There are a couple of history books that are needed to complete minor
quests. However, except for some Sword Coast background information,
there is no use for the books. Don't bother to let them fill up your inventory
I have read newsgroup posts that indicate that reading enough History books
will cause your lore to increase. The person with the book in his/her
inventory when the book is read is the one who gets the lore increase.
Reading a second book of the exact same title will not help. It is not
clear how many books must be read to increase lore by 1 point. (I have
not tried to confirm this lore-increase by book-reading process).