100 books like The Onion Book of Known Knowledge

By The Onion,

Here are 100 books that The Onion Book of Known Knowledge fans have personally recommended if you like The Onion Book of Known Knowledge. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Welcome to the Monkey House

Jeff Fleischer Author Of Animal Husbandry (and Other Fictions)

From my list on collections that show what great modern novelists can do with short fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love short-story collections. I’ve read dozens to hundreds of them, starting as a child reading Richard Scarry, and I still make them a regular part of my reading diet. I started trying my own hand at short fiction in 2012 and have since finished more than one hundred stories, including the ones in Animal Husbandry. I’m now working on my first novel after years as a short-story writer, and it gives me additional admiration for how many outstanding novelists are also able to master short fiction. It’s two different skill sets, and the five authors I mentioned here (among many others) excel at both.

Jeff's book list on collections that show what great modern novelists can do with short fiction

Jeff Fleischer Why did Jeff love this book?

Vonnegut has been one of my favorite authors for a long time, and this might be the first collection I read that wasn’t specifically for young readers. Some of the future-set stories like “Harrison Bergeron” and “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow” changed how I saw science fiction.

Welcome to the Monkey House introduced me to Vonnegut and to a love of short-story collections as a form, and it holds up remarkably well.

By Kurt Vonnegut,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Welcome to the Monkey House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A MASTERFUL COLLECTION OF TWENTY-FIVE SHORT STORIES FROM THE INIMITABLE AUTHOR OF SLAUGHTERHOUSE 5, KURT VONNEGUT

'Vonnegut is George Orwell, Dr Caligari and Flash Gordon compounded into one writer...a zany but moral mad scientist' Time

A diabolical government asserts control by eliminating orgasms. A scientist discovers the secret to unlocking instant happiness, with unexpected consequences. In an America where everyone is equal every which way, a tennage boy plans to overthrow the system.

Welcome to the Monkey House gathers together twenty-five of Kurt Vonnegut's short stories from the 1950s and 1960s. Shot through with Vonnegut's singular humour, wit and bewilderment…


Book cover of The ACME Catalog: Quality is Our #1 Dream

David P. Murphy Author Of Zombies for Zombies: Advice and Etiquette for the Living Dead

From my list on absurdity.

Why am I passionate about this?

It is said that Michelangelo could see a statue inside of a block of marble. I believe I have a similar gift – I can find the most idiotic angle to any given story or event and free it into the world. Okay, so some gifts are better than others but this “talent” has afforded me the ability to stay relatively sane in a completely nutso era. Relatively. And to underscore my qualifications, I would ask the reader to take a gander at my sample title below. I rest my case.

David's book list on absurdity

David P. Murphy Why did David love this book?

The original Looney Tunes should be required viewing for children and adults alike. When I’m King of the World (cue the ominous cellos – wait, we’ve only got one cello? What the hell?), that will be one of my first mandates. Seriously, this book has every beautifully dopey invention from the Wile E. Coyote/Road Runner series, along with a few extras, and the design of the book is stellar.  As the cover says so succinctly: “Quality is our #1 dream.”

By Charles Carney, Scott Grass (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The ACME Catalog as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This hilarious catalogue from Acme Products features loads of useless items - many of which were used by Wile E. Coyote himself in pursuit of the Roadrunner. Starting with a letter to the consumer from Acme President, Canteerya Winan, the book then goes on to showcase page after page of Acme products in all their glory - including both the classics and a whole slew of new and untested products.


Book cover of National Lampoon's 1964 High School Yearbook

David P. Murphy Author Of Zombies for Zombies: Advice and Etiquette for the Living Dead

From my list on absurdity.

Why am I passionate about this?

It is said that Michelangelo could see a statue inside of a block of marble. I believe I have a similar gift – I can find the most idiotic angle to any given story or event and free it into the world. Okay, so some gifts are better than others but this “talent” has afforded me the ability to stay relatively sane in a completely nutso era. Relatively. And to underscore my qualifications, I would ask the reader to take a gander at my sample title below. I rest my case.

David's book list on absurdity

David P. Murphy Why did David love this book?

