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
(American Literary Icon Who Was Known for His Straightforward Prose & Use of Understatement)

Ernest Hemingway
4
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
(Abolitionist, Social Reformer)

Frederick Douglass
4
Birthdate: 1818 AD
Birthplace: Talbot County, Maryland, United States
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
(Famous for Her Books 'The Bell Jar' and 'Ariel')

Sylvia Plath
4
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
(Author Best Known for His Novel 'Go Tell It on the Mountain')

James Baldwin
4
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.

David Foster Wallace
4
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.

 6 
Truman Capote
(Known for His Novella “Breakfast at Tiffany's” and Non-Fiction Novel “In Cold Blood”)

Truman Capote
4
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.

 7 
Henry David Thoreau
(Naturalist, Philosopher & Author Of 'Walden')

Henry David Thoreau
4
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
(Famous For his Essay 'Nature' and Speech Entitled 'The American Scholar')

Ralph Waldo Emerson
4
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 
Stephen King
(A Prolific & Immensely Popular Author of Horror Fiction)

Stephen King
4
Birthdate: September 21, 1947
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Portland, Maine, United States

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.

 10 
Bob Woodward
(Journalist)

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

 11 

Caroline Kennedy
4
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.

 12 
Ta-Nehisi Coates
(Author and Journalist Known for His Non-Fiction Books: ‘The Beautiful Struggle’ and ‘Between the World and Me’)

Ta-Nehisi Coates
4
Birthdate: September 30, 1975
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.

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.

 13 
James Watson
(Molecular Biologist Who Co-discovered the Double Helix Structure of DNA With Francis Crick)

James Watson
4
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.

 14 
Dale Carnegie
(Self-Help Writer, Motivational Guru, Public Speaker)

Dale Carnegie
4
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.

 15 

Michelle McNamara
4
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.

 16 
Dinesh D'Souza
(Known for His Documentary Film '2016: Obama’s America', an Anti-barack Obama Polemic)

Dinesh D'Souza
4
Birthdate: April 25, 1961
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Born to Goan Christians in Bombay, Dinesh D'Souza later moved to the U.S. for higher studies. The Indian-American right-wing filmmaker and writer is known for his anti-Obama documentary 2016: Obama's America. Convicted of illegal campaign contribution, he was later pardoned by Trump. He was also associated with an adultery scandal.

 17 
Woody Guthrie
(Singer-songwriter)

Woody Guthrie
4
Birthdate: July 14, 1912
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Okemah, Oklahoma, United States
Died: October 3, 1967
Legendary folk singer Woody Guthrie is best remembered for his songs such as This Land Is Your Land and Cocaine Blues, and the concept album Dust Bowl Ballads. He inspired artists such as Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, and performed with a guitar labeled “This machine kills fascists.”

 18 

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

 19 
Susan Sontag
(Writer and Filmmaker, Best Known for her Essay 'Notes on 'Camp')

Susan Sontag
4
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. 

 20 
Jon Krakauer
(Journalist, Explorer, Writer)

Jon Krakauer
4
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.

 21 
Rachel Carson
(Marine biologist)

Rachel Carson
3
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.

 22 

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

 23 
Rick Riordan
(Author)

Rick Riordan
4
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.

 24 
Tom Wolfe
(American author)

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

 25 
Jordan Belfort
(Author of 'The Wolf of Wall Street')

Jordan Belfort
4
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.

 26 

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

 27 
Betty Friedan
(Feminist, Writer)

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

 28 
Taya Kyle
(Activist, Author)

Taya Kyle
4
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.

 29 
Michael Pollan
(Author, Journalist)

Michael Pollan
3
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.

 30 
Stanley A McChrystal
(Retired Armed Force Officer)

Stanley A McChrystal
4
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.

 31 
Edward Said
(Professor)

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

 32 
Michio Kaku
(Theoretical Physicist and Author of the Best-Selling Books ‘Physics of the Impossible’ and ‘Physics of the Future')

Michio Kaku
4
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.

 33 
Christina Crawford
(Author, Actress)

Christina Crawford
4
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.

 34 
Howard Zinn
(Historian)

Howard Zinn
3
Birthdate: August 24, 1922
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: January 27, 2010

Born into a Jewish working-class, immigrant family in Brooklyn, Howard Zinn was initially dragged into communism. He was part of the U.S. Army during World War II and later established himself as a historian. Of his many books, the most popular has been A People's History of the United States.

 35 
Jared Diamond
(Scientist & Author)

Jared Diamond
3
Birthdate: September 10, 1937
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

 36 
Andy Cohen
(Television Show Host)

Andy Cohen
3
Birthdate: June 2, 1968
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri, United States
TV producer Andy Cohen is best known as the host and executive producer of Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen. He is the first openly gay host of a late-night talk show. He hosts Radio Andy and has produced shows such as Top Chef and the Real Housewives franchise.

