Famous American Non-Fiction Writers

What can be more joyous than re-reading your favorite book for the nth time just because you love it so much? Reading, as any book lover will tell you, is therapeutic and when it is from the stable of one of your most favorite writers, the joy just doubles up. Whether you are looking for inspiration or just need something to read during your downtime, we have got America’s best non-fiction writers covered for you. Here is an extensive list of must-read American non-fiction writers who deserve to be in the wish list of all book lovers. Some new, some old, some you've no doubt already read, these non-fiction writers were, are and will always list on top of every book lover’s catalogue. Now only if you thought non-fiction was stranger and boring than fantasy and fiction, make out time to check out the work by some of these great writers. But before that, don’t miss out to delve into the biography, trivia and facts about America’s famous non-fiction writers.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite American Non-Fiction Writers

 1 Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway
4
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: July 21, 1899
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Oak Park, Illinois, United States
Died: July 2, 1961

Ernest Hemingway was an American novelist and short-story writer who had a strong impact on 20th-century fiction. He published seven novels and six short-story collections and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea are some of his classic works. He ended his own life in July 1961.

 2 Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass
4
Famous As: American orator
Birthdate: February 1, 1818
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Talbot County, Maryland, U.S
Died: February 20, 1895

Social reformer and abolitionist, Frederick Douglass was a national leader of the abolitionist movement in Massachusetts and New York. Born into slavery, he had a difficult early life. Eventually, he managed to escape and dedicated the rest of his life to promoting the cause of abolition. He was a great orator and writer.

 3 Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath
4
Famous As: Poet, Novelist
Birthdate: October 27, 1932
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: February 11, 1963

Sylvia Plath was an American short-story writer, novelist, and poet. Plath is credited with popularizing confessional poetry and won a posthumous Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. Sylvia Plath achieved popularity and critical acclaim despite suffering from clinical depression for the most part of her adult life. Her story inspired the 2003 film Sylvia in which she was portrayed by Gwyneth Paltrow.

 4 James Baldwin

James Baldwin
4
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: August 2, 1924
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Harlem, New York, United States
Died: December 1, 1987

Amongst the greatest writers of the 20th century and a leading literary voice in the civil rights movement, James Baldwin extensively explored issues like race, sexuality and humanity in his work. His best known work include his debut novel Go Tell It on the Mountain and his books of essays Notes of a Native Son and Nobody Knows My Name.

 5 Truman Capote

Truman Capote
4
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: September 30, 1924
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Died: August 25, 1984
Truman Capote is best known for his novella Breakfast at Tiffany's, which was made into a movie that starred Audrey Hepburn, and the non-fiction novel In Cold Blood. His short story Shut a Final Door won the O. Henry Award. He was a lifelong friend of author Harper Lee.

 6 David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace
4
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: February 21, 1962
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Ithaca, New York, United States
Died: September 12, 2008

David Foster Wallace was an American author who is regarded as one of the most innovative and influential writers of the past 20 years. His best-known work, Infinite Jest, was named one of the best English-language novels between 1923 and 2005 by Time magazine. Wallace continues to serve as an inspiration to writers like Darin Strauss and George Saunders.

 7 Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau
4
Famous As: Poet, Naturalist, Essayist
Birthdate: July 12, 1817
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Concord, Massachusetts, United States
Died: May 6, 1862

Henry David Thoreau was an American philosopher, essayist, poet, and naturalist. He is credited with popularizing transcendentalism and simple living. His philosophy of civil disobedience, which was detailed in his essay of the same name, later influenced world-renowned personalities like Leo Tolstoy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Mahatma Gandhi.

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 8 Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson
4
Famous As: Essayist
Birthdate: May 25, 1803
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: April 27, 1882

Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American philosopher who led the transcendentalist movement that developed in the eastern United States in the 1820s and 1830s. He is credited with popularizing individualism through his numerous lectures and essays. Emerson influenced many thinkers and writers that followed him; he mentored Henry David Thoreau, who went on to become a leading transcendentalist.

 9 Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell
4
Famous As: Writer, Journalist
Birthdate: September 3, 1963
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Fareham, Hampshire, England
Malcolm Gladwell is best known for his bestselling books The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers. He has also written for The New Yorker and The Washington Post. His writings encompass subjects such as psychology, economics, and sociology. Gladwell has also co-founded a podcast company and hosts the podcast Revisionist History.

