A Short History Of Nearly Everything
Bill Bryson is an American guy who thought he was a British travel writer and made a great many plane journeys before he looked down and wondered 'Why is it that the oceans are salty and the Great Lakes aren't ?'.
Excited about geography at school, he found science boring. In his forties, all that was reversed. This book is the result of his mid-life quest for answers to the many questions he forgot to ask. Despite the fact that most people travel this journey aged nine or ten, it's a lot more fun to accompany Uncle Bill as he suddenly decides to fill in the gaps left in his understanding by those unforgiving years obsessed with Tutankhamen and Mercator's projection.
After all, by this stage of his life, he's a man who's been around the block a few times and is a little more probing and testing than the average schoolchild. Also, on his travels, his sense of humour has been honed to a fine art.
This is what makes this substantial book edible. There's a spoonful of sugar with every major scientific breakthrough, and every technically subtle concept is invariably connected by humour to the original work of the many great minds who have led us forward out of the darkness.