The history of the world is a subject that is prevalent to everyone. HIstorical events of the past are what have shaped the world today. History also helps the world find solutions to current problems that we may face. The world has existed for many years. On top of its existence, there are 195 countries to learn about. The history of each country can be discussed in hundreds and thousands of books. How do we, as a society, determine what is most important? Everday more historical artifacts, fossils, journals, and more are being discovered. There is no way to keep with everything that has happened in the past, as well as what is happening in the present… but we can try.
What are the Best World History Books to read?
The books oultined here will analyze some of the most important events in world history. They are full of great information that is both engaging and interesting. These books will help readers identify some of the most important moments in history and how they are changing the future.
Best World History Books: Our Top 20 Picks
Here are some of the best world history books that you can consider to expand your knowledge on the subject:
1. A Short History of Nearly Everything
History can be considered one subject, but it can also be divided into subcategories. There is history behind everything, so what should be learned? A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Breyson is, well, a short history of “everything.” Bryson starts at the beginning of time: how humans came to be. He goes on to discuss the greatest historical findings of anthropologists, archaeologists, mathematicians, scientists, and more. The topics in this book are quickly discussed, but that’s okay. By reading this book, people would procure basic knowledge on a number of huge events. They can then use the information they learned to consider researching on those topics extensively. Some of the world’s most asked questions are addressed in this book with history and research. This is a great read for those who can’t seem to choose a history subject to learn.
- Authors: Bill Bryson (Author)
- Publisher: Broadway Books; 1st Edition (September 14, 2004)
- Pages: 544 pages
2. Everything You Need to Ace World History in One Big Fat Notebook
The history of the world is a pertinent subject to every human. There are so many historical events that have shaped what the world is today. History is created every day. To better equip for the present and future, everyone should have a general knowledge of world history. Everything You Need to Ace World History in One Big Fat Notebook by Workman Publish is a great text for updating oneself on Earth’s historic events. There is great history in this book from a number of locations. This book includes many eras and locations: the middle ages across the world, the Paleolithic Era, colonialism, and more. While this is a great text for understanding world history, it is based on lots of science. It discusses the theory of evolution and does not take religion into account. All in all, it’s a wonderful book on world history, but some may be disappointed by the views of the author.
- Authors: Workman Publishing (Author), Michael Lindblad (Editor), Ximena Vengoechea (Contributor), Editors of Brain Quest (Draft Writer)
- Publisher: Workman Publishing Company; Illustrated Edition (August 9, 2016)
- Pages: 528 pages
3. Salt: A World History
History is such an interesting and intriguing subject because there is so much of it. Every item, person, and animal has a history behind them. Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky analyzes the history behind a product that is used all over the world: salt. When sprinkling salt on french fries or eggs in the morning, few take the time to think about its history and where it came from. This book is a unique and fun take on history. Kurlansky sheds light on the only edible rock in the world. There are a lot of great details about salt in this book. Who knew salt could be such an interesting topic… but it is! This is an exciting history book that will engage and entertain readers.
- Authors: Mark Kurlansky (Author)
- Publisher: Penguin Books (January 28, 2003)
- Pages: 496 pages
4. History of the World Part I
The history of the world is extensive. There have been so many historical events, but important and incidental. When learning the history of the world, it can be difficult to determine what to learn. History of the World Part I starring Mel Brooks is a movie that entertains viewers while educating them on the history of the world. Brooks is a hilarious actor that makes every movie he stars in engaging and funny. The movie is called History of the World Part 1, but it doesn’t actually have a part 2. The second movie was never released, which makes the title even funnier. All in all, this is a funny movie about history, but it’s not great for learning. This is mindless entertainment for someone who needs a mood boost.
