|Purchase: Amazon | Chapters|
Genre: Nonfiction, Science
Start Date: May 31, 2011
Finished Date: June 17, 2011 (18 days)
Where Found: Chapters-Indigo
Why Read: On my TBR list; also, I was curious about Bill Bryson's brand of nonfiction
Read For: What's in a Name 4 Challenge (5/6)
Summary: The origins of the Earth through the lenses of various fields of science are explained in layman's terms, laced with ironic humour and an enthusiasm for discovery.
Now this is a science book like no other. Textbooks from science class were never this interesting. Bryson's thesis is simple: to explore and explain the origins of the Earth through various scientific fields of research and translate them for those of us who didn't go beyond mandatory high school science class. These fields include astronomy, meteorology, geology, biochemistry, physics, mathematics, volcanology, seismology, cellular biology, paleontology, and anthropology, not to mention sprinklings of natural history and psychology.
The result is like exploring an unfamiliar cave with a flashlight whose bulb gets brighter as you go through it. At first, the jargon was a bit...jarring (he he), even with Bryson's often hilarious use of analogies that could give this book the subtitle Science For Dummies (guilty as charged, says moi). Once past the initial chapter on astronomy, which is interesting but sometimes difficult to manoeuvre, you become used to Bryson's style and even start to like his eccentric intellectual humour.
Facts are given a back story, which in turn often has a back story, with a focus on biographical information of its discoverer and his or her eccentric lifestyle, struggles for public understanding & acceptance of findings, and oftentimes, an impoverished means. Theories are not completely diluted just to appease the reader and make us feel smart enough to understand them, but are compared to recognizable things and often analogized by scientists for pleasure, much like the hilarious meanderings of characters on TV's The Big Bang Theory.
By Part III, I was hooked and all the factoids became less random (i.e. fodder for Uncle John's Bathroom Reader) and served more of a purpose for passionate learning about the formation, gestation, and constant fluctuation of planet Earth. Home sweet home. It would be terrific if this book was required reading in a course for humanities undergrads needing a science credit. Otherwise, it certainly fills many gaps in the average person's science education. I highly recommend reading it.
Rank: (A)- Excellent, Highly Recommend