A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

Do you hate Science textbooks?  So does Bill Bryson.  So when he set out to write a book that covers science and its history, he strove to keep his readers from getting bored and to help us better understand the science behind our very existence. From the Big Bang to the evolution of man, Bryson covers what seems like everything and does so with his traditional wry wit.   “This is a book about how it happened,” the author writes. “In particular how we went from there being nothing at all to there being something, and then how a little of that something turned into us, and also what happened in between and since.”

Though A Short History clocks in at a daunting 500-plus pages with hundreds of players, Bryson breaks down the book into manageable sections under broad topics like “The Size of the Earth” and “Life Itself.”  Bryson is also thoughtful enough to remind us when key players pop into history and where we have heard the names like Kelvin and Hubble before.

I have always been a general fan of science; I liked it in school but never as much as English or History.  So it came as a surprise to me when I found Bryson’s book totally engrossing.  Not only did I have a jumble of facts to tell my friends, “I’m made of Shakespeare’s atoms and so are you,” but I also laughed at Bryson’s wry commentary of science and history and solemnly puzzled over humankind’s future existence. Bryson manages to remind you of all the things you should have learned in high school science and manages to let you enjoy the process.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

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65 Responses to “A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson”

  1. Maria Elena Says:

    I absolutely LOVE this book! I bought it sometime in 2004 or 2005, I forget. But it’s high time I read it again! Thanks for posting!

  2. ThingsYouRealizeAfterYouGetMarried Says:

    Not a fan of science textbooks….so this book might be just up my alley.

    Congrats on making FP! 🙂

  3. thiskidreviews Says:

    This is a great book. My Dad has it and we read it together!

  4. mrthekidd Says:

    I’ve read this book and many others, and while I don’t agree with everything contained, he is a brilliant writer who has earned a place on every bookshelf

  5. Cap'n Stephel Says:

    I really like Bill Bryson and thought this book was just as good as his other ones. 🙂
    Heh, I learned a LOT of new words while reading it.

  6. Maggie Says:

    It’s a very rare science book that’s accessible and engaging. I might look into it…

  7. Lakia Gordon Says:

    Thanks for sharing this book, maybe I will like it. I was like you, I was totally into English.

  8. Sh*t my 6-year-old says Says:

    who’s better than bill bryson. who!!??

  9. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide Says:

    Nice review. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  10. Sarah Legg Says:

    I just finished reading this and loved it! At Home is good too and now I’m reading I’m a Stranger Here Myself.

  11. aperfectversionofmyself Says:

    I loved this book! I read it a few years ago and like you, was not a science fan until I read this. I began devouring science books after reading this one (you should read ‘The Velocity of Honey’ by Jay Ingram or ‘Stiff’ by Mary Roach) and have never looked back.

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  12. Ava Aston's Muckery Says:

    I think I need to go get that book. Thanks for bringing it to the attention of my Greek noggin. It always needs a refresher course.

    Blessings,

    Ava
    xox

  13. Denis Pombriant Says:

    Bill is a very good writer who takes hard topics and not only makes them understandable but entertaining.

  14. The Nature Travels Team Says:

    I love this book – have read it twice and am sure will come back for a third reading before long. Detailed enough to feel genuinely educational but accessible enough to be an easy and enjoyable read. I’ve read most of Bill Bryson’s work (another favourite being Notes from a Small Island) and though his travel writing is always enjoyable, he has a particular talent for tackling a bewilderingly complex subject and distilling it for the general reader. Highly recommended.

  15. spiritinmatter Says:

    Engaging people into wanting to understand science is a gift. Being a pharmacist, I had to take a lot of science courses and eventually grew to appreciate and even like some of it (even though I like english more). It’s a shame that a huge, daunting textbook or dreary class in high school can permanently deter people from wanting to know anything science related. Great post!

  16. midnitechef Says:

    I bought another of Bryson’s books while in Heathrow airport, waiting for my flight to India. He was good company for the remaining 10 hours of flight time and all the way home again to Texas. Wry and witty is exactly what I would call him!