This hard-to-find book is a masterpiece and I’m not using the term loosely. Doug Kenney and P.J. O’Rourke were responsible for much of this whip-smart gem. The writers perfectly mock every mundane aspect of much of high school life. (For what it’s worth, I genuinely enjoyed high school, but was aslo painfully aware of the deep-seated screwiness of much of the atmosphere.) If you can find this, snap it up. You won’t regret it.

By P. J. O'Rourke (editor), Douglas C. Kenney (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked National Lampoon's 1964 High School Yearbook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In honor of the thirty-ninth reunion of the class of 1964 of C. Estes Kefauver High School in Dacron, Ohio, a new edition of their hilarious yearbook brings back such zany characters as Chuck U. Farley, Maria Teresa Spermatozoa, Purdy "Psycho" Lee Spackle, and Larry Kroger, accompanied by a "Where are they now?" addendum and a DVD of the popular film Animal House. 100,000 first printing.


Book cover of Flywheel, Shyster and Flywheel: The Marx Brothers' Lost Radio Show

David P. Murphy Author Of Zombies for Zombies: Advice and Etiquette for the Living Dead

From my list on absurdity.

Why am I passionate about this?

It is said that Michelangelo could see a statue inside of a block of marble. I believe I have a similar gift – I can find the most idiotic angle to any given story or event and free it into the world. Okay, so some gifts are better than others but this “talent” has afforded me the ability to stay relatively sane in a completely nutso era. Relatively. And to underscore my qualifications, I would ask the reader to take a gander at my sample title below. I rest my case.

David's book list on absurdity

David P. Murphy Why did David love this book?

From 1932-33, Groucho and Chico (two of my role models) appeared on a radio show aired on NBC. It was about a shady law firm (Groucho is Waldorf T. Flywheel – a fine lawyerly name) and you can imagine how that goes. This book contains the scripts of about two dozen episodes, I think. If you’re a Marx Brothers fan, this is a ton of fun. And if you’re not, then I must believe you’re some variety of filthy lout and I would ask you to stand away from me. 

By Michael Barson (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Flywheel, Shyster and Flywheel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a collection of radio scripts of the comedy series starring Groucho, Waldorf and Chico Marx which ran for six months from November 1932. They have recently been discovered and are published here for the first time.


Book cover of Forces of Nature: Two Truths and a Lie

Joyce Grant Author Of Can You Believe It? How to Spot Fake News and Find the Facts

From my list on to improve kids’ critical thinking.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a journalist and a social media prof. I talk to thousands of kids every year about what they read on the Internet. And frankly, they’re confused—as we all are—about what’s true online and what isn’t. To spot misinformation, kids have to become better critical thinkers. That’s why I wrote Can You Believe It? and it’s why I’m recommending these great books. It’s also helpful to know what credible journalism looks like. My TeachingKidsNews.com (TKN) is a kid-friendly news source that kids and teachers can trust. In addition to publishing TKN, I’ve authored six children’s books and I have a Master’s degree in Creative and Critical Writing. 

Joyce's book list on to improve kids’ critical thinking

Joyce Grant Why did Joyce love this book?

This series is critical thinking on steroids. The reader is given three fact-filled stories and has to figure out which one isn’t true. Is there really a pit in Turkmenistan that has been burning for 40 years? Are there radioactive boars in Japan? Did Edgar Allan Poe carry his dead wife’s remains around in a snuffbox? The reader has to find facts and think critically to figure them out. There are three books in the series each with 27 stories, nine of which aren’t true. I recommend younger readers have an adult handy because the book is a bit more complicated to navigate than, say, a novel. End matter provides additional information including websites to help the reader analyze each article. Oh, and the three facts? Yes, yep and heck no.

