Title: A Really Short History of Nearly Everything
Author: Bill Bryson
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Rating: 3 Folded Pages
Bill Bryson’s own fascination with science began with a battered old school book he had when he was about ten or eleven years old. It had an illustration that captivated him–a diagram showing Earth’s interior as it would look if you cut into it with a large knife and removed about a quarter of its bulk. The idea of lots of startled cars and people falling off the edge of that sudden cliff (and 4,000 miles is a pretty long way to fall) was what grabbed him in the beginning, but gradually his attention turned to what the picture was trying to teach him: namely that Earth’s interior is made up of several different layers of materials, and at the very centre is a glowing sphere of iron and nickel,
as hot as the Sun’s surface, according to the caption. And he very clearly remembers thinking: “How do they know that?”
Bill’s storytelling skill makes the “How?” and, just as importantly, the “Who?” of scientific discovery entertaining and accessible for all ages. He covers the wonder and mystery of time and space, the frequently bizarre and often obsessive scientists and the methods they used, and the mind-boggling fact that, somehow, the universe exists and against all odds, life came to be on this wondrous planet we call home.
This book took me SO long to finish. Honestly, I started it the last week or so of July and finished it the last week of September. Nonfiction has always been hard for me and is generally a genre I stay away from. This book was nice but definitely not my favorite.
I loved the way it was written. Bryson’s writing is witty and entertaining but he still packs tons of information into relatively small paragraphs. The book was also not what I expected. I thought it would be more about historical events and less about science. But the majority of the book was a history of science and how it’s advanced.
The illustrations in the book were gorgeous though and I found most of the time when I was getting annoyed with the info dump I was receiving the images on the page could help to make up for it.
Still I’m glad I read the book and it gave me some interesting facts to dish out in conversations so I can’t say it was time wasted. I just wish it didn’t take me so long to push through.