You know what is great? Reading a nonfiction book that is not only entertaining, but also teaches you new and fun facts! It’s so satisfying to read about history (or nature or famous people or science or…) and also discover interesting facts you didn’t know. You know, those books that make you turn to the person next to you and say, “Hey, did you know…” The brain has an infinite capacity for learning and no one knows everything. We encourage you to continue to learn, and that’s why we’ve created this fun list of unusual books that will blow your mind!
This list is comprised of unusual history about larger-than-life inventions that have become mainstays of civilization, such as cars, diners, circuses, and bowling alleys. These everyday items have some weird history stories behind them that will tickle your hippocampus and lead you down rabbit holes of searches on the internet. Be sure to buckle your brain in for this wild ride!
Lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my! Millions upon millions of people have attended a circus at one time or another, but how much do you actually know about the men who created one of entertainment's most beloved past times? Bestselling author Les Standiford pulls back the tent flaps to expose the ingenuity, business sense, and determination of three circus kings, James Bailey, P. T. Barnum, and John Ringling, whose rivalry created an institution greater than any of them ever imagined.
Tad Burness; Matt Stone (Commentaries by)
And for people interested in cars, this is a massive tome covering 70 years of the American automobile industry, highlighting the stars and duds of each decade. Author Tad Burness painstakingly details more than 250 manufacturers and hundreds of individual models from the first Model Ts to roll off Ford's assembly line to the early SUVs of the 1990s. At over 1,300 pages and with 12,500 illustrations, there isn't a more comprehensive car book filled with facts to be found.
Have you ever wondered why we have three meals a day? Or why certain foods are considered breakfast foods? Or why dinner is supposed to be our largest meal of the day? Well, Abigail Carroll did, and she answers these questions and a lot more in Three Squares—including where the expression 'three squares' came from. It's a fascinating look at how history is reflected in our eating habits and the foods we eat.
And, hey, did you know that amusement parks were created over 900 years ago? That's right, those thrilling roller coasters and daredevil drops of present-day parks started out in as "pleasure gardens" of Europe and England over nine centuries ago. Author Silverman traces the history of these parks up to the 21st century, outlining stories of the colorful characters and unusual inventions that made them what they are today.
Cars that travel underground—who'd have thunk it?!? Well, Alfred Ely Beach, actually. John E. Morris traces the story of the subway from its invention and the obstacles and corruption that impeded its progress, to when the first New York subway line opened in 1904. He also describes the unusual figures in history who were a part of the process, how the subway changed transportation, the evolution of fares and subway cars, how subway etiquette changed over the decades, and much more.
But before subway cars traveled the tracks, there were the great steam engines that crossed the country. In this fascinating look at the history of trains in America, writer and broadcaster Christian Wolmar takes readers on a journey (ha) through time by railway. Starting with the 1830s opening of the Baltimore & Ohio line, the first American railroad, the idea of train travel sparked a revolution in the United States. The hope was that one day every town would be connected by train, and in fact more than 200,000 miles of track was laid down by the 1900s, until train travel was eclipsed by planes, cars, and subways in the middle of the 20th century.
And last, but not least, this is an insightful look at how the post-WWII consumer boom changed the American landscape. America's working-class suburbs were changed by the abundance of chrome and neon. And no products relied on this more heavily than diners, bowling alleys, and trailer parks. Using his knowledge of these three distinctively American institutions, Andrew Hurley expertly examines the impact on the economy by Americans with modest means after two decades of depression. He also examines each institution's invention, rise, and decline. It's a book packed full of interesting and unusual cultural facts!