A Short History of Nearly Everything [Audiobook Review]

Title: A Short History of Nearly Everything
Author: Bill Bryson
Narrator: Richard Matthews
Genre: Nonfiction – Science
ISBN: 0767908171
Pages: 320
Audio: 17 hours 48 minutes
Year: 2003
Publisher: Books on Tape
Source: Library
Rating: 5/5


A Short History of Nearly Everything is exactly what it sounds like. Bill Bryson takes us from the Big Bang to the evolution of humankind. In between we learn everything else: the universe, atoms, volcanoes, plate tectonics, radioactive decay, the rise of life, and more (yes, more).

This was actually my first Bill Bryson. Shocker, I know. But I’m hooked. I listened to the audio and I had so much fun learning that I found excuses to listen whenever I could. I am a bit of a science nerd in a completely layperson way. I always say that if I’d had better science teachers growing up, I’d probably be a kickass scientist right now. I especially love the science of space and the universe so that was my favorite part. But even things that I didn’t think I had that much interest in were fascinated when told by Bryson.

The narration was wonderful. Richard Matthews has an irresistible British accent that I could listen to for hours (and did). Be careful not to grab the abridged version (like I accidentally did at first). While narrated by Bryson himself, it is about a third the length of the unabridged version and you don’t want to miss any of it.

Buy It Now: IndieBound; Powell’s; Book Depository; Amazon

14 thoughts on “A Short History of Nearly Everything [Audiobook Review]

  1. Ti January 5, 2011 / 10:40 am

    I LOVE Bryson!

    I remember going on a beach vacation and picking up a worn copy of A Walk In the Woods in a used book shop. I thought it would be a good distraction if I got bored on the beach. I could not put it down. I read it straight through the day and into the night and laughed over much of it.

    Since then, I’ve read several of his other books but not A Short History. I’m glad you enjoyed it.


    • Michelle January 5, 2011 / 7:27 pm

      I own that one and I’m looking forward to finally reading it.


  2. Nymeth January 5, 2011 / 11:54 am

    I have this on my tbr, so I’m happy to hear you enjoyed it so much! I’m a bit of a science nerd myself, so this sounds totally up my alley.


  3. Cori January 5, 2011 / 3:06 pm

    Love, love, love Bill Bryson.

    Any audiobook actually read by him is amazing. He has this half-American-half-British accent that is just about the best thing ever to listen to.


  4. Bibliophile By the Sea January 5, 2011 / 9:02 pm

    His sounds like an audio book that I’d enjoy. Loved Bryson reading The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid…just awesome.


  5. Melissa January 6, 2011 / 9:28 am

    I love Bryson’s work and have read 5 of his books, but not this one. He is so funny and I hope you get a chance to read more of his work. I’ve definitely got this one on my list.


  6. Iris January 6, 2011 / 3:15 pm

    This is going to sound weird, but I have had this book on my TBR pile for forever. Now, that is not a weird thing. What is, is that it is a special hardcover edition with many illustrations that is super heavy. I have been excited about reading the book for a long long time, and I have started it many a time. And I always really enjoy what I read, but I somehow never finish it. The book is so impractical to take anywhere, or even to read on the couch, that I just never finish it. I guess this summer, I should sit down and read it already.


  7. Vishy January 7, 2011 / 8:16 am

    Glad to know that you loved this book, Michelle! This was the first Bryson book that I read and I loved it. It is one of my alltime favourite books. When the special illustrated edition came out I went and got it immediately. I have multiple editions of it on my bookshelf πŸ™‚ If any of my friends show a little bit of inclination to reading a book on science, I gift this book to them. I love it so much πŸ™‚ I still remember the passage where Bryson talks about Yellowstone National park and says – ‘It looks like Yellowstone National park is due now’. It gave me goose bumps when I read it first. It still does.


    • Michelle January 7, 2011 / 11:09 pm

      Thanks for the “slew” of comments, Vishy. I am going to be terrified when I finally make it to Yellowstone because of Bill Bryson.

      I’ll probably read the Anne Fadiman book soon-ish. I’ll let you know when I’m thinking about it.


      • Vishy January 8, 2011 / 3:03 am

        I have been a poor commenter lately that I thought I will redeem myself πŸ™‚ Hope you enjoy your Yellowstone trip, whenever you get to visit it. If I get to visit it, I am hoping to carry Bryson’s book with me and do a Bryson’s tour of Yellowstone πŸ™‚

        Looking forward to sharing thoughts with you on the Anne Fadiman book. I will wait for your ‘signal’ before starting to read it πŸ™‚ It will be wonderful to share thoughts and compare notes.


  8. Erin January 8, 2011 / 5:09 pm

    I really enjoyed this one when I listened to it a few years ago. I’m glad you did, too!


  9. SuziQoregon January 12, 2011 / 10:15 pm

    I just keep hearing how good this audio is. I really want The Hubster to listen to it and he only listens to audiobooks when we’re on a road trip. This is too long for any trips we have coming up. I might have to split it over a couple of road trips even though they’re a month or so apart because I want him to hear it too.


  10. stacybuckeye January 15, 2011 / 11:29 pm

    I’ve always wanted to try Bryson but have put it off thinking I might find the books boring. I’d be much more willing to try the audio so thanks for recommending it.


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