- Authors: Mel Brooks (Actor)
5. A History of the World in Glasses
Most everyone enjoys a drink now and then. The universe language of beer and alcohol is known far and wide. Drinking can make anything fun– even history can be a fun drinking topic. A History of the World in Glasses by Tom Standage compares six eras of world history to six different drinks. The six drinks are: beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and coca-cola. The eras in this book range from the stone age to the 21st century. Standage has a modern approach to this book. Everyone has their drink of choice, which can then be associated with an era of choice. Readers will be intrigued by the comparisons Standage makes, and want to read more based on said comparisons. This is quite the engaging read. World history has never been discussed in quite this way. This text is fun, entertaining, and easy to read!
- Authors: Tom Standage (Author)
- Publisher: Walker Publishing Company (May 16, 2006)
- Pages: 336 pages
6. A Little History of the World
History is a subject that begins being taught at an elementary level. There are so many events to discuss, and not enough schooling to discuss them. A Little History of the World by E.H. Gombrich is a great text for young readers. Children and teens alike can read this book to learn history in a fun, exciting way. Gombrich writes this book as a long story about mankind. This book is based on facts and research, but it is not told as such. Readers will enjoy this book as an adventure, instead of as a boring history lesson. In addition to being told like a story, this book also has grand and colorful pictures. The book discusses these historical events, but they are not heavily dissected. This is a great book for gaining a basic understanding of world history. That’s why it is perfect for children and teens.
- Authors: E. H. Gombrich (Author), Clifford Harper (Illustrator)
- Publisher: Yale University Press; 7/20/08 Edition (October 7, 2008)
- Pages: 284 pages
7. A History of the World in 100 Objects
“Things” are what seem to make up the world. There seems to be a shop for everything: candles, perfume, clothing, phones, and more. People really seem to enjoy their things, too. So why not use those products to explain history? A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor uses a refreshing approach to tackle important topics in world history. Macgregor discusses world history through specific objects. This book’s focus is on the objects of history. By looking at these objects, readers can see how quickly and efficiently mankind has evolved. There are many cultures, eras, and objects discussed in this book. There is truly something for everyone. The text is intriguing, and never boring. Readers will enjoy reading about history in a unique and engaging way.
- Authors: Neil MacGregor (Author)
- Publisher: Penguin Books; Illustrated Edition (September 24, 2013)
- Pages: 736 pages
8. History of the World Map by Map
Even though world history is meant to discuss the history of the entire world, there are often countries whose histories overshadow others. History of the World Map by Map by DK documents history in a unique way– through the images of maps. There are maps used for many events in this book, like: World War II, the Industrial Revolution, the Atlantic Slave Trade. These are major world events that happened in many different countries. DK uses maps to drive home their research and points made on these historical events. The maps in this book are vivid and defined. The beauty of these images alone will attract readers to learn about these events. History, although interesting, can be a boring subject. By attaching real-life maps and explaining the events that coincide with them, DK turns world history into an exciting subject that many will want to read about.
- Authors: DK (Author), Smithsonian Institution (Contributor)
- Publisher: DK; Illustrated Edition (October 23, 2018)
- Pages: 440 pages
9. A History of the World
There are so many forms of media: movies, tv shows, podcasts, books, magazines, and more. Different forms of media can educate viewers in different ways, so why not combine some of them? A History of the World by Andrew Marr is a book, an audiobook, and a television series. A different topic, time period, or person is addressed in every episode of the television series. These episodes then coincide with sections of the book. This is the ultimate way to read about history. The book covers many topics of world history. The sections done go too into depth on these topics, but that is what the television series is for. The book isn’t too long either. It’s the appropriate length so as to not get bored, but also stay engaged and learn lots.
- Authors: Andrew Marr (Author)
- Publisher: Pan Macmillan; Unabridged edition (November 5, 2012)
- Pages: 500 pages
10. A Short History of the World
A Short HIstory of the World by Christopher Lascelles is a book that aims to fill the big gaps in history. There are many different ages and eras analyzed in this book. The first topic discussed is the Big Bang. There are differing theories and opinions on the Big Bang that are greatly debated. The book, however, still discusses this theory and works through all important historical events. The history in this book is documented up to 2014, when the book was published. Events from the 2000’s are still history, and should be treated as such. This book has a wide array of information that will help many readers understand world history.
