Thursday, 11 January 2018

100 Best Non Fiction Ever

New year and new lists on best books ever written. This list I found in the Guardian and it lists 100 Best Non Fiction Ever. I am a list person so eagerly went through it to see if I had read any of them. I have only read three.

61. On Liberty by John Stuart Mill (1859)
 This fine, lucid writer captured the mood of the time with this spirited assertion of the English individual’s rights.

63. The Life of Charlotte Brontë by Elizabeth Gaskell (1857)
Possibly Gaskell’s finest work – a bold portrait of a brilliant woman worn down by her father’s eccentricities and the death of her siblings.

83. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon (1776-1788)
Perhaps the greatest and certainly one of the most influential history books in the English language, in which Gibbon unfolds the narrative from the height of the Roman empire to the fall of Byzantium.

On the list there are 16 books that I would like to read:

8. Orientalism by Edward Said (1978)
This polemical masterpiece challenging western attitudes to the east is as topical today as it was on publication.

40. The Road to Oxiana by Robert Byron (1937)
 Much admired by Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh, Byron’s dazzling, timeless account of a journey to Afghanistan is perhaps the greatest travel book of the 20th century.

45. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf (1929)
Woolf’s essay on women’s struggle for independence and creative opportunity is a landmark of feminist thought.

46. The Waste Land by TS Eliot (1922)
Eliot’s long poem, written in extremis, came to embody the spirit of the years following the first world war.

48. The Economic Consequences of the Peace by John Maynard Keynes (1919)
The great economist’s account of what went wrong at the Versailles conference after the first world war was polemical, passionate and prescient.

50. Eminent Victorians by Lytton Strachey (1918)
Strachey’s partisan, often inaccurate but brilliant demolitions of four great 19th-century Britons illustrates life in the Victorian period from different perspectives.

52. De Profundis by Oscar Wilde (1905)
There is a thrilling majesty to Oscar Wilde’s tormented tour de force written as he prepared for release from Reading jail.

56. Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain (1883)

This memoir of Samuel Clemens’s time as a steamboat pilot provides insight into his best-known characters, as well as the writer he would become.

57. Travels With a Donkey in the Cévennes by Robert Louis Stevenson (1879)

The Scottish writer’s hike in the French mountains with a donkey is a pioneering classic in outdoor literature – and as influential as his fiction.

60. On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin (1859)
Darwin’s revolutionary, humane and highly readable introduction to his theory of evolution is arguably the most important book of the Victorian era.

72. Confessions of an English Opium-Eater by Thomas De Quincey (1822)

An addiction memoir, by the celebrated and supremely talented contemporary of Coleridge and Wordsworth, outlining his life hooked on the the drug.

73. Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb (1807)

A troubled brother-and-sister team produced one of the 19th century’s bestselling volumes and simplified the complexity of Shakespeare’s plays for younger audiences.

75. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin (1793)
The US founding father’s life, drawn from four different manuscripts, combines the affairs of revolutionary America with his private struggles.

82. The Diary of Fanny Burney (1778)
Burney’s acutely observed memoirs open a window on the literary and courtly circles of late 18th-century England.

92. The Diary of Samuel Pepys by Samuel Pepys (1660)
A portrait of an extraordinary Englishman, whose scintillating firsthand accounts of Restoration England are recorded alongside his rampant sexual exploits.

99. The History of the World by Walter Raleigh (1614)
Raleigh’s most important prose work, close to 1m words in total, used ancient history as a sly commentary on present-day issues.

Well, let's see what is happening in the future. Although I am a little bit of a fan to Walter Raleigh, I am not sure if I manage to read his 1 million words in total!

What about you? Any interesting reads for you?


  1. Recently, I haven't read any good Non Fiction. Would like to read a few before the year is gone. Time goes so quickly.

  2. I'm doing a masters degree in communications for development (in Sweden. actually!) and Orientalism is a key book to understand culture and international development.

    I'm planning to slowing, little by little, coming back to blogging. Wouldn't mind reading A Room of One’s Own together - have it on the TBR (audiobook).

    1. Now I understand why you have not been blogging lately! Are you actually in Sweden? Where? My son is studying in Lund.
      I would love to read A Room of One's Own together. I don't actually have it but will download it. Let me know when you have time to start.
      I am also doing studies in literature with a university in Sweden. Half-time though and by correspondence. It is great!
      Happy to hear you go back to blogging! Have a good 2018.

    2. Not in Sweden! Still in Switzerland, but doing an online MA with Malmo University (super interesting!). Could we do A Room in February?

    3. Absolutely. Half of February I will be in Malmö. We have a flat there and will leave for Malmö mid year 2018. Fantastic that you can do even a master on-line. I will contact you closer to February.