Insight article

The decade’s favourite non-fiction is a story!

Congratulations to Bill Bryson, whose book A Short History of Nearly Everything has been declared the top selling non-fiction book of the decade.

What’s extraordinary about this book is the sheer ambition of its scope.  Bryson deals with the Big Bang, quantum theory, extinctions, epidemics and earthquakes, subjects which have sunk many a high-brow academic tome.  Yet A Short History… is the most popular non-fiction book of the decade.  Why?

The answer is that Bryson is a born storyteller.  He takes this formidable array of scientific subjects and he presents them in a clear, compelling narrative.  There is cause and effect, there is a timeline, and there’s even a reason to care: he gleefully explains all the many things that could go wrong with our planet at any second!

Not all of us have Bryson’s skill with words, but if he can spin a great yarn around incomprehensible physics and geology, we should all be able to do the same for our own areas of expertise.

Nailia Tasseel