- Authors: Christopher Lascelles (Author)
- Publisher: Crux Publishing Ltd (January 15, 2014)
- Pages: 276 pages
11. The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome
The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome by Susan Wise Bauer is an engaging audiobook that discusses the Ancient World. World history is a broad topic because there is so much of it. By narrowing world history down to one era, Bauer can discuss topics with more depth and passion. Creating a world history audiobook is risky. One would expect that an audiobook would simply sound like a lecture. Bauer, however, makes it interesting. Hearing the passion in her voice gets listeners excited about the subject. The audiobook is fun, but it also has negative components. Religion is discussed a little too openly in this book, especially for a world history book. World history should be based on facts, not opinion. This book is still a great listen, though.
- Authors: Susan Wise Bauer (Author)
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Illustrated Edition (March 17, 2007)
- Pages: 896 pages
12. History: From the Dawn of Civilization to the Present Day
The Smithsonian is one of the most famous history museums in the world. They have a wide selection of historical artifacts that are accompanied with their own description. About 29 million people visit the Smithsonian a year, but not everyone can make a trip to DC. History: From the Dawn of Civilization to the Present Day by Smithsonian Institute is the Smithsonian’s very own history book. Those who wish to visit the Smithsonian but can’t make the trip will enjoy this read. The book includes beautiful images to accompany the text. Something of the images included can actually be found in the Smithsonian today. The best part of this book, however, is that it discusses history, as well as contemporary culture. The book discusses the Battle of Hastings, but it also discusses climate change and social media. The Smithsonian Institute provides a great scope of the world, both past and present, in this book.
- Authors: Adam Hart-Davis (Author)
- Publisher: DK ADULT (March 19, 2012)
- Pages: 612 pages
13. The Penguin History of the World
Penguins are arguably one of the cutest forms of birds. They are cute, interesting, and intelligent little animals. They also are not at all associated with world history, but they do make for a catchy title. The Penguin History of the World by J.M. Roberts is not to be mistaken for a book about penguins. This book actually discusses the history of humankind. This book is actually on its sixth edition. The first edition was published in 1976. Roberts was the initial author, but passed away in 2003. The sixth edition of the book has been revised by Arne Westad. The book discusses a number of huge events in the world’s history. The book is a long read, but full of great information. That being said, it can get boring and arduous. However, this is a wonderful text for teaching world history classes because there are so many topics discussed, and it is constantly being updated.
- Authors: J. M. Roberts (Author), Odd Arne Westad (Editor)
- Publisher: Penguin Books; 6th ed. Edition (September 30, 2014)
- Pages: 1280 pages
14. A Little History of the World: Illustrated Edition
A Little History of the World by E.H. Gombrich is a popular, well-reviewed history book. The illustrated edition of this book is just the same. Those who love both history and art will be fascinated with this book. The history lessons are still there, but they are accompanied by beautiful illustrations and pictures. There are many different kinds of illustrations in this book: emblems, symbols, motifs, line drawings, and more. There are beautiful maps, fine paper, and classic designs. The beauty of this book is what draws people in, but the content is what keeps people interested and engaged. This is a wonderful read for people of all ages, and with all backgrounds of history knowledge.
- Authors: E. H. Gombrich (Author)
- Publisher: Yale University Press; Illustrated Edition (October 22, 2013)
- Pages: 364 pages
15. World History for Dummies
When learning about history, it’s easy to think “I’m never going to remember this! Why am I even learning it?” With all the information in the world, it’s easy to think “why bother?”. But no one should give up. World History for Dummies by Peter Haugen explains history in a way that even the “dumbest” person can understand. This language in this book isn’t overly difficult to understand. The topics aren’t confusing or beyond rationalization. This book was made for people who don’t like history and aren’t very good at it. Historians aren’t going to sit down and read this book because it wasn’t made for them. Those who are struggling in a world history class, or simply don’t understand world history, should check out this book. The text is both informative and easy to understand.
