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  1. A Short History of Nearly Everything

    by Bill Bryson
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    Readership: Fairly popular

    In Bryson's biggest book, he confronts his greatest challenge: to understand—and, if possible, answer—the oldest, biggest questions we have posed about the universe and ourselves. Taking as territory everything from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization, Bryson seeks to understand how we got from there being nothing at all to there being us. To that end, he has attached himself to a host of the world’s most advanced (and often obsessed) archaeologists, anthropologists, and mathematicians, travelling to their offices, laboratories, and field camps. He has read (or tried to read) their books, pestered them with questions, apprenticed himself … (Goodreads)

  2. A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

    by Bill Bryson
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    Readership: Fairly popular

    The book starts with Bryson explaining his curiosity about the Appalachian Trail near his house. He and his old friend Stephen Katz start hiking the trail from Georgia in the South , and stumble in the beginning with the difficulties of getting used to their equipment; Bryson also soon realizes how difficult it is to travel with his friend, who is a crude, overweight recovering alcoholic, and even less prepared for the ordeal than he is. Overburdened, they soon discard much extra food and equipment to lighten their loads. After hiking for what seemed to him a large distance, they … (Wikipedia)

  3. One Summer: America, 1927

    by Bill Bryson
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    Readership: Eclectic

    In One Summer Bill Bryson, one of our greatest and most beloved nonfiction writers, transports readers on a journey back to one amazing season in American life. The summer of 1927 began with one of the signature events of the twentieth century: on May 21, 1927, Charles Lindbergh became the first man to cross the Atlantic by plane nonstop, and when he landed in Le Bourget airfield near Paris, he ignited an explosion of worldwide rapture and instantly became the most famous person on the planet. Meanwhile, the titanically talented Babe Ruth was beginning his assault on the home run … (Goodreads)

  4. The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

    by Bill Bryson
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    Readership: Eclectic

    Bryson was born on December 8, 1951. He spent his childhood growing up in Des Moines, Iowa , part of the baby-boom generation born in the post-war years. He describes his early life and his parents, Bill Sr. and Mary Bryson. His father was a well-known sports writer for ,The Des Moines Register, , the leading newspaper in Des Moines. His mother was also a writer for the Register , she also wrote for magazines like Better Homes and Gardens , ,Good Housekeeping, , and ,House Beautiful, . He recounts many things that were invented during his childhood that fascinated … (Wikipedia)

  5. In a Sunburned Country

    by Bill Bryson
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    Readership: Eclectic

    A CLASSIC FROM THE ,NEW YORK TIMES, BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF ,ONE SUMMER , Every time Bill Bryson walks out the door, memorable travel literature threatens to break out. His previous excursion along the Appalachian Trail resulted in the sublime national bestseller A Walk in the Woods . In A Sunburned Country is his report on what he found in an entirely different place: Australia, the country that doubles as a continent, and a place with the friendliest inhabitants, the hottest, driest weather, and the most peculiar and lethal wildlife to be found on the planet. The result is a deliciously … (Goodreads)

  6. The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way

    by Bill Bryson
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    Readership: Eclectic

    With dazzling wit and astonishing insight, Bill Bryson—the acclaimed author of The Lost Continent —brilliantly explores the remarkable history, eccentricities, resilience and sheer fun of the English language. From the first descent of the larynx into the throat (why you can talk but your dog can't), to the fine lost art of swearing, Bryson tells the fascinating, often uproarious story of an inadequate, second-rate tongue of peasants that developed into one of the world's largest growth industries. … (Goodreads)

  7. Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe

    by Bill Bryson
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    Readership: Eclectic

    Bill Bryson's first travel book, The Lost Continent , was unanimously acclaimed as one of the funniest books in years. In Neither Here nor There he brings his unique brand of humour to bear on Europe as he shoulders his backpack, keeps a tight hold on his wallet, and journeys from Hammerfest, the northernmost town on the continent, to Istanbul on the cusp of Asia. Fluent in, oh, at least one language, he retraces his travels as a student twenty years before. Whether braving the homicidal motorist of Paris, being robbed by gypsies in Florence, attempting not to order tripe … (Goodreads)

  8. Shakespeare: The World as Stage

    by Bill Bryson
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    Readership: Eclectic

    At first glance, Bill Bryson seems an odd choice to write this addition to the Eminent Lives series. The author of 'The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid' isn't, after all, a Shakespeare scholar, a playwright, or even a biographer. Reading 'Shakespeare The World As Stage', however, one gets the sense that this eclectic Iowan is exactly the type of person the Bard himself would have selected for the task. The man who gave us 'The Mother Tongue' and 'A Walk in the Woods' approaches Shakespeare with the same freedom of spirit and curiosity that made those books such … (Goodreads)

  9. The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America

    by Bill Bryson
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    Readership: Eclectic

    'I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to' And, as soon as Bill Bryson was old enough, he left. Des Moines couldn't hold him, but it did lure him back. After ten years in England, he returned to the land of his youth, and drove almost 14,000 miles in search of a mythical small town called Amalgam, the kind of trim and sunny place where the films of his youth were set. Instead, his search led him to Anywhere, USA; a lookalike strip of gas stations, motels and hamburger outlets populated by lookalike people with a penchant for synthetic fibres. … (Goodreads)

  10. The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

    by Michael Pollan
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    Readership: Somewhat known

