Deutschlandfunk Kultur, ZDF and “Die Zeit” together present the best non-fiction books of the month. The titles are chosen by a jury of 30 critics.

1(1) Corine Pelluchon: “The century of the living. A New Philosophy of Enlightenment »
WBG, Darmstadt 2021
320 pages, 50 euro

Corine Pelluchon: “The age of the living. A new philosophy of Enlightenment”© Deutschlandradio / WBG

The Enlightenment was attacked from all sides: the right wanted to return to a hierarchical society, the left considered universalism to be hegemonic. The philosopher Corine Pelluchon, for her part, is convinced of this: to bring about a truly ecological and democratic society, we must rediscover the ideals of the Enlightenment – and then develop them further. 68 dots

2 (-) Daniel Mendelsohn: “fleeting embrace. Of desire and the search for identity »
Translated from English by Eike Schönfeld
Settlers, Munich 2021
256 pages, 26 euro

Daniel Mendelsohn: “Fleeing the embrace. Of desire and the search for identity »© Deutschlandradio / Siedler

His autofiction An Odyssey – My Father, an Epic and I was an international bestseller. Daniel Mendelsohn’s debut album from 1999 is now available in German. Here too, the classical philologist reflects on his life with the help of Greek mythology. Torn between his own homosexuality and the Jewish tradition, he finds support in the texts of the ancient classics. 49 dots

3 (3) Nicole Mayer-Ahuja/Oliver Nachtwey (eds.): “Best Misunderstood Artists” Suhrkamp, ​​Berlin 2021
567 pages, 22 euros

Nicole Mayer-Ahuja/Oliver Nachtwey (ed.): “The best misunderstood artists”© Deutschlandradio / Suhrkamp

“Success must still be worth it!” Helmut Kohl promised. But what does that mean? The definition of performance has changed, write sociologists Mayer-Ahuja and Nachtwey: Managers or management consultants are considered high performers. Letter carriers or nurses, on the other hand, work hard but can hardly make a living from it. Portraits of people who deserve more than “applause from the balcony”. 40 dots

Thomas von Steinäcker: “The end is open. The book of failed works of art”© Deutschlandradio / S . sinner

Whether Michelangelo, Schubert, Stanley Kubrick, the Beach Boys or Ludwig II: even the greatest have failed at some point. The writer Thomas von Steinäcker collected the stories of these works which were never completed. A cabinet of curiosities of megalomania, at the same time: A tribute to the human imagination. 40 dots

In nature, man was free until civilization chained him – Rousseau’s deterministic view of history still shapes us today. The late anthropologist and Occupy spokesperson David Graeber has joined forces with archaeologist David Wengrow to challenge this dogma. They tell a more optimistic story – and thus challenge the existing order. 40 dots

6 (2) Evke Rulffes: “The invention of the housewife, the story of a devaluation”
HarperCollins, Hamburg 2021
288 pages, 22 euro

Evke Rulffes: “The invention of the housewife. History of a devaluation”© Deutschlandradio / HarperCollins

Exhausting, unpaid and damn thankless: the profession of housewife is seen as patriarchal, outdated – and yet it is anything but extinct. Culture scholar Evke Rulffes traces in detail how the ideal of the “caring mother” first became established in the 18th century – and how it continues to have an effect in our minds to this day. 36 dots

7 (-) Klaus Heinrich, Reality and Imagination
it will be fine, Freiburg im Breisgau 2021
344 pages, 59 euros

Klaus Heinrich: “Reality and Imagination”© Deutschlandradio / ca ira

At the Free University of Berlin, Klaus Heinrich’s unorthodox lectures have become cult. In January 2020, another side of the now deceased religious philosopher became visible: hundreds of people visited the 92-year-old’s first exhibition at the Friese Gallery. The boundaries between art and science blur in his drawings. Now they appear collected for the first time. 25 dots

7 (9) Stephan Lamby: “Decision Days. Behind the scenes of the power shift »
CH Beck, Munich 2021
382 pages, 22 euros

Stephan Lamby: “Decision days. Behind the scenes of the change of power”© Deutschlandradio / CH Beck

