30 Books a Well-Rounded Person Should Read (Non-Fiction) Book Recommendations

30 Non-Fiction Books a Well-Rounded Person Should Read

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If you’re interested in being considered “well-read,” you probably already know that breadth is more important than depth.

The following list covers 30 books spanning topics that include: Science, History, Business & Money, Politics & Government, Social Sciences, Biography and Philosophy.

These are books that will make you a more well-rounded person, and many of them are even worth reading more than once.

This list is by no means complete. Visitors of this site are among the biggest readers of leather-bound books. So I’m sure there are books worthy of being mentioned that I’ve missed. Make sure to add your own picks in the comments section.

Here is our list of 30 non-fiction books to make yourself a more well-rounded reader.


Social Sciences

How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie


Notable Quote:
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”


Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini


Notable Quote:
“The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.”


You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You’re Deluding Yourself by David McRaney


Notable Quote:
“You want to believe that those who work hard and sacrifice get ahead and those who are lazy and cheat do not. This, of course, is not always true. Success is often greatly influenced by when you were born, where you grew up, the socioeconomic status of your family, and random chance”



Business & Money

The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason


Notable Quote:
“A part of all you earn is yours to keep.”


The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham


Notable Quote:
“The intelligent investor is a realist who sells to optimists and buys from pessimists.”


The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy by Thomas J. Stanley


Notable Quote:
“Whatever your income, always live below your means.”


The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith


Notable Quote:
“The most decisive mark of the prosperity of any country is the increase of the number of its inhabitants.”


Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman


Notable Quote:
“A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth. Authoritarian institutions and marketers have always known this fact.”



History

A Little History of the World by E. H. Gombrich


Notable Quote:
“If you want to do anything new you must first make sure you know what people have tried before.”


Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared M. Diamond


Notable Quote:
“Much of human history has consisted of unequal conflicts between the haves and the have-nots.”


A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn


Notable Quote:
“The memory of oppressed people is one thing that cannot be taken away, and for such people, with such memories, revolt is always an inch below the surface.”



Science

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking


Notable Quote:
“We now know that our galaxy is only one of some hundred thousand million that can be seen using modern telescopes, each galaxy itself containing some hundred thousand million stars.”


The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin


Notable Quote:
“This preservation of favourable variations and the rejection of injurious variations, I call Natural Selection.”


A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson


Notable Quote:
“It is a curious feature of our existance that we come from a planet that is very good at promoting life but even better at extinguishing it.”


The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA by James D. Watson Ph.D.


Notable Quote:
“In the end, though, science is what matters; scientists not a bit.”



Biography

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin


Notable Quote:
“As a child I was fond of reading, and all the little money that came into my hands was ever laid out in books.”


Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin


Notable Quote:
“In order to ‘win a man to your cause,’ Lincoln explained, you must first reach his heart, ‘the great high road to his reason.’”


Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson


Notable Quote:
“The value of a college education is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think,”


The Diary of a Young Girl by Ann Frank


Notable Quote:
“I don’t think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains.”


Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass


Notable Quote:
“You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man.”



Politics & Government

The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli


Notable Quote:
“A prudent man should always follow in the path trodden by great men and imitate those who are most excellent, so that if he does not attain to their greatness, at any rate he will get some tinge of it.”


The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine


Notable Quote:
“Whatever is my right as a man is also the right of another; and it becomes my duty to guarantee as well as to possess.”


The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau


Notable Quote:
“Liberty may be gained, but can never be recovered.”


The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels


Notable Quote:
“Political power, properly so called, is merely the organised power of one class for oppressing another.”



Philosophy

The Republic by Plato


Notable Quote:
“I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.”


Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig


Notable Quote:
“Some things you miss because they’re so tiny you overlook them. But some things you don’t see because they’re so huge.”


Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl


Notable Quote:
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”


Miscellaneous

The Art of War by Sun Tzu


Notable Quote:
“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”


Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution by Steven Levy


Notable Quote:
“Systems are organic, living creations: if people stop working on them and improving them, they die.”


The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr.


Notable Quote:
“Omit needless words.”


Do you want to read some or all of these books? Learn to read faster and more efficiently by enrolling in an Iris Reading course today!

What books did we miss that you would include? Let us know in the comments…


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Paul Nowak

Paul is the founder of Iris Reading, the largest provider of speed-reading courses in North America. His workshops have been taught to thousands of students and professionals throughout the U.S. and Canada.


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Comments

  • sinluz
    Reply

    Nice list but Ohhhh My, A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn?!?!? This book is filled with intentional inaccuracies and propaganda. This is only to be read by people that have the background to evaluate with a critical eye. Otherwise, it is not education but indoctrination. That this book is shows up in high school curricula is an embarrassment to the public education establishment. Well read and educated people should know better. Unfortunately, this sham of a history book seems to spread like a virus. Very sad.

    • James

      Could not agree more, it is phenomenal to witness how much the book blows up. I mean it’s meant to tell a specific narrative so it also loves to omit a lot of unfortunate facts.