31 Books Every Serious Jeopardy Hopeful Should Own For Trivia Study
Last Update April 14, 2022
We've recently combed through a ton of past Jeopardy winner interviews as well as conducted some of our own to find a list of books that were often cited as key for study prep material. These are in no particular order but, in Mike Richards fashion, we've put our book first. Ha! This list is by no means complete as some books were very out of date and leaves off all of James Holzhauer's kids books (a list for another day!). We hope you enjoy!
1. The JStudy Guide Book Buy Here
We're a bit biased here, but this is a book that was specifically designed for Jeopardy study (from American Presidents to Potent Potables). It comes only in PDF form and curates hundreds of hours of content into 500 pages. Think of it as the rest of the books on this list squeezed into compact form. Most topics come with helpful memory-aided images and links to helpful explainer videos.
2. Cultural Literacy (Buy Here*)
Ken Jennings recommended everyone read this big behemoth. It's more than 672 pages long and and weighs an astonishing 3.2 lbs. Use this as a keystone book in your Jeopardy study collection.
3. An Incomplete Education (Buy Here*)
This book is even longer at over 941 pages. The tounge-in-cheek writing makes the study topics easy to retain. We recommend the Kindle version!
4. Get Ready by Buzzy Cohen (Get Here*)
Be sure to get Buzzy’s audiobook (he narrates it). You'll learn his preparation strategy and what it takes to be a repeat champion, TOC winner, and trivia master!
5. Moonwalking with Einstein (Get Here*)
This is helpful for learning how to remember (especially lists or cramable facts). You'll learn how to build a memory palace and an entire deck of cards!
6. Secrets of the Buzzer (Get Here*)
If you make it to the show, you should read and re-read this book. It's strategy gold.
7. Prisoner of Trebekistan: A Decade in Jeopardy! (Buy Here*)
This is a great narrative of Bob Harris, one of Jeopardy's biggest winners before the no game limit era. You'll laugh and learn important strategies for dissecting clues.
8. The Intellectual Devotional (Buy Here*)
One of our favorite ways to get smarter one day at a time. A devotional for general knowledge!
9. Answers in the Form of Questions: A Definitive History and Insider's Guide to Jeopardy (Get Here*)
Claire's a big fan of the show and she'll take you behind the scenes which can give you a good sense of what it's like to stand on the big stage.
10. Secrets of the Jeopardy Champions (Get Here*)
Although this book has become a little outdated, Chuck Forrest was the Ken Jennings before Ken Jennings. This book provides a great narrative introduction and then a bunch of facts you should remember that are likely to appear on Jeopardy.
11. A History of Knowledge: Past, Present, and Future (Buy Here*)
A one-voume reference to the history of ideas that is a compendium of everything that humankind has thought, invented, created, considered, and perfected from the beginning of civilization into the twenty-first century
12. The Book of Unusual Knowledge (Get Here*)
The Book of Unusual Knowledge is a mammoth 704-page padded hardcover book crammed with a cornucopia of information some useful, others not so much but all of it completely captivating. It's perfect for anyone with a curious mind and a passion for learning.
13. Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words (Get It Here*)
Skip the jargon and get right to understanding complicated things in simple terms. This book is a great compliment for understanding scientific concepts.
14. The Ultimate Geography Quiz Book (Buy It Here*)
Geography is a must. This book will help with active recall in your detailed geography knowledge.
15. 501 Must-Visit Destinations (Buy It Here*)
With so many on-location, video, and image clues these days, it's important you can recognize major world destinations. This makes for a great coffee table book (or get the Kindle version if that's not your style).
16. Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes (Buy It Here*)
This 75th anniversary edition of a classic bestseller is stunningly illustrated and designed to enchant fans of Greek, Roman, and Norse mythology at all ages.
17. Made in America: An Informal History of the English Language in the United States (Get It Here*)
Form contestant Terri Pous said this book: "the whole thing is written in such an engaging way that pretty much every sentence made me say, "Oh my god, I never knew that!"
18. Mental Floss: The Curious Reader: Facts About Famous Authors and Novels (Buy It Here*)
A very useful format to learn the most popular authors and books in literature. These give a quick synopsis and key details to get most of what you need out of this category.
19. The Essential Bar Book for Home Mixologists: Tools, Techniques, and Spirits to Master Cocktails (Get It Here*)
You have to know your Potent Potables! This or any other bar book will do. The Essential Bar Book is free for Kindle Unlimited members, so this is a good start.
20. Ken Jenning's Trivia Almanac (Get Here*)
We'd be remiss if we left out the GOAT. Ken Jennings has several trivia books you can check out (as well as a great kid collection).
21. Everything You Need to Ace American History in One Big Fat Notebook (Buy Here*)
Remember Brain Quest flash cards? Well those same guys now write books. These are great because they are meant for middle-schoolers and extract only the core information you need to know (which is what most of Jeopardy is anyway). We'd also recommend their World History and Science versions.
22. Everything You Need to Ace World History in One Big Fat Notebook (Get It Here*)
From the same guys above. You'll want to snatch up their World History version too.
23. Everything You Need to Ace Science in One Big Fat Notebook (Get It Here*)
Annnd one more from this series. Get this one too!
24. Football for Dummies (Get It Here*)
For some reason, modern America's most popular sport seems to be a bugaboo for a lot of contestants. Maybe we trivia nerds didn't play a lot of pigskin back in the day :) ? Either way the category comes up a lot and this book is great even if you have a working knowledge of football.
25. Scholastic Year in Sports (Current Year) (Find Here*)
With players constantly changing teams, records being broken, and team relocations happening all the time, you have to stay on top of the most popular knowledge nuggets. Who knows, there could be a Daily Double lurking in that dreaded sports category.
26. The United States of Sports: An Atlas of Teams, Stats, Stars, and Facts for Every State in America (Get Here*)
We recommend this for the player already strong in sports. This will help you get those 1000-2000 value questions (like having to name stadiums play in).
27. World Almanac (Current Year + Last Year's) (Buy Here*)
This is mainly to stay up on current events if you're not a big news watcher. We recommend getting the current year plus a few years back. Circle everything you haven't learned before and go watch some videos on it. Pay special attention to top songs, news stories, and words added the OED.
28. 100 Great Operas And Their Stories (Get It Here*)
If you want to be competitive in Double Jeopardy, knowing the Arts is going to be a big advantage. There are several Daily Doubles in these categories. Get to know the 25 most popular so you can at least be serviceable in this category. It's also important to go listen to the most popular pieces from these operas since this category is notorious for audio and video clues.
29. Art That Changed The World (Get It Here*)
Art and Art History comes up a lot. Especially in image clues. Often, you can catch word associations that come up repeatedly in clues. For example, (Dadaism usually means Duchamp.. old sculpture usually means Rodin, etc). Here's a great video from a former contestant explaining these word associations.
30. National Geographic's Who's Who in the Bible (Buy It Here*)
The Bible is also a surprisingly popular category for a "secular" show. Clues are seemingly more Old Testament leaning. Get this book from NG to help you know who the important players are.
31. The Answer Is . . .: Reflections on My Life (Get Here*)
And we can't leave off Alex. His book won't help you with a ton of trivia, but it will certainly fuel your motivation to partake in such a storied game show and solidify anyone's reverence for the pursuit of knowledge.
Bonus Book: Plot Summaries of Shakespeare's Plays: 35 Plays Summarized. Bill Shakespeare should be covered by the books above (JStudy, Cultural Literacy, An Incomplete Education) but if Shakespeare is a weak point you may want a book dedicated to it.
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