I’ve written over a thousand books – yes, really –  and many have sold millions of copies around the world and include best-sellers, such as the award-winning Do Not Open and Do You Think You’re Clever? and How the Earth Works. Many of my books focus on popular science, and I’ve been shortlisted a record five times for the Young People’s Science Book Prize. I also focus on earth science, nature, and environmental issues and my Atlas of Oceans gained some glowing reviews from the Cousteaus, Carl Safina, Nancy Knowlton and Harm de Blij.


Here is a list of all the books written and translated by John Farndon


Earth and nature


The Practical Encyclopedia of Rocks and Minerals

by John Farndon

Hermes House/Lorenz Books (March, 2006)

How to Find, Identify and Collect Rocks & Minerals, with Over 900 Colour Photographs and Artworks. The ultimate photographic guide to the world of rocks and minerals, with a strong emphasis on how to build a diverse and colourful collection.



“Nicely done – good illustrations, lots of variety, clearly written…Every mineral collector needs several sources to get a good idea of what he or she has and this is one that I will continue to use… worth having among your library.”

Stuart Schneider, Amazon customer

“My son and I are “Rock Hounds” and this book is fantastic! It has as much, if not more, information that an amateur rock hound needs! We love it!”

Amazon customer

“Good field guide for a layman. Explains the scientific terminology well and doesn’t presume you’re already familiar with it. Not a pocket guide but wonderful once you come home with small pebbles and digital pictures of boulders, explains everything”

Robert A Sloan, Amazon customer

“A great book for rock and mineral collectors! I love the pictures and the explanations. I have learned a lot and keep the book for reference.”

Mary Ann Ashcraft. Amazon customer

“I love this book as the photos of the rocks and minerals are realistic to what most samples you see are!”

Amazon customer

The Wildlife Atlas

by John Farndon

Readers Digest (2002)

A richly illustrated natural history reference utilizes three-dimensional maps and more than four hundred captioned photographs and illustrations to capture eight distinct habitats around the world and the varied wildlife that make each region their home, and features an A-Z guide to more than one thousand of the world’s major animals.


Stunning panoramic illustrations take families around the world to discover where and how wild animals live.”

How the Earth Works
by John Farndon

Dorling Kindersley (2002)

Here is a stimulating introduction for the whole family to the secrets of planet Earth. Packed with hundreds of experiments that let you discover the way the Earth works. Create your own “home laboratory.” For ages 8-14

Awards & Reviews

Shortlisted for Rhone-Poulenc Science Book Junior Prize 1993


“With a few plastic trays, some sheets of foam rubber, a handful of sand and a bucket of water, you can discover how mountains rise up, a river carves out a meandering course and how to make sedimentary rock. It is an exciting book that will encourage experiments and observation.”

Maggie Mc Donald, New Scientist

“This book is the single most helpful book I have ever run across in trying to explain to my very visual son what happens when different earth phenomena occur…You will be amazed.”

Laurie J. Mitchell, Amazon customer

Radio, TV and Web

Saturday Morning Live (ITV)

Sky TV news

Radio Wales

Radio Four pick of the week

Related Events

Schools tour

South Wales Show

Stuff you should know about Planet Earth
by John Farndon

QED (2017)

How do hurricanes form? Why does the moon change shape? What are tectonic plates? You’ll discover the answer to these questions and many more when you step inside the inner workings of Planet Earth! In this fascinating introduction to Planet Earth, large, colourful diagrams are brought to life by tiny people running around performing the actions that are explained in the text.

Awards & Reviews

“An absolutely brilliant and comprehensive book and as the title says it is Stuff You Should Know About Planet Earth. It was detailed enough to be informative and gave a great diving board for further exploration. Exactly the type of book I would have loved growing up. Very highly recommended.”

JRo NetGalley

Ideas and Issues

The World’s Greatest Idea

by John Farndon

Icon Books (2010)

Democracy, Capitalism, Sewers, Internet, Wine, Farming, Romance – what’s the greatest idea ever? In this book, John Farndon, author of the best-selling Do You Think You’re Clever? sets out to find the answer. With each chapter arguing for a particular idea, this is a witty, erudite and regularly surprising voyage of discovery through the most powerful intellectual, social, scientific and creative sparks of genius humans ever had. The ideas are ranked according to a public vote on – will you agree with the verdict?