By Ammi-Joan Paquette, Laurie Ann Thompson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Forces of Nature as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

Crazy-but-true stories about the natural world make this acclaimed nonfiction series perfect for fans of curiosities and wonders—and anyone looking to explore ways to separate fact from fiction. This nonfiction chapter book is an excellent choice to share during homeschooling, in particular for children ages 7 to 9 who are reading independently. It’

Did you know that too many fidget spinners spinning in the same direction could have an adverse effect on Earth’s gravitational field? Or that the remains of a deceased loved one can be turned into a diamond? Or that the loudest known sound in history was made…


Book cover of Panati's Extraordinary Endings of Practically Everything and Everybody

Jane Marie Author Of Selling the Dream: The Billion-Dollar Industry Bankrupting Americans

From my list on encyclopedic books for cultural factoid nerds.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a kid, I was addicted to almanacs, encyclopedias, and atlases. I liked collecting facts and snooping around other people’s lives, and my family, including extended family, totally indulged me by gifting me their history or factoid book collections. I remember one set my Grandma Sally gave me: Time Library of Curious and Unusual Facts. I cannot find the complete set anywhere these days, but it’s where I learned about spontaneous combustion and wealthy hoarders. Who wouldn’t want to know that stuff!

Jane's book list on encyclopedic books for cultural factoid nerds

Jane Marie Why did Jane love this book?

I think this is the book I’ve had the longest out of the five I’m recommending, and I’m on my fifth copy because I either destroy them from overuse or give them away.

There are entries on people, but also on diseases and extinct animals, and my favorite section, dead sex practices. Ooh la la.

By Charles Panati,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Panati's Extraordinary Endings of Practically Everything and Everybody as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Relates the curious stories behind the extinction of peoples, beliefs, fashions, customs, and inventions


Book cover of Seven Deadly Wonders

Alana Woods Author Of A Legal Affair

From my list on suspense intrigue thrillers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a career editor living in the place I love most in the world, Australia's federal capital, Canberra. It's a small city encircled by mountains and populated with so many trees it's affectionately known as The Bush Capital. I love reading most genres but contemporary suspense intrigue above all. I know these books generally fall under the larger Thriller genre but I often feel that's a misnomer, and I think that applies to my novels. I love the range of stories this genre encompasses: it can take you anywhere in the world, into any situation, and follow any type of person as they attempt to come to grips with, and usually right, the wrongs of the world.

Alana's book list on suspense intrigue thrillers

Alana Woods Why did Alana love this book?

Reilly, unlike my first two picks, is still alive and producing books.  And he's Australian so I'm giving him a plug! On top of that, he's an international bestseller who is now turning his attention to directing films based on his own books. Keep an eye out for Interceptor starring Elsa Pataky in early 2022 on Netflix. Seven Deadly Wonders is the first of a seven-book series following the exploits of hero Jack West Jr. If you like fast-paced then Reilly's stories are for you. He hits the ground at full speed and doesn't slow; you find yourself having to stop reading to catch your breath! Incredibly enjoyable reading.

By Matthew Reilly,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Seven Deadly Wonders as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bestselling author Matthew Reilly takes you on a thrilling treasure hunt in Seven Ancient Wonders.

It is the biggest treasure hunt in history with contesting nations involved in a headlong race to locate the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

4500 years ago, a magnificent golden capstone sat at the peak of the Great Pyramid of Giza. It was a source of immense power, reputedly capable of bestowing upon its holder absolute global power. But then it was divided into seven pieces and hidden, each piece separately, within the seven greatest structures of the age.

Now, the coming of a…


Book cover of The Gruffalo

Patricia Cleveland-Peck Author Of You Can't Let an Elephant Drive a Racing Car

From my list on children’s rhyming picture texts.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am passionately keen on poetry of many types because, whether rhyming or not, most poetry employs rhythm which is something that has a subconscious appeal to human senses. For children, rhyme provides an easy introduction to poetry and I enjoy using it because children themselves love it. Mums tell me that they are asked to read the same book time and time again – and not to try to skip any spreads! At the age of three, before she could read, my son’s goddaughter knew the whole of You Can’t Take an Elephant on the Bus by heart. The rhymes children hear when very young remain with them, sometimes forever. 

Patricia's book list on children’s rhyming picture texts

Patricia Cleveland-Peck Why did Patricia love this book?

Julia Donaldson is the supremo of rhyming. I am certainly not the only writer she has inspired. All her books are really well crafted and the fact that she is a singer and very musical can be felt by reading her exemplary rhyme.  

I recommend this book, the first which made her name in this genre, because it has all the qualities of a best rhyming text. It tells a story to which children can relate, is never boring, and has an unerring and satisfying beat.

By Julia Donaldson, Axel Scheffler (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Gruffalo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, and 5.

What is this book about?