The traffic light coalition is a novelty in German politics. How could this happen? Journalist Stephan Lamby, known for his long-term political observations, accompanied the 2021 election campaign behind the scenes. He met Laschet, Baerbock, Söder or Lindner on several occasions, experienced their failures and their turning points up close. The chronicle of a historic political year. 25 dots

7 (6) Stephan Malinowski: “The Hohenzollerns and the Nazis. History of a collaboration”
Propylaea, Berlin 2021
753 pages, 35 euros

Stephan Malinowski: “The Hohenzollerns and the Nazis. History of a collaboration”© Deutschlandradio / Propyläen Verlag

The Hohenzollern victims of the Nazis? At least that’s how the Prussian noble family sees it – and demands compensation for the expropriations after the Second World War. Historian Stephan Malinowski is an expert on the Hohenzollern conflict. His new book shows that the head of the family, Wilhelm von Prussia, supported the Nazi movement in the hope of returning to power himself. 25 dots

10 (-) Ronen Steinke: “Not everyone is equal before the law. The new class justice”
Berlin Verlag, Berlin 2022 (to be released January 27)
272 pages, 20 euros

Ronen Steinke: “Not everyone is equal before the law. The new class justice”© Deutschlandradio / Berlin Verlag

Fraudsters are harshly punished, while prosecutions for white-collar crimes are dropped – Ronen Steinke, a crime reporter for the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, is convinced that the criminal justice system disadvantages the poor. For his book, he not only visited detention centers, spoke to judges, or assessed dozens of judgments – he also showed what it takes to end class justice. 21 dots

10(-) Charles Pépin: “A little philosophy of encounter”
Translated from French by Caroline Gutberlet
Hanser, Munich 2022
256 pages, 20 euros

Charles Pépin: “A little philosophy of the encounter”© Deutschlandradio / Hanser

The word “against” is in “encounter” as the philosopher Charles Pépin asserts. A reference to the collision with otherness: When we meet, we leave familiar paths – and grow further. But what happens when the pandemic forces us to distance ourselves? Pépin embarks on a journey into the world of dating – and meets Aristotle, Sartre and David Bowie. 21 dots

10 (-) Ludwig Huber: “The rational animal. A cognitive-biological search for clues”
Suhrkamp, ​​​​​​Berlin 2021
671 pages, 34 euros

Ludwig Huber: “The rational animal. A cognitive-biological search for clues”© Deutschlandradio / Suhrkamp

Many people feel that their own dog is smart. However, science has long ignored animal consciousness. Cognitive biologist Ludwig Haller shows that this has changed. In numerous illustrations, he explains the surprising state of research on animal thought: Animals make decisions, use tools or plan the future. 21 dots

How voting works:

Each member of the jury assigns 15, 10, 6 and 3 points to four non-fiction books.

The jury for the best non-fiction list:

René Aguigah (Deutschlandfunk Kultur)
Peter Arens (ZDF)
Susanne Billig (Deutschlandfunk Kultur)
Ralph Bollman (SAF)
Stefan Brauburger (ZDF)
Alexandre Cammann (DIE ZEIT)
Gregor Dotzauer (Der Tagesspiegel)
Heike Faller (DIE ZEIT)
Daniel Fiedler (ZDF)
Jenny Friedrich-Freksa (cultural exchange)
Manuel J. Hartung (ZEIT Foundation)
Thorsten Jantschek (Deutschlandfunk Kultur)
Kim Kindermann (Deutschlandfunk Kultur)
Inge Kutter (DIE ZEIT)
Hannah Lühmann (THE WORLD)
Ijoma Mangold (DIE ZEIT)
Susanne Mayer (DIE ZEIT)
Tania Martini (taz)
Catherine Newmark (Deutschlandfunk Kultur)
Jutta Person (freelance literary critic)
Bettina von Pfeil (ZDF)
Jens-Christian Rabe (Süddeutsche Zeitung)
Christian Rabhansl (Deutschlandfunk Kultur)
Anne Reidt (ZDF)
Anna Riek (ZDF)
Stephan Schlak (journal for the history of ideas)
Hilal Sezgin (freelance writer)
Catrin Stovesand (Deutschlandfunk)
Elisabeth von Thadden (DIE ZEIT)
Julia Voss (Leuphana University of Lüneburg)