33 Feel Good Nonfiction Books for Beginners

Best Feel Good Nonfiction Books

We know that if you are a fiction reader, choosing good nonfiction books can be intimidating. Sometimes, you want a nonfiction book that reads like a gripping novel which can be hard to find. We have read so many great nonfiction books that we wanted to take the guesswork out of picking your next read.

We like to call this list nonfiction books for beginners. We compiled our favorite nonfiction books that are feel-good. They are uplifting in the end and will leave you feeling like you just read a fantastic novel!

*Feel Good Nonfiction books Post contains affiliate links. Purchases made through links result in a small commission to us at no cost to you. Some books have been gifted. All opinions are our own.

Table of Contents

This post fulfills a prompt for the 2024 reading challenge! It’s not too late to join!

Our Closet In Your Neighborhood clients are participating in this year’s reading challenge. Please consider donating books through our independent bookstore partner.

Good Non-Fiction Books

Feel Good Nonfiction Books About the Entertainment Industry

queens of animation

The Queens of Animation by Nathalia Holt

This nonfiction old Hollywood book sheds light on the talent of Disney’s pioneering female animators and the struggles they faced in a male-dominated field. I loved learning about these incredible women – like Mary Blair who created the art for the “It’s a Small World” ride. ⁣

I was appalled by the disparate treatment female in the animation field received, but I was also impressed by their gumption. The author does a tremendous job of showing their struggles but also how these women shaped animation as we know it. If you are looking for non-fiction books like Lessons in Chemistry, this is a fantastic pick.

I was heartened to see just how far they have come. The book ends with Frozen and you can clearly see the studio’s growth.⁣ This is an amazing, feel-good nonfiction book about art.

Sunny Days

Sunny Days by David Kamp

This non-fiction book about the 70s tells the history of two iconic shows, Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street, with different approaches to teaching children through television.⁣

I enjoyed reliving parts of my childhood as I eagerly looked up the songs and skits referenced in this book. The behind-the-scenes look added even more magic to the shows I know and love.⁣ 

I had no idea that the advent of children’s TV was so politically charged, but I learned that and so much more in this book.⁣ I also learned just how little our world has changed around racism and schooling in the time since these programs started. This is one of the best nonfiction books for beginners.

the good neighbor

The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers by Maxwell King

This is such an amazing story of an amazing man unlike any other.  He was a man central to the development of educational children’s television. 

Fred was kind, caring, compassionate, and a champion for equality.  He was devoted to children and addressing their educational, social, and emotional needs. I could personally relate to parts of his life during the time when he lived in Toronto. 

This book is so well written and so easy to listen to despite the fact that it is not my usual genre (non-fiction). Levar Burton narrates and I love hearing him read- it brings me back to my childhood (Reading Rainbow). This is one of the best feel-good nonfiction books I have ever read.

Nonfiction Books for Beginners: Transportation

come fly the world

Come Fly The World by Julia Cooke

In this delightful book, I learned about uniforms, training, frolicking adventures, and the glamorous life in the air that had me picturing Gwyneth Paltrow in View From the Top.

It also discussed far more serious topics like hijackers, Vietnam War flights and rescues, and issues of discrimination toward women.

Why I Loved it: Jackie and I talked with Julia about the research of this book, what surprised her most, and other fun things over on IG. Be sure to check it out.

Find this book in Nonfiction Books for Beginners / Plane Books / Books set in the 70s / Best Nonfiction Books

The Day the World Came to Town

The Day the World Came to Town by Jim DeFede

Did you know the town of Gander, Newfoundland, took in 6,500 people on planes that had to have emergency landings after 9/11? I didn’t until I read this story, which also inspired the show Come From Away.

The townspeople were so welcoming and kind. It’s like Mr. Rodgers says – always look for the helpers.

Why I Loved it: I sobbed through this entire story. This non-fiction book was poignant and hopeful at the same time. It will keep you in the grip of its pages.

Find this book in Plane Books / Feel Good Nonfiction / Books to Emotionally Wreck You /

Maiden Voyages

Maiden Voyages by Sian Evans

Maiden Voyages looks at the ladies who worked Ocean Liners like the Titanic and the unbelievable challenges they faced. I was in awe as I listened to this story of ships being sunk by icebergs and wartime submarines. 

The stories of unruly passengers, hurricanes, and the sacrifices of leaving their families to help others were unbelievable. I was so engrossed that I kept forgetting the book was non-fiction.

Why We Love it: If you love women’s history, the history of travel, or stories about the Titanic, this is the book for you!

