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The Best Nonfiction Book Gifts for Every Reader on Your List

We’ve got you covered this holiday season.

The holidays are just around the corner, and we’re here to help you find the ideal gift for every book lover on your list. From award-winning true crime narratives and acclaimed essay collections to uproariously funny memoirs, here are the best nonfiction book gifts to give this holiday season.

Kaitlyn Johnston

Number One Is Walking

By Steve Martin, with illustrations by Harry Bliss

For the film buff who enjoys a good laugh…

Steve Martin has elevated comedy in Hollywood to hilarious new heights — yet until now, he’s never written about his illustrious career in the movies. That all changes with Number One Is Walking, Martin’s “irresistibly charming” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) new memoir. Filled with gorgeous illustrations by New Yorker cartoonist Harry Bliss, the book is packed with delightful anecdotes and behind-the-scenes antics from Martin’s 40-year career in showbiz, featuring big names and plenty of laughs. Clever and entertaining, Number One Is Walking is sure to be a hit with the movie buffs and comedy fans on your list.

Looking for more hilarity this season? Check out A Wealth of Pigeons, Martin and Bliss’s bestselling humor book from 2020.

Unmasked

By Paul Holes

For the true crime fanatic…

Unmasked by Paul Holes is the instant New York Times bestseller from the detective who put the Golden State Killer behind bars. In this gritty, unflinching true crime memoir, Holes chronicles his career cracking cold cases and chasing down killers, and he delves into the personal challenges he’s grappled with over the years. Though he’s committed to the job and passionate about helping victims and their families, both the trauma he’s witnessed and the real-life nightmares he has endured have taken their toll — both on Holes himself and on his relationships with his loved ones. Unmasked is a powerful portrayal of the horrors, realities, and rewards of a lifetime of fighting crime and makes the perfect book gift for the true crime aficionado on your list.

Bad City

By Paul Pringle

For the book lover who enjoys an investigative deep dive…

Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Paul Pringle delivers a “master class in investigative journalism” (New York Times) in Bad City, which tells the story of how Pringle and his colleagues at the L.A. Times took on one of Los Angeles’s most influential institutions — and won. Pringle lays it all out in this electrifying exposé, chronicling how a tip about a drug scandal at USC exposed a citywide web of corruption, coverups, and criminality that threaded through the exclusive power centers of L.A. Detailed and fast-paced, Bad City will be a hit with the journalistic readers on your list, especially those who enjoyed Catch and Kill or Spotlight.

HRH

By Elizabeth Holmes

For the book lover who watched the Royal Wedding live…

An instant New York Times bestseller, HRH is a smart, stylish read that doubles as the perfect book gift for the fashionistas on your list. Veteran style journalist Elizabeth Holmes offers an in-depth look at the style choices of Queen Elizabeth II, Diana, Princess of Wales, Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, and Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex. Alongside hundreds of sumptuous photographs, Holmes’s commentary offers dazzling insight into the fashion choices of each royal and delivers a style-focused retrospective of the British royal family from WWII to Meghan and Harry's exit from "The Firm."

Brothers on Three by Abe Streep

Brothers on Three

By Abe Streep

For the feel-good sports fan…

On March 11, 2017, the Arlee Warriors brought home the high school basketball state championship title to Montana’s Flathead Indian Reservation. It was an electrifying moment for friends, family, and fans in the Flathead community; the championship season quickly became the stuff of legend, and the players transformed into local heroes. But what did the win mean to the players themselves? In the award-winning Brothers on Three, celebrated journalist Abe Streep follows star players Will Mesteth, Jr. and Phillip Malatare as they reckon with their victory. Many saw the emotionally charged championship season as a crowning achievement, but for the young players, it marked the beginning of their adult lives.

Honest and encouraging, Brothers on Three is a story of success on the basketball court. It’s also a moving account of community, growth, and growing up.

The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times

By Jane Goodall

For those in need of a hopeful perspective…

We could all use a little extra cheer during the holiday season — and this inspirational New York Times bestseller definitely delivers. In The Book of Hope, renowned naturalist Jane Goodall sits down with Douglas Abrams to discuss her extraordinary career and champion the value of hope in the face of worldwide adversity. Through lively dialogues and candid accounts of her time in the field, Goodall shares the four reasons why she remains optimistic about the future of humankind and encourages readers to join her in the fight for a better world. Timely, intimate, and insightful, The Book of Hope will have you and your family moving into the new year with renewed optimism.

The Viral Underclass

By Steven Thrasher

For social activist…

In The Viral Underclass, LGBTQ scholar Dr. Steven Thrasher presents an eye-opening examination of America’s broken healthcare system, revealing the outsized role privilege plays in how viruses spread, harm, and kill. Through harrowing accounts of suffering and survival during the COVID-19 era and the AIDS epidemic, Thrasher exposes the staggering disparities in medical access and care based on race, gender, class, and sexuality. The Viral Underclass makes an excellent book gift for anyone looking to better understand the inequities of our present moment and the role that social structures play in shaping the trajectory and impact of disease.

