Two New Books for Wondering About the World

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Image: Quadrille
Image: Quadrille

Curiosity is not reserved for the nerdy. I find that most people are curious about the world in which they live. They wonder why shirts are buttoned the way they are. They wonder how bee colonies are organized. They wonder where insects go at night. Before the internet, oftentimes we just had to wonder. There was no Google. And we didn’t always have the necessary books to answer our questions.

Along these lines—and we’re still talking pre-internet, here—I bought a series of books called Imponderables. The original book was followed by a ton of sequels. It seemed that there was a good market for it. The books answered questions such as those above, answering questions that I had and those I didn’t know I had. The series sated my curiosity for a while.

Now I have the internet and rarely have to wonder about an answer for long. But there are still books—even new books—out there that help feed our curiosity with more questions and the answers to those questions. Here are two new ones that fill that role.

An interior from 'Fun Science'. Image: Quadrille
An interior from ‘Fun Science’. Image: Quadrille

Fun Science

Out a month ago is this fun-book-with-a-fun-cover, Fun Science: A Guide to Life, the Universe, and Why Science Is So Awesome by Charlie McDonnell, who is apparently a big YouTube guy. You don’t need to follow him on YouTube (or elsewhere on the internet) to appreciate his book, however. He’s a science fan, not a scientist himself, which is often helpful when explaining science topics to other non-scientists. Like kids. His popular YouTube channel also has many Fun Science videos, so check those out.

An interior from 'Fun Science'. Image: Quadrille
An interior from ‘Fun Science’. Image: Quadrille

The book, though, is a thick hardback full of discussion, graphics, and explanations about science. Charlie tackles astronomy, geology, biology, chemistry, and physics in about 250 pages with a heck of a lot of humor. Lots of color, bolded and different-sized text, and illustrations keep readers who have a hard time reading a wall of text interested.

Charlie explains the basics about fields of science in a way that everyone can understand, trying to convey his passion for science and explain why everyone should think it is awesome. If reading about hard science isn’t your bag, Fun Science will be a great intro and maybe spark a new interest in science. I think it’s perfect for middle school on upward, though younger kids will also benefit, and adults will enjoy the tour of the sciences that Charlie offers as well, since Fun Science is a great refresher for parents whose kids are getting into more advanced science in school. You know you’ll be helping them with your homework, so brush up on your knowledge in a fun way with this book.

Image: Nicholas Brealey
Image: Nicholas Brealey

How Long Is Now?

Out just a week ago is How Long Is Now? Fascinating Answers to 191 Mind-Boggling Questions by the folks at New Scientist. From the long-running and popular “The Last Word” column in their magazine, they’ve sorted through all of their interesting Q&A, chosen some of the best, and published it all in How Long Is Now? Answering our every day questions, exotic possibilities, and philosophical quandaries, a variety of experts cover some of the most interesting topics out there. Each question is different from the last, so there is something to intrigue everyone.

This book definitely reads more like a newspaper column in book form than a carefully crafted cohesive whole (much like the Imponderables books I mentioned earlier), which makes it easy to pick up and put down to read short snippets at a time. It answers plenty of questions that you may have also wondered, and ones you don’t know the answer to but never thought to ask. For anyone who likes to discover the mysteries behind how the world works, How Long Is Now? is worth a look.

Spoiler alert: “Now” is “somewhere between two and three seconds” according to the book. But that’s just the short answer. You’ll have to read the book to hear the long version.

Both of these books, Fun Science and How Long Is Now?, are perfect gifts for yourself or anyone you know curious about the world around them. Everyone in my family keeps picking them up and reading passages to each other!

Note: I received a copy of each book for review purposes.

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