ICYMI: The 11 Best Nonfiction Books of 2017 to Read Before Summer Ends

Updated 04/15/19
a woman reading a book

If your taste in books is anything like ours, you tend to gravitate toward fiction during the summer months. We've been known to reach for page-turning thrillers, engrossing romances, and riveting mysteries that keep us on the edge of our beach chairs. But now that summer is officially over, we're shelving our beach reads and picking up books with a bit more substance.

Because the shift in seasons calls for a revised reading list, we've rounded up some of the best nonfiction books of 2017 (just in case you missed them, because they really are that good). Whether you're looking for inspiration, motivation, or simply to learn from someone else's experiences, we're recommending reads that range from sidesplittingly hilarious to eye-opening and insightful.

After all, reading nonfiction is an exercise in empathy, offering an invaluable opportunity to see the world from someone else's perspective, which in our book, is something we could all use more of. Ahead, discover 11 life-changing nonfiction books published in 2017.

Samantha Irby We Are Never Meeting in Real Life
Samantha Irby We Are Never Meeting in Real Life $11

Samantha Irby's collection of essays will have you in stitches. Trust us, her hypothetical Bachelor application will make you laugh so hard you'll cry.

Katy Tur Unbelievable
Katy Tur Unbelievable $15

In this aptly named book, Katy Tur, a correspondent for NBC News, chronicles her experience covering the unprecedented 2016 presidential election.

Scaachi Koul One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter
Scaachi Koul One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter $9

In this collection of personal essays, Scaachi Koul offers sharp, honest, witty observations on life as a woman of color. Fans of Roxane Gay should add this read to their bookshelf stat.

Scratch Manjula Martin
Manjula Martin Scratch $10

This collection of straightforward advice about making a living as a writer from the likes of Cheryl Strayed, Austin Kleon, and Jonathan Franzen is required reading for published and unpublished writers alike.

Joan Didion South and West
Joan Didion South and West $14

Compiled from Joan Didion's personal diaries, this short read is essential reading for anyone who wants an unfiltered glimpse into the mind of one of America's greatest writers.

Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant Option B
Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant Option B $11

Co-authored by Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's COO, and Adam Grant, psychologist and distinguished Wharton professor, Option B offers a look at coping with life's various setbacks.

The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy
Ariel Levy The Rules Do Not Apply $12

A lot of proverbial ink has been spilled praising Ariel Levy's memoir. Drawing comparisons to Cheryl Strayed and Nora Ephron, Levy's writing is filled with equal parts heart and humor.

A Twenty Minute Silence Followed by Applause by Shawn Wen
Shawn Wen A Twenty Minute Silence Followed by Applause $11

Shawn Wen pays tribute to the incomparable French mime Marcel Marceau in this extended essay that touches on the personal and professional life of the famously silent cultural icon.

Flâneuse by Lauren Elkin
Lauren Elkin Flâneuse $19

Named a New York Times Notable Book of 2017, Lauren Elkin's gender-bending tale honors the flâneuse, a "determined, resourceful individual keenly attuned to the creative potential of the city and the liberating possibilities of a good walk."

Mean by Myriam Gurba
Myriam Gurba Mean $14

Perhaps one of the most underrated books of 2017, Myriam Gurba recounts her hilarious, at times heartbreaking, coming of age a queer, mixed-race Chicana in a Central California town in Mean.

Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood
Patricia Lockwood Priestdaddy $15

"Wildly entertaining… [Lockwood’s] humor and poetic descriptions are both impressively prolific, every sentence somehow funnier than the one you just read," recommends Gabriella Paiella of New York magazine's The Cut.

This story was originally published on September 27, 2017, and has since been updated.

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