  17. lennymaysay Says:

    I’ve been meaning to finish reading this, but other books keep getting in the way…

  18. 48colorrainbow Says:

    I have a copy – good book!

  19. mothergoosesmiles Says:

    I really enjoyed this book — my son recommended it. The motto at our house is: Science is what I eat. This book was a feast!

  20. herbalman Says:

    Science textbooks, hmm i thinks i will read in holiday. great share, thanks!

  21. I Made You A Mixtape Says:

    Excellent book! What I like about Bryson’s writing style- is that he explains everything in simple laymans terms… and uses the type of language everyone can relate to… excellent choice! ;o)

  22. Ashley Renee Ferebee Says:

    Nice review! I love the idea of blogging about a different book everyday because it opens me up to books I might have otherwise skipped over. This textbook might actually go on my summer reading list.

  23. Abdelghany Says:

    brilliant, I would like to read it

  24. sms4421 Says:

    Now there’s something for the young minds and upcoming generation to use. Because basically growing up, everyone must have got tired from the textbooks. Also, Its already giving me ticklish ideas of how significant people would be described and pictured out.

    This is great!

  25. Arundhati Says:

    I am a fan of Bill Bryson’s and enjoyed this book very much. I enjoyed the Physics sections more and the biology sections somewhat less, but that’s just me.

  26. Peter Wiley Says:

    hey I didn’t much like science in school, but I agree with you this book is really easy to read.

  27. Nater Says:

    Sounds like a great read. I read books about science (and math) anyway; being a nerd and all. My Grandmother read A Walk in the Woods and she thought it was the best thing ever. I’ll have to pick this up at Borders next time I’m there (assuming they carry it). Congrats on being on the Freshly Pressed list, by the way!

  28. ournote2self Says:

    Science can be pretty boring, so that’s great that he added some wit to his book. 🙂

  29. Margo Karolyi Says:

    Bill Bryson is a writer like no other – he conducts detailed research, thoroughly covers his subject matter (no matter if it is travel, science, autobiography, or special interest), and adds just enough humour to make it exceedingly fun to read. I’ve enjoyed and can recommend every book he’s ever written.

  30. Pablo Reklaw Says:

    I have it! Its great!

  31. Ashley Says:

    Great write-up. Love Bill Bryson! This one is on my list to read next.

  32. Michael Johnson Says:

    I have been keeping this book in my bathroom for about three years now. I read it once all the way through and now I’ve started it again. About ten minutes’ reading is all you can absorb anyway.

    In my favorite part, Bryson makes it clear that the idea of “Close Encounters” scout ships buzzing Earth is highly unlikely. If we had speed-of-light travel (which we aren’t likely to have soon), it would take us more than four years just to get to the first hunk of rock out there–Proxima Centauri. With our current fastest rockets, it would take 25,000 years to make that trip.

    To go to the center of the Milky Way Galaxy would take longer than homo sapiens has existed.

  33. youngcleanlegit Says:

    Sounds like a good read. Being entertained while learning is so much better than just reading facts. I’ll have to check this out.

  34. The Hook Says:

    Great recommendation! Good work.

  35. Colin L Beadon Says:

    I have and re-read all the best books on science by the best science writers. Bill Bryson, though he is not a true scientist, has written a wonderful, carefully researched book. It is the best book, by far, on nearly everything you may want to know on science. It is a book every young person should own, and the book should be in every school library. I think twice before lending my own copy out, the main reason being that I refer to it so often.
    His other books, are well written, interesting and most enjoyable too.

  36. My Camera, My Friend Says:

    Sounds like a great book. Thank you for posting about it.

  37. Khalid Marzook Says:

    I strongly recommend this book for those who are interested in science and those who are interested in reading a good book! Very well written by Bill Bryson.

  38. Saurabh Says:

    It is a good book, and he has managed to weave a story around scientific discoveries and inventions. Though there are some exaggerated conclusions, it is engrossing and informative.

