The most recommended books about curiosity

Who picked these books? Meet our 24 experts.

24 authors created a book list connected to curiosity, and here are their favorite curiosity books.
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Book cover of I Never Thought of It That Way: How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times

Linda Rising Author Of More Fearless Change: Strategies for Making Your Ideas Happen

From my list on talking to people who don’t agree with us.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been on this journey for decades. I have just celebrated my 81st birthday and I am still learning. What I have seen is that most problems are people problems. That’s hard for me as a technical person with a Ph.D. in computer science. I have learned a lot the hard way and books like these have helped me. The books that helped the most were Fearless Change and More Fearless Change, written with my good friend and writing partner, Mary Lynn Manns. They changed my life. I hope these books will change yours.

Linda's book list on talking to people who don’t agree with us

Linda Rising Why did Linda love this book?

Mónica Guzmán is not just another author and storyteller.

She’s also a supporter of an organization that is doing amazing things to bring our divided nation together – Braver Angels (check out BraverAngels.org).

I thought I knew a lot about facilitation and listening but the folks at Braver Angels have opened doors for me that I didn’t know were there.

Please, please, please check them out and read Monica’s book!

By Monica Guzman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Never Thought of It That Way as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

PORCHLIGHT BOOKS JUNE 2022 NONFICTION BESTSELLER

"I can see this book helping estranged parties who are equally invested in bridging a gap-it could be assigned reading for fractured families aspiring to a harmonious Thanksgiving dinner." -New York Times

"Like all skills, these techniques take practice. But anyone who sincerely wants to bridge the gaps in understanding will appreciate this book. Guzman is emphatic about making an effort to work on difficult conversations." -Manhattan Book Review

We think we have the answers, but we need to be asking a lot more questions.

Journalist Monica Guzman is the loving liberal daughter of…


Book cover of The Big Book of the Dead

Emily Blejwas Author Of Like Nothing Amazing Ever Happened

From my list on for contemplating mortality.

Why am I passionate about this?

Emily Blejwas directs the Alabama Folklife Association. She is the author of The Story of Alabama in Fourteen Foods (UA Press) and two middle grade novels: Like Nothing Amazing Ever Happened and Once You Know This (Random House). Emily grew up in Minnesota, attended Auburn University, and now lives in Mobile, Alabama with her husband and four children.

Emily's book list on for contemplating mortality

Emily Blejwas Why did Emily love this book?

The premise is simple but ingenious. Winik catalogs the lives and deaths of people she’s known throughout her life, some well, others hardly at all. Each entry is no longer than a page or two, and her writing is stark and unruffled, creating moments of dark humor. She never glorifies the departed, yet her emotion buzzes below the surface. And you immediately wonder how your own page or two might go.

By Marion Winik,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Big Book of the Dead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Marion Wink is esteemed for bringing humor and wit to that most unavoidable of subjects: death.

At last, Winik's critically acclaimed, cult favorites, Glen Rock Book of the Dead and Baltimore Book of the Dead, have been carefully combined in their proper chronological order, revealing more clearly than ever before the character hidden throughout these stories: Winik herself.

Featuring twelve additional vignettes along with a brand-new introduction, The Big Book of the Dead continues Winik's work as an empathetic, witty chronicler of life.


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 Book of Barely Imagined Beings

Sam Kean Author Of The Icepick Surgeon: Murder, Fraud, Sabotage, Piracy, and Other Dastardly Deeds Perpetrated in the Name of Science

From my list on the wonders of biology.

Why am I passionate about this?

Sam Kean is the New York Times bestselling author of five books, including The Bastard Brigade, The Dueling Neurosurgeons, and The Disappearing Spoon. He edited The Best American Nature and Science Writing in 2018, and his stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine, and Slate. His work has been featured on NPR’s “Radiolab,” “Science Friday,” “All Things Considered,” and “Fresh Air,” and his podcast, The Disappearing Spoon, debuted at #1 on the iTunes charts for science podcasts.

Sam's book list on the wonders of biology

Sam Kean Why did Sam love this book?

Imagine a medieval bestiary of whimsical creatures, but with a twist. Instead of being imaginary, the animals here really exist. The book moves alphabetically from axolotl to zebrafish, with a new delight on every page. It’s a perfect reminder of what biologist J.B.S. Haldane once said: that the universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it’s stranger than we can imagine.

By Caspar Henderson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Book of Barely Imagined Beings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From Axolotl to Zebrafish, discover a host of barely imagined beings: real creatures that are often more astonishing than anything dreamt in the pages of a medieval bestiary. Ranging from the depths of the ocean to the most arid corners of the earth, Caspar Henderson captures the beauty and bizarreness of the many living forms we thought we knew and some we could never have contemplated, inviting us to better imagine the precarious world we inhabit.

A witty, vivid blend of pioneering natural history and spiritual primer, infectiously celebratory about life's sheer ingenuity and variety, The Book of Barely Imagined…


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 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 Welcome to the Wonder House

Dianne White Author Of Dark on Light

From Dianne's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Poetry lover Writing teacher

Dianne's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Dianne White Why did Dianne love this book?

Spend time with a young child, and you’ll immediately notice how intrigued they are by the smallest, seemingly insignificant things. A crack in the sidewalk. The glimmer of a shiny stone. A pill bug scuttling across the dirt. Everything is cause for noticing, wondering, and myriad questions.