Awards & Reviews

The Wish List top 50 books of 2011, Exclusive Books, South Africa.

Books for pop scientists and clever clogs, Our Book Club, 2010

Radio, TV and Web

                                    Hannah Murray, Talk Radio Europe

                                    REM Mediterraneo

                                    Newstalk, Ireland, 106-108fm

                                    SAFM Lifestyle (South Africa)

                                    Chris Gibbons, Cape Talk Radio

                                    BBC Radio Sussex

                                    Manx Radio, Isle of Man

                                    Weekend Nights with John Scott, Radio 4BC, Australia                    


Related media

                                    Nature Soapbox Science Blog (

                                    Big Science Saturday, Brighton Science Festival (


“writing that is both witty and insightful. As a history buff, I enjoyed this book immensely…”


“This is a witty and surprising read – you learn something new with each idea, even if it’s just where the public rates the idea! This is another great holiday/commuting book”

Laboratory News

“Read this fascinating book.”

FM, Ballarat

“very interesting reading”

Bournemouth Echo


“`The World’s Greatest Idea’ strikes me as a perfect example of the whole’s being greater than the sum of the parts. The parts: the fifty great ideas of course. The whole: the human mind itself, fizzing and sparking away in a rather comfortless universe, conjuring up dreams, stratagems, cunning devices, systems of belief… John Farndon’s book succeeds where quite a number of more portentous studies of human thought have failed, in converying a sense of our dazzling inventiveness, and the sheer scale and range of our achievements, mostly admirable, but occasionally villainous… I heartily recommend his book.”

Michael Douglas Porter, Amazon uk, customer review*****

“Great book”

Annette J Dunlea Literary blog

“John Farndon’s THE WORLD’S GREATEST IDEA is a brilliant book by a scintillating science writer.”

Barbara, Amazon UK customer review *****


Iran: Everything You Need to Know

by John Farndon

Icon (2012)

‘Iran: Everything You Need to Know’, provides capsule histories of the US-engineered coup that overthrew the mildly reformist Prime Minister Mossadeq in 1953, the events that led to the Revolution in 1979, the return from exile of Ayatollah Khomeini and the resulting rule of the mullahs. It gives a valuable overview of the US/Iran relationship of mutual antipathy that has seen Iranians categorize America as the ‘Great Satan’, while Bush included Iran in his fatuous ‘Axis of Evil’.



John Farndon’s Iran: Everything You Need to Know is an excellent and corrective primer on the culture and politics of this fascinating and complex country…a valuable overview.

Peter Whittaker, New Internationalist

John Farndon offers an insightful depiction of a country shrouded in controversy yet deeply embedded in fascinating history…This book will let you formulate your own opinion.

Felicity Reynolds, South Coast Register

Farndon demolishes myths about [Iran] with lots of facts about the way Britain, America and Russia have manipulated the rulers of Iran in their quest for influence, land and oil.

Harry Mottram, Western Daily Press

Surprisingly, Farndon’s effortless writing style manages to make an elaborately expansive history lesson fly by like an adventure novel….Any Western reader wishing to develop a better understanding of this important Middle Eastern country should take it upon themselves to read this book. Many books may offer information on Iran, but few will offer it in such an engaging, non-biased, easy-to-digest format.

Zach Freeman, Blogger News Network

The book takes us back to Persia’s beginnings with Farndon’s easy-to-read condensed history of Iran (not an easy thing to do considering Iran’s status as one of the oldest places of human inhabitance in the world)…It’s a book to pick up when the Western press’s hysteria about Iran needs a bit of a balance.

Sophie Larder, Passport Moscow

Do Not Open

by John Farndon

Dorling Kindersley (2007)

From the publishers who brought you the totally fantastic Pick Me Up, Put Me Down, find out where the Bermuda Triangle is, whether alien abductions actually happen, and the truth about crop circles. Explore lost worlds, unravel secret codes, marvel at mysterious places and meet spooks, spies, secret keepers and scandal makers of the world.