Find this book in Books Set in the 1920s / Gilded Age Books / Books like Downton Abbey / Feel-Good Nonfiction / Boat Books

Feel Good Nonfiction Books: Memoirs

41w7D5pe1SL

My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business by Dick Van Dyke

I tackled this memoir back in 2020. Dick Van Dyke is an American icon that I’ve loved since Mary Poppins. I knew I had to read this non-fiction Old Hollywood book.

Dick Van Dyke’s narration of his own memoir brought it to life. I had no idea about so many of the darker parts of his life, including his struggle with alcohol.⁣⁣ He’s such a mainstay in the glamourous age of Hollywood and his story is inspiring. It is a perfect pick from feel-good nonfiction books.

Talking as Fast as I can

Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham

I love Lauren Graham because, in my mind, she’s Lorelai Gilmore. So the fact that this book was billed as a memoir that revolved a great deal around my beloved show had me signing up to listen.

I found Graham’s rise to stardom to be an interesting one, but it was the behind-the-scenes look at Gilmore Girls that had me truly enthralled. I loved that she went back and binged it all, filling in her memories and sharing little anecdotes.

We don’t learn much about her private life, but it satisfied the fangirl in me regardless. If you are looking for the best feel-good nonfiction books, this is the book for you.

Wild and other Oprah Book Club List Books ranked.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

This is a perfect choice for nonfiction books for beginners. When Cheryl Strayed was 22, she lost her mother and slowly, her marriage as well. She impulsively made the choice to like the Pacific Crest Trail alone- more than 1000 miles of sometimes treacherous wilderness.

This is a definite feel-good nonfiction book that will take you on the trail with Cheryl as she hits rock bottom and slowly builds herself back up again with strength and humor.

Clanlands and other Books like Outlander

Clanlands by Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish (forward by Diana Gabaldon)

This hysterical book is part history and part comedy. Stars of the Outlander TV series, Sam Heughan (who plays Jamie Fraser) and Graham McTavish (AKA Dougal MacKenzie) go on a road trip with each other.

Along the way, they tell funny stories and experience Scotland’s rich heritage. I laughed out loud multiple times at their antics, and then promptly watched their show Men in Kilts on Starz.

If you are a fan of the Outlander series (television series), you must read this pick in books like Outlander. This is a feel-good nonfiction pick from books about Scotland. It is a perfect place to start if you are looking for nonfiction books for beginners.

marley and me

Marley and Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog by John Grogan

This is one of the best feel-good nonfiction books for beginners. This is such a heartwarming story about a family and their huge yellow lab. Marley is a hilariously ridiculous and horribly behaved dog who teaches everyone around him what love really means.

If you are looking for nonfiction books that read like fiction, this is the book for you. After all, who would believe one dog could create so much havoc?

Good Nonfiction Books About Fashion

Skirts

Skirts: Fashioning Modern Femininity in the Twentieth Century by Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell

I often find myself drawn to non-fiction books about fashion and women’s careers. I found this history of modern feminism through the changing of hemlines to be quite interesting!

From the ankles being shown post-WWI, Dior’s new look in WWII, the shoulder pads donned by career ladies in the 80s, and more, it was inspiring to see how fashion tells the story of female empowerment. This is a perfect place to start if you are looking for nonfiction books for beginners.

HRH: So Many Thoughts

HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style by Elizabeth Holmes

I’m an avid follower of Elizabeth Holmes’ account (you should be too) where she explains the significance of the Royal Family’s wardrobe. The nuance and attention to detail the Royals use when dressing is fascinating to me. I knew I needed to read this book about royals and fashion! This is such a feel-good nonfiction book.

Elizabeth breaks it down in an accessible and understandable way. ⁣ I’m thrilled that her book delivers everything I’ve come to expect from her and more. This in-depth look at The Queen, Diana, Catherine, and Meghan is informative and beautiful. This is the perfect coffee table book for any fashion lover and is a must for books about Queen Elizabeth II!

The Other Side of the Coin

The Other Side of the Coin by Angela Kelly

I had royal fever this month while working on our Royal Reads post, so it’s no surprise that when my library hold for this autobiographical audiobook came through, I dove right into it and absolutely loved this non-fiction pick from books about QEII.

Angela Kelly is the Queen’s head dresser and long-time companion. She details her process for dressing the queen, talks about some iconic looks, and even reveals a few personal stories about her time with Her Majesty.

