I am currently in my fourth and a half listening of the audio version of Bill Bryson’s “A Short History of Nearly Everything“. It’s about 6 years old, but I’ve only recently been introduced to it. I’ve been severely missing out.
This is an overwhelmingly encompassing account of, well, nearly everything. Bryson goes through, with engrossing detail, the history of science. He begins with, naturally, the Big Bang and much of physics. From there he jumps to just about every topic (in an order I cannot recall), from chemistry to biology to geology to mathematics to astronomy. He gives a set of Britannica Encyclopedias’ account of so many scientists, what they were thinking, why they were thinking it, and why they were right or wrong or on the right track or distracted or petty or prideful or anything of which I would never think to ask or consider. This is the best science book I have ever heard or read, and it isn’t even specific like, say, The Selfish Gene (which was also excellent).
One of the best things about this audio book is Bryson’s voice. It’s soothing. It’s also not boring. As much as I love The Science Channel and all the science shows I can find, I have come to the conclusion that I can only watch these if I’m wide awake. It isn’t that the topics are boring. The presentation is usually just very monotone. (One notable exception is the Discovery Channel’s Walking With Cavemen narrated by Alec Baldwin.) Bryson’s book suffers from no such calamity.
Get this book, preferably the audio version (though I’m sure the text version is equally fantastic).