Literary Arcadia Literature and other things

Tag Archives: Bill Bryson

Science-y Books

Recently I have gone out of my genre-boxes (my personal favorite genres) and have read two “science-y type books” (as the experts would call them).  I found them both informative and in most parts interesting.

Confession time: I am not really a science/math person.  I enjoyed learning about planets and animals when I was younger (who doesn’t, especially the dinosaur sections of class?), but as I got older and things began to get harder I shied away.  I took extra history and art classes to avoid higher level math and physics.  I am sad about this now, although at the time I was massively relieved to be making ceramic bird baths instead of puzzling over laws of motion.  I want to fill in these education gaps, in my own small way.


The first book I read was an excellent intro-type book, Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything.  Bryson is not a scientist, and does not write like an academic.  The book is very approachable.  Bryson’s quest is similar to my own- to fill in the gaps in his education.  He gives overviews of a vast array of scientific subjects.  In other words- if you want to impress your friends or look smart at parties, then  read this!

The second science book I read was focused on one subject, geology.  Richard Fortey’s Earth: An Intimate History is about the history of the earth, as told through various examples found in nature.  For example, Fortey uses traveling around Vesuvius and Central Italy to illustrate the power of volcanoes and Newfoundland to illustrate how the collisions of the older continents created our current landscape.

Earth is really good- Fortey’s writing style is flowing and very readable, making this book a lot more entertaining than if it had been written in a someone else.  Now I find myself looking at those pretty pictures that everyone posts of natural wonders and I say to myself “I know how those rocks/mountains/formations got there”!  If you are not a geologist, but have always been interested in the subject like myself, than this book is a great read.