An Unusual List of Great Books for Non-Fiction Writers

If you’re a non-fiction writer, then you must read.

And you must read like your craft depends on it.

Because it does.

I’ve put together this list of some unusual non-fiction books that will help today’s writers.

Best Biographies and Memoirs for Non-Fiction Writers

The Journals by John Cheever — painfully honest. I had to look away at one point.

The Night of the Gun by David Carr — see above, I heard him speak once. A great interviewer

Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson — we can all learn from this man. Go create your thought experiment.

Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography by Walter Isaacson — because the best ideas… are stolen!

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami — exercise like your craft depends on it

Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited by Vladimir Nabokov — worth it for the chess references

If I Die In a Combat Zone by Tim O’Brien––the ultimate modern war memoir

A Writer’s Diary (1918–1941) by Virginia Woolf — haunting

Autobiography of a Yogi (Self-Realization Fellowship) by Paramahansa Yogananda — Steve Job’s favourite read

The Trip to Echo Spring by Olivia Lang — no you shouldn’t write drunk, Olivia explains why.

Born To Run: The Hidden Tribe, the Ultra-Runners, and the Greatest Race the World has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall — goes well with Haruki’s book

The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley by Alex Hayley — more relevant today than ever

Just Kids by Patti Smith — (Tip: get the audiobook to listen to Patti narrate her story)

Best Business Books for Writers

Business for Authors: How To Be an Author Entrepreneur by Joanna Penn — yes, writing is a business. Get over it.

Virtual Freedom: How to Work with Virtual Staff to Buy More Time, Become More Productive, and Build Your Dream Business by Chris Ducker — the good news is you can get help.

Choose Yourself: Be Happy, Make Millions, Live the Dream by James Altucher — the best self-help book of recent years from the mad scientist of the internet.

To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Persuading, Convincing, and Influencing Others by Daniel Pink — you too must sell your ideas and stories, and you can do it without being sleazy.

The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk — but add value first. Stop asking for the sale.

#AskGaryVee One Entrepreneur’s Take on Leadership, Social Media, and Self-Awareness by Gary Vaynerchuk — and create native Facebook content. Lots of it.

Will It Fly?: How to Test Your Next Business Idea So You Don’t Waste Your Time and Money by Pat Flynn — for when you want to take your book to the next level i.e. a course

ProBlogger: Secrets to Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income by Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett — for non-fiction writers with a blog and bills to pay.

I’ve a much longer list for writers and creatives on Become a Writer Today.

What are your favourite non-fiction books and how do they help you write? Share them below.