By James Wallace Harris, Tuesday, February 10, 2015
I’m in two nonfiction book clubs. One is online, and one is face-to-face. Between the two, I’m introduced to twenty-four books I would not normally read, and my reading life has become much more exciting over the last few years. Both book clubs have a nomination process where recommended titles must jockey for votes. Both clubs have about a dozen or so members, and it’s rather hard to find books that will appeal to so many people, and even more, get that many people to actually read. Every once in a while, we’ll pick a book everyone absolutely loves, like The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. On average, if we’re lucky, we’ll pick books that at least half the people like.
It’s easy to find books to nominate, but hard to find willing agreement. I generally try to nominate books that have least a 100 reviews at Amazon. The Warmth of Other Suns has 1,297 reviews, with an average rating of 4.7. It turned out to be the highest rated book at my online book club.
One technique I use to scout for possible nominations is to read all the best-of-the-year booklists. If I see a book that’s on many of the lists, I figure it’s a book that’s both good and appealing to wide range of readers. Here are the lists for 2014:
- Top 10 Nonfiction Book – Time Magazine
- The 19 Best Nonfiction Books of 2014 – BuzzFeed
- Best Nonfiction 2014 – goodreads Choice Awards 2014
- 50 notable works of nonfiction – The Washington Post
- The Best Nonfiction Books of 2014 – The Daily Beast
- Best Books 2014: Nonfiction – Publisher’s Weekly
- 15 Best Nonfiction Books of 2014 – Flavorwire
- Best Nonfiction Books of 2014 – Kirkus Reviews
- 10 best nonfiction titles of 2014 – Christian Science Monitor
- 10 Best Nonfiction Books of 2014 – Entertainment Weekly
- Best Books 2014: Core Nonfiction – Library Journal
- The Best 15 Nonfiction Books by Black Authors 2014 – The Root
- The Best Books of 2014: Nonfiction – PopMatters
- NPR’s Book Concierge – Our Guide to 2014’s Great Reads
- The Year’s 10 Best Transgender Non-Fiction Books – The Advocate
- The Year’s Best Books for Understanding Our Complicated World – New Republic
- Best Nonfiction of 2014 – Powells Books
- 100 Notable Books of 2014 – The New York Times (Nonfiction second half of list)
- The Best Biographies, Memoirs, and History Books of 2014 – Brain Pickings
- The Best Science Books of 2014 – Brain Pickings
- 2014’s Best Books on Psychology, Philosophy, and How to Live Meaningfully – Brain Pickings
- The Best Science Books of 2014 – Science Friday
- The Best Science Books We Read in 2014 – Wired
- The best popular science books of 2014: Physical sciences – The Guardian
- The best popular science books of 2014: Biological sciences – The Guardian
- The best nature books of 2014 – The Guardian
- The Best Science Books of 2014 – io9
- Brainy Reads: Top Science and Tech Books of 2014 – NBC News
- The 12 Best History Books of 2014 – Business Insider
- The best history books of 2014 – The Guardian
- The 15 Best Business Books of 2014 – Business Insider
- 25 Amazing Business Books From 2014 – Entrepreneur
- Best Art Books of 2014 – Huffington Post
- Best Photobooks of the Year 2014 – American Photo
I wished these sites would make a nice printable version of their yearly recommendations so it would be easy to take to the book club and pass around. Even better, I wish some enterprising web site would collate all the lists and make a meta-list of the most recommended books. I could do that, but it’s just too much work. What I end up doing is eyeballing the lists and going from memory which books I see over and over again. These nineteen books were the ones I saw the most, and were on at least 5-10 lists.
3 thoughts on “The Best Nonfiction of 2014–Collected Lists”
Flash Boys by Michael Lewis.
Jim that is such a cool list! I had to figure out some way to put it on the site so I put the whole list under âLinks.â which is under âMore.â Iâll dig it out when I announce the nominations – in a couple days?
A list of lists! Definitely bookmarking this.