Awards & Reviews

Awarded by the Voice of Youth Advocates organization –VOYA Nonfiction Honor List,

New York Times Bestseller, 2008

Washington Post Kids Post Book of the Week 16th Dec 2007


“My ten year-old daughter and I have been really enjoying ‘Do Not Open’ …a colorful book filled with unexplained mysteries, bizarre anecdotes through the ages, great escapes, codes, optical illusions, hoaxes, and explanations of secret systems and complexes.”

Mark Frauenfelder, Boing Boing

“Do Not Open comes peeking out from between the bars of its own little prison door and will. . . make children immediately ignore the warning of its title. . . This is a good bet for pre-(and full) teens.”

The Wall Street Journal

“The title says “Do Not Open,” but once you do, you won’t want to close it again. The art is bold, the pages are eye-popping and the stories range from odd to awesome.”

Washington Post 

“Do Not Open is lavishly illustrated, well thought out and lots of fun…This book will keep [children] amused for hours, but it will also inform and educate.”

Times Educational Supplement,

“If you enjoy solving mysteries with the detectives, examining the evidence like a CSI, or reading choose-your-own adventure or 5-minute-mystery novels, this is your book….Do Not Open is aptly named, because once you open and start reading, it’s nearly impossible to put down.”

W L Clark, Last Broadcast 

“For the ten and up crowd who think they know everything, this is the perfect gift.”


“All pages are so well-written and imaginatively designed, it’s hard to pick a favourite… Unputdownable – you will keep flicking back again and again to learn something new.”

CBBC Newsround

“This collection of the unexplained, the unthinkable, some freaky facts and government secrets will delight readers of all ages — if they can handle the truth”

Pittsburgh Gazette 

“A truly intriguing collection of factoids and figures on everything from dead popes to black holes (and seemingly everything in-between), Do Not Open is a coffee book your guests (and you) might actually read. Turn randomly to any page and you’ll likely land on something of interest.”

Mike Thomas, Chicago Sun-Times


“What child wouldn’t love a book that comes with its own vault? What adult wouldn’t love that?…one of the most fascinating encyclopedias to be read!”

Shvoong online

“It’s a dare, see. If you’re brave enough to crack its disco-ball-shiny magnetic exoskeleton and take a peek, Do Not Open threatens to totally blow your mind with secrets and mysteries so mysteriously secretive, you’ll never be the same again.”



“Here’s an author who knows how to get kids to read: use reverse psychology in the title and then make the first test whether they can actually get the book out of its slip case! Inside there’s a multicoloured stash of secret stuff’

Readings, Australia

 “Do Not Open is a treasure trove of hidden, “naughty” tidbits that will surely give any kid a feeling of mischief while they’re actually learning to love knowledge…Are you telling me that doesn’t sound like the best kid’s book ever?”

Kyle Olson, Hipster Book Club

“Is it a safe? No, just a book made to look like one, and in the best tradition of publisher Dorling Kindersley, it’s a lively, provocative, vividly illustrated collection of trivia and odd facts about everything and everyone, from Watergate’s Deep Throat to the Rosetta Stone.”

Entertainment Weekly

“Arcane, weird and just plain interesting stuff to know… It’s like holding some the wildest page of the web in your hands.”

Read Alert

“Taking in everything from “weird weather” like St. Elmo’s fire and raining frogs to possible locations of Atlantis, the book incites curiosity—and expansively rewards it.”

Publishers Weekly

  “Either way this is one exciting read. Boys and reluctant readers won’t be able to resist this fantastic book!”


“Cool Read: …a pop culture, eccentric and thoroughly hip matter…For the ten and up crowd who think they know everything, this is the perfect gift.”


“Title’s too good to resist:…Do Not Open… gives the lowdown on the CIA, Air Force One, UFOs and Great Escapes, for wannabe secret agents.”

Alison Walsh

“Excellent. ‘Nuff said.”

Ophelia, Amazon

China Rises & India Booms

China Rises: How China’s Astonishing Growth Will Change the World

& India Booms: The Breathtaking Development and Influence of Modern India

by John Farndon

Icon (2012)

China Rise explores the changing face of modern China and its fundamental contradictions, as a communist state where business is booming. India will soon rival China, and perhaps even the United States, on the world stage as India Booms shows. These entertaining, up-to-date and informative guides provide all the information readers need on the India and China of today.

