Book Review: A Short History Of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

An engaging, funny, and comprehensive guide to almost everything you need to know about the world.

I went into this on a few colleague’s recommendation, never having heard about Bill Bryson before. In fact, it’s been years since I read much non-fiction at all – probably since I graduated! I started out reading Bryson’s ‘A Walk Through The Woods’ sometime last year and I loved it, so I’ve been keeping my eye out for more of his titles every since.

I use Audible as my source for audiobooks, which I listen to a lot when I’m working or driving around for work – when I don’t have podcast I’m hooked on. This kind of book is perfect for that kind of listening – it’s never boring, at the same time if I have to concentrate for a minute or two and stop paying attention, it usually doesn’t matter much. So when I got an email saying this book was on offer I grabbed it as fast as I could! I already have a couple of other ones on my list, including one called ‘The Body’ which I’m excited to get started on.

This book does exactly what it promises. It tells you a little bit about everything – and it really feels like it’s everything! Starting off with the universe and planets, we go through physics, chemistry, geology, biology, paleontology and archaeology. And the best part is, it’s all done through a thick lense of history.

That’s the beauty of this book. You learn not only about all of these laws and theories that you’ll most likely remember vaguely from your school years, but you learn a lot about the people around them, most of which you’ve probably never heard of. Many fields of science are sadly often bad at distributing recognition for finds and discoveries, giving much or all of it to one when it should have been divided among the many. So you’ll recognize names like Curie and Einstein, but then there’ll be some unknown person next to them who turns out to have been just as important, and they usually come with very interesting stories attached to them.

And also, you learn so many cool things that you feel like you should have known already. Stuff that makes you excited to learn more, to look up sources and find more articles online, to learn more amazing science. If you like learning, you’ll love this.

Bill Bryson is an excellent author. Apparently he received awards for the way he managed to make science available and relatable with this book, a feat that I can testify to. It’s fun, easy to understand, and very engaging. I’m excited to read more from him and I feel myself gliding away from genre fiction these days to read more fun books like this.

Have you read any good non-fiction books these days? What’s your favorite? I’m definitely interested in adding to my library.

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