Bill Bryson is a really interesting author. He writes all sorts of travel essay books and a bunch of different stuff. But this is probably the most interesting non-fiction book I’ve ever read.
It basically goes through the entire history of nearly everything. What’s really great about it is that it’s super accessible to the everyday person. He makes incredibly intensely complicated subjects really simple.
I love all the macro stuff in the book. You know… how the universe was created and earthquakes and volcanoes and life that you can see and often touch. Anything micro was not so interesting to me… here’s what an atom is and every little DNA chromosome. It’s super important to the big picture but I had more trouble grasping those concepts than the bigger macro picture. But that’s just me I suspect.
It’s about 500 pages and it really does cover just about everything. It starts off with the how the universe was created. I got some really great quotes from that just because I loved it. Life in the Cosmos is the first chapter and has some fascinating things. He goes through the size of the Earth and he talks about how small we are compared to the Earth itself and then even the universe. So we start off with the big picture of our universe and then get down to the Earth, and from then on out we’re just talking about the Earth.
The most interesting chapter I thought was when he talks about the Dangerous Planet. He talks about earthquakes and volcanoes, asteroids and everything that could possibly kill us; and how humans have not been around very long compared to all the other stuff that has ruled the earth. All the other creatures and organisms, making us feel very small as a species. We’re not going to last as long as the dinosaurs or many other species that has ever ruled the planet. It’s a little depressing but also very interesting… I get it.
I really did love the Dangerous Planet chapter… talking about the Earth’s core and Yellowstone… the stuff of earthquakes and volcanoes and other things that go BOOM!
Then we got into the section about Life Itself. I found it did get a little slow from there, but still very interesting. I guess it just depends on what aspects of science you enjoy most. I certainly learnt a lot of stuff that I didn’t know. Things that were touched on briefly at school but have been long forgotten. At school the subject wasn’t made interesting enough to listen and learn…. But Bill Bryson makes it interesting!
I highly recommend this book to anyone with any sort of inkling interest in science, but who doesn’t want to wade through mountains or boring and difficult text. Bill Bryson’s, A Short History of Nearly Everything, is neither of those things. It’s well written and easy to understand, for anyone at any level of education. His writing is very relatable and simple to grasp. It brings science to the layperson.
In a nutshell… this book is really great if you want to self-teach yourself a little bit about pretty much everything.
It’s been out since 2003 so it’s a little dated, but for the most part it is still very relevant. So I highly recommend it.
Here’s hoping Bill Bryson writes a sequel to fill us in on all the new scientific discoveries in the past 11 years since writing this book.