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25 Best Nonfiction Books of All Time According to Matthew Mullenweg 

Discerning readers seek enlightening, challenging, and inspiring nonfiction literature.

Matthew Mullenweg, the co-founder of WordPress and a prominent figure in the tech industry, has shared his list of the "25 Best Nonfiction Books of All Time," offering a diverse collection of titles across genres and subjects.

Whether you crave knowledge or captivating reads, Mullenweg's recommendations are bound to captivate you.

Affiliate Disclaimer: This post features Amazon affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase through these links.

In this thought-provoking book, Yuval Noah Harari, the author of "Sapiens" and "Homo Deus," explores the critical challenges facing humanity in the 21st century. Harari delves into complex topics such as artificial intelligence, political upheaval, and the future of work. He provides readers with deep insights and perspectives, encouraging us to consider how we can navigate the ever-evolving landscape of the modern world.

“Questions you cannot answer are usually far better for you than answers you cannot question.”― Yuval Noah Harari, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

Beth Comstock, the former Vice Chair of General Electric, takes readers on a journey into the world of innovation and leadership. Drawing from her extensive experience in the corporate world, Comstock shares valuable lessons on fostering creativity, embracing change, and driving transformation within organizations. "Imagine It Forward" is an inspiring guide for leaders and change-makers.

“traditional business strategy too often does not bother to create a story or narrative about its actions for its employees and the world to gather around. For the strategy to become reality, people need to see themselves in the story and then take action to make the story happen.”― Beth Comstock, Imagine It Forward: Courage, Creativity, and the Power of Change

Shane Parrish, the creator of the Farnam Street blog, introduces readers to the concept of mental models. In this volume, Parrish offers a comprehensive exploration of these mental frameworks that can enhance decision-making and problem-solving. By adopting a more strategic mindset, readers can learn to navigate complex challenges with greater clarity and effectiveness.

“You can’t improve if you don’t know what you’re doing wrong.”― Shane Parrish, The Great Mental Models: General Thinking Concepts

Robert Wright's "Why Buddhism Is True" is a profound exploration of the intersection between science, psychology, and Buddhism. Wright argues that Buddhist principles align with our understanding of human nature and the workings of the mind. He challenges readers to reconsider their beliefs and provides a compelling case for the practical applications of Buddhist philosophy in modern life.

“Ultimately, happiness comes down to choosing between the discomfort of becoming aware of your mental afflictions and the discomfort of being ruled by them.”― Robert Wright, Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment

Casey Gerald's memoir is a deeply personal account of his journey from a disadvantaged upbringing in Texas to becoming a successful entrepreneur and social activist. "There Will Be No Miracles Here" is a candid reflection on identity, ambition, and the pursuit of a meaningful life. Gerald's storytelling is both poignant and inspirational.

“I no longer believed in people. I found the prospect of needing a human being, trusting them, extending myself for them, to be more horrifying than being abandoned, or almost killed, or damned for all eternity. People seemed to be the most dangerous things in this world.”― Casey Gerald, There Will Be No Miracles Here: A Memoir

John Carreyrou's investigative journalism in "Bad Blood" unravels the captivating and shocking story of Theranos, a Silicon Valley startup that promised revolutionary blood testing technology. Carreyrou exposes the deceit and corporate malpractice that led to the downfall of Theranos, offering a cautionary tale about the darker side of tech entrepreneurship.

“The way Theranos is operating is like trying to build a bus while you’re driving the bus. Someone is going to get killed.”― John Carreyrou, Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup

Nayyirah Waheed's "Nejma" is a poetic masterpiece that delves into the complexities of love, loss, and self-discovery. Through evocative verses and profound reflections, Waheed explores themes of identity and relationships, inviting readers to experience the depth of human emotion through her beautifully crafted words.

“grieve. so that you can be free to feel something else.”― Nayyirah Waheed, nejma

In "Black Box Thinking," Matthew Syed explores learning from mistakes in diverse fields like aviation, healthcare, and business. He champions a culture that embraces failure for innovation and improvement. Syed's examination of "black box thinking" reshapes our approach to challenges, unearthing invaluable lessons from errors. It provides deep insights into success psychology and resilience, making it a compelling addition to any reader's collection.

