50 Amazing New Nonfiction Books to Kick Off Your Summer Reading
Magazine / 50 Amazing New Nonfiction Books to Kick Off Your Summer Reading

50 Amazing New Nonfiction Books to Kick Off Your Summer Reading

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50 Amazing New Nonfiction Books to Kick Off Your Summer Reading

Every season, the Next Big Idea Club editorial staff reviews dozens of upcoming books to identify the most exciting, must-read nonfiction titles. We start with a broad pool of nominees, and then share them with our curators—Adam Grant, Susan Cain, Daniel Pink, and Malcolm Gladwell—to identify six finalists and, ultimately, two official season selections.

And today, we’re excited to share our list of nominees for Summer 2021. Neither our staff nor our curators have read each and every title below, but we believe that the two best nonfiction books of the season are among them. So if you’re looking for summer reading, the nominees are…


Amazon Unbound: Jeff Bezos and the Invention of a Global Empire

By Brad Stone
Publication Date: May 11, 2021

From the bestselling author of The Everything Store, an unvarnished picture of Amazon’s unprecedented growth and its billionaire founder, Jeff Bezos, revealing the most important business story of our time. View on Amazon


Anthro-Vision: A New Way to See in Business and Life

By Gillian Tett
Publication Date: June 8, 2021

Financial journalist and anthropology PhD Gillian Tett presents a radically different strategy for success: Businesses can revolutionize their understanding of behavior by studying consumers, markets, and organizations through an anthropological lens. View on Amazon


The Ascent of Information: Books, Bits, Genes, Machines, and Life’s Unending Algorithm

By Caleb Scharf
Publication Date: June 15, 2021

Drawing on deep ideas and frontier thinking in evolutionary biology, computer science, information theory, and astrobiology, Caleb Scharf argues that information is, in a very real sense, alive. View on Amazon


Awakening: #MeToo and the Global Fight for Women’s Rights

By Rachel B. Vogelstein and Meighan Stone
Publication Date: July 13, 2021

Bringing together political analysis and inspiring personal stories from women in seven countries, Awakening takes readers to the front lines of a networked movement that’s fundamentally shifting how women organize for their own equality. View on Amazon


Be Who You Want: Unlocking the Science of Personality Change

By Christian Jarrett
Publication Date: May 18, 2021

From cognitive neuroscientist Dr. Christian Jarrett, a fascinating book exploring the science of personality and how we can change ourselves for the better. View on Amazon


Better, Not Bitter: Living on Purpose in the Pursuit of Racial Justice

By Yusef Salaam
Publication Date: May 18, 2021

This inspirational memoir serves as a call to action from prison reform activist Yusef Salaam, of the Exonerated Five, that will inspire us all to turn our stories into tools for change in the pursuit of racial justice. View on Amazon


Brainscapes: The Warped, Wonderous Maps Written in Your Brain—and How They Guide You

By Rebecca Schwarzlose
Publication Date: June 15, 2021

A path-breaking journey into the brain, showing how perception, thought, and action are products of maps etched into your gray matter—and how technology can use them to read your mind. View on Amazon


A Brief History of Earth: Four Billion Years in Eight Chapters

By Andrew H. Knoll
Publication Date: April 27, 2021

Drawing on his decades of field research and up-to-the-minute understanding of the latest science, renowned geologist Andrew H. Knoll delivers a rigorous yet accessible biography of Earth. View on Amazon


Choosing Courage: The Everyday Guide to Being Brave at Work

By Jim Detert
Publication Date: May 18, 2021

An inspirational, practical, and research-based guide for standing up and speaking out skillfully at work. View on Amazon


Convergence: Technology, Business, and the Human-Centric Future

By Deborah Westphal
Publication Date: May 11, 2021

Deborah Westphal, a leader in future-focused strategy, reveals how the interests of people (as human beings, not customers), overlap with those of companies in ways never before seen. View on Amazon


The Cult of We: WeWork, Adam Neumann, and the Great Startup Delusion

By Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell
Publication Date: July 20, 2021

The definitive inside story of WeWork, its audacious founder, and what its epic unraveling says about a financial system drunk on the elixir of Silicon Valley innovation. View on Amazon


Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism

By Amanda Montell
Publication Date: June 15, 2021

The author of the widely praised Wordslut analyzes the social science of cult influence: how cultish groups from Jonestown and Scientology to SoulCycle and social media gurus use language as the ultimate form of power. View on Amazon


Dangerous Ideas: A Brief History of Censorship in the West, from the Ancients to Fake News

By Eric Berkowitz
Publication Date: May 4, 2021

A fascinating examination of how restricting speech has continuously shaped our culture, and how censorship is used as a tool to prop up authorities and maintain class and gender disparities. View on Amazon


Decoding Greatness: How the Best in the World Reverse Engineer Success

By Ron Friedman
Publication Date: June 15, 2021

For readers of Atomic HabitsDeep Work, and Peak comes a game-changing approach to mastering new skills and succeeding faster: reverse engineering. View on Amazon


Dedicated: The Case for Commitment in an Age of Infinite Browsing

By Pete Davis
Publication Date: May 4, 2021

A profoundly inspiring and transformative argument that purposeful commitment can be a powerful force in our age of restlessness and indecision. View on Amazon


Did That Just Happen?!: Beyond “Diversity”―Creating Sustainable and Inclusive Organizations

By Stephanie Pinder-Amaker and Lauren Wadsworth
Publication Date: June 15, 2021

An accessible guide showing all people how to create and sustain diversity and inclusivity in the workplace—no matter your identity, industry, or level of experience. View on Amazon


Digital Body Language: How to Build Trust & Connection No Matter the Distance

By Erica Dhawan
Publication Date: May 11, 2021

Erica Dhawan, a go-to thought leader on collaboration and a passionate communication junkie, combines cutting edge research with engaging storytelling to decode the new signals and cues that have replaced traditional body language across genders, generations, and culture. View on Amazon


Everybody: A Book About Freedom

By Olivia Laing
Publication Date: May 4, 2021

Olivia Laing charts an electrifying course through the long struggle for bodily freedom, using the life of the renegade psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich to explore gay rights and sexual liberation, feminism, and the civil rights movement. View on Amazon


The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain

By Annie Murphy Paul
Publication Date: June 8, 2021

A bold new book reveals how we can tap the intelligence that exists beyond our brains—in our bodies, our surroundings, and our relationships. View on Amazon


Extra Life : A Short History of Living Longer

By Steven Johnson
Publication Date: May 11, 2021

The surprising story of how humans gained what amounts to an extra life, from the bestselling author of How We Got to Now and Where Good Ideas Come From. View on Amazon


Framers: Human Advantage in an Age of Technology and Turmoil

By Kenneth Cukier, Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, and Francis de Véricourt
Publication Date: May 11, 2021

Framers shows how framing is not just a way to improve how we make decisions in the era of algorithms—but why it will be a matter of survival for humanity in a time of societal upheaval and machine prosperity. View on Amazon


Friendship in the Age of Loneliness: An Optimist’s Guide to Connection

By Adam Smiley Poswolsky
Publication Date: May 4, 2021

This refreshing, positive guide helps you take care of your people and form deep connections in the digital age. View on Amazon


The Great Guide: What David Hume Can Teach Us about Being Human and Living Well

By Julian Baggini
Publication Date: May 25, 2021

In this enthralling book, Julian Baggini masterfully interweaves biography with intellectual history and philosophy to give us a complete vision of Hume’s guide to life. View on Amazon


The Happiest Man on Earth: The Beautiful Life of an Auschwitz Survivor

By Eddie Jaku
Publication Date: May 4, 2021

In this uplifting memoir in the vein of The Last Lecture and Man’s Search for Meaning, a Holocaust survivor pays tribute to those who were lost by telling his story, sharing his wisdom, and living his best possible life. View on Amazon


The Heart of Business: Leadership Principles for the Next Era of Capitalism

By Hubert Joly
Publication Date: May 4, 2021

Hubert Joly, former CEO of Best Buy and orchestrator of the retailer’s spectacular turnaround, unveils his personal playbook for achieving extraordinary outcomes by putting people and purpose at the heart of business. View on Amazon


How to Change: The Science of Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be

By Katy Milkman
Publication Date: May 4, 2021

Award-winning Wharton professor Katy Milkman reveals a proven path that can take you from where you are to where you want to be. View on Amazon


