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Best Nonfiction Books of 2015

Posted over 3 years ago by April S

Posted in Arts, Crafts and Hobbies, Business and Investing, Fiction, Graphic Novels and Poetry, History and Politics, Mysteries and Thrillers, Outdoors, Sports and Travel, Romance and Wellness: Fitness, Health and Spirituality | Tagged with best of

As 2015 comes to a close, you may be looking back and wondering what were some of the best things from this year. Perhaps you’ve seen “best of” lists popping up all over the web and thought to yourself what constitutes the best anyway? How are the titles selected for these lists?  Well, it mostly depends on the source. After all, anyone can start a blog and what they include on their blog can be a matter of opinion. For this reason, we’ve highlighted notable titles pulled from trusted sources like The New York Times, The Washington PostThe Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Forbes, Kirkus Reviews, NPR, The New YorkerPublisher’s Weekly, Rolling Stone and Library Journal to name a few. If that’s not enough – many were featured as the “best of 2015″ on multiple lists. We hope you’ll discover something great!

If you’re a fan of fiction, then you may enjoy our last blog post: Best Fiction Books of 2015

Biography & Memoir

Hold Still by Sally Mann Hold Still: A Memoir With Photographs by Sally Mann has been named one of the best books of 2015 by Amazon, BookPage, NPR, Publisher’s Weekly and The Washington Post.

Critical praise:

“A boldly alive, bracingly honest, thoroughly engrossing, sun-dappled, and deeply shadowed tale of inheritance and defiance, creativity and remembrance by an audacious and tenacious American photographer.” - Booklist (starred review)

“Mann’s prose-luminous, chatty and smart-together with photographs that arrest and provoke-invites readers to hold the camera still with her, and in that space, to imagine whole narratives that accompany these slices in time.” - Los Angeles Times

“A sweeping tale of Mann’s coming of age, her family history, her artistic influences and choices. It is also an homage to the South…HOLD STILL is thought-provoking and is certainly arresting to look at.” - The Washington Post

If you’d like to check out Hold Still: A Memoir With Photographs by Sally Mann, it is available at your local library in the following formats: print book, eBook Text and eBook Audio.

More “Best of 2015″ Biography books you may enjoy:

Barbarian Days - A Surfing Life by William Finnegan Billy Holiday - The Musician and the Myth by John Szwed Diary of a Madman - The Geto Boys, Life, Death, and the Roots of Southern Rap by Brad Scarface Jordan
Elon Musk - Tesla, SpaceX, and the quest for a fantastic future by Ashlee Vance Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein The Light of the World - A Memoir by Elizabeth Alexander
M Train by Patti Smith My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem On the Move - A Life by Oliver Sacks
Sam Phillips - The man who invented rock 'n' roll by Peter Guralnick Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

Business, Economics, Leadership and Management

Unfinished Business by Anne-Marie Slaughter Unfinished Business by Anne-Marie Slaughter has been named one of the best books of 2015 by Business InsiderForbes, NPR and The Washington Post.

Critical Praise:

“Slaughter should be applauded for devising a ‘new vocabulary’ to identify a broad, misclassified social phenomenon. And she is razor-sharp on outlining the cultural shifts necessary to give caregiving its due ... By putting these issues on the agenda, Slaughter has already taken an essential first step.” -The Economist

“An eye-opening call to action from someone who rethought the whole notion of ‘having it all,’ Unfinished Business could change how many of us approach our most important business: living.” - People
“Another clarion call from [Anne-Marie] Slaughter...Her case for revaluing and better compensating caregiving is compelling ... Slaughter skillfully exposes half-truths in the workplace [and] makes it a point in her book to speak beyond the elite.” - Jill Abramson, The Washington Post

If you’d like to check out Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family by Anne-Marie Slaughter, it is available at your local library in the following formats: print book and eBook Text.

More “Best of 2015″ Business books you may enjoy:

Data-Ism by Steve Lohr Do Over - Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work, and Never Get Stuck by Jon Acuff Everybody Matters - The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family by Bob Chapman and Raj Sisodia
How music got free : the end of an industry, the turn of the century, and the patient zero of piracy / Stephen Witt Marissa Mayer and the fight to save Yahoo! by Nicholas Carlson Mindful Work - How Meditation is Changing Business from the Inside Out by David Gelles
Red Notice - A True Story of High Finance, Murder, And One Man's Fight for Justice by Bill Browder Rise of the Robots by Martin Ford Strategy Rules - Five Timeless Lessons from Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Steve Jobs by David B Yoffie and Michael A Cusumano
Superforecasting : the art and science of prediction / Philip E. Tetlock, Dan Gardner Team of teams : new rules of engagement for a complex world / General Stanley McChrystal (U.S. Army, retired) with Tantum Collins, David Silverman, and Chris Fussell Work rules! : insights from inside Google that will transform how you live and lead / Laszlo Bock

General History and the History of (various subjects)

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates has been named one of the best books of 2015 by Amazon, BookPage, Kirkus Reviews, Library JournalThe New York Times, NPR and Publisher’s Weekly. This multifaceted National Book Award winning title is often listed under multiple categories – Biography & Memoir, History, and Race Relations in the United States.

