“General Knowledge” are the bits and pieces of information – some useful, some mundane, some weird and wonderful – that we pick up without intense study into specific topics. Having general knowledge can help us win a quiz, win an argument, and become more entertaining (!?). Satisfy your curiosity about the world around you, by dipping into these funny, surprising and informative books:
On This Day in History by Dan Snow
Dan Snow is one of Britain’s favourite historians, the creator of the hugely successful History Hit TV channel and podcast. On This Day in History is his carefully chosen collection of 365 historical events – one for each day of the year. Crisscrossing 3000 years of Western civilisation, Dan Snow describes events that range from important (D Day), to influential (the meeting of Lennon and McCartney), to obscure (the Anglo-Zanzibar war, the shortest war in history), and even strange (Napoleon escaping from rabbits). He also raises the interesting question of what we choose to remember, and what we might have forgotten.
The Second Book of General Ignorance by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson
Named after the final round topic of the long-running quiz show QI (short for Quite Interesting), this second instalment of trivia focusses on General Ignorance, as in common mistakes and misunderstandings found in our “General Knowledge”. Read this and you’ll realise that Napoleon wasn’t short, octopuses actually have six legs, and oranges often aren’t orange. In revealing these curious misconceptions, Johns Lloyd and Mitchinson, respectively the series-creator and head researcher for QI, also try to show how these urban myths and mistaken assumptions arise. With a foreword by Stephen Fry, the original host of QI.
This Big Ideas Box contains three titles from the Big Ideas Simply Explained series, covering Philosophy, Psychology and Sociology. True to DK’s form, this series uses innovative visual design to make information interesting and easier to understand. A mix of high-impact graphics, succinct summaries and more detailed articles help to tease out these huge and complex areas of learning – covering 2500 years’ worth of philosophical thinking, the development of psychology since the Ancient Greeks, and of sociology since the Middle Ages. These primers will invite teens and adults to think, discuss and seek out further reading.
Brilliant Maps: an Atlas for Curious Minds by Ian Wright
Brilliant Maps is not so much about geography, as a smart and imaginative way to use maps to explain interesting facts about people, countries, culture, and more. (Ian Wright would argue that maps are the original infographic.) The hundred maps in this book present information that range from the sobering (number of executions by state) to the curious (countries with no rivers) and whimsical (countries with no McDonald’s).
Linked to the Brilliant Maps website, the facts presented here are thought-provoking, revelatory, and simply fun.
This book of fun facts and strange questions will be especially appealing to kids and teens. Joseph Pisenti, better known as RealLifeLore, is a popular YouTuber whose main channel contains video musings on the absurd side of history, geography, economics and science. Answers to Questions You’ve Never Asked combines nonsensical humour and serious analysis to answer off-beat questions such as “Where can I move so that I will never be tempted by McDonalds again?”, and “If Plato came back to life what would he think of modern democracy?”. A fantastic encouragement to stay curious about the world around us.
Interesting Stories for Curious People by Bill O’Neill
Bill O’Neill is a huge trivia buff who has written books of fun facts covering topics as diverse as World War I, American Presidents, and rock music. Interesting Stories for Curious People is his trivia book about a bit of everything – a collection of entertaining and fascinating stories about history, science, pop culture and just about anything else you can think of. Great for aspiring trivia champs!