 37 
Brene Brown
(Researcher Known in Particular for Her Research on Shame, Vulnerability, and Leadership)

Brene Brown
4
Birthdate: November 18, 1965
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: San Antonio, Texas, United States

Apart from being a University of Houston research professor, Brene Brown has also been a successful author of New York Times bestsellers such as Braving the Wilderness, and a podcast host. She also has a lecture featured on Netflix, while her Ted Talk is one of the world’s top-five most-viewed. 

 38 

Joseph Campbell
4
Birthdate: March 26, 1904
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: White Plains, New York, United States
Died: October 30, 1987
Joseph Campbell taught literature at the Sarah Lawrence College and specialized in comparative mythology and comparative religion. His notable works include The Hero with a Thousand Faces and the four-volume Historical Atlas of World Mythology. He also worked on the miniseries, The Power of Myth, with Bill Moyers.

 39 
Betty Ford
(Former First Lady of the United States)

Betty Ford
4
Birthdate: April 8, 1918
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: July 8, 2011

Betty Ford served as the First Lady of the US from 1974 to 1977. One of the most popular First Ladies in history, Ford was a passionate supporter of abortion rights and worked towards raising breast cancer awareness. She commented on topics like sex, drugs, abortion, and equal pay. In 1991, she was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

 40 
Bill Bryson
(Writer)

Bill Bryson
4
Birthdate: December 8, 1951
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Des Moines, Iowa, United States
Best known for his books on travel, travel, languages, and science, Bill Bryson had been a journalist before he ventured into writing. Notes From a Small Island gained him the initial attention, while the award-winning and bestselling A Short History of Nearly Everything established him as a seasoned author.

 41 
Richard Wright
(Novelist)

Richard Wright
3
Birthdate: September 4, 1908
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Roxie, Mississippi, United States
Died: November 28, 1960

 42 

Hill Harper
4
Birthdate: May 17, 1966
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Iowa City, Iowa, USA

 43 

Robert Graysmith
3
Birthdate: September 17, 1942
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Pensacola, Florida, United States
Author Robert Graysmith initially worked as a cartoonist for the San Francisco Chronicle. He soon became obsessed with the Zodiac Killer case and worked on it for 13 years, eventually writing the book Zodiac, which was made into a film later. Graysmith wrote several other true-crime books, too.

Dave Eggers
3
Birthdate: March 12, 1970
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Dave Eggers is an American writer, publisher, and editor. He is credited with founding a non-profit publishing house named McSweeney's Publishing and a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization called ScholarMatch. Eggers is also credited with co-founding other non-profit organizations like 826 Valencia and Voice of Witness. His novels A Hologram for the King and The Circle have been adapted into movies.

 45 

Michael Connelly
3
Birthdate: July 21, 1956
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

 46 
Samantha Bee
(Comedienne, Actress, Writer and Television Host)

Samantha Bee
4
Birthdate: October 25, 1969
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Toronto, Canada

Samantha Bee is a Canadian-American political commentator, television host, comedienne, producer, and writer. Bee achieved international recognition for her 12-year tenure as a correspondent on the late-night talk and satirical news program The Daily Show. In 2017, she was named in Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world list. In 2017, she also won a Primetime Emmy Award.

 47 
Napoleon Hill
(Writer of personal-success literature)

Napoleon Hill
3
Birthdate: October 26, 1883
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Pound, Virginia
Died: November 8, 1970

 48 
Jack Parsons
(Researcher)

Jack Parsons
3
Birthdate: October 2, 1914
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States
Died: June 17, 1952

Rocketry pioneer Jack Parsons is best remembered as one of the founders of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He also co-established the Aerojet Engineering Corporation and developed the first rocket engine that used a propellant. He was also known for his multiple sexual affairs and sex cult rituals.

 49 
Ben Stein
(Writer, Actor, Lawyer)

Ben Stein
3
Birthdate: November 25, 1944
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States
Ben Stein initially worked as a speechwriter for American presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. He then plunged into the entertainment world, starring in films such as Ferris Bueller's Day Off and hosting shows such as Win Ben Stein's Money. He also appeared as Arthur Neuman in The Mask franchise.

 50 
Thomas Kuhn
(Philosopher)

Thomas Kuhn
3
Birthdate: July 18, 1922
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Died: June 17, 1996

American philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn is noted for his book on history of science, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, publication of which marked a significant event in the history, philosophy, and sociology of science. He presented his notion of paradigm shift and identified and elaborated on normal science in this book which remained influential in academic and popular circles.