How to Raise Kids Who Aren’t Assholes: Science-Based Strategies for Better Parenting—from Tots to Teens

By Melinda Wenner Moyer
Publication Date: July 20, 2021

A clear, actionable, sometimes humorous (but always science-based) guide for parents on how to shape their kids into honest, kind, generous, confident, independent, and resilient people. View on Amazon


Let’s Talk About Hard Things

By Anna Sale
Publication Date: May 4, 2021

Diving into five of the most fraught conversation topics—death, sex, money, family, and identity—Sale moves between memoir, snapshots of Americans opening up about their lives, and expert opinions to show why having tough conversations is important, and how to do them in a thoughtful way. View on Amazon


License to Parent: How My Career as a Spy Helped Me Raise Resourceful, Self-Sufficient Kids

By Christina Hillsberg with Ryan Hillsberg
Publication Date:

Told through honest and relatable parenting anecdotes, Christina shares their distinctive approach to raising confident, security-conscious, resilient children, giving practical takeaways rooted in CIA tradecraft along the way. View on Amazon


Life on the Line: Young Doctors Come of Age in a Pandemic

By Emma Goldberg
Publication Date: June 8, 2021

The gripping account of six young doctors enlisted to fight COVID-19, an engrossing, eye-opening book in the tradition of both Sheri Fink’s Five Days at Memorial and Scott Turow’s One L. View on Amazon


No One Succeeds Alone: Learn Everything You Can from Everyone You Can

By Robert Reffkin
Publication Date: May 4, 2021

The inspirational story of Compass CEO Robert Reffkin, whose mother, mentors, and search for belonging taught him valuable lessons that anyone can use to improve their own quality of life. View on Amazon


Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgement

By Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, and Cass Sunstein
Publication Date: May 18, 2021

From the Nobel Prize-winning author of Thinking, Fast and Slow and the coauthor of Nudge, a revolutionary exploration of why people make bad judgments and how to make better ones. View on Amazon


Numbers Don’t Lie: 71 Stories to Help Us Understand the Modern World

By Vaclav Smil
Publication Date: May 4, 2021

An essential guide to understanding how numbers reveal the true state of our world—exploring a wide range of topics including energy, the environment, technology, transportation, and food production. View on Amazon


On Violence and On Violence Against Women

By Jacqueline Rose
Publication Date: May 18, 2021

A blazingly insightful, provocative study of violence against women from the peerless feminist critic. View on Amazon


The Politics of Our Time: Populism, Nationalism, Socialism

By John B. Judis
Publication Date: May 11, 2021

A one-volume history of the most consequential political movements of our time—populism, nationalism, socialism—and how they are influencing the twenty-first century. View on Amazon


The Power of Giving Away Power: How the Best Leaders Learn to Let Go

By Matthew Barzun
Publication Date: June 1, 2021

Barzun brilliantly layers lessons from American history and business with insights from his career in tech, politics, and diplomacy to show how we can lead meaningful change in our companies, communities, and even our nations. View on Amazon


The Power of Strangers: The Benefits of Connecting in a Suspicious World

By Joe Keohane
Publication Date: July 13, 2021

An inspiring look at why we don’t talk to strangers, what happens when we do, and why it affects everything from our own health and well-being to the rise and fall of nations. View on Amazon


The Power of Trust: How Companies Build It, Lose It, Regain It

By Sandra J. Sucher and Shalene Gupta
Publication Date: July 6, 2021

A groundbreaking exploration of the changing nature of trust, and how to bridge the gap from where you are to where you need to be. View on Amazon


The Premonition: A Pandemic Story

By Michael Lewis
Publication Date: May 4, 2021

Michael Lewis’s taut and brilliant nonfiction thriller pits a band of medical visionaries against the wall of ignorance that was the official response of the Trump administration to the outbreak of COVID-19. View on Amazon


The Profit Paradox: How Thriving Firms Threaten the Future of Work

By Jan Eeckhout
Publication Date: June 1, 2021

A pioneering account of the surging global tide of market power―and how it stifles workers around the world. View on Amazon


The Reason for the Darkness of the Night: Edgar Allan Poe and the Forging of American Science