Add this fashion story to your list of books to read if you like The Crown. This would be such a great book for book clubs to start a discussion of what it would be like working for the queen. This is one of my favorite feel-good nonfiction books.

kingdom of prep

The Kingdom of Prep: The Inside Story of the Rise and (Near) Fall of J.Crew by Maggie Bullock

An inside look at a brand that defined my 20s? Sign me up to read this bad boy! This feel-good nonfiction book takes a look at J.Crew’s creation, its juggernaut success in the 90s and 2000s, and what lead to the company’s declaration of bankruptcy at the outbreak of the pandemic.

With dozens of interviews and extensive research, Bullock delivers a non-fiction book about fashion that’s compelling and nostalgic while also being brutally honest.

Nonfiction Books for Beginners: Historical

Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Woman Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

This true and amazing story of the Black female mathematicians and their role in the space race is one of the nonfiction books that read like fiction. If you are looking for the best nonfiction books for beginners, this should be at the top of your list.

So many people know this story because of the movie but, the book gives so many more details- as is usually the case with adaptations. These women, who were originally sent to teach math in the South’s segregated schools, were called into service during WWII.

They were some of the most brilliant minds of their generation. They eventually helped in the race to space during the Cold War. This non-fiction pick from books like Lessons in Chemistry was captivating from start to finish.

the zookeepers wife

The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman

There is no surprise that this feel-good nonfiction book was made into a movie. The story is just so compelling. When the Nazis invade Poland, the keepers of the Warsaw Zoo have their animal collection ransacked. They decide to hide fleeing Jewish people in the now empty animal homes.

I loved this book and I am so glad that I listened to this one. Suzanne Toren reads it beautifully.  Her wonderful accents and pronunciation of the words I surely would have butchered with my attempts added to the book. And if you love novels about animals, this is a wonderful choice.

Code Girls 1

Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II by Liza Mundy

I’m not generally a huge non-fiction reader unless the topic is of particular interest to me. Having seen the Imitation Game and read quite a few non-fiction books about coding in war times, I thought this one would be interesting and it did not disappoint.

This is such an amazing feel-good nonfiction book. It was a truly fascinating read of all the books about WWII! I loved finding out about the trials and tribulations of the real-life heroes of the war that we rarely hear about. This is a perfect non-fiction pick in books like Lessons in Chemistry.

catch me if you can

Catch Me if You Can by Frank Abignail Jr.

Frank Abignail Jr’s life is one that most people could never even imagine – running away from home, impersonating a pilot, lawyer, and doctor, and defrauding banks out of millions of dollars.

This is the story of how he got away with all of his cons and eventually got caught. It’s a truly fascinating book that reads like fiction.

Why I Like it: There is a reason this book inspired the hit movie starring Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio – it’s a story you wouldn’t believe if it wasn’t true.

Find this book in Con Artist Books / Plane Books / Feel-Good Nonfiction

Good Nonfiction Books to Help You Take Control of Your Life

When Less Become More by Emily Ley

When Less Becomes More by Emily Ley 

I’ve been a longtime fan of the Simplified Planner so I jumped at the chance to review Emily Ley’s newest book.

I started the book during a time when I was feeling particularly low and it became a balm to my heart. Here I was with a schedule so cluttered by things I “needed” to do and I wasn’t able to take care of myself leading up to a time of year that is always emotionally draining for me.

The result was that my usual sadness was compounded by the burden of being overwhelmed. I was fried. I cried at the littlest things, I went through the motions of being OK and having things under control when inside I wanted to curl up in a ball and just be.

And then… at my lowest… I got this book. And I got inspired. Because Emily tells us it’s OK to not do all the things- that the joy of life is in being present, in making time for spontaneity, and in connecting in a meaningful way with our loved ones. This book really helped me and is a feel-good nonfiction book that I recommend often.

minimalista

Minimalista by Shira Gill

I love to follow Shira Gill’s Instagram account, so I knew her book would be a must-get for me.

Minimalista is packed with tips and strategies to minimize your possessions, create order in your home, and find room for what really matters.

I love her step-by-step process and the way she gives specific pointers for each type of room. If you are looking to embrace a more minimal lifestyle, this is one of the must-read books about minimalist living. And if you are looking for feel-good nonfiction books, you will love this book and be motivated and empowered.

the lazy genius way

The Lazy Genius Way by Kendra Adachi

I’m a self-proclaimed hot mess. I crave order and predictability but I get overwhelmed when I try to institute a million systems and organizational tools.

Enter the Lazy Genius! Kendra uses 13 principles to teach the average woman how to be a genius about what matters and lazy about what doesn’t.

