outflowing of support after his diagnosis with pancreatic cancer last year, Trebek finally decided to write a memoir. Full of personal anecdotes and Jeopardy trivia, you’ll get an insightful look at a man who became an icon in American pop culture.
Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard
(15 Weeks) Continuing the Killing series, Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard tackle the Westward expansion of the American people into Native lands. The first half focuses on the entire history of the conflicts with Native Americans before narrowing its focus to Crazy Horse and Custer’s Last Stand in the second part.
(15 Weeks) In the years leading up to the second world war, a group of military strategists, nicknamed “The Bomber Mafia,” wondered if precision bombing of strategic targets could make war less lethal. Gladwell ponders how technology and the best intentions collide in the heat of war while examining the bombing of Tokyo. Weaving together stories of a Dutch genius, pyromaniacal chemists, and two competing generals, Gladwell makes you consider the incalculable costs of war.
(13 Weeks) Ever since the start of his career as a stand-up comedian, Jerry Seinfeld has saved all his material and ideas on big yellow legal pads. Scouring through all his old material, Seinfeld has picked out the best of the best, letting you see the evolution of his craft through the decades.
(11 Weeks) A former NFL player and current Fox Sports analyst, Emmanuel Acho takes on the hard questions that many white Americans are afraid to ask but need to know to be more informed. Based on his hit Youtube series, Acho presents his topic as a way to help people increase their understanding and change their behaviors to help end racism in America.
(11 Weeks) Although the official response to COVID-19 was that there was no need to worry, skeptical scientists knew that something terrifying was on the horizon. From a teen girl’s science project to a dissenting group of scientists called “The Wolverines,” Michael Lewis’s nonfiction thriller details the roots of the current coronavirus pandemic as a race against visionaries and medical authorities.
(10 Weeks) Actor and foodie Stanley Tucci takes you behind the recipes from his bestselling cookbooks to tell of his life growing up in an Italian-American family. Tucci describes how food as overlayed is life, from preparing for the films he’s starred and directed in to helping his wife cook for their growing family.
(5+ Weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List)
The Sum of Us by Heather McGee
(9 Weeks) The chair of the board of the racial justice organization Color of Change analyzes the impact of racism on the economy.
World of Wonders by Aimee Nezhukumatathil
(8 Weeks) In a collection of essays, poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil celebrates various aspects of the natural world and its inhabitants.
The Long Slide by Tucker Carlson
(7 Weeks) A collection of previously published essays from 1995 to 2016 by the Fox News host.
Renegades by Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen
(7 Weeks) Conversations between the 44th president and the multiple award-winning musician on a range of topics.
The President and the Freedom Fighter by Brian Kilmeade
(6 Weeks) The Fox News host gives an account of the relationship between Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.
The Beatles: Get Back by the Beatles
(6 Weeks) The story of the making of the band’s final album, gathered from transcripts of their conversations.
Vanderbilt by Anderson Cooper and Katherine Howe
(6 Weeks) The CNN host and descendant of the Vanderbilt family charts the rise and fall of this American dynasty.
I Alone Can Fix It by Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker
(6 Weeks) The Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters examine Trump’s final year in office, with a focus on the key players around him.
Dolly Parton, Songteller by Dolly Parton
(5 Weeks) A memoir from iconic country singer Dolly Parton. Parton highlights 75 of her songs and takes you behind the lyrics to share personal stories and never before seen photographs.
Bag Man by Rachel Maddow and Michael Yarvitz
(5 Weeks) MSNBC host Rachel Maddow gives an account of the 1973 investigation of then Vice President Spiro T. Agnew and its impact on politics and the media.
A Swim in the Pond in the Rain by George Saunders
(5 Weeks) A collection of essays paired with seven iconic short stories examining the functions and importance of works of fiction.
Noise by Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, and Cass R. Sunstein
(5 Weeks) What might cause variability in judgments that should be identical and potential ways to remedy this.
This is Your Mind on Plants by Michael Pollan
(5 Weeks) A look at arbitrary beliefs surrounding opium, caffeine and mescaline, which are derived from plants.