Julia Donaldson's trademark rhyming text and Axel Scheffler's brilliant, characterful illustrations come together in this perfect read aloud-a perfect gift for any special occasion!

A mouse is taking a stroll through the deep, dark wood when along comes a hungry fox, then an owl, and then a snake. The mouse is good enough to eat but smart enough to know this, so he invents . . . the gruffalo! As Mouse explains, the gruffalo is a creature with terrible claws, and terrible tusks in its terrible jaws, and knobbly knees and turned-out toes, and a poisonous wart at the end…


Book cover of Kooks: A Guide to the Outer Limits of Human Belief

Michael Tau Author Of Extreme Music: From Silence to Noise and Everything In Between

From my list on absolutely arcane corners of human existence.

Why am I passionate about this?

Following mysterious trails and uncovering esoteric stories: it’s what I love to do, and it’s also what I love to read about. Before I released Extreme Music, I wrote extensively about unusual music subcultures and audiological anomalies, for example artists who put out hourlong blocks of unchanging white noise. I’ve learned that the most interesting ideas – and tales – exist in these outer fringes.

Michael's book list on absolutely arcane corners of human existence

Michael Tau Why did Michael love this book?

I promise you my publisher isn’t strong-arming me into including this (now long out of print) book – which I stumbled upon years before I linked up with them. A spin-off of Kossy’s zine of the same name, Kooks is a kind-spirited examination of several conspiracy theorists, aspiring cult leaders, and miscellaneous cranks. In each profile, Kossy does her best to meticulously research her topic, digging deep into piles of rambling documents so that you don’t have to. Who can forget Francis E. Dec, sworn enemy of the Mad Deadly Worldwide Communist Gangster Computer God, who mailed out unintelligible hand-typed diatribes to media outlets for years?

By Donna Kossy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Kooks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A rich compendium of looniness!


Book cover of The Rough Guide to Unexplained Phenomena 2nd Edition

Guido Mina di Sospiro Author Of Forbidden Fruits: An Occult Novel

From my list on extra-canonical voyages that will challenge you.

Why am I passionate about this?

I learned the Western Canon at school and from various teachers during my youth; all along, I was yearning for something other, different, and, possibly, truer. Since my early twenties I've been exploring another canon, which exists in opposition to the Aristotelian-Euclidean-Cartesian-Newtonian-Darwinian/Spencerian one. While the western world in the 21st century is free from alacritous canon-enforcing enterprises such as the Holy Inquisition, it nevertheless operates by a canon that remains very much the mentioned Aristotelian-Euclidean-Cartesian-Newtonian-Darwinian/Spencerian one, inculcated into us all from kindergarten to the grave, echoed not only by schools of all levels, but by governments, the media, official institutions and nonofficial entities, and, last but not least, by the entertainment industry. 

Guido's book list on extra-canonical voyages that will challenge you

Guido Mina di Sospiro Why did Guido love this book?

With scholarly discipline but also with a decidedly English sense of humor, The Rough Guide to Unexplained Phenomena 2 takes a path along that shadowy territory between the known and the unknown, between the dogmas of mainstream scientists and the reality of phenomena that happen regardless of (or even in spite of) such dogmas, much as, in a dramatic reversal, Galileo said centuries ago, after being forced to recant his claim that the Earth moved around the immovable sun: “And yet it moves.” (Back then, science, in its nascent state, was based on unbiased inquiry and rejected dogmas de facto. Today, mainstream science has morphed into a scientific priesthood.) The late John Michell was the author of, among others, View over Atlantis, one of the cult reads of the 1970s; Bob Rickard is the founder and editor of the Fortean Times.

By John Michell, Bob Rickard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Rough Guide to Unexplained Phenomena 2nd Edition as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Rough Guide to Unexplained Phenomena is an exploration of the zone that lies between the known and the unknown, a shadowy territory that's home to the lake monsters, combusting people, teleporting frogs and man-eating trees. Taking a Fortean path between dogmatic scientists and credulous believers, the authors trace tales of wonder back to their sources, drawing from a huge archive of observations, opinions and discussions. This updated second edition boasts new illustrations and plenty of intriguing new sections from near death experiences to ghosts, haunted houses and mysterious mass deaths. There are many things which are not yet known…


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