“A Short History of Nearly Everything” by Bill Bryson is my all time favorite nonfiction book. In 544 pages (including notes, index, and bibliography) he does a pretty darn good job of living up to the promise made by the title. He starts with the big bang theory and ends with the rise of civilization, touching on just about everything in between. Reading this book is like getting a crash course in half the college courses on campus, many of them classes that you probably slept through and barely passed, but Bryson makes it fun and very entertaining. If I were a science teacher in a high school, this book would be required reading in my class. And it is an invaluable tool for writing science fiction–reading it sparks a thousand different ideas for novels to that end.