 10 Stephen King

Stephen King
4
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: September 21, 1947
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Portland, Maine

One of the most popular American authors, Stephen King has sold over 350 million copies of his works. Many of his books have been adapted into television series, miniseries, and films. One of the most decorated authors, King believes in giving back to society as he and his wife are noted philanthropists.

 11 Jordan Belfort

Jordan Belfort
4
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: July 9, 1962
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: The Bronx, New York, United States
The former stock broker, who was convicted for stock-market manipulation and cheating several investors, Jordan Belfort spent 22 months in prison before he was released and altered his way of living. Using his life experiences, he became a motivational speaker and also authored two memoirs, one of which, The Wolf of Wall Street, was adapted into an award winning film.

 12 Caroline Kennedy

Caroline Kennedy
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Famous As: Author
Birthdate: November 27, 1957
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Cornell Medical Center Hospital, New York City, New York, U.S.

Caroline Kennedy is an American author, diplomat, and attorney. The only surviving child of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Caroline served as the US Ambassador to Japan between 2013 and 2017. A prolific author who writes about civil liberties, Caroline Kennedy has also served as a spokesperson for the Kennedy family's legacy.

 13 Eartha Kitt

Eartha Kitt
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: January 17, 1927
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: North, South Carolina, United States
Died: December 25, 2008

Eartha Kitt was an American actress, comedian, dancer, and singer-songwriter. Renowned for her distinctive singing style, Kitt recorded several chartbusting songs during the 1950s. Also a well-known activist, Eartha Kitt established a non-profit organization called the Kittsville Youth Foundation, which helped underprivileged youths in Los Angeles. She was also an ardent advocate for same-sex marriage and LGBT rights.

 14 Mick Mars

Mick Mars
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Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: May 4, 1951
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Terre Haute, Indiana, United States
Mick Mars gained fame as the guitarist for the heavy metal band Mötley Crüe and came to be known for his aggressive style of playing the instrument. He has also written songs for bands such as Crashdïet. He has suffered from ankylosing spondylitis since his teenage years. 

 15 Anthony Rapp

Anthony Rapp
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: October 26, 1971
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Joliet, Illinois, USA

 16 James Watson

James Watson
4
Famous As: Molecular Biologist
Birthdate: April 6, 1928
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States

James Watson is a geneticist, molecular biologist, and zoologist. He is credited with co-authoring the academic paper that propounded the double helix structure of nucleic acids such as DNA for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1962. In 1977, he was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 1997, he was awarded the National Medal of Science.

 17 Mackenzie Phillips

Mackenzie Phillips
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: November 10, 1959
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Alexandria, Virginia
Mackenzie Phillips made her acting debut at 12, with American Graffiti. Fans loved her in the series One Day at a Time and So Weird. She has struggled with drug issues and has appeared on Celebrity Rehab. She also confessed to being raped by her father, in her memoir.

 18 Sam Harris

Sam Harris
4
Famous As: Philosopher, Author
Birthdate: April 9, 1967
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: United States of America

One of the "Four Horsemen of Atheism," neuroscientist and author Sam Harris is known for his works on topics such as religion, artificial intelligence, and terrorism. His books include the New York Times bestseller The End of Faith. He hosted the podcast Making Sense and released a meditation app, too.

 19 Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates
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Famous As: Author
Birthdate: September 30, 1975
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, United States

Author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates gained international prominence while serving as the national correspondent at The Atlantic. His writings on socio-political issues related to African Americans and white supremacy garnered him much appreciation. He is a recipient of the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center Prize for Writing to Advance Social Justice. He also writes fiction and comics.

 20 Dale Carnegie

Dale Carnegie
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Famous As: Self-Help Writer, Motivational Guru, Public Speaker
Birthdate: November 24, 1888
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Maryville, Missouri, United States
Died: November 1, 1955
Writer and academic Dale Carnegie is best remembered for his work on courses in areas such as corporate training, self-improvement, and salesmanship. He started his career as a salesperson. He wrote many books, including the international bestseller How to Win Friends and Influence People, and was a successful lecturer, too.

 21 Jon Krakauer

Jon Krakauer
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Famous As: Journalist, Explorer, Writer
Birthdate: April 12, 1954
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Brookline, Massachusetts, United States

Best known for his bestselling novels such as Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer is not just an author who writes about the outdoors but is also a mountaineer himself. He was part of the 1996 expedition to Mt. Everest which witnessed 4 of the team members dying in a storm.

