Review: A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

ImageTitle: A Short History of Nearly Everything

Author: Bill Bryson

Publisher: Broadway Books

Published: January 2003

Genre: Non-Fiction

My Rating: 3/5

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Sorry I haven’t posted in the past couple of weeks, but reading A Short History of Nearly Everything took me quite a lot longer than planned.  I have read a couple of Bill Bryson books in the past and am a big fan of his style; this book, however, was a lot denser and heavier reading than I was expecting.

I was hoping that A Short History of Nearly Everything would include more history of modern day items, but evidently I had misunderstood what the focus of the book is.

The book sort-of follows the story from the beginning of the universe, to us now.  I say sort-of as Bryson tends to focus more on how the science was discovered, than the actual science.  I really liked this as Bryson included a lot of anecdotal stories, which in my opinion, is one of the best things about his writing.  This did mean, though, that at times I was confused about where I was up to in the story of creation.  It also meant a lot of names and dates which is not something I am a big fan of.

While I found this book easier to read than a textbook, I don’t think I have retained any of the information I was reading.  And, as I said at the beginning of this review, I found it quite heavy reading which is unusual of Bryson’s books (from the ones I’ve read so far); perhaps that is due to the very scientific nature of the information being shared.  It took me a couple of weeks to read and I felt I was forcing myself through parts of it. 

It is really the anecdotal stories, told in Bryson’s relaxed manner, that kept me reading til the end; as well as an interest in the subject (even if I won’t remember it all).  I would recommend A Short History of Nearly Everything to anyone interested in how we know what we know about the creation of our world and species, but only if you’re willing to spend a fair amount of time reading about it as this is not a book that is easily skimmed through.  Even though this book wasn’t what I was expecting, and wasn’t entirely what I wanted to read, it didn’t put me off my plan to read more Bryson books in the future.

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