Nolan was the obvious star, having a hand in all four West Ham goals, but Andy Carroll also impressed in what may be his last game for the club. On this evidence, the club will surely do all they can to retain his services, and West Ham's fans sung for his signing throughout the match.
However, Sam Allardyce will have been dismayed by letting a two-goal lead to slip, with Garath McCleary and Adam Le Fondre goals turning around the game after the break.
The game started brightly, with Carroll knocking an early effort wide of target whilst on the stretch, but it was Jussi Jaaskelainen who made the first save, diving to claw out a Pavel Pogrebnyak header.
The opening goal came midway through the first half in bizarre fashion. Reading goalkeeper Alex McCarthy, called up by England in midweek, dallied on the ball and his clearance struck Carroll, rebounding to Nolan who rolled the ball into an empty net.
Five minutes later and McCarthy made amends from the same player, tipping Nolan's header onto the bar from six yards, but ten minutes before the break it was 2-0.
Carroll was again the man taking the plaudits after his fine control allowed him to play the ball back to Ricardo Vaz Te and the Portuguese's shot deflected into the corner of the net.
There was still time for Vaz Te to come close to a second before half-time. Again fed by Carroll, the forward crashed a shot against the post with McCarthy beaten.
After the break, Reading came out strongly, and it took less than ten minutes to get their goal when the ball found its way to McCleary, whose deflected effort beat Jaaskelainen.
Two minutes later and they were level, Le Fondre crashing home after a fine cross from Nick Blackman, the two half-time substitutes combining brilliantly.
Reading barely deserved to be on level terms, and they could not hold on despite their improvements. Nolan found himself through on goal from a Mark Noble clipped pass, and slotted past McCarthy.
Five minutes from the end, and the Hammers clinched it, Nolan getting his hat-trick from a header after Modibo Maiga's cross found him completely unmarked.