 22 Michelle McNamara

Michelle McNamara
4
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: April 14, 1970
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Oak Park, Illinois, United States
Died: April 21, 2016

True-crime writer, Michelle McNamara, is remembered for coining the name "Golden State Killer" for the serial killer later identified as Joseph James DeAngelo. Sadly, the author died before his identification and arrest. Fascinated by true crime from a young age, she launched her website TrueCrimeDiary in 2006 and dedicated her life to researching and writing about true crime.

 23 Anita Hill

Anita Hill
4
Famous As: Attorney
Birthdate: July 30, 1956
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Morns, Oklahoma, USA

 24 Morris Chestnut

Morris Chestnut
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: January 1, 1969
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Cerritos, California

Actor Morris Chestnut is best known for his role in the film Boyz n the Hood. Beginning his career as a young man, he appeared in a few TV shows before venturing into films. He steadily evolved as an actor and went on to co-star alongside major actors in big-budget films. He has co-authored a book on health and fitness.

 25 Sela Ward

Sela Ward
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: July 11, 1956
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Meridian, Mississippi

Sela Ann Ward is best known for her Emmy-winning role of Teddy Reed in Sisters. She won another Emmy and a Golden Globe for playing Lily Manning in Once and Again. Fans also loved her in the series House and CSI: NY, and the movie The Day After Tomorrow.

 26 Jocko Willink

Jocko Willink
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Famous As: Author
Birthdate: September 8, 1971
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Torrington, Connecticut, United States

Jocko Willink is an American podcaster, author, and retired US Navy officer. Willink, who served in the Navy SEALs, played an important role in the Iraq War. He served as the commanding officer for Task Unit Bruiser, which fought the Iraqi insurgents in Ramadi. He was honored with the Bronze Star and Silver Star Medal for his service.

 27 Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw
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Famous As: Baseball Pitcher
Birthdate: March 19, 1988
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Dallas, Texas, United States

An eight-time MLB All-Star, Clayton Kershaw is an American professional baseball player, often described as the best pitcher in the history of baseball. Also known for his humanitarian work, Clayton Kershaw has been honored with the Branch Rickey Award and Roberto Clemente Award. A prolific donator, Kershaw donated $260,000 to build an orphanage called Hope's Home.

 28 Susan Sontag

Susan Sontag
4
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: January 16, 1933
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: December 28, 2004
Susan Sontag is best known for her essay anthologies such as Against Interpretation and her novels such as In America. She wrote about diverse issues such as human rights, photography, AIDS, and leftist beliefs, and also visited war-torn areas. The National Book Award-winning author was also openly bisexual. 

 29 Cybill Lynne Shepherd

Cybill Lynne Shepherd
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: February 18, 1950
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Cybill Shepherd is best known for her roles in films such as The Heartbreak Kid, Taxi Driver, and Alice. Fans also loved her for her Golden Globe-winning portrayals of Madelyn 'Maddie' Hayes in the series Moonlighting and Cybill Sheridan in the sitcom Cybill. She is a follower of goddess-worshipping Paganism.

 30 Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson
3
Famous As: Marine biologist
Birthdate: May 27, 1907
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Springdale
Died: April 14, 1964

Rachel Carson was a conservationist, marine biologist, and author. She is credited with authoring an influential book titled Silent Spring, which played a significant role in advancing the global environmental movement. Carson is also remembered for her book, The Sea Around Us, which earned her a U.S. National Book Award. She was posthumously honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

 31 Bob Woodward

Bob Woodward
4
Famous As: Journalist
Birthdate: March 26, 1943
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Geneva, Illinois, United States

 32 Gary Burghoff

Gary Burghoff
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: May 24, 1943
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bristol, Connecticut

Gary Burghoff is an American actor who is credited with originating the popular role of Charlie Brown in the 1967 Broadway musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. He is also known for originating the role of Walter Eugene O'Reilly in the 1970 black comedy war movie MASH and the popular TV series of the same name.

 33 Suzanne Somers

Suzanne Somers
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: October 16, 1946
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: San Bruno, California, United States

 34 Taya Kyle

Taya Kyle
4
Famous As: Activist, Author
Birthdate: September 4, 1974
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Portland, Oregon

Taya Kyle is an American political commentator and author. Since the death of her husband US Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, Taya Kyle has been working towards the welfare of military veterans' family. In 2014, she established the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation as part of her work. In the 2014 movie American Sniper, Taya Kyle was played by Sienna Miller.

