A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

Book club book #7:

If you’ve never read Bill Bryson, you really need to. I first picked up his ‘Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe’ in 2002, right about the time I was planning my own Europe trip. Since then I’ve weaved in and out of his works, never coming away disappointed; he’s a very entertaining writer. A very easy read and hard to put down kind of writer.

So when one of the book club ladies offered up A Short History of Nearly Everything as the next book, I jumped to confirm that we should definitely read it (it was on my long list of ‘to reads’ anyway). However, this book is a giant read, it is a Bill Bryson, who is still as entertaining in science as in travel, but the concentration levels go up, which means it’s not a breeze to get through. None of us finished the book in time for book club, one member was sick and couldn’t make, two had only gotten a quarter of the way through and I’d reached half, but that didn’t matter because there was already so much to talk about in only a few chapters. It was a short history of nearly everything after all.

Bryson kicks off with how our universe is formed, discussing things like the big bang theory, how the universe expands, the concept of light years and travel and a million things that I’m sure have fallen out of my brain already. He then takes us on a journey of science history, discovering atoms and chemicals and elements and finally describing the maths of 10 to the power of whatever and finally making me understand what the ‘to the power of’ actually means. Just add zeros. Why couldn’t my year 9 maths teacher have explained it so simply?

We go on to learn about content drifts and volcanos and the earth’s atmosphere, now and millions of years ago, through the dinosaur ear, the evolution of man… just well, nearly everything

I should warn you though, this book did scare me a little on what I didn’t know and how much we have to fear as a human race. The earth is volatile and just waiting to wipe us off the face of… itself.

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