It’s revolutionary! I find myself letting go of stuff that doesn’t matter to me, and leaning into doing things that make my heart sing! This is a feel-good nonfiction book at its finest!

The Home Edit

The Home Edit and The Home Edit Life by Clea Shearer and Joanna

The ladies of The Home Edit have released two books about organizing and they are EVERYTHING a woman needs to conquer the clutter. These women are famous for organizing the home of Gwenyth Paltrow, Reese Witherspoon, and other big-name celebrities. Now, you can implement their method on your budget. The color palette alone makes this a stand out from our list of feel-good nonfiction books.

the home edit life

Best Feel-Good Nonfiction Books About Sports

Boys in the Boat

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold in the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

The heroics of the team enthralled me. The sheer force of will and strength it took to get in that boat and win. I thought I would be bored by the minutia of rowing, but I wasn’t.

The mechanical part of it, the precision, just made me appreciate the skill of rowing even more. The Olympic games gave me such a heightened sense of American pride. I was rooting for the team and cheering them on the whole time. If you are looking for non-fiction books for beginners, this is one of the nonfiction books that read like fiction.

Find this book in Books with Colors in the Title / Feel Good Nonfiction Books

Shoe Dog Young Reader

Shoe Dog: Young Readers Edition by Phil Knight

Phil Knight tells the story of the creation of his now-famous company, Nike. From his initial disappointment at being cut from the basketball team to the risks and setbacks of growing a global brand.

This is a wonderful story for budding entrepreneurs and sneaker addicts alike. This is one of the books for a 13-year-old that adults will love too – there is even an adult edition of the book. This is the perfect choice from nonfiction books for beginners- especially if you are a sports fan.

sea biscuit

Sea Biscuit: An American Legend by Lara Hillenbrand

If you are looking for the best feel-good nonfiction book, look no further than this story which is the perfect underdog story. Seabiscuit is the story of a horse who overcame every obstacle, bad fortune, and injury to run one of the best horse races of all time.

This is one of the nonfiction books that reads like fiction because the story is fantastic. If you are looking for an animal book for adults you will love, this should be your pick.

Feel-Good Nonfiction Books About Mindset

Find your calm

Find Your Calm: A Workbook to Manage Anxiety (Volume 1) by Jaime Zuckerman Psy. D.

This workbook can be used to help with several types of anxiety including social anxiety, generalized anxiety, panic, and even just everyday stress and worry.

Find Your Calm takes behavioral strategies and presents them in a journaling-type fashion. This allows the reader to remain fully engaged in the workbook and easily apply each strategy to their daily life. This is a good nonfiction book choice for anyone looking for small changes in routine that have a big impact on quality of life.

The Little Book of Lykke

The Little Book of Lykke by Meik Wiking

My son’s school has let us know that they would be reading this book and doing mini-lessons on it all year long for the 2019-2020 school year. Being the nerdy and supportive mom that I am, I decided to read it first so that we could talk about it together.

The sequel to the smashingly successful The Little Book of Hygge, this book attempts to uncover the secrets to happiness. Hint – it’s not money! It was a quick, on-sitting read that left me with a smile on my face and some ideas of how to sprinkle lasting happiness into my life and the lives of my family members. If you are looking for feel-good nonfiction books, this should be at the top of your list.

519vekoVlfL

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

This book chronicles the author’s year-long experiment to increase her own happiness and well-being. Each month, she tackles a different happiness category and shares practical strategies and well-researched insights into how to make meaningful strides toward happiness.

Covering topics like friendship, money, leisure, and parenthood, Rubin inspired me to tackle various areas of my life to reclaim my own happiness. As far as feel-good nonfiction books go, this is one of the most unique books on this list.

Feel-Good Nonfiction Books for Beginners: Politics

becoming


Becoming by Michelle Obama

November 2018 Oprah’s Book Club Pickir?source=bk&t=beyondth06 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=8490f4bde5448c1a5d7f9c3095a78527& cb=1580518895851

I am so happy that I finally read this book. Michelle Obama is a brilliant woman who has such an incredible story to tell.  I was intrigued listening to her life and her upbringing.

I listened to this book and was so happy to hear the story read by Obama herself. Obama is a brilliant woman and it was a pleasure to hear her story told in her voice. There is something about her voice that is so calming and soothing. This is one of our favorite non-fiction books about women in politics. As nonfiction books for beginners go, this one is a must.

from the corner of the oval

From the Corner of the Oval by Beck Dorey-Stein

This is one of the nonfiction books that reads like fiction. This memoir about Beck’s life as the stenographer in the Obama White House was like Sex and the City meets Scandal.