Critical Praise:

“The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future Coates offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life.” - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Immense, multifaceted . . . This is a poet’s book, revealing the sensibility of a writer to whom words—exact words—matter. . . . As a meditation on race in America, haunted by the bodies of black men, women, and children, Coates’s compelling, indeed stunning, work is rare in its power to make you want to slow down and read every word. This is a book that will be hailed as a classic of our time.” - Publishers Weekly (starred review) 

“Powerful and passionate . . . profoundly moving . . . a searing meditation on what it means to be black in America today.” - Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

If you’d like to check out Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, it is available at your local library in the following formats: print book, Audiobook (CD), eBook Text and eBook Audio.

More “Best of 2015″ History books you may enjoy:

1920 - The Year That Made The Decade Roar by Eric Burns The billion dollar spy : a true story of Cold War espionage and betrayal / David E. Hoffman Dead wake : the last crossing of the Lusitania / Erik Larson
The Last of the President's Men by Bob Woodward Once in a Great City - A Detroit Story by David Maraniss The Oregon Trail : a new American journey / Rinker Buck
Palimpsest - A History of the Written Word by Matthew Battles The Pentagon's brain : an uncensored history of DARPA, America's top-secret military research agency / Annie Jacobsen Sapiens - A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
The Shape of The New - four big ideas and how they made the modern world / Scott L. Montgomery and Daniel Chirot St. Marks is dead : the many lives of America's hippest street / Ada Calhoun Waterloo : the history of four days, three armies, and three battles / Bernard Cornwell


Voyage of the Sable Venus by Robin Coste Lewis Voyage of the Sable Venus by Robin Coste Lewis is a National Book Award Winner. It has also been named one of the best books of 2015 by FlavorwireThe Paris Review and Publisher’s Weekly.

Critical Praise:

“Voyage of the Sable Venus and Other Poems reframes the black figure, most specifically the black female, by pointing out the borders of black beauty, black happiness, and black resilience in our canonical visual culture. Tender and masterful opening and closing poems bookend the archival, lyric masterwork … Robin Coste Lewis takes back depictions of the black feminine and refuses to land or hold down that which has always been alive and loving and lovely.” - Claudia Rankine, author of Citizen: An American Lyric

“Lewis’s astonishing debut full-length collection works as a triptych, with the title poem’s central panel flanked by autobiographical lyric poems that investigate intersections of blackness and gender, geography, alienation, and the formation of the self.” - Publisher’s Weekly

If you’d like to check out Voyage of the Sable Venus by Robin Coste Lewis, it is available at your local library in the following formats: print book and eBook Text.

More “Best of 2015″ Poetry collections you may enjoy:

Citizen - An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine The Emperor of Water Clocks by Yusef Komunyakaa Heaven - Poems by Rowan Ricardo Phillips
Notes on the Assemblage by Juan Felipe Herrera Scattered at Sea by Amy Gerstler That Winter the Wolf Came by Juliana Spahr

General Nonfiction

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald has been named one of the best books of 2015 by Amazon, Brain PickingsKirkus ReviewsThe New York Times, NPR,, Publisher’s Weekly and The Washington Post.

Critical Praise:

“Had there been an award for the best new book that defies every genre, I imagine it would have won that too. . . . Coherent, complete, and riveting, perhaps the finest nonfiction I read in the past year.”  - Kathryn Schulz, New Yorker

“Captivating and beautifully written, it’s a meditation on the bond between beasts and humans and the pain and beauty of being alive.”  - People “To categorize this work as merely memoir, nature writing or spiritual writing would understate [Macdonald’s] achievement . . . her prose glows and burns.” - Karin Altenberg, Wall Street Journal

If you’d like to check out H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald, it is available at your local library in the following formats: print book, audiobook (CD), eBook Text and eBook Audio.

More “Best of 2015″ General Nonfiction books you may enjoy:

The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson Future Crimes - everything is connected, everyone is vulnerable and what we can do about it / Marc Goodman Ghettoside : a true story of murder in America / Jill Leovy
Humans of New York - Stories by Brandon Stanton The Invention of Nature - Alexander Von Humboldt's New World by Andrea Wulf Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
NeuroTribes : the legacy of autism and the future of neurodiversity / Steve Silberman Our Kids - The American Dream in Crisis by Robert D. Putnam Presence : bringing your boldest self to your biggest challenges / Amy Cuddy
Reclaiming Conversation - The Power of Talk in a Digital Age by Sherry Turkle Rising Strong - The Reckoning, The Rumble, The Revolution by Brene Brown So You've Been Publicly Shamed : a journey through the world of public humiliation by Jon Ronson

Best of 2015 – Books Lists

Featured Image Credit: Nonfiction Book Cover Collage by April Schwarzkopf, created using PicMonkey.

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