“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.”― Matthew Syed, Black Box Thinking: Why Most People Never Learn from Their Mistakes--But Some Do

Jack Weatherford's historical masterpiece, "Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World," provides a fresh perspective on the Mongol Empire and its impact on shaping the course of history. Weatherford argues that Genghis Khan's innovations in governance, trade, and culture laid the foundation for the modern world. This book is a captivating journey through time and civilization.

“If you can't swallow your pride, you can't lead. Even the highest mountain had animals that step on it.”― Jack Weatherford, Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World

"The Way to Love" by Anthony de Mello offers profound spiritual insights and guidance on the path to inner peace and self-discovery. De Mello's teachings draw from various spiritual traditions and encourage readers to cultivate mindfulness, compassion, and self-awareness. This timeless book serves as a roadmap to a more meaningful and fulfilling life.

“Of what use is it to be tolerant of others if you are convinced that you are right and everyone who disagrees with you is wrong? That isn’t tolerance but condescension.”― Anthony de Mello, The Way to Love: The Last Meditations of Anthony de Mello

Building on the wisdom of "The Four Agreements," "The Fifth Agreement" introduces a new perspective on personal growth and transformation. Don Miguel Ruiz, Don Jose Ruiz, and Janet Mills invite readers to question their own beliefs and be open to new possibilities. This book offers practical insights for living a life of authenticity and self-awareness.

“the mastery of transformation is the process of unlearning what you have already learned. You learn by making agreements, and you unlearn by breaking agreements.”― Miguel Ruiz, The Fifth Agreement: A Practical Guide to Self-Mastery

"Empty Planet" challenges conventional demographic predictions by suggesting that global population growth may peak sooner than expected. Darrell Bricker's research-driven narrative explores the implications of this demographic shift for societies, economies, and the environment. The book encourages readers to reevaluate their perceptions of population trends and their impact on the world.

“On a farm, a child is an investment—an extra pair of hands to milk the cow, or shoulders to work the fields. But in a city a child is a liability, just another mouth to feed.”― Darrell Bricker, Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline

Sy Montgomery's "The Soul of an Octopus" is a mesmerizing exploration of the natural world, focusing on the intelligence and consciousness of octopuses. Through vivid storytelling and scientific observation, Montgomery invites readers to discover the wonders of marine life and the profound connections that can exist between humans and other species. This book is a celebration of curiosity and empathy.

“A lion is a mammal like us; an octopus is put together completely differently, with three hearts, a brain that wraps around its throat, and a covering of slime instead of hair. Even their blood is a different color from ours; it’s blue, because copper, not iron, carries its oxygen.”― Sy Montgomery, The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness

Navy SEALs Jocko Willink and Leif Babin share their experiences and leadership principles in "Extreme Ownership." Drawing from their combat missions and military training, they offer valuable lessons on taking full responsibility for one's actions and leading with discipline and accountability. The book provides actionable insights for leaders in any field.

“Extreme Ownership. Leaders must own everything in their world. There is no one else to blame.”― Jocko Willink, Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win

Leslie Jamison's collection of essays in "Make It Scream, Make It Burn" offers a wide-ranging exploration of the human condition. Her thought-provoking writing covers diverse topics, including twins, reincarnation, and the power of photography to shape our perceptions. Jamison's eloquent prose and deep insights make this book a captivating read for those who appreciate reflective and introspective literature.

“Sometimes I feel I owe a stranger nothing, and then I feel I owe him everything; because he fought and I didn't, because I dismissed him or misunderstood him, because I forgot, for a moment, that his life - like everyone else's - holds more than I could ever possibly see.”― Leslie Jamison, Make It Scream, Make It Burn

In "A Short History of Progress," Ronald Wright takes readers on a sobering journey through human history. He argues that the patterns of civilization's rise and fall are repeating themselves, posing existential challenges to our modern world. Wright's book serves as a cautionary tale, urging us to consider the long-term consequences of our actions on the planet and our future.

“John Steinbeck once said that socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”― Ronald Wright, A Short History of Progress

"Conscious" by Annaka Harris explores the enigmatic nature of consciousness. Drawing on insights from neuroscience, philosophy, and psychology, Harris provides a concise yet illuminating guide to one of the most fundamental mysteries of the human experience. The book encourages readers to contemplate the nature of their own consciousness and its implications for our understanding of reality.