I had no idea how juicy things got in Washington! I also appreciated how much Beck respected the Obamas and the work they did for our country. 

first women by kate andersen brower

First Women by Kate Andersen Brower

This non-fiction book about women in politics is all about the first ladies. I had no idea what a job being the First Lady really is…an unpaid one at that! This intimate look at the many hats the modern First Lady plays showcases all the women from Jacqueline Kennedy to Michelle Obama that have been FLOTUS.

I was fascinated to see the differences between Hillary Clinton to Lady Bird Johnson. I know FLOTUS is one job I never want to have, but I have such respect for all the women that have held that office.

the genius of israel

The Genius of Israel: The Surprising Resilience of a Divided Nation in a Turbulent World by Dan Senor and Saul Singer

I started this book at the beginning of October and then October 7th happened. I realized that reading this book made me feel better as it reminded me of what an amazing country Israel is.

Israelis have some of the lowest rates of suicide and consistently rate their quality of life as some of the highest in the world. This is a country that finds a place for everyone. I write this while there is still a war and we wait for the hostages to come home. Re-reading this book gives me hope. If you are looking for the best feel good nonfiction, this book will make you smile.#gifted

Good Nonfiction Books: Redemption

Just Mercy

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Stevenson’s memoir about his early career is truly eye-opening. I had no idea about the scope of injustice towards black men in the criminal justice system. The stories of the inmates on death row who were falsely accused broke my heart.

I can’t believe our country doesn’t have more reform in this area. Stevenson’s career is truly incredible and one that should be commended. I’m very interested in seeing the movie now. If you are looking for a nonfiction that reads like a novel, this is the perfect pick. It is a perfect pick from nonfiction books for beginners.

educated

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

This coming-of-age book had me thinking about it for DAYS. I mean truly, DAYS. This book about poverty shows the impact how a lack of education can impact generations.

Tara’s journey was inspiring, heartbreaking, and thought-provoking all in one. This nonfiction book about cults had great insight into more extremist religions and survivalists.

I don’t usually read memoirs and I heard great things about this book.  I loved it so much- it made my list of favorites for the year last year.  It is such an amazing story that reads like a novel rather than non-fiction. If you are looking for nonfiction books for beginners, this one is a perfect place to start.

More Feel-Good Nonfiction Books

forever barbie

Forever Barbie by M. G. Lord

What a fascinating take on the history of the Barbie doll. Exploring how it came to be, the changes to the doll over the years, and its impact on culture, this book is the most definitive biography of Barbie I’ve ever read (and yes, I’ve read more than one.)

Update for the post-Barbie Movie era, there really is no better biographer for the famed doll herself than Lord. I was particularly interested in the role Ruth Handler played in the creation and growth of Barbie’s popularity.

Why I Like it: I first read this biography in middle school and didn’t realize it was the same book until after the new forward. I loved it then for it’s deep unflinching look at the pros and cons of the Barbie Doll. I love it now for incorporating how the doll has changed in recent years.

dolls of our lives

Dolls of Our Lives by Mary Mahoney and Allison Horrocks

If you are a fan of American Girl Dolls, or you were as a child, you MUST read this book. It’s feel-good nonfiction at its finest with these two writers giving us the background on the beloved Pleasant Company dolls.

I love that the writers read this audiobook. It felt like listening to a conversation with friends. It focuses on the 6 original American Girl dolls and their origin stories. It also explains how the authors met and created their podcast.

Why I Loved It: I found myself wrapped up in fond memories of my own childhood. This read will bring back all the nostalgia for your own dolls! #gifted

Find this book in Feel Good Nonfiction / Summer Reads of 2024

Soul of an Octopus and other Beach Reads 2021

The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration Into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery

My mom recommended this book to me for a feel-good book about animals for adults and it was exactly what I needed. Sy Montgomery is a naturalist who explores consciousness through amazing stories of animals- particularly Octopuses.  

The lives of these shy, amazing animals are unlike any other animal on the planet.  These intelligent animals with such distinct personalities are the backdrop for this wonderful feel-good, non-fiction book. 

Which are your favorite feel-good nonfiction books?

non fiction list

Ultimate List of Non-Fiction Books

If you love non-fiction books, this is the list we created especially for you.

Novel Ideas 55

Book Lists by Genre

Are you looking for more books in your favorite genre? This hub will let you choose which genre to dive into!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.