 35 Betty Friedan

Betty Friedan
3
Famous As: Feminist, Writer
Birthdate: February 4, 1921
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: eoria, Illinois, United States
Died: February 4, 2004

 36 Tom Wolfe

Tom Wolfe
4
Famous As: American author
Birthdate: March 2, 1931
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Richmond, Virginia, United States
Died: March 14, 2018

 37 Rick Riordan

Rick Riordan
4
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: June 5, 1964
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: San Antonio, Texas, United States

Rick Riordan is an author whose Percy Jackson & the Olympians series was adapted into a film series. Known for writing books based on the mythologies of various cultures, Riordan's works have been translated into 42 languages. In the US alone, his books have sold over 30 million copies and he is a two-time winner of Mark Twain Award.

 38 Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin
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Famous As: Author
Birthdate: October 21, 1929
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Berkeley, California, United States
Died: January 22, 2018

Ursula K. Le Guin was an American author. In a career spanning almost six decades, Ursula wrote about political and social themes like race and sexuality. Throughout her career, Ursula had a major influence on speculative fiction. Her book A Wizard of Earthsea is credited with inspiring ideas like 'wizard school', which was later popularized in the Harry Potter series.

 39 Mike Farrell

Mike Farrell
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: February 6, 1939
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Saint Paul, Minnesota

Mike Farrell is an American actor known for playing, Captain B.J. Hunnicutt, in the popular war comedy-drama TV series, M*A*S*H. Farrell's journey from being born into a working-class family to becoming a famous Hollywood actor is quite inspiring. Also a political and social activist, Farrell has worked on several activist campaigns. In 2001, he was honored with PETA's Humanitarian Award.

 40 Delta Burke

Delta Burke
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: July 30, 1956
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Orlando, Florida

Delta Burke is an American actress, author, and producer. She is best known for playing Suzanne Sugarbaker in the popular TV series Designing Women. Despite struggling with issues, such as eating disorders, depression, and overweight, Delta Burke has managed to establish a successful acting career and serves as an inspiration to people suffering from similar problems.

 41 Michael Pollan

Michael Pollan
3
Famous As: Author, Journalist
Birthdate: February 6, 1955
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Long Island, New York, United States
Author and journalist Michael Pollan is best known for his books such as The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food, which talk about the social impact of people’s culinary choices. He has also contributed to The New York Times Magazine and Harper's Magazine, and currently teaches journalism at UCB.

 42 Edward Said

Edward Said
3
Famous As: Professor
Birthdate: November 1, 1935
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Mandatory Palestine
Died: September 25, 2003

 43 Christina Crawford

Christina Crawford
4
Famous As: Author, Actress
Birthdate: June 11, 1939
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, USA
Actor and author Christina Crawford is best known for her memoir Mommie Dearest, which described her relationship with her adoptive mother, movie star Joan Crawford, highlighting the abuse she had been subjected to. It was later adapted into a film. Christina has also appeared in stage productions, films, and series.

 44 Michio Kaku

Michio Kaku
4
Famous As: Physicist who wrote the best-selling books Physics of the Impossible
Birthdate: January 24, 1947
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: San Jose, California, United States

Apart from teaching at the City College of New York, theoretical physicist Michio Kaku also often pens his thoughts in blogs and has written several bestselling books, such as The God Equation. His research is focused on the string theory. He also believes in the existence of aliens.

 45 Kayden Kross

Kayden Kross
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: September 15, 1985
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Sacramento, California, USA

 46 Stanley A McChrystal

Stanley A McChrystal
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Famous As: Retired Armed Force Officer
Birthdate: August 14, 1954
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, United States

Retired United States Army general, Stanley A McChrysta,l is best known for his command of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) during the 2000s. He was described as "perhaps the finest warrior and leader of men in combat I ever met" by Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Following his retirement, he began teaching courses in international relations at Yale University.

 47 Peter Bogdanovich

Peter Bogdanovich
4
Famous As: Director
Birthdate: July 30, 1939
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Kingston, New York, USA

 48 Kennedy Montgomery

Kennedy Montgomery
4
Famous As: Commentator
Birthdate: September 8, 1972
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
Political commentator and host Lisa Kennedy Montgomery, began her career as MTV VJ “Kennedy” on the alternative rock shows 120 Minutes and Alternative Nation. She has authored two books and has also hosted Fox network shows such as Kennedy and Outnumbered. She has also been a panelist on The Five.

 49 Penn Jillette

Penn Jillette
4
Famous As: Magician
Birthdate: March 5, 1955
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Greenfield, Massachusetts, United States

 50 Jared Diamond

Jared Diamond
3
Famous As: Scientist & Author
Birthdate: September 10, 1937
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States