Five Star Nonfiction Backlist Books

We are mixing our love of nonfiction and our love of backlist books into this list of five-star nonfiction backlist books.

If you love nonfiction this list is for you!

Stack of five star nonfiction books

These are all books that Grace and I have read and loved. They are books that we could not put down once we started reading them.

They are nonfiction books that will stay with you long after you read them. They share fascinating parts of history that you probably know nothing about.

Stack of five star backlist nonfiction books

This list of books is full of books that our family recommends over and over again.

We hope that you find a book or two, or more, to add to your reading stack.

Five-Star Nonfiction Books


Devotion by Adam Makos. This is one of my all-time favorite nonfiction books. Multiple people in my family have read it and they feel the same way. This is nonfiction at its best.

This book is perfect for anyone who loves to read fiction but wants to read more nonfiction books.

84, Charing Cross Road book vs movie

84, Charing Cross Road by Helen Hanff. Published in 1970, this is definitely a backlist book. It is a short book, but it is so good. 84, Charing Cross Road is a story of love and friendship between people that love books.

It takes place in the years following WWII, so it includes a lot of what life was like in England post-WWII.

If you love books about books this is a great read!

Aloha Rodeo

Aloha Rodeo by David Wolman and Julian Smith. Did you know that there were Cowboys in Hawaii? If you have followed me for long you have probably heard me talk about this book.

The writing is excellent, but what I love about this book is that it shares a story about Hawaii and its culture that I knew nothing about.

Killers of the Flower Moon

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann. This is another book that was a five-star read for multiple people in my family. It is one of those books that proves fact is stranger than fiction.

It is set in Oklahoma and is about crime, murder, Osage Indians, and the birth of the FBI. I can’t wait to see the movie that is based on this book.

Midnight In Chernobyl book

Midnight In Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham. I read this book and instantly handed it to my husband to read.

This book is about the explosion at the Chernobyl Atomic Energy Station, in the U.S.S.R. that caused the worst nuclear accident in history. 

This is a fascinating look behind the scenes at what happened, the government cover-up, the mismanagement, and how so many lives were impacted for generations.

The Ride of Her Life book

The Ride of Her Life by Elizabeth Letts. When Anne Wilkins, was given only a few years to live she left her Maine farm with her horse and dog and set off to ride across America.

This is a lighter fun nonfiction read that I really enjoyed. It takes you on a cross-country trip across America in 1954.

Voices of the Pacific

Voices of the Pacific by Adan Makos. Pretty much anything Adam Makos writes will be a five star read for our family. We love how he makes history come alive.

This book shares the story of fifteen Marines during WWII.

The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist book review

The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist by Radley Balko and Tucker Carrington. This is another book that proves truth is stranger than fiction.

This book is sad, yet fascinating. It takes you on a wild true crime ride of injustice in Mississippi. If you like true crime books this is a must read.

Forty Autumns

Forty Autumns by Nina Willner. This is the story of a family who lived on both sides of the Berlin Wall from WWII through the Cold War.

It shares the story of a family living only a few miles apart but separated by a wall they could not cross. This is one of my all-time favorite nonfiction books.

The Boys In the Boat

Boys In the Boat by Daniel James Brown. This is the story of nine Americans and their quest for an Olympic gold. This is a powerful story of overcoming hardship, and difficulty, and not giving up even when you want to give up. It is also the story of teamwork and leadership.

This book is so well written. It is narrative nonfiction at its best.


Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. This is another book that is an all time favorite of multiple people in my family.

This is the story of Louis Zamperini and what he overcame in life. It is about WWII, but about so much more than just the war. This book reads like a novel and I could not put it down.

The Feather Thief

The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson. This is one of the most fascinating true crime books that I have read. I had no idea that feathers and fly fishing could be so interesting.

I read this and handed it to my husband to read. He loved it and recommended it to several friends.

This is a great true crime book for those that love true crime without murder or graphic and gory details.

The Spy and The Traitor

The Spy and the Traitor by Ben Macintyre. Ben Macintyre is becoming a must-read author for me. The Spy and the Traitor is one of the best narrative nonfiction books that I have read in a while.

It is about Russia and Britain. It is also about the Cold War and spies. This takes you a wild ride through Russia and Britain’s history that you probably don’t know a lot about.

In the Heart of the Sea

In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick. This is one of Grace’s all-time favorite books. She has recommended it to so many people, including my husband and I. After reading it I can see why she loves it so much.

The story of Essex is what inspired the classic book, Moby Dick. You don’t have to read or enjoy Moby Dick to read this one. I have never read Moby Dick, but I still loved this book. I had no idea that a whaling ship could be so interesting.

Syria's Secret Library

Syria’s Secret Library by Mike Thompson. Would you risk your life for a book? That is the question I kept asking myself after reading this book.

The writing in this book is good, but what made this a five-star read for me was that it took me to a time and place that I knew nothing about. This book stayed with me long after I read it.

Syria’s Secret Library shares the story of war-torn Syria and a group of people trying to save books and save the education that reading them gives you.

You will never take books for granted after reading this one.


Indianapolis by Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic. This book is about the worst naval disaster in U.S. history, but it is not just about the sinking of the ship. It is also about the people before and after, the circumstances, and the environment.

This is a book that teaches you history in a well-written way.

The Day the World Came to Town

The Day the World Came To Town by Jim Defede. This is a book about 9/11, but it is a book that shows love in the midst of pain and hope in the midst of disaster.

On September 11, when the U.S. closed its airspace, thirty-eight jetliners were forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland.

Gander was a small town of around ten thousand people, and in less than twenty-four hours, it almost doubled in size. This is the story of how the people of Gander, in the midst of a horrific event, came together and showed they cared.


Spearhead by Adam Makos. This is the third Adam Makos book on this list of five star nonfiction backlist books. He really is one of our favorite nonfiction writers.

Spearhead is about an American tank gunner during WWII. Grace and my husband heard Adam Makos speak in Tulsa when this was released and they loved his passion for military history.

If you love nonfiction and have never read Adam Makos I highly recommend you pick up one of his books.

Bad Blood

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou. This is another fact is stranger than fiction story. This is part true crime and part medical drama with some of what life is like in Silicon Valley mixed in.

This is so well written that it makes science and technology fascinating. I could not put this book down.

The Devil In the White City

Devil In the White City by Erik Larson. I knew that I had to include at least one Erik Larson book on this list of five-star nonfiction backlist books. I love his writing so I had trouble deciding which one to include.

I have read and loved Dead Wake, Isaac’s Storm, and The Splendid and the Vile, but if I had to choose my favorite Erik Larson book it would be Devil In the White City.

The subtitle for Devil In the White City is Murder, Magic, and Madness At the Fair That Changed America. That sums up this book well.

This is the story of a serial killer leading up to Chicago’s World Fair during the Gilded Age. This book takes you on a wild ride through part of Chicago’s history.

Do you have some favorite five star nonfiction backlist books to share? Please leave a comment letting us know your favorites!

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