I love a good audiobook, and nonfiction audiobooks rank pretty high on my list of favorites. If you’d like a printable list of some of my favorite nonfiction audiobooks that you can take to your library or screenshot on your phone for easy access, just pop in your email address below and it’ll come right to your inbox!
Recently, someone asked me what my favorite audiobook genre is and honestly, the answer is that I don’t have one!
For me, one of the big joys of reading is variety – I love many many genres and to only read the same genre would really cut down on my love of reading.
This is true for audiobooks too! I listen to historical romance, fantasy, memoirs, mysteries and more because the variety is what I love most!
But non fiction audiobooks will always rank high for me – I love them!
If you’re looking for some of the best non-fiction audiobooks, here are more than 25 of my favorites:
25+ Best Non-Fiction Audiobooks
Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe
This book is the story of three doctor brothers during the Great Depression who started selling pharmaceuticals and used their marketing genius to create an empire with Valium and then eventually OxyContin, which, as you probably know, created a whole slew of problems for millions of people. This was maybe my favorite book club book of the 2023 Everyday Reading Book Club. It was SO absorbing and also so infuriating.
Taste by Stanley Tucci
I really enjoyed this memoir about Stanley Tucci. This is not at all about his acting career, but about how food has impacted his life. It is laugh-out-loud funny, but also sweet and tender. He reads it himself and just a warning: don’t listen on an empty stomach.
The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green
I really liked this one! Green reflects on the human experience and reviews many aspects of our existence including anything from teddy bears, Kentucky bluegrass, whispering, Diet Dr. Pepper, sunsets, and so much more. This is his first nonfiction book and I think it’s useful to go in knowing a little about John Green and his style, so if you’ve read one of his fiction books or watched him on Instagram, you’ll probably enjoy it more!
Becoming by Michelle Obama
I’m not the first person to recommend Michelle Obama’s autobiography (it’s only been topping the charts since the minute it was released), but when it comes to great audiobooks, it feels impossible to leave this one off. Starting in her childhood and ending shortly after her husband finishes his eight years as president, hearing her tell her story in her own words is compelling and powerful. Plus, it’s such an interesting look at the US political system, balancing career and marriage and motherhood, and life in the White House. (Full review here)
Upstairs at the White House by J.B. West
This delightful book about what family life at the White House is like, is told by J.B. West who works as the Chief Usher from FDR’s presidency through the first few weeks of Nixon’s. He is responsible for basically everything that goes on with the families, working closely with the First Ladies and arranging their schedules, hosting events, decorating the White House, and helping manage the transitions between presidents. I LOVED this one. (Full review here)
As You Wish by Cary Elwes and Joe Layden
If you’re a fan of The Princess Bride (and who isn’t?), this book is a must-read. Written by the actor who played Wesley, there are so many great stories about the making of the movie and the actors and crew, and it made me love this movie even more than I did before. Request a copy of the movie at the same time as the book, because you’ll definitely want to watch it when it’s over. And the audiobook is read by most of the original cast, so you’ll love hearing their familiar voices telling their own stories.
Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl
This is one of those books I will recommend to ANYONE. It’s so funny and so fascinating and the recipes are incredible too. I had never thought for one moment about life as a food critic, and this was the best look at it. Seriously, get this one and read it. My parents still talk about listening to this one together as a couple.
Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
This terrific book chronicles the exodus of nearly six million Black individuals and families from the Southern states to the West Coast and Northern cities between 1915 to 1970 and focuses on three specific people that each go to a different city in a different decade. One of my favorite book club books we’ve ever read.
The Day the World Came to Town by Jim DeFede
I listened to this one for the 20 year anniversary of 9/11 and the narrator reminded me SO MUCH of Tom Hanks. It is a true story set in a tiny town in Newfoundland where 38 jetliners had to land after U.S. airspace was closed down following the 9/11 attacks. Although the passengers nearly doubled the population, this small town welcomed their accidental visitors, bringing them into their homes until they were able to leave.
Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham
I loved Gilmore Girls back in the day and this was just so delightful to listen to (the audiobook is for sure the way to go since she reads it herself). Her second memoir is also a delight, although if I had to pick, this one is my favorite.
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
This book is non-fiction but it’s so amazing, it’s hard to believe someone didn’t make it up. Olympic runner Louis Zamperini’s plane is shot down in the Pacific during WWII and after surviving on a tiny inflatable raft for 47 days, he’s taken prisoner by the Japanese. And compared to being a POW, the raft time looks like vacation. Probably the best WWII book I’ve read. (Full review here)
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Just Mercy is a non-fiction account by lawyer Bryan Stevenson of one of his early cases trying to exonerate a man on Death Row, plus a look at the current state of the U.S. justice and prison systems. It’s no exaggeration to say that this book changed my life. I think it should be required reading for every person.
