• Image about reading-author-americanway

Take a page out of these interesting books and learn something new.

Look at you — reading yet another biography of an American president or another book about cooking or another self-help tome. But why? You already know every detail of Lincoln’s life, you’ve mastered how to sauté the perfect steak, and you decoded The Secret long ago. So break out of your reading rut with these five books that will teach you things you didn’t think you needed to know about, but you’ll be grateful that you do.

THE BOOK: The Moral Lives of Animals (Bloomsbury Press, $26)
WHY IT’S WORTH READING: OK, this one can get a smidge thick with data. (Hello, footnotes!) But stick with it: Author Dale Peterson’s animal tales may change your thinking when it comes to the behavior of creatures great and small.

THE BOOK: She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth (Harper, $28)
WHY IT’S WORTH READING: Author Helen Castor’s history of the women who ruled England between the 12th and 16th centuries is far juicier than any royal wedding (sorry, Will and Kate). It’s an intriguing read filled with power, politics and huge personalities.

THE BOOK: Beyond Boundaries: The New Neuroscience of Connecting Brains with Machines — and How It Will Change Our Lives (Times Books, $28)
WHY IT’S WORTH READING: Though, at times, it may already seem like we’re one with machines, you can put the smartphone down. One day, man and machine will really connect. Neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis’ challenging but worthwhile book argues it may be a good thing.

THE BOOK: Embroidered Ground: Revisiting the Garden (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26)
WHY IT’S WORTH READING: Even if plants curl up in fear when you glance in their general direction, you’ll find peace and calm in author and garden designer Page Dickey’s memoir of her personal green space. The book might even inspire you to take a fern home. Or maybe start with a cactus.

THE BOOK: You Are What You Speak: Grammar Grouches, Language Laws, and the Politics of Identity (Delacorte Press, $25)
WHY IT’S WORTH READING: The grandson of a grammar snob and the son of a Southerner who was a “master talker,” author Robert Lane Greene has a conversational writing style that is equal parts entertaining and informative.