- Authors: Peter Haugen (Author)
- Publisher: For Dummies; 2nd Edition (June 2, 2009)
- Pages: 408 pages
16. World History: From the Ancient World to the Information Age
World History: From the Ancient World to the Information Age by Phillip Parker takes a look at 350 of the world’s most valuable events. In this book, Parker discusses turning points in history, like: the creation of important inventions, the discovery of important theories, technological advances, and more. This book covers a wide range of years and places. And it does so in a readable way. There are fun facts included in this book, as well as colorful pictures. This is a wonderful read for history buffs, but it’s also great for those currently taking a history class. The information in this book is easy to learn. Students in world history classes will be ahead of schedule. Most anyone can read this book and gain a better understanding of world history.
- Authors: Philip Parker (Author)
- Publisher: DK; Slp Edition (October 3, 2017)
- Pages: 416 pages
17. Advanced Placement World History: Modern
Students of all ages need a reliable textbook when studying world history. Advanced Placement World History by Perfection Learning covers many AP world history topics. Young teens and high school students will thoroughly enjoy this book. The information in it is straight to the point and interesting. The language is easy to read, but not so easy that students won’t be challenged. Educators will be able to identify key units and concepts in this book for classes. And students who are taking AP World History but are not assigned this book can read it, too. This edition of the book was updated in 2020, so everything is accurate and appropriate for readers. This is a modern textbook with lots of great information.
- Authors: Editors (Author)
- Publisher: Perfection Learning (September 1, 2019)
18. Patterns of World History: Volume One
Patterns of World History: Volume One by Peter Von Sivers, Charles A. Desnoyers, and George B. Stow is a book full of history patterns that have repeated themselves. By studying the origins of various origins, interactions, and adaptations of the past, the authors discover patterns that have occurred in history. The common phrase, “History Repeats Itself,” doesn’t lie. However, each historical pattern has the opportunity to stop. The pattern must simply be identified, and then society can try and stop it. This is a wonderful book that helps people understand the historical patterns of the world, and how they are affecting the present.
- Authors: Peter Von Sivers (Author), Charles A. Desnoyers (Author), George B. Stow (Author)
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 3rd Edition (September 1, 2017)
- Pages: 792 pages
19. World History in Documents: A Comparative Reader
World History in Documents: A Comparative Reader by Peter N. Stearns is a book that teaches history through documents. There have been many historical documents in history that made a huge impact on society today. This is a wonderful book for college level history courses, or AP history courses in high school. Students will be able to accurately analyze the text of some of the world’s most important documents. This book is on its second edition. The first edition was released in 2003, and this edition was published in 2008. The documents in this book are great for survey classes. There are many interesting texts included in this book.
- Authors: Peter N. Stearns (Author)
- Publisher: NYU Press; 2nd Edition (April 15, 2008)
- Pages: 640 pages
20. Inquiry-Based Lessons in World History: Early Humans to Global Expansion
History has many lessons. Some lessons simply acknowledge what happened and moving forward. Other lessons are there to teach the world to learn from their mistakes and not repeat them. This is the first volume in this book series, so it only covers a specific time period: 15,000 BCE to 1500 CE. There are many lesson plans included in this book. Teachers will appreciate the lessons in this book. These lessons are clear-cut, to the point, and great for high school students. There are thought-provoking lessons, plenty of resources, and great tasks for students. This is a fun history book that will really help teachers engage their students.
- Authors: Jana Kirchner (Author), Andrew McMichael (Author)
- Publisher: Prufrock Press (May 15, 2019)
- Pages: 200 pages
Choosing the Best World History Books
These world history books don’t begin to cover the many historical events of the world, but they are a start. They are great reads that will help the world understand its history. Reading these books is the ultimate history lesson. By reading and engaging with these books, readers can find the parts of history they most like, and then learn more about it.