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
This WWII book is such an incredible memoir about a woman who, along with her sister, is arrested for hiding Jews and survives the concentration camps. It is a classic for a reason. (This one is included in Audible Plus, so if you have an Audible membership you can listen for free.)
Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
I knew exactly zero about Phil Knight and the origins of NIKE, and now I’m a fan for life after Bart read this book and passed it along to me with rave reviews. This memoir was completely fascinating even for someone like me and I stayed up way too late finishing it. (Full review here)
Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
This one got a TON of publicity during Trump’s 2016 presidential run as it gave insight into the lives of working class Americans. It’s interesting and eye-opening and almost unbelievable in some parts (has YOUR grandmother ever set her husband on fire with kerosene while he napped on the couch?) and it reads like a novel. Fair warning that there is quite a bit of swearing in this one. (Full review here).
Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong
I’ve meant to read this book for AGES and finally got to it last year. It was SO good – I seriously cannot believe this is a true story. It was just absolutely incredible (and made the 2023 Summer Reading Guide!) – our whole family loved this one.
The Power of Fun by by Catherine Price
Before this was even released, I saw the title and read some early reviews, I knew this was one that I wanted to read AND that I wanted to talk about for the Everyday Reading Book Club. And it was a total home run! Who doesn’t want more fun in their life? (Full review here)
Romney: A Reckoning by McKay Coppins
This was outstanding. I cannot stop thinking about it. I particularly loved how well Coppins showed both Romney’s shortcomings, particularly in his early political career, and when he really stepped up later and how that difference came about. The audio narration was superbly done.
When Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson
You might think a graphic novel is really best enjoyed when you can see the . . . you know, graphics. But the audio version of this stunning book is out to prove you wrong with a full-cast narration that brings this true story of a young boy living in a refuge camp in Kenya, caring for his non-verbal younger brother and trying to attend school to life in the most stunning way. In fact, people who have listened to this audiobook tell me they feel sorry for people who read it on paper instead of getting to experience the audio version. This is a terrific one for both children (probably about 8+) and adults!
Sitting Pretty: The View from My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body by Rebekah Taussig
This memoir about Taussig’s life in a wheelchair and her lived experience was really eye-opening for me. If you’re not a wheelchair user or spend a lot of time with someone who is, you probably never think about checking before you visit a restaurant if the bathroom is wheelchair accessible (or if you’ll even be able to get through the front door!). This book beautifully handles the nuances of disability and is one of those books that just about everyone could benefit from reading.
Outliers by Malcom Gladwell
I’ve read all of Malcolm Gladwell’s books and I think this one is the best (although if you prefer essay-style to a full-length book, What the Dog Saw is also fabulous). He talks through so many different scenarios of success, from crazy-successful people like Bill Gates to groups where the most successful people are congregated around a specific marker like birth month. The audio on this one is terrific with Gladwell reading it himself.
Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin
When it comes to habits, this is one of my all-time favorite books. I love how practical it is and especially how she helps you identify what kinds of strategies will work for YOU as you set goals and develop new habits. Plus, I find her writing so delightful and interesting. I love all her books, including The Happiness Project, but this one is definitely my favorite. (Full review here)
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande
All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team by Christina Soontornvat
I mean, you already know I’m obsessed with this book. If you haven’t read this incredible story of the young boys who got trapped with their soccer coach in a cave during a flood, you should change that immediately. I’m pretty sure there is NO book I’ve ever talked about in the 15 years I’ve been blogging that I’ve gotten more positive feedback about. (Full review here)
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
This book isn’t long but it’s powerful and gripping. I read this book a few years ago and still think about it nearly daily. I loved that she shares both her own experiences as well as concrete ideas for how we can do better at making our communities, schools, churches and workplaces more equitable places. It’s beautifully written, incredibly personal, and full of hope for all of us. (I especially loved hearing her share her stories in her own voice).
Atomic Habits by James Clear
Bart and I both listened to this book when it first came out and couldn’t stop talking about it for months. It can feel so overwhelming and impossible to change your habits, but this really helps you understand how to make it happen and why the littlest habits make the biggest difference. (Full review here)
Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin
This book about the development of the atomic bomb during WWII was so good that I read it by flashlight when the power went out. When I ask for suggestions for nonfiction books for kids, this is always the MOST recommended title but it’s equally amazing for adults. (Full review here)
NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson
I read this book before I had children and I still think about it ALL the time. From bedtimes to praise, this book is fascinating and so helpful, with lots of research. (Full review here)
And if you’d like a printable copy of this nonfiction audiobook list that you can take to your library or screenshot on your phone for easy access, just pop in your email address below and it’ll come right to your inbox!