  39. charlie nitric Says:

    Hello –

    I love science, history, and the hows and whys of the universe/Earth. The only problem is that in high school and college course books, you’re flooded with bullet after bullet of information to absorb. As you mentioned, dry reads. Since the author presents the information with personality and wit, I will enjoy this book. Thanks and Happy Thursday evening. 🙂

  40. Louise Smithers Says:

    Sounds like a good read, and from other comments, it really must be. Thanks for the tip, I might just have to check it out!

  41. skippingstones Says:

    I Love this Book!

  42. literatelibran Says:

    What a great blog concept! This one sounds interesting. Thanks for posting!

  43. fox loves angel Says:

    It is really a great book! Thank you for your sharing! Interested in it and I will read it later!

  44. Karen Carlson Says:

    A friend recommended this a few years ago, and I loved it! I told him after I’d read it that the thing about pillows (10% of the weight of a 6-year-old pillow is dust mites) and Yellowstone (it’s a cauldera that’s very overdue for eruption) freaked me out! He said those are the two things everyone he’s talked to remembers from the book.

  45. arla's overalls Says:

    I’m still back on A BOOK A DAY! Reviewing not reading, right? How many people write for this blog?

  46. Alive aLwaYs Says:

    I guess I will have to read this blog. Thanks for your insight.

  47. tim3tokill Says:

    Time to buy this one 😉
    cheers

  48. Bruce Says:

    Thanks for posting.I hope to read it sometime!

  49. dreamxingdong Says:

    Great recommendation!

    <a href=”http://www.p90x-dvd-workout.com”>p90x home fitness </a>

  50. pampr1 Says:

    I was lucky enough a few years ago to be at an event in Durham where he was being honoured for his writing. I most recently (though some time ago) read his book ‘Mother Tongue’ which is exceptionally smart. Enjoyed this post.

  51. richannkur Says:

    Very nice!!!

  52. theamberlight Says:

    What a find for me! This is the next book on my To Own list. I coach and write about how we are all made of the same basic energy and this looks like a perfect reference source for my work! Congrats on Freshly Pressed and I just am so happy I found it! Enjoy your weekend!

  53. Matt Says:

    Perfect if you hate science books, but want to know how the world got the way it is!

  54. creativeconfessions Says:

    Gotta buy this. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  55. Bruno J. Navarro Says:

    Sweet!

  56. charlywalker Says:

    I’m afraid to read it…..”a little knowledge is a dangerous thing”….or is it too much knowledge…..

    Love your post!

  57. JupyTyng Says:

    Lets save books!

  58. thor27 Says:

    Anything that simplifies and makes science interesting is a good book.
    Nice little blog !!!

    Check out todays blog. http://thor27.wordpress.com/ The Reason Sarah Palin will get my vote for President of the United States.

  59. howthemockingbirdsways Says:

    Fantastic!

  60. Social Outlets Says:

    Great post thanks for sharing.

  61. ทัวร์จีน,ทัวร์เกาหลี,ทัวร์ญี่ปุ่น, Says:

    Sounds like a great read. I read books about science (and math) anyway; being a nerd and all. My Grandmother read A Walk in the Woods and she thought it was the best thing ever. I’ll have to pick this up at Borders next time I’m there (assuming they carry it). Congrats on being on the Freshly Pressed list, by the way!

  62. ทัวร์ฮ่องกง,ทัวร์ปักกิ่ง,ทัวร์เวียดนาม, Says:

    I bought another of Bryson’s books while in Heathrow airport, waiting for my flight to India. He was good company for the remaining 10 hours of flight time and all the way home again to Texas. Wry and witty is exactly what I would call him!

  63. แพ็คเกจทัวร์,ทัวร์จีน,ทัวร์เกาหลี Says:

    Nice review! I love the idea of blogging about a different book everyday because it opens me up to books I might have otherwise skipped over. This textbook might actually go on my summer reading list.

  64. devin howard Says:

    Indeed a fun book. Bill Bryson manages to provide an incredible amount of information in a coherent way yet keep his work light and extremely fun. Good stuff.

  65. artifexr Says:

    Sounds like a great book. Science writing tends to be on the boring side, so it will be fun to check out something with a bit more oomph.

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