The 16 Best Nonfiction Books Of 2014

Goodreads rounded up the best nonfiction books 2014 had to offer.

To compile the list, Goodreads editors nominated titles frequently reviewed on the site, and readers voted for their favourites, casting more than 2 million votes total.

This year’s nonfiction book winners cover everything from how our brains work to the history of video games.

'The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories' by Marina Keegan

When she tragically died in a car accident five days after graduating magna cum laude from Yale in 2012, Marina Keegan's last essay for Yale Daily News, 'The Opposite of Loneliness,' went viral, racking up over a million views. Though she died young, Keegan left behind a multitude of essays and prose about finding your calling and making a name for yourself in the world.

Buy it here for $US17.99

'What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions' by Randall Munroe

Have you ever wondered how fast you can hit a speed bump while driving and live? Or if there was a robot apocalypse, how long would humanity last? Randall Munroe, the creator of xkcd, set out to find answers -- and backed them up through science, of course.

Buy it here for $US14.40

'The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan' by Jenny Nordberg

This book explores the phenomenon of bacha posh, a common practice in Afghanistan where girls are temporarily dressed and raised as boys. Divided into four parts, it tells the stories of four different women at distinct stages in life.

Buy it here for $US16.40

'Bad Feminist: Essays' by Roxane Gay

Throughout this collection of essays, Roxane Gay fights to define feminism and defy the stereotypes that so often accompany the word. Gay shares her personal experiences as a woman of colour, comments on popular culture, and gives her take on feminism today.

Buy it here for $US10.11

'The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind' by Michio Kaku

This book delves into the fascinating and complex intricacies of the human brain. It presents the latest research in neuroscience and physics to help us understand everything from recording memories and videotaping dreams to telepathy and telekinesis.

Buy it here for $US21.40

'One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America's Future' by Ben Carson

This call to action touches on current national issues, including debt, education, and healthcare, and encourages American citizens to step up and take responsibility for their country. As both a doctor and education advocate, Ben Carson believes that the future of the United States lies in the hands of its people.

Buy it here for $US17.74

'The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History' by Elizabeth Kolbert

There have been five major extinctions in history, and Elizabeth Kolbert believes we are on the eve of the sixth -- the largest one yet. In this book, she traces the path of the coming extinction, examining species both endangered and already gone.

Buy it here for $US22.22

'10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works' by Dan Harris

After suffering through a panic attack on national television during a Good Morning America segment, Dan Harris realised that the hyper-competitive voice in his head was causing him more stress than success. But through meditation, Harris learned how to silence the voice and bring peace and happiness back into his life.

Buy it here for $US15.56

'Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion' by Sam Harris

Part memoir, part science, Sam Harris explores spirituality and meditation for those who aren't interested in a defined religion. This book is for anyone who believes there's more to reality than science alone can show, as Harris argues that how we live and understand the world on a daily basis determines the overall quality of our lives.

Buy it here for $US8.98

'Men Explain Things to Me' by Rebecca Solnit

In her 'Men Explains Things To Me' essay, Rebecca Solnit explores the disconnect that often occurs in conversations between men and women, especially when men wrongly assume that they are automatically correct and, therefore, women are not. Solnit pairs the eponymous essay with six other pieces, covering topics from marriage equality to violence against women.

Buy it here for $US11.50

'Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End' by Atul Gawande

As a surgeon, Atul Gawande deals not only with preserving lives, but watching them end. In this book, he argues that maintaining a high quality of life matters more than dragging a life out past the point of dignity. He explores various methods of hospice care and presents alternative models of care for the elderly.

Buy it here for $US15.60

'The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution' by Walter Isaacson

What makes an entrepreneur disruptive? Where does creativity come from? Walter Isaacson analyses the personalities throughout history that led the digital revolution, all the way from Ada Lovelace and Alan Turing to Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

Buy it here for $US21.00

'No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State' by Glenn Greenwald

When Glenn Greenwald set out to meet Edward Snowden, his then-anonymous source who claimed to have hefty evidence of government spying, he had no idea what he would uncover. This book chronicles Greenwald's encounter with Snowden, and pieces together everything he uncovered as he examined the NSA and the implications of governmental surveillance.

Buy it here for $US16.17

'The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons: The History of the Human Brain as Revealed by True Stories of Trauma, Madness, and Recovery' by Sam Kean

Even with all the breakthroughs of modern science and medicine, the brain remains full of mysterious phenomena. In this book, Sam Kean collects several of these strange instances, including phantom limbs, Siamese twin brains, and blind people who see through their tongues.

Buy it here for $US20.34

'All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood' by Jennifer Senior

There's no doubt that parents have a profound effect on the lives of their children, but how do children affect their parents? Journalist Jennifer Senior aims to answer this question, exploring how kids change their parents' hobbies, friendships, and senses of self.

Buy it here for $US16.16

'Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation' by Blake J. Harris

In the early 90s, Nintendo dominated the gaming world, leaving companies like Sega in the dust. However, Sega wasn't ready to admit defeat. This narrative follows Sega's comeback -- specifically focusing on exec Tom Kalinske's plan of attack -- as they took on Nintendo and fought for dominance in a $US60 billion dollar industry.

Buy it here for $US18.33

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