Trivia Books

Which books to read if you want to win more often at Trivial Pursuit..

Trivia Books

Trivial Pursuit players only have one way to get better at the game they love--studying trivia. Not every book on this list pertains directly to the questions and answers in the TP board game, but a familiarity with trivia in general will improve your Trivial Pursuit skills. This collection of ten trivia books will bolster the library of Trivial Pursuit players and trivia buffs of all varieties.

1. The Trivia Encyclopedia

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This book is a must-own for Trivial Pursuit nerds like me. The Trivia Encyclopedia is David L. Worth's trivia book that the creators of Trivial Pursuit culled facts from to create the game we know and love. Though it is long out-of-print, copies are available on Amazon for as little as $2 or $3. It is worth it just to find the notorious Columbo question that led to the first Trivial Pursuit legal case. The Trivia Encyclopedia also happens to be one of the earliest collections of trivia, though many of its facts are now long out of date. What's the capital of Yugoslavia? Well, since there is no Yugoslavia anymore ...

2. The People's Almanac

Unless you like digging around for out-of-print or used books, look for the updated version of this book, The People's Almanac Guide to the 20th Century. Most of Trivial Pursuit's categories contain lots of 20th century questions, so the updated version will probably tip your next Trivial Pursuit game more in your favor. Full of intricate detail on the 20th century's most minor characters and events, The People's Almanac (or the updated 20th century version) is the perfect bedtime study browser for the Trivial Pursuit fanatic in you.

3. The Concise Guide to Sounding Smart at Parties

Subtitled "An Irreverent Compendium of Must Know Info From Sputnik to Smallpox and Marie Curie to Mao," The Concise Guide to Sounding Smart at Parties made a big splash five years ago when it first appeared, partly because of its hilarious and lengthy title and partly because at the book's release party it is rumored that Britney Spears' ex-husband Keven Federline (famously kind of a dolt) asked the book's editors if they could give him some quick tips to sound smart. Seriously, this book is dense with factoids and trivia but is also easy to read, with really funny entries on everything from the theology of Martin Luther to Che Guevara's taste in food.

4. The Book of Lists

There were several editions of The Book of Lists (The Big Book of Lists, Even More Lists, etc.) printed in the 70s and 80s and reprinted many times since. While not everything in these books, edited by the father of the editor of The People's Almanac, will be useful to your pursuit of Trivial Pursuit excellence, becoming familiar with the endless lists of trivia and facts will expand the scope of your trivia studying. For example, learning the pet names of famous couples could lead you to learn more about Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes or Rene and Georgette Magritte. A good trivia study session starter, and a great bathroom book.

5. The Big Book of American Trivia

There are more than 3,000 American-themed trivia (along with answers of course) in The Big Book of American Trivia, most recently reprinted in 2002. Put together by a Trivial Pursuit expert, these questions cover all the big topics in Trivial Pursuit: geography, history, entertainment, people, culture, and even a category called "quirky miscellany" that's good for those weird wild card questions we all sometimes deal with. Since most American editions of Trivial Pursuit are mostly focused on American trivia, The Big Book of American Trivia is a perfect study guide.

6. 5,087 Trivia Questions & Answers

Want to know the exact amount Warner Bros. paid for the rights to the song "Happy Birthday"? That, and 5,086 other facts and trivialities, are covered in 5,087 Trivia Questions and Answers, broken up into sections like language, art, government, sports, film, history, science, religion, business, and food. This book is based on twenty-plus years of trivia taken from the popular 365 Amazing Trivia Facts Page-A-Day Calendar. Trivia facts available in this book not found anywhere else include the name of the President who was ticketed for speeding while in office, the name of the dog on the Cracker Jacks box and the actual difference between a "nook" and a "cranny." Not everything in this book is applicable to Trivial Pursuit, but its a fun trivia study starter.

7. 8,888 Questions in 365 Days

Also known as Ken Jennings' Trivia Almanac, this collection of trivia questions might serve someone studying for Jeopardy! more than a Trivial Pursuit geek like me. Every day in the calendar has a historical event tied to it, and there are questions for that day based on a theme related to that day in history. There are three categories of questions for each day: Easy, Hard, and Yeah Good Luck. That's why this isn't the ideal Trivial Pursuit study guide--there aren't really categories of difficulty in Trivial Pursuit the way there are difficulty categories in Jeopardy! based on the money value of the question.

8. The New York Times Guide to Essential Knowledge

Subtitled A Desk Reference for the Curious Mind," The New York Times Guide to Essential Knowledge carries with it the progeny of the Grey Lady herself, the New York Times. An expensive and hefty tome, this is less of a trivia book and more like a quick guide to everything that a highly-educated person should know. Complete with 1,000 profiles of important people from pretty much every field to a complete sports trivia and fact section, a writer's editorial and style guide, and even a thirty-thousand word History of the World. Important writers giving facts on important subjects, and the only reference guide that most people will ever need.

9. Sorry, Wrong Answer: Trivia Questions that Even Know-It-Alls Get Wrong

A quote from Ken Jennings on the back of the book says it all about this trivia guide--this is a compendium of thousands of facts that trivia buffs think they know but really don't. For example: "What color is the black box on a commercial airplane?" The answer? Orange. Of course it's orange, otherwise it might be difficult to find among wreckage or at the bottom of the ocean. This will complete your trivia education by fixing those quirky little facts that most people get wrong.

10. Discover's 20 Things You Didn't Know About . . .

The editors of Discover Magazine put this fact book together. Less a trivia book than a book of lists (20 Things You Didn't Know About Duct Tape, etc.), this book is still a perfect addition to any trivia fan or Trivial Pursuit nut's home library.