15 Best Nonfiction Books of 2014

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in 2014, it’s that stacks and stacks of noteworthy, interesting, and beautiful books are published in a single year. To sum up the year in the span of 15 books is putting a toe into the endless sea of books, and frankly, best-of lists are forever subjective snapshots of where the writer is and what they’ve had the opportunity to read and experience at some arbitrary point.

Yet a certain cohort can rise to the top, in an easy fashion — I plan on rereading or referencing many of the books on this list in the future. Here are the true stories, memoirs, and reporting that have left a mark.

51u9DXPdbkL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free, Hector Tobar

In 2010, a group of 33 Chilean miners were buried 2,300 feet below ground, in the squeamish, hot, belching heart of the earth, when a mine collapsed. Through meticulous reporting and beautiful writing, Tobar recreates the horror and transcendence of this experience, and, crucially, he describes the aftermath. Some of the images in this book still haunt me.