Books, and the ability to print them in mass, changed the course of human history. No longer was learning confined to an educated elite. Fast forward 560 years and we have more options than ever for learning, including podcasts, YouTube videos, and infographics. Yet, books still form the foundation, and a well-read individual is typically also successful, interesting, and educated. Want to appear that way without reading paperback after paperback? Consider one of these 10 books that will make you seem way smarter:
A Short History of Nearly Everything
Bill Bryson’s quest to answer many of the questions facing humanity today is encapsulated in this book. With the help of some the world’s most advanced anthropologists, historians, and mathematicians, Bryson guides the reader through his queries with entertaining and clever prose. What’s it about? Just check the title.
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
Jared M. Diamond
Jared Diamond takes you on a historical journey examining how geography, technology, war, and culture have all combined to shape our modern world. You’ll understand the forces that create modern empires and the commonalities that the cultures share and repeat.
Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
In the sequel to their original bestseller, Freakonomics, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner tackle a number of issues ranging from entertaining to imperative. The book examines varying topics from unique perspectives to help sort out how the world really works. The series has also launched a great podcast.
Thinking, Fast and Slow
We all make poor decisions. Daniel Kahneman frames the why behind these decisions in his book around systems of logic and emotion. A great read to help sort out why we do what we do.
Monocle Guide to Better Living
Andrew Tuck and Santiago Rodriguez Tarditi
A renaissance book for the renaissance man, the team at Monocle will take you through different elements of living to make it the most enjoyable, stylish, and rewarding life possible. A book that is built upon substance rather than glitz, this is an informative and interesting read.
Hilarious hypotheticals backed up by real science. What If? is an entertaining and smart book with some light bulb observations based on the always enjoyable XKCD.com website.
A Brief History of Time
The definitive book from one of history’s greatest minds, A Brief History of Time examines profound questions like the properties of black holes and the relationship of space and time. Hawking’s ability to explain incredibly complex theories with simple and entertaining prose opens this world to the masses.
Examining the history of human thought and acquisition, this book changes the stereotype of tedious philosophy and produces a simple read. The genius of Plato, Aristotle and Voltaire presented to the 99%.
Outliers: The Story of Success
Malcom Gladwell’s ability to draw broad conclusions from seemingly unrelated events is showcased in his book: Outliers. A deep dive into the never ending debate of nature vs nurture and the true reason for success, Gladwell explores how seemingly inconsequential environments help shape society’s most successful individuals. A thought-provoking read that will have you questioning how your own history has shaped your path.
The Black Swan
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
The Black Swan is an entertaining take on how improbable events cause incredible consequences. Nassim Taleb asserts that history can be traced through these events and by their very definition, no one can predict them. In a world filled with dynamic uncertainty and change, Taleb’s book presents a map to traverse and exploit the next Black Swan Event.