Saturday, March 23, 2013

A History of the World and Science

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

My rating on a 100-point scale: 92

     I read this book about a year and a half ago, I estimate. I took pages and pages of notes, since this is nonfiction and most of it was a grand learning opportunity. But looking back over those notes, I can't decipher what is actually from the book, and what came from my mind as I read it. I developed theories about the earth and human origins because of this book. I've been meaning to research them more to see if they hold up against what is already known that is not included in the book, but I haven't yet. 
Image borrowed from
     Personally, I usually prefer fiction to historical non-fiction works, and that may be why I wasn't too crazy about this book, but there were also some pet peeves in it that I must mention here. First, the author is very obviously an atheist; I don't have anything against atheists, but when it comes to scientific works, I don't care how you feel about God or what you do and don't believe - I just want to know what you know, not your personal choices. Second, this book does have profanity, specifically the sh-word, and though I don't usually care, it's worth mentioning I feel. Third, and I find this very often in written works so it's not that big of a deal I guess, the author uses now in his past tense writing, which I personally find annoying. Another common mistake that writers of all genres make and editors don't seem to bother to fix before publishing, is the use of till where until is meant - the first is what one does to the ground when wanting to start a garden, and the other 'til is a shortened form of until, which is not even in the same word category. Sorry, a little bit of a rant I know - I guess I'm just in a bad mood today or something. Another of my pet peeves that this book brings to mind is double words like "that that" and "had had" - if you have to do this, I think you need to expand some part of your writing, like your vocabulary or sentence structure, or something. Rearrange the sentence or something, just don't repeat a word like that. And oh, on the subject of using more words than necessary: "ten-thousand trillion" is a quadrillion and "one-hundred thousand million" is 100 billion - the latter is shorter and a whole lot easier to understand than Bryson's choices. I'm tempted to say the author did this to belittle his audience, but I hope not. I'm going to leave alone the round versus around right now, since I don't want to alienate my readers. -Thank you for reading, by the way!
     Any way, I did get some enjoyment from this book (though in Bryson's words, it would always be "out of" - okay, okay, I'm stopping the critique now). I'm not the kind of person however, that can read a book like this and not try to fill in the blanks that are left, hence why I can't decipher what's mine and what's commonly known in my notes. If you're interested in reading this book, I'd say to you to read it only if you're looking for a book to teach you something. Read it if you want to learn a little bit about everything concerning the Earth and its inhabitants.

I do not believe this book has any restricting content, save for the profanity I mentioned above. But I remind you, it has been a while since I read it, so I may just be forgetting something...