By John Tresch
Publication Date: June 15, 2021

An innovative biography of Edgar Allan Poe―highlighting his fascination and feuds with science. View on Amazon


The Science of Can and Can’t: A Physicist’s Journey Through the Land of Counterfactuals

By Chiara Marletto
Publication Date: May 4, 2021

From a young British scientist, a groundbreaking exploration of a radically different approach to physics. View on Amazon


The Sea We Swim In: How Stories Work in a Data-Driven World

By Frank Rose
Publication Date: June 29, 2021

Building on insights from cognitive psychology and neuroscience, Rose shows us how to see the world in narrative terms, not as a thesis to be argued or a pitch to be made but as a story to be told. View on Amazon


A Sense of Self: Memory, the Brain, and Who We Are

By Victoria O’Keane
Publication Date: May 25, 2021

Drawing on poignant accounts that include her own experiences—as well as insights from literature, fairytales, and the latest neuroscientific research—O’Keane reframes our understanding of the extraordinary puzzle that is the human brain. View on Amazon


Shape: The Hidden Geometry of Information, Biology, Strategy, Democracy, and Everything Else

By Jordan Ellenberg
Publication Date: May 25, 2021

From the New York Times-bestselling author of How Not to Be Wrong—himself a world-class geometer—a far-ranging exploration of the power of geometry, which turns out to help us think better about practically everything. View on Amazon


Sidecountry: Tales of Death and Life from the Back Roads of Sports

By John Branch
Publication Date: June 1, 2021

Breathtaking tales of climbers and hunters, runners and racers, winners and losers by the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter. View on Amazon


Stupid Things I Won’t Do When I Get Old: A Highly Judgmental, Unapologetically Honest Accounting of All the Things Our Elders Are Doing Wrong

By Steven Petrow
Publication Date: June 29, 2021

For fans of David Sedaris and Nora Ephron, a humorous, irreverent, and poignant look at the gifts, stereotypes, and inevitable challenges of aging. View on Amazon


Super Founders: What Data Reveals About Billion-Dollar Startups

By Ali Tamaseb
Publication Date: May 18, 2021

Super Founders uses a data-driven approach to understand what really differentiates billion-dollar startups from the rest—revealing that nearly everything we thought was true about them is false. View on Amazon


This Is Your Mind on Plants

By Michael Pollan
Publication Date: July 6, 2021

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Michael Pollan, a radical challenge to how we think about drugs, and an exploration into the powerful human attraction to psychoactive plants—and the equally powerful taboos. View on Amazon


The Truth About Lies: The Illusion of Honesty and the Evolution of Deceit

By Aja Raden
Publication Date: May 11, 2021

Buttressed by history, psychology, and science, The Truth About Lies is both an eye-opening primer on con-artistry―from pyramid schemes to shell games, forgery to hoaxes―and also a telescopic view of society through the mechanics of belief. View on Amazon


Wanting: The Power of Mimetic Desire in Everyday Life

By Luke Burgis
Publication Date: June 1, 2021

A groundbreaking exploration of why we want what we want, and a toolkit for freeing ourselves from chasing unfulfilling desires. View on Amazon


Wasted: How We Squander Time, Money, and Resources—and What We Can Do About It

By Byron Reese and Scott Hoffman
Publication Date:

A riveting exploration of the complicated, and often surprising, ways that waste occurs in our businesses, our communities, and our lives. View on Amazon


The Way Out: How to Overcome Toxic Polarization

By Peter T. Coleman
Publication Date: April 21, 2021

Social psychologist Peter T. Coleman explores how conflict resolution and complexity science provide guidance for dealing with seemingly intractable political differences. View on Amazon


Wellbeing at Work: How to Build Resilient and Thriving Teams

By Jim Clifton and Jim Harter
Publication Date: May 4, 2021

Coauthored by Gallup’s CEO and its Chief Workplace Scientist, Wellbeing at Work explores the five key elements of wellbeing—career, social, financial, physical and community—and how organizations can help employees and teams thrive in those elements. View on Amazon


Winning: The Unforgiving Race to Greatness

By Tim S. Grover
Publication Date: May 18, 2021

From the elite performance coach whose clients have included Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Dwyane Wade, comes this brutally honest formula for winning in business, sports, or any arena where competition is fiercely unforgiving. View on Amazon

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