A Short History of Nearly Everything is Bill Bryson's summation of life, the universe, and everything, a nice little easy-reading science book containing an overview of things every earthling should be aware of.
As I've repeatedly mentioned over the years, every time one of the casual-readers tells me I have to read something, like Harry Potter or the DaVinci Code, I dig my feet in deeper and resolve to never read it. This is one of the occasions I should have shaved a decade off of my stubbornness and caved in right away.
Bryson covers a wide range of topics, from the formation of the universe to the evolution of man for our apelike forebears, and all points in between. Atoms? Cells? These are just stops along the enlightenment highway that Bill Bryson has paved! He touches upon quantum physics, geology, the size of our solar system, the year without a summer, and other topics innumerable.
The writing style is so accessible that I have to think I'd be some kind of scientists if my high school and college text books were written by Bill Bryson. His easy, breezy style makes even the most complicated topics easier to digest.
It's not often that I come away from a book having felt like I learned something new, criminal techniques from my usual reads excepted. Bryson has succeeded where many have failed before him. He has tricked me into learning and enjoying myself while doing it. 4.5 out of 5 stars.