Top 10 Totally Fun Books for the History Lover

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Trying to buy gifts for history lovers can be difficult if you don't know where to start. Of course there are hundreds of serious books one can buy, about topics as diversified as World War II and the history of salt, but there are also some more fun, lighthearted choices.

The following list of books are meant to be fun and easy to read selections that you'll want to keep on your bookshelves for years to come.

Plus, it will give you fun fodder to feed your friends at dinner parties -- answering such questions as where do boxer shorts come from? And what is a "Yankee Doodle" and where did it come from?

10 Fun Books for History Lovers

 

  1. Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things
    By Charles Panati
    This book is the supreme historical trivia lover's book. It provides the history and origin of over 500 everyday objects, customs, magazines, foods, and even superstitions. Don't miss the origins of Tupperware, Yankee Doodle, and Pajamas - you won't be able to put this one down!

     

  2. The Pessimist's Guide to History
    By Doris Flexner and Stuart Berg Flexner
    This chronology of interesting blurbs about low points in history, with particular emphasis on earthquakes, massacres, disease, and war. Not for the optimist! Pure catastrophe and chaos at its best.

     

  3. Lies My Teacher Told Me
    By James Loewen
    Author James Loewen explores the fascinating and politically correct process of the creation of American history textbooks in schools and tells you what's wrong with the system and with the book. A disturbing look at the state of our kids' education.

     

  1. One-Night Stands With American History: Odd, Amusing, and Little-Known Incidents
    By Richard Shenkman and Kurt Reiger
    A fascinating collection of vignettes that will entertain and amuse. I especially enjoyed "A Freshman Congressman Elected Speaker of the House" and "FDR and the Case of the Missing Map." It's fun to read even just a few of the short vignettes per sitting. Great for the coffee table.

     

  1. An Uncommon History of Common Things
    By Bethanne Patrick
    Have you ever wondered where pancakes come from? Or who invented Boxer shorts? This book by the National Geographic Society is full of fascinating information.

     

  2. Unsolved Mysteries of American History: An Eye-Opening Journey through 500 Years of Discoveries, Disappearances, and Baffling Events
    By Paul Aron
    A closer look at 30 interesting stories, looking into questions such as was Meriwether Lewis (of Lewis and Clark fame) murdered? And were the Rosenbergs (Ethel and Julius) guilty?

     

  3. The Greatest Stories Never Told: 100 Tales From History to Astonish, Bewilder, and Stupefy
    By Rick Beyer
    What a fascinating collection of little-known stories that have changed history, including how a wrong turn started World War I. With 100 stories accompanied by 200 illustrations, this book by the History Channel is both fun and informative.

     

  4. Don't Know Much About History
    By Kenneth Davis
    Kenneth Davis jumps around American history in this popular book that will be interesting to most but might be a bit of a bore to more well-read armchair historians. Definitely a fun ride through American history nonetheless!

     

  5. The Smithsonian's History of America in 101 Objects
    By Richard Kurin
    This beautifully crafted book, filled with both photographs and history, would make a wonderful coffee table book. An interesting look back at history through the objects that helped make it.

     

  1. Letters of the Century: America 1900-1999
    By Lisa Grunwald and Stephen J. Adler
    A spectacular collection of over 400 letters about famous people and important events that bring history to life. A treasure trove of first-person accounts that will amaze and fascinate. Letters from Charlie Chaplin, FDR, Janis Joplin, Jerry, Falwell, Cher, and much much more.