[ Book Review ] Short Review of a Short History

The Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson 

Read by Richard Matthews

Take-home messages:

  1. Hell hath no fury as two scientists bickering.
  2. Science consists of scientists bickering, feuding, and/or driving each other into obscurity or suicide.
  3. In the large scheme of things, the existence of humanity is a monumental accident and a rather fleeting millisecond.
  4. People are really rather terrible.
  5. People are really rather terrible for the planet.

I will start by saying that I am not big on non-fiction. In the nonfiction section on the lengthy list of “Among the World’s Greatest Books…” I have read exactly two books; one is the Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (a vestige of a school assignment) and two is now Bryson’s The Short History of Nearly Everything. But I’m working on it.

The Short History of Nearly Everything is written well, with an easy, light style, and approaches the world with a kind of wide eyed wonder. It starts with a discussion of the beginning of the universe and walks me through evolution, geology, biology, genetics, and so forth. Briefly, of course.

On the downside, for the main body of the book, I had a nagging sense I was reliving a kind of fast, albeit amusing, rendition of my tenth grade Biology class. Of course, there were plenty of pithy anecdotes, and anyone reading the print version can just flip over the parts about Mendel or Mendeleev. Listening to the audiobook, I did not have that option—at least, not without risking skipping something interesting, or skipping entirely off the road as I juggled my mp3 player.

Then again, if I had skipped this for a print copy of the book, I would have missed Richard Matthews’ reading of it. And really, read me a phone directory in a British accent, and I’ll be enthralled for longer than it strictly sane or healthy.

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3 thoughts on “[ Book Review ] Short Review of a Short History

  1. Pingback: [ Book Review ] In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson « thecanaryreview

  2. Pingback: [ Book Review ] Naked Economics, Skeptical Canary « thecanaryreview

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