    What should we have for dinner? The question has confronted us since man discovered fire, but according to Michael Pollan, the bestselling author of The Botany of Desire , how we answer it today, at the dawn of the twenty-first century, may well determine our very survival as a species. Should we eat a fast-food hamburger? Something organic? Or perhaps something we hunt, gather, or grow ourselves? The omnivore’s dilemma has returned with a vengeance, as the cornucopia of the modern American supermarket and fast-food outlet confronts us with a bewildering and treacherous food landscape. What’s at stake in our … (Goodreads)

  11. Made in America: An Informal History of the English Language in the United States

    by Bill Bryson
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    Readership: Very niche

    In Made in America , Bill Bryson de-mythologizes his native land, explaining how a dusty hamlet with neither woods nor holly became Hollywood; how the Wild West wasn't won; why Americans say "lootenant" and "Toosday"; and exactly why Mr. Yankee Doodle called his feathered cap "Macaroni." … (Goodreads)

  12. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

    by Jared Diamond
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    Readership: Fairly popular

    "Diamond has written a book of remarkable scope ... one of the most important and readable works on the human past published in recent years." Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and a national bestseller: the global account of the rise of civilization that is also a stunning refutation of ideas of human development based on race. In this "artful, informative, and delightful" (William H. McNeill, New York Review of Books) book, Jared Diamond convincingly argues that geographical and environmental factors shaped the modern world. Societies that had a head start in food production advanced beyond the hunter-gatherer stage, and then … (Goodreads)

  13. Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void

    by Mary Roach
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    Readership: Eclectic

    The best-selling author of Stiff and Bonk explores the irresistibly strange universe of space travel and life without gravity. From the Space Shuttle training toilet to a crash test of NASA’s new space capsule, Mary Roach takes us on the surreally entertaining trip into the science of life in space and space on Earth. … (Goodreads)

  14. Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

    by Christopher McDougall
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    Readership: Somewhat known

    Full of incredible characters, amazing athletic achievements, cutting-edge science, and, most of all, pure inspiration, Born to Run is an epic adventure that began with one simple question: Why does my foot hurt? In search of an answer, Christopher McDougall sets off to find a tribe of the world’s greatest distance runners and learn their secrets, and in the process shows us that everything we thought we knew about running is wrong. Isolated by the most savage terrain in North America, the reclusive Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s deadly Copper Canyons are custodians of a lost art. For centuries they have … (Goodreads)

  15. The God Delusion

    by Richard Dawkins
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    Readership: Fairly popular

    A preeminent scientist - and the world's most prominent atheist - asserts the irrationality of belief in God, and the grievous harm religion has inflicted on society, from the Crusades to 9/11. With rigor and wit, Dawkins examines God in all his forms, from the sex-obsessed tyrant of the Old Testament, to the more benign (but still illogical) Celestial Watchmaker favored by some Enlightenment thinkers. He eviscerates the major arguments for religion, and demonstrates the supreme improbability of a supreme being. He shows how religion fuels war, foments bigotry, and abuses children, buttressing his points with historical and contemporary evidence. … (Goodreads)

  16. The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution

    by Richard Dawkins
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    Readership: Eclectic

    Charles Darwin’s masterpiece, On the Origin of Species , shook society to its core on publication in 1859. Darwin was only too aware of the storm his theory of evolution would provoke but he would surely have raised an incredulous eyebrow at the controversy still raging a century and a half later. Evolution is accepted as scientific fact by all reputable scientists and indeed theologians, yet millions of people continue to question its veracity. In The Greatest Show on Earth Richard Dawkins takes on creationists, including followers of ‘Intelligent Design’ and all those who question the fact of evolution through … (Goodreads)

  17. When You Are Engulfed in Flames

    by David Sedaris
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    Readership: Somewhat known

    It's early autumn 1964. Two straight-A students head off to school, and when only one of them returns home Chesney Yelverton is coaxed from retirement and assigned to what proves to be the most difficult and deadly - case of his career. From the shining notorious East Side, When You Are Engulfed in Flames confirms once again that David Sedaris is a master of mystery and suspense. Or how about... when set on fire, most of us either fumble for our wallets or waste valuable time feeling sorry for ourselves. David Sedaris has studied this phenomenon, and his resulting insights … (Goodreads)

  18. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End

    by Atul Gawande
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    Readership: Somewhat known

    In ,Being Mortal,, author Atul Gawande tackles the hardest challenge of his profession: how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending Medicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming birth, injury, and infectious disease from harrowing to manageable. But in the inevitable condition of aging and death, the goals of medicine seem too frequently to run counter to the interest of the human spirit. Nursing homes, preoccupied with safety, pin patients into railed beds and wheelchairs. Hospitals isolate the dying, checking for vital signs long after the goals of cure have become moot. Doctors, committed … (Goodreads)

  19. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

    by Doris Kearns Goodwin
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    Readership: Somewhat known

    Winner of the Lincoln Prize Acclaimed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin illuminates Lincoln's political genius in this highly original work, as the one-term congressman and prairie lawyer rises from obscurity to prevail over three gifted rivals of national reputation to become president. On May 18, 1860, William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, Edward Bates, and Abraham Lincoln waited in their hometowns for the results from the Republican National Convention in Chicago. When Lincoln emerged as the victor, his rivals were dismayed and angry. Throughout the turbulent 1850s, each had energetically sought the presidency as the conflict over slavery was leading inexorably … (Goodreads)

  20. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

    by Susan Cain
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    Readership: Popular

    The book that started the Quiet Revolution,, At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over working in teams. It is to introverts—Rosa Parks, Chopin, Dr. Seuss, Steve Wozniak—that we owe many of the great contributions to society. In Quiet, Susan Cain argues that we dramatically undervalue introverts and shows how much we lose in doing so. She charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal throughout the twentieth century and explores how deeply it has … (Goodreads)