Black Skinhead by Brandi Collins-Dexter

Black Skinhead: Reflections on Blackness and Our Political Future

By Brandi Collins-Dexter

 For the book lover interested in politics…

In Black Skinhead, Brandi Collins-Dexter boldly explores the delicate alliance between Black voters and the Democratic Party — an alliance that she sees as teetering on the brink. Through essays spanning the political to the personal, Collins-Dexter examines the growing disaffection in the Black community with both the Democrats and the American political system, a frustration fueled by years of empty promises and political neglect. Weaving together electoral analysis with pop culture critique and delivered with fierce humor, Collins-Dexter’s debut is an important read for all Americans and a “remarkable work that leaves us feeling hopeful for change” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).

Last Call: A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York

By Elon Green

For the book lover who reads historical true crime…

In this Edgar Award–winning true crime narrative, author Elon Green examines the case of the Last Call Killer — a serial murderer who terrorized New York City’s queer community in the 1980s and ’90s. The Last Call Killer claimed multiple lives and evaded capture for years. Yet because of the sexuality of his victims, combined with the era’s soaring homicide rates and the growing AIDS epidemic, his crimes received little media coverage. Last Call is at once a haunting true crime narrative and a compassionate depiction of resilience in New York City’s queer community. It’s an excellent addition to any lit fan’s gift list, delivering a “captivating and thought-provoking read” that puts “a humanity-filled twist on the true crime genre” (Booklist).

Her Honor

By LaDoris Hazzard Cordell

For the book lover who volunteers for jury duty…

Judge LaDoris Hazzard Cordell was the first African American woman to sit on the Superior Court in Northern California. She’s seen the highs and lows of America’s criminal justice system, and in Her Honor, she offers an insider’s look at what goes on behind closed courtroom doors. Through eye-opening accounts of real-life cases, Cordell reveals the inner workings of the U.S. court system, highlighting its strengths and successes as well as its blind spots and shortcomings. While Cordell acknowledges that justice in America is far from perfect, she also looks forward with determination and offers concrete steps to create a more equitable system for all Americans. Candid, authentic, and ultimately optimistic, Her Honor is “an accessible peek into the halls of justice” (Publishers Weekly). Pick up the just-released trade paperback edition as a gift for the budding legal scholar on your list.

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Love People, Use Things

By Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus

For those looking to recenter their lives…

The holiday season is a time of reflection and renewal, an occasion to reconnect with those you love and reset your priorities in pursuit of a more meaningful existence. Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus — better known as The Minimalists — are experts at the art of intentional living, and in Love People, Use Things they present an invaluable guide to purging your life of the unnecessary to make room for the things that really matter. This is not your typical decluttering how-to manual. Instead, Millburn and Nicodemus share their personal experiences — and those of others they’ve met along the way — to reveal how minimalistic living clears the way to healing the essential relationships in your life, from your relationship with the things you own to your capacity for love, creativity, and human connection. Love People, Use Things is a must-read book about minimalism that will motivate you and your loved ones to live with intention this holiday season and beyond — to get more out of life with less in the way.

Hollywood Park

By Mikel Jollett

For the memoir reader and music lover…

Acclaimed musician Mikel Jollett shares his story of childhood trauma, survival, and fierce familial love in his instant New York Times bestseller Hollywood Park. Jollett grew up in the Church of Synanon, one of the most notorious cults in America. At just six months old, he was forcibly separated from his parents and sent to be raised in the cult’s so-called “School.” Though it took years, Jollett, his older brother, and his mother eventually escaped the cult — only to face a fresh wave of hardships from life on the outside. Jollett bravely chronicles the adversity that he and his family endured, from physical and emotional abuse to struggles with addiction, and the hard-won triumphs of his adult years as a writer and the lead singer of The Airborne Toxic Event in what The Wall Street Journal calls “a memoir that is dangerous, immediate and lyrical from the jump.”

Never Enough by Mike Hayes

Never Enough

By Mike Hayes

For those looking to become a more effective leader…

Mike Hayes knows how to lead under pressure. As the former commander of SEAL Team Two, he’s made countless life-or-death decisions; as a former White House fellow and the director of Defense Policy and Strategy at the National Security Council, he’s negotiated international arms treaties and guided high-stakes meetings in the White House Situation Room. In Never Enough, Hayes shares his key strategies for being an effective leader, offering valuable life lessons that are just as applicable on the battlefield as in the boardroom. Enhanced with dramatic accounts of guts and grit from the author’s career, Never Enough is an insightful leadership book for readers from all walks of life and an inspirational gift for anyone looking to enter the new year with renewed determination and focus.

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