E. R. Nurses by James Patterson and Matt Eversmann
(5 Weeks) A collection of stories from people working in big-city and small-town hospitals.
(2-4 Weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List)
The Fox News host and former combat veteran interviews soldiers about the different kinds of battles they encountered.
The Last Days of John Lennon by James Patterson
The story of the killing of the former member of the Beatles by Mark David Chapman in 1980 and interviews with some of Lennon’s friends and associates.
Wintering by Katherine May
Personal reflections on the potential benefits of embracing and living through painful times of isolation.
Evil Geniuses by Kurt Anderson
The author of “Fantasyland” looks at the economic, cultural and political forces to which he ascribes the undermining and dismantling of the American middle class.
You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar
A pair of sisters who live in different parts of the country share their perspectives on the absurdities and everyday experiences of racism.
Let Me Tell You What I Mean by Joan Didion
A collection of 12 pieces written between 1968 and 2000 that includes observations on the underground press and the act of writing.
Unmasked by Andy Ngo
A former writer for the online magazine Quillette gives his perspective on the activist movement antifa.
Between Two Kingdoms by Suleika Jaouad
The writer of the New York Times column “Life, Interrupted” chronicles her fight with cancer and an impactful road trip.
The Daughters of Kobani by Gayle Tzemarch Lemmon
In 2014, a group of all-female Kurdish militia faced off against ISIS in a small town in Syria.
Hunt, Gather, Parent by Michaeleen Doucleff
A look at different approaches to rearing children from various parts of the planet.
Broken by Jenny Lawson
The humorist maps out her mental and physical health journey.
Finding Freedomby Erin French
A memoir by the chef and owner of the Lost Kitchen in Freedom, Maine.
Beautiful Things by Hunter Biden
The lawyer and artist, who is the son of the current president, details tragedies within his family and his path to sobriety.
The Light of Days by Judy Batalion
How Jewish women in Poland turned Jewish youth groups into resistance cells to fight the Nazis and helped build systems of underground bunkers.
The God Equation by Michio Kaku
The theoretical physicist explains the controversy around the synthesis of the theory of relativity and quantum theory.
Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe
A portrait of the Sackler family, known for their philanthropy toward institutions around the world, and their involvement with Valium and OxyContin.
Madam Speaker by Susan Page
Based on numerous interviews, the USA Today Washington bureau chief profiles the current speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.
You Are Your Best ThingEdited by Tarana Burke and Brené Brown
An anthology of writing on the Black experience and shame resilience.
Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard
A collection of essays by the Emmy-winning actor who became a viral sensation without knowing what that phrase meant at the time.
Yearbook by Seth Rogen
A collection of personal essays by the actor, writer, producer, director, entrepreneur and philanthropist.
Billie Eilish by Billie Eilish
A memoir by the multiple Grammy Award-winning recording artist.
Zero Fail by Carol Leonnig
The three-time Pulitzer Prize winner brings to light the secrets, scandals and shortcomings of the Secret Service.
Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley C. Ford
A memoir about growing up a poor Black girl in Indiana with a family fragmented by incarceration.
After the Fallby Ben Rhodes
A former White House aide and close confidant to President Barack Obama traveled the globe to discover just how much America’s fingerprints are on the world we shaped.
On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed
The Pulitzer Prize winner weaves together American history with personal memoir to show the importance of events in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865.
Trejo by Danny Trejo
The screen actor describes how his past, which includes heroin addiction and prison time, has informed some of his roles.
Landslide by Michael Wolff
The author of “Fire and Fury” and “Siege” portrays events during the final days of Trump’s presidency.
Frankly, We Did Win This Election by Michael C. Bender
A senior White House reporter for The Wall Street Journal looks at Trump’s 2020 campaign and final year in office.
Here, Right Matters by Alexander S. Vindman
The retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel recounts his actions that led to the impeachment of President Trump and his testimony before Congress.
Breathe by Rickson Gracie
A memoir by the former Brazilian jiu-jitsu and mixed martial arts competitor.
