My favorite nonfiction books: Image of a stack of books.

A Bakers-Dozen List of My Favorite Nonfiction Books of All Time (And why I consider them life-changing.)

Do you struggle with relationships, money matters, aging parents, weight, your writing, curly hair? If so, have I got some nonfiction books for you!

To point you in the right direction, here’s a list of my favorite nonfiction books on a variety of subjects. You need more than a list though. You also need the WHY I think these nonfiction books are helpful, if not life-changing. I’ll provide that, too.

To make things exciting, this list is in countdown order!

#13 Prodigal God by Timothy Keller

This suggestions is for all you Christ-followers out there. I read this book and immediately read it again with a friend so we could discuss it.

Every other paragraph and sentence in this book is highlighted and/or underlined. If you love studying the Bible, or if you want a greater grasp of the Gospel, I strongly suggest you read this book.

#12 The Curly Girl Handbook by Lorraine Massey

If you caught my Curly Hair 101 blogpost, you know the story of how I went from flat-ironing my hair for five years to letting it do its own wild thing. Massey’s book provides all you need to know about the care and feeding of curly locks. There’s also a sequel blogpost on curly hair: Curly Hair 102.

#11 Mother-Wound books

Did you know there’s such a thing as a “mother-wound?” For the longest time, I did not. I’d heard about “father wounds,” but it wasn’t until I found myself in major conflict with my mother that I considered Googling the subject. Here are the nonfiction books I ordered from Amazon on the topic:

These titles may sound scary, but the books all provide helpful examples of, and solutions for interacting with, problematic individuals.

#10 Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King

This is a fantastic “craft book” for writers. I recommend it to beginner and intermediate writers all the time. If I was smart, I’d read this book once a year.

#9 The Complete Guide to Fasting by Dr. Jason Fung

You may have read some of my blog posts on intermittent fasting. My husband and I are big fans of the practice. Not only did Tony lose 20+ pounds thanks to intermittent fasting, he also drastically lowered his liver enzyme numbers which for years concerned our family doctor.

# 8 Eat Bacon, Don’t Jog by Grant Petersen

I talk about this book all the time because it’s a quick read that seriously can change your life (and weight) for the better. After I applied Peterson’s principles, my legs and butt slimmed down and my energy level went way up! Give it a try for a month to see what happens.

As an added bonus, reading this book sets you up nicely to give intermittent fasting a try.

#7 Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

You may remember me mentioning this book again and again in my blog post, “The Art of Dying.” That post, by the way, is my most-shared post ever, with 456 shares!

In my opinion, everyone who has parents should read this book, everyone! In fact, for Christmas last year, each of my children received a copy of this book.

Kay Watkins Rotz, who reads my lifestyle column, followed my advice and read Being Mortal. On Facebook she posted this quote from the book: “Our ultimate goal, after all, is not a good death but a good life to the very end.” That’s pretty much the crux of this extremely important book.

# 6 The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

Don’t be fooled. This is not only a book for “creatives.” Pressfield says his book is for anyone pursuing a creative calling. Or starting a new diet or exercise program. Anyone starting a new enterprise, for profit or otherwise. Any act that entails commitment of the heart.

This is another book that deserves multiple reads. I open it all the time to encourage me in my various endeavors.

#5 Take Time for Your Life by Cheryl Richardson

If your life needs an extreme makeover, this is the book for you. At the beginning of this year, in my Life Planning 101 post, I mentioned Richardson’s book.

Richardson recommends examining each area of your life (work, social, financial, physical, etc.) to determine what needs to stay and what (and who) needs to go. I can pretty much guarantee that putting her ideas to work will improve your quality of life.

#4 One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

It’s not terribly often that a lyrically-written faith-based book becomes a New York Times bestseller, but One Thousand Gifts is that book.

What I really love about Voskamp’s book , besides the gorgeous wordsmithing, is how it draws the reader toward a life of gratitude. One Thousand Gifts is the reason I have filled four journals with lists of blessings.

FYI, Brene Brown says the practice of gratitude is the single common denominator among people who exhibit joy. Need more joy? Count your blessings!

#3 Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey

Early on in the life of this blog, I wrote about our family’s experience with the book Financial Peace. This book took us from paycheck-to-paycheck insecurity to money-in-the-bank peace. This book would be a great graduation gift or wedding present.

#2 Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend

Years ago after one of my epic clashes with my mother, I popped into a bookstore on my way home from her house and bought a copy of Boundaries. I then speed-read it in a day and came up with a boundaries-based action plan.

True Confession: Prior to reading Boundaries, I planned to tell Mom I’d gotten a full-time job, which I had not, to get her to leave me alone. 

Initially my boundaries pissed off my mother, but the authors of Boundaries say anger in response to boundary-setting is perfectly normal. After Mom cooled off, the boundaries I set significantly improved our relationship.

Boundaries really and truly is my favorite nonfiction/self-help book besides the Bible.

# 1 The Bible by God

I know reading the Bible isn’t everyone’s thing, but in my search for meaning and pursuit of the “abundant life,” the Bible has been my very best resource. There are dozens of different translations of the Bible: traditional and more modern. If you need help choosing one, I’d be happy to help.


So there you have it! The list of my favorite nonfiction books to date. What about you? Do you have any books of this nature to recommend?

*FYI, this post includes “affiliate links,” which means if you click on a link for a book and buy it immediately, I earn a tiny commission. I hope you’re cool with that:)

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