Random pictures are a recent walk; just to add colour…
I discovered the joys of Bill Bryson many years ago with his Notes From A Small Island about visiting the UK. When he was asked to leave his B&B in Dover because of a particularly buoyant floater in the communal lavatory I was hooked. He has a style that is both readable and listenable to. ‘Now here’s the thing…’ is a catch phrase I first heard from him.
A few years later I came across a tome in a sort of aged sepia and cream, colours reminiscent of my grandmother’s antimacassars and false teeth, with his name on it.
A Short History of Nearly Everything
I dipped inside and I was hooked. I holidayed in Devon while reading it and did that awful ‘listen to this’ thing where you repeat the end of a passage for your family to enjoy only they haven’t had the benefit of the previous twenty pages that built the humour in small increments until you can’t hold it in any more. They stare and shake their heads and go back to flossing while you corpse, unable to understand why they haven’t also experienced spleen-rupture.
This book is Bryson’s attempt to explain stuff: the planets and Big Bang; where we came from and volcanoes; quantum physics and ancient man; dinosaurs and why you can’t have enough chocolate. No not the last piece – that doesn’t need explaining.
Some of this stuff, like untangling DNA and how it’s likely Wyoming will explode soon, geophysically speaking, is both fascinating and liable to provoke brain leakage out of your ears. He does a pretty good job of it, too, without being reductive, tempting as that is.
The reason for this review now is I listened to it as an Audible book recently. Walking Dog is a pleasure and oftentimes lets me order my thoughts and put my little piece of the world to rights. But other days, when my mind just tumbles like a thought avalanche it needs noise to deaden the impact and a read-for book is just the ticket. This was a joy – the ultimate dipper-inner of a tome.
I heartily recommend it. In either format. It’s like learning in the bath – educationally soothing.