Review: ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything’


A Short History Of Nearly Everything

By Bill Bryson

  • Date Finished: ?? – not sure. I would say probably around June 20ish, but this is during my dark time of mad busyness (see earlier post)
  • Genre: Science, Anthropology, etc
  • Year: 2003
  • Project: n/a
  • Reading List: Summer 2013
  • Grade: A+
  • Thoughts upon reading:

People have been telling me to read Bill Bryson for ages now. I’ve been meaning to read Bill Bryson for so long. I just never got around to doing so before I snagged A Short History of Nearly Everything at a used book sale. The rest, as they say, is history.

While reading, and after finishing, this book, I kept trying to tell everyone I knew about it. But it was pretty hard. Bill Bryson pretty much tackles, well, EVERYTHING, in this book, taking readers through the very long history of our fair planet, the evolution of life and why humans became such a big deal. He starts, as you might expect, with the big bang, and ends with humans evolving into the fabulous homo sapiens they are today.

OK, let’s just get this out of the way right now: Bill Bryson and this book is AWESOME. Amazing. Astounding. Any other positive word that begins with an ‘A.’ I’m officially converted to the cult of Bryson, and am now determined to read everything else he’s ever written.

How can I explain why I loved A Short History of Nearly Everything? It was informative. I definitely felt like I learned something. No, scratch that. I learned a lot of things. Also, Bill (we’re on a first name basis now) made me genuinely excited about science, which is awfully hard to do for this English major. But see, that’s what I love about Bill, his writing style and what he chooses to write about. He’s basically letting all the non-science nerds know: “Hey science is actually pretty cool and kind of interesting. Let me explain without making you feel bad about not knowing math, or feeling like you wandered into the wrong lecture hall in college.”

Because believe it or not, guys, science is kind of interesting! It is pretty cool! There’s a lot of cool shit out there, and a lot of funny stories associated with scientists and major scientific breakthroughs. I know a lot about the Victorian era in England, and the life of Virginia Woolf, but it turns out, that’s not all there is to know about this world. Thanks, Bill Bryson. Thanks.

Side note: I dare you to read this book (and it’s pretty long, so stay strong and stick with it) and not feel very small and inconsequential. Not feel pretty damn lucky that you – an intelligent, complex organism has reached the point in its evolution that it can tap away at a laptop-machine, eat potatoes, drink wine and listen to jazz without a care in the world. And I’m not talking “lucky” in any religious way. I’m talking about, “We could all be fried by a meteorite at any moment and not even know it was coming” kind of lucky. Also, “I’m so glad the first organism slithered out of the ocean millions of years ago, allowing me to exist as a Pinterest, wine-loving fool” kind of lucky.

All that said, what I love about A Short History of Nearly Everything is that it gave me a chance to explore something completely different than what I’m used to. I was able to escape from “literature” and read something new and exciting, and learn something along the way. My (and everyone’s) reading schedule definitely could use that variety. I’m so glad I finally discovered Bill, and I can’t wait to read even more (I know, I know guys – I’ll be reading A Walk in the Woods next, don’t worry).

3 thoughts on “Review: ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything’

  1. Pingback: 2013: A Year in Reading | Paperback Fool

  2. Pingback: Review: ‘A Walk in the Woods’ | Paperback Fool

  3. Pingback: Review: ‘The Search for the Giant Squid’ | Paperback Fool

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