Trying to decide what I felt about this book was kind of difficult, for a book of under 300 pages it has taken me quite a long time to read which is uTrying to decide what I felt about this book was kind of difficult, for a book of under 300 pages it has taken me quite a long time to read which is usually a sign that I'm not really enjoying it but being non-fiction naturally means that it does't have the power of suspense and excitement of a novel which makes it a slower read.
I'm not a big reader of non-fiction mainly for this reason but I have always enjoyed reading Bill Bryson's books and this was still an enjoyable and informative read. Throughout Bill Bryson's books I have always been impressed with the balance between humour and informative reading, the book gives enough enjoyment to stop it becoming dry and boring but every page still has some redeeming value providing an informative view on the subject that is being discussed.
I didn't enjoy this book as much as Notes from a Small Island and I think the reason for this was that have only (briefly) visited America some of the concepts in this book were completely alien to me and therefore I could not get as interested in them. Whereas with Notes from a Small Island being set throughout the UK I could easily relate to the places he was visiting and the events that were happening, having previously been to many of them myself. I'm sure if you have spent time in America or travelled America at some point then this book will be every bit as good but having not done this I did not feel I was able to get the most out of it.
I am afraid that I have had to give this book a poor rating based on the amount of the book that I failed to understand. I would like to think that wiI am afraid that I have had to give this book a poor rating based on the amount of the book that I failed to understand. I would like to think that with a first class mathematics degree and a general interest in science I had a fairly good grounding to start this book with. However the book simply did not explain the key ideas in a way that was conducive to being easily understood, many of the pieces of mathematics that I would have understood had they been written mathematically I failed to understand in the format given in the book. The concept of using clocks to represent waves and complex numbers just confused me and I would have been much happier just to be given the arguments in terms of complex numbers which I do understand. This book is widely believed to be as close to a layman's guide to quantum physics as there is, yet still I failed to truly get my head round many of the concepts and I guess this is why quantum physics has a reputation for being such a complicated and exciting subject of study.
Overall my advice to would be readers is to read this book with caution, I did gain something from reading the book and a glad that I tried to read it, but don't even bother starting unless you at least have a good grasp of the fundamental rules of physics and mathematics. This book will take a while to read and you will need to read parts of it more than one and even after that some of it will not make sense, quantum physics really is confusing and I guess this is as good an introduction as is possible. ...more
I can't claim to be overly impressed by this book, the prose and use of language throughout the book is wonderful and I wish more books used the rangeI can't claim to be overly impressed by this book, the prose and use of language throughout the book is wonderful and I wish more books used the range of vocabulary that appear in this book. I was really enjoying the book through the first 200 pages (or so) in which time Stephen Fry explains some of his childhood and his years at Cambridge. The bits while he was at Cambridge were particularly good, in my opinion this section of the book contained the best descriptions and it seemed to be the only part of the book the Stephen Fry was genuinely enthused about writing. The atmosphere created during these scenes is so very different from that of the ones that follow.
After the Cambridge section I have to say that I got quite bored of the book. There seemed to be an awful lot of namedropping and sections where Stephen Fry did little more than complain about himself. Also I don't think there was enough interesting material during this section, a lot of the stories were about productions that were never published or little known and as a result left the reader with little to relate to.
I would have preferred this book to go further into the time span of Stephen Fry's life and I think the book would have been improved by containing more modern events in his life. I know that anyone reading this could say that if I had read the blurb of the book then I would have realised that it only covered a short period of his life, but I didn't read the blurb and therefore was a little disappointed by the end result....more
This book is probably a three and a half star book, I really enjoyed the first half to two thirds of the book while we were dealing with lots of physiThis book is probably a three and a half star book, I really enjoyed the first half to two thirds of the book while we were dealing with lots of physics, chemistry and what I would call geography and geology. However I found the latter parts of the book a bit of a drag, I guess it is rather a problem with me rather than the book but I just wasn't and never have been particularly interested in fossils or types of moss. This is probably showing why I did a degree in mathematics with some physics as oppose to anything remotely related to biology.
Bill Bryson is really good at taking complicated ideas and writing them down in such a way that just about anyone with half a brain can understand. I could follow pretty much everything that was being said throughout the book without much difficulty and only a very basic prior knowledge of some of the subjects. The injections of humour are what make the book, without them it would run a bit flat however precisely when this begins to happen Bryson comes up with a witty humorous comment that just gives the book the bit of lightness it desperately needs. ...more
I don't read many non-fiction books and really should read more as I often find them very interesting. This book gives the reader a great insight in tI don't read many non-fiction books and really should read more as I often find them very interesting. This book gives the reader a great insight in the "Madness Industry" and in particular the way in which psychopaths are tested and treated. However from the blurb I thought this book would go deeper into the idea of there being psychopaths at the top of the financial tree and in this respect I was disappointed. The criminal bits were really interesting and I particularly liked the story of Tony but I would have liked to see more about the non-criminal side of things. ...more