The Reckoning by Mary L. Trump
The author of “Too Much and Never Enough” examines potential trauma caused by current and historical events.
Woke, Inc by Vivek Ramaswamy
The founder and executive chairman of the biopharmaceutical company Roivant Sciences shares his perspectives on American capitalism.
Dopamine Nation by Anna Lembke
The medical director of Stanford Addiction Medicine explores the neuroscience and behaviors that inform the relationship between pleasure and pain.
All In by Billie Jean King
The former No. 1-ranked tennis player details her career and activism.
The Afghanistan Papers by Craig Whitlock
An investigative reporter for The Washington Post gives an account of how three successive presidents and their military commanders handled America’s invasion of Afghanistan after 9/11.
Countdown Bin Laden by Chris Wallace
The intelligence gathering, security strategizing and military planning during the final eight months of the pursuit of Osama bin Laden.
Beautiful Country by Qian Julie Wang
A 7-year-old girl and her parents encounter difficulties in New York City when they leave China in the 1990s.
Unbound by Tarana Burke
A memoir by the founder of the Me Too movement, which details her work supporting and empowering Black and brown girls.
Fuzz by Mary Roach
An exploration of disciplinary actions and preventative measures occuring at the intersection of human behavior and wildlife biology.
You Got Anything Stronger? by Gabrielle Union
The actress shares some of the challenges and changes she has faced in recent years.
A Hunter-Gather’s Guide to the 21st Century by Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein
The evolutionary biologists posit that the modern world is out of sync with our ancient brains and bodies.
Yours Cruelly, Elvira by Cassandra Peterson
The actress details the moments from her life and career that shaped the creation of her character Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.
Bourdain by Laurie Woolever
An oral biography of the late chef, writer and television host by his longtime assistant and confidante.
The Baseball 100 by Joe Posnanski
The accomplishments of some of the sport’s greatest players past and present are put into context with one another.
Unrequited Infatuations by Stevie Van Zandt
A memoir by the musician known for playing with the E Street Band, starring on “The Sopranos” and participating in activist causes.
There is Nothing For You Here by Fiona Hill
The foreign policy expert traces her life from being a coal miner’s daughter in northern England to her testimony in the first impeachment inquiry of former President Trump.
The Dying Citizen by Victor Davis Hanson
The author of “The Case for Trump” gives his take on globalization and tribalism.
Midnight in Washington by Adam Schiff
The congressman from California describes risks to our democracy and the resurgence of autocracy.
The Boys by Ron Howard and Clint Howard
The Howard brothers credit their success in Hollywood to their Midwestern parents, Rance and Jean.
Where the Deer and the Antelope Play by Nick Offerman
The actor and humorist shares stories and observations from three quests taken in the outdoors.
Not All Diamonds and Rosé by Dave Quinn
An oral history of the reality TV franchise “The Real Housewives.”
The Book of Hope by Jane Goodall and Douglas Adams
The naturalist explores an element of human nature during a time of multiple crises in areas of health, climate and politics.
Best Wishes, Warmest Regards by Daniel Levey and Eugene Levy
Character profiles, major story moments and behind-the-scenes tales from the Emmy Award-winning series “Schitt’s Creek.”
Immune by Philipp Dettmer
The founder of the YouTube channel Kurzgesagt gives an overview of elements of the body’s immune system.
The Dawn of Everything by David Graeber and David Wengrow
A reinvestigation of social evolution and suggestions for new ways of organizing society.
The Real Anthony Fauci by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
The anti-vaccine advocate gives his take on the chief medical advisor to the president.
Betrayal by Jonathan Karl
The ABC News’ chief Washington correspondent gives an account of the end of the Trump presidency.
Welcome to Dunder Mifflin by Brian Bumgartner and Ben Silverman
An oral history of the TV series “The Office” by one of its stars and one of its producers.
These Precious Days by Ann Patchett
Essays on friendships, influences and the connection between life and art.
One Hit Wonders
(1 Week on the New York Times Best Seller List)