19 Deeply Fascinating Books That Will Definitely Make You Smarter

If you read all of these you'll officially become a genius.

We hope you enjoy the books we recommend! Just so you know, BuzzFeed may collect a share of sales from the links on this page.

1. The Knowledge – Lewis Dartnell (£9.98)

Instagram: @fellfromfiction

Could you build a battery, or forage for food in the wild? If not, you might want to learn, just in case the world as we know it comes to an end. This book compiles all the knowledge you'd need to start rebuilding civilisation from scratch, so get studying.

2. Letters of Note – Shaun Usher (£13.49)

Instagram: @vanessasbakewell

This amazing collection features 100 of the world's most famous letters, from Ghandi's appeal for peace to Adolf Hitler, to Queen Elizabeth II's recipe for scones. Oh, and it also contains the first recorded use of "OMG" (in a letter to Winston Churchill).

3. The Book Of Barely Imagined Beings – Caspar Henderson (£7.69)

Instagram: @sarangheygirlhey

As Shakespeare once said, "There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy." This compendium of weird and wonderful creatures details plenty of bizarre, rare, and extraordinary species that it's hard to believe exist in real life.

4. A Million Years In A Day – Greg Jenner (£8.99)

Instagram: @missbrom

This history of ordinary human life covers head-scratching facts such as "when did humans first start cleaning their teeth" and "which came first: the toilet seat or toilet paper." Truly, these are the historical questions we should all be asking.

5. The Visual Miscellaneum – David McCandless (£6.99)

Instagram: @riverflowerr

This unique book helps to break down the wealth of statistics and info that bombards us on a daily basis using innovative charts and illustrations. The information covered is really fun too, e.g. surveys of people's guiltiest pleasures.

6. Sapiens: A Brief History Of Humankind – Yuval Noah Harari (£6.42)

Instagram: @boomaofficial

Did you ever stop to think how a bunch of carnivorous apes rose to be the dominant species on the planet? If so, this fascinating book is for you: it explains who we are, how we got there, and where (at the current rate) we might end up.

7. Breverton's Phantasmagoria – Terry Breverton (£12.08)

Instagram: @world_of_sam_i_am

Myths, and legends have helped shape humankind's view of the world for millennia. In this book, veteran fact-peddlar Terry Breverton shares information about over 250 mythical creatures, as well as various fascinating stories from around the world.

8. Prisoners Of Geography – Tim Marshall (£3.85)

Instagram: @rhbarton

The history of the world is, to an extent, a history of geography. It's a history of constantly-shifting borders, and wars fuelled by desire for more territory. This book uses ten maps to shed light and make sense of the way the world is today.

9. Atlas Obscura – Ella Morton, Joshua Foer, and Dylan Thuras (£18.35)

Instagram: @smittenboutiquechicago

If you're a travel nerd, this book is for you. It's packed with info about the strangest and most unique places in the world, like the glimmering glowworm caves in New Zealand, and the South African tree that's so big it has a pub inside. *Books flight immediately*

10. The Genius Of Birds – Jennifer Ackerman (£7.94)

Instagram: @malvirginia

A lot of bird species are as intelligent as primates, and some might even be as smart as humans. They have huge brains relative to their size, and this book unpacks all of their clever traits, behaviours, and various ways they punch above their tiny weight.

11. Other Minds – Peter Godfrey-Smith (£9.99)

And birds aren't the only smarty-pants creatures out there: Cephalopods such as squid, cuttlefish, and the octopus also show signs of higher intelligence. This book looks more closely at these "alien" minds, and what these squishy animals can do.

12. The Vital Question – Nick Lane (£9.98)

Instagram: @liniandherbooks

In this awesome, detailed science book, author Nick Lane asks a single question: "Why is life the way it is?" He wonders if life would be different if it had evolved on another planet, as well as delving into the origins of life itself, and why we're here at all.

13. Vanished Kingdoms – Norman Davies (£14.88)

Instagram: @codpiecesalad

Europe has been home to lots of countries, kingdoms, and even whole empires, that simply don't exist anymore. If you want to find out what happened to them (like the once-great Lost Empire of Aragon) you should definitely buy a copy of this book.

14. The Odditorium – Jo Keeling and David Bramwell (£9.99)

Instagram: @hachette_india

This book about history's most eccentric, clever, hilarious, and inventive people is a delight from start to finish. Also, the stories of the various "heroic failures" throughout history will definitely make you feel much better about yourself.

15. Bad Science – Ben Goldacre (£6.29)

Since 2003 Dr Ben Goldacre has been exposing dodgy medical data in his Guardian column, taking on hoaxes and fads, fake scientific "facts" in news reporting, dodgy detoxes, and self-titled "nutritionists". It's a really eye-opening piece of work.

16. Schott's Original Miscellany – Ben Schott (£13.48)

Instagram: @caoimhekiwi

This collection of random and fascinating facts is probably about as exhaustive as it can possibly get. It contains (amongst other things) info about witchcraft, John Lennon's cat, various murders, and other things you didn't realise you needed to know.

17. The Hidden Life Of Trees – Peter Wohlleben (£13.49)

Instagram: @summeroflife81

As well as being essential for life, trees are fascinating, and this book will prove it. Are trees social beings? Can they communicate? Can they share nutrients to help other, sick trees? Turns out the answer to all of these questions is yes. Woah.

18. Forces Of Nature – Professor Brian Cox and Andrew Cohen (£3.85)

Instagram: @cammyterry

This detailed but accessible book by musician-turned-science-superstar Brian Cox explains the natural laws that govern the universe in a clear and interesting way, covering everything from the structure of snowflakes to the spirals of galaxies.

19. A Short History Of Nearly Everything – Bill Bryson (£6.20)

Instagram: @bilderika

This truly awesome, hilarious book is travel writer Bill Bryson's guide to the entire history of everything, from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization, via geology, biology, and particle physics. If you want to win all the trivia quizzes you ever take, buy it now.

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