Children’s book series

Science Experiment series

by John Farndon

Benchmark (2001; 2002; 2003)

15 books: Color; Electricity; Light and Optics; Sound and Hearing;

Water; Gravity, Weight, and Balance; The Human Body; Levers, Wheels, and Pulleys; Magnetism; Solids, Liquids, and Gases; Chemicals; Motion; Rocks and Minerals; Time; Buoyancy 

The experiments contained in each chapter of these books allow young scientists to investigate basic principles using common household materials and easy-to-follow instructions.


[The Human Body; Flight] Best Books for Children


[Flight] Editors’ Choice 2002




World of Plants series

by John Farndon

Blackbirch Press (January, 2006)

6 books: Seeds; Roots; Stems; Leaves; Flowers; Fruit 

Using clear language and short sentences, these titles provide descriptions of the forms and functions for the various parts of plants, such as the way in which roots carry food and water to the rest of the plant or the purpose of the stem.

In Touch With Nature series

by John Farndon

Blackbirch Press (March, 2004)

6 books: Insects; Flowering Plants; Mammals; Life in the Soil; Living Things; Butterflies and Moths

In Touch with Nature provides exciting introductions to the amazing world of nature, built around hands-on experiments, observations, and projects. The series helps children to find out about the natural world in a way that no amount of reading alone could match.

Science frontiers series

by John Farndon

Heinemann (2007)

4 books: What Do We Know About Stars & Galaxies? (Earth, Space and Beyond); From Newton’s Rainbow to Frozen Light: Discovering Light; From DNA to GM Wheat: Discovering Genetically Modified Food; From Laughing Gas to Face Transplants: Discovering Transplant Surgery


Big Ideas, Simply Explained

by John Farndon and others

DK  (2013 on)

John Farndon is the lead author on the worldwide best-selling Big Ideas Simply Explained series which uses creative design and innovative graphics, along with straightforward and engaging writing, to make complex subjects easier to understand.

These books provide just the information needed for students, families, or anyone interested in concise, thought-provoking refreshers on a single subject.

List of Books

He was the major contributor in these books:

  • The Politics Book
  • The Science Book
  • The Economics Book
  • The Movie Book
  • The Shakespeare Book
  • The Sherlock Holmes Book
  • The Ecology Book
  • The Maths Book
  • The Physics Book

by John Farndon and others

John Farndon is lead author of this inspirational exploration of planet Earth. Visit 400 of the tallest, longest, widest, most significant and most unusual geographical features of planet Earth. Then take a look at the health of our planet and explore the interaction between people and the environment to understand the human impact on nature.

Natural Wonders of the World

by various authors including John Farndon foreword by Chris Packham

Dorling Kindersley (2003)

Natural Wonders of the World combines breathtaking landscape photography with 3D terrain models and other explanatory artworks to reveal what lies beneath the surface and show how geographical features are formed. From South America’s Amazon River to Asia’s Himalayas and Australia’s Ninety Mile Beach, this is a truly unrivalled exploration of Earth’s most amazing places


A truly wonderful work – a colourful, visual feast of a book which transports you to the various Continents highlighting a fair selection of fascinating sites which provide an engrossing selection of interesting features. The photography and accompanying art work are exquisite and the related text is concise, but more than enough to supply adequate, interesting information.


Wow!! This is an utterly fantastic book in my opinion. It is stacked full of the most brilliant and stunningly beautiful photography from every corner of the globe.

Amazon customer

The Human Body

Big Book of the Brain

by John Farndon

Benchmark (2001; 2002; 2003)

How many nerve cells are in the human brain? How does the brain communicate with the rest of the body? What happens when we think? The Big Book of the Brain answers all of these questions and many more.


Shortlisted, Young People’s Science Book Prize 2001


Project Body

by John Farndon

Miles Kelly (2015)

Project Body is packed with super cool facts, hands-on activities and flaps to lift. Each spread features stunning scientific photos, ultra-detailed artwork and fun cartoons. Illustrated step-by-step projects throughout encourage practical learning. 

Shortlisted, Young People’s Science Book Prize 2016

Stuff you should know about the Human Body

by John Farndon

QED (2017)

In this fascinating introduction to the human body, large, colourful diagrams are brought to life by tiny people running around performing the actions that are explained in the text.

Contact Author