Welcome to the Wonder House is the collaboration of poet/teachers Georgia Heard and Rebecca Kai Dotlich. Their poetry invites readers to wander and wonder, notice, ask questions, and reflect on rooms such as time and place, curiosity and praise.

Luminous, mixed-media illustrations by Deborah Freedman make the journey from room to room to room a visual adventure of its own.

By Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Georgia Heard, Deborah Freedman (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Welcome to the Wonder House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 7, 8, 9, and 10.

What is this book about?

This collection of poems, creatively presented in the format of an allegorical house, will engage anyone who has ever wondered "why?" as it shows young readers that wonder is everywhere-in yourself and in the world around you.

Welcome to the Wonder House, a place to explore the cornerstone of every great thinker-a sense of wonder. This Wonder House has many rooms-one for nature, one for quiet, and one for mystery, among others. Each room is filled with poems and objects covering a wide variety of STEAM topics, including geology, paleontology, physics, astronomy, creative writing, and drawing, that will inspire curiosity…


Book cover of Flight Behavior

Phil Gilvin Author Of Truth Sister

From Phil's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Reader Climate activist Folkie Family man

Phil's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Phil Gilvin Why did Phil love this book?

This is one that’s often recommended in the “best climate fiction” lists, and I can see why. 

Set in a depressed area of Appalachia, the story hinges on the arrival of a huge number of monarch butterflies, whose annual migration pattern has been disrupted, and the effect this has on the local community.

But worked into the main story are some important, closely observed messages: how climate change feels insignificant to people who are struggling to cope, how journalists and others can promote climate change denial, and how scientists need to get angry.

As with other Kingsolver novels like The Poisonwood Bible, the characterisation is closely-observed and highly believable. A rich and rewarding read.

By Barbara Kingsolver,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Flight Behavior as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"The flames now appeared to lift from individual treetops in showers of orange sparks, exploding the way a pine log does in a campfire when it is poked. The sparks spiralled upward in swirls like funnel clouds. Twisters of brightness against grey sky."

On the Appalachian Mountains above her home, a young mother discovers a beautiful and terrible marvel of nature: the monarch butterflies have not migrated south for the winter this year. Is this a miraculous message from God, or a spectacular sign of climate change. Entomology expert, Ovid Byron, certainly believes it is the latter. He ropes in…


Book cover of Weird Michigan: Your Travel Guide to Michigan's Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets

Amberrose Hammond Author Of Mysterious Michigan: The Lonely Ghost of Minnie Quay, the Marvelous Manifestations of Farmer Riley, the Devil in Detroit & More

From my list on the strange, unusual, and paranormal from Michigan.

Why am I passionate about this?

I got my start in paranormal investigation when it was a popular fad around 2000 and joined a ghost-hunting group. I became obsessed with the history behind hauntings and why ghost stories and legends persist over time. This love of the ghostly combined with my love of books and literature led me down the path of writing. I enjoy sharing strange and spooky history because it puts people in touch with their state's history in a fun and interesting way. So many people think history is boring facts and dates, but share a ghost story or a true crime mystery, and you have people’s attention. When that story happened close to home? Even better!

Amberrose's book list on the strange, unusual, and paranormal from Michigan

Amberrose Hammond Why did Amberrose love this book?

If you love the strange and unusual in Michigan, this book is a wonderful addition to your book self for all ages. Linda Godfrey delivers a lively and fun collection of ghosts, UFOs, monsters, and other oddities. Plus, many fellow Michiganders lent their own experiences and spooky encounters with the paranormal to the book making it much more personal than just a list of paranormal locations.

By Linda S. Godfrey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Is it weird that the Wolverine State may never have had any wolverines in it? We think so, and that suits us fine. The weirder the better, we say, and Michigan falls perfectly into that category. Oh, sure, big-time heroes like Charles Lindbergh and Madonna hail from here, and so does President Gerald Ford, but do they compare to superhero Captain Jackson, who strolls around town in a purple cape doing good deeds? Well, yes, maybe they do, but the captain, in our opinion, is more representative of our fine state. Because, let's face it, Michigan has a great big…


Book cover of Curiosity: How Science Became Interested in Everything

Samuel Arbesman Author Of The Half-Life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date

From my list on how science actually works.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Scientist in Residence at Lux Capital, a venture capital firm that invests in startups at the frontiers of science and technology. I have a PhD in computational biology and focused my academic research on the nature of complex systems, but I soon became fascinated by the ways in which science grows and changes over time (itself a type of complex system!): what it is that scientists do, where scientific knowledge comes from, and even how the facts in our textbooks become out-of-date. As a result of this fascination, I ended up writing two books about scientific and technological change.

Samuel's book list on how science actually works

Samuel Arbesman Why did Samuel love this book?

Primarily a historical work, this book explores how curiosity went from a kind of strange and disreputable act to something that became celebrated and tamed as part of the scientific process. With a focus on the early days of modern science, it is filled with a huge number of delightful examples of what passed for curiosity in previous centuries.

By Philip Ball,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

There was a time when curiosity was condemned. To be curious was to delve into matters that didn't concern you - after all, the original sin stemmed from a desire for forbidden knowledge. Through curiosity our innocence was lost.

Yet this hasn't deterred us. Today we spend vast sums trying to recreate the first instants of creation in particle accelerators, out of pure desire to know. There seems now to be no question too vast or too trivial to be ruled out of bounds: Why can fleas jump so high? What is gravity? What shape are clouds? Today curiosity is…