“Our experience of consciousness is so intrinsic to who we are, we rarely notice that something mysterious is going on. Consciousness is experience itself, and it is therefore easy to miss the profound question staring us in the face in each moment: Why would any collection of matter in the universe be conscious?”― Annaka Harris, Conscious: A Brief Guide to the Fundamental Mystery of the Mind

Joachim-Ernst Berendt's "The World Is Sound" delves into the profound relationship between music and consciousness. This captivating book explores the spiritual and cultural significance of sound in various traditions. Berendt invites readers to appreciate the transformative power of music and its ability to shape our perception of the world.

Jim Dethmer and Diana Chapman's "The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership" offers a comprehensive roadmap for personal and organizational growth. The book provides practical guidance on leading with authenticity, cultivating self-awareness, and fostering healthy relationships. It empowers leaders to create a culture of conscious leadership that promotes collaboration and personal development.

“At any particular time, leaders are operating from either fear or love. This”― Jim Dethmer, The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership: A New Paradigm for Sustainable Success

"Finite and Infinite Games" by James P. Carse introduces readers to a philosophical exploration of life as a game. Carse distinguishes between finite games, which have defined rules and endpoints, and infinite games, which are open-ended and driven by a different set of principles. This book challenges readers to reconsider their approach to competition, creativity, and the pursuit of purpose.

“To be prepared against surprise is to be trained. To be prepared for surprise is to be educated.”― James P. Carse, Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility

"Working" by Robert Caro offers a behind-the-scenes look at the life and work of one of the most renowned biographers of our time. Caro shares his insights into the art of researching and writing biographies, drawing from his extensive experience. This book provides aspiring writers and historians with valuable lessons on storytelling, dedication, and the pursuit of excellence.

“In my defense: while I am aware that there is no Truth, no objective truth, no single truth, no truth simple or unsimple, either; no verity, eternal or otherwise; no Truth about anything, there are Facts, objective facts, discernible and verifiable. And the more facts you accumulate, the closer you come to whatever truth there is.”― Robert A. Caro, Working

"Attached" by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller explores attachment theory and its impact on romantic relationships. The authors categorize individuals into attachment styles and explain how these styles influence behavior and communication in relationships. This book empowers readers to better understand themselves and their partners, leading to healthier and more fulfilling connections.

“Instead of thinking how you can change yourself in order to please your partner, as so many relationship books advise, think: Can this person provide what I need in order to be happy?”― Amir Levine, Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love

Nassim Nicholas Taleb's "Skin in the Game" challenges conventional thinking about risk and responsibility. Taleb argues that individuals should have a personal stake or "skin in the game" when making decisions that affect others. He explores the concept across various domains, from finance to politics, and encourages readers to critically evaluate decision-makers and institutions.

“The curse of modernity is that we are increasingly populated by a class of people who are better at explaining than understanding, or better at explaining than doing.”― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life

In "The Devil's Financial Dictionary," Jason Zweig takes a humorous and insightful approach to demystifying the world of finance and investing. Through witty definitions and clever commentary, Zweig offers readers an entertaining and educational journey into the complexities of financial terminology and the pitfalls of the investment world.

“Every profession is a conspiracy against the laity, and every profession’s jargon is meant to confuse and exclude those who aren’t part of the guild.”― Jason Zweig, The Devil's Financial Dictionary

"How to Do Nothing" by Jenny Odell is a timely exploration of our increasingly distracted and attention-driven world. Odell encourages readers to reclaim their time and attention from the "attention economy" by engaging in meaningful activities, connecting with their surroundings, and nurturing their creativity. This book offers practical strategies for living a more intentional and fulfilling life in the digital age.

“Our very idea of productivity is premised on the idea of producing something new, whereas we do not tend to see maintenance and care as productive in the same way.”― Jenny Odell, How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy


If you enjoyed these book recommendations, check out more similar list on my on my blog —

Matthew Mullenweg's list of the "25 Best Nonfiction Books of All Time" encompasses a rich tapestry of subjects, from philosophy and science to leadership and personal development.

Each book on this list offers a unique perspective, inviting readers to expand their horizons, challenge their assumptions, and embark on a journey of intellectual and personal growth.

Happy reading!


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