“I was born on January 8, 1942, exactly three hundred years after the death of Galileo. I estimate, however, that about two hundred thousand other babies were also born that day. I don’t know whether any of them was later interested in astronomy.”
Alright you guys, nerd confession: I haven’t read any Stephen Hawking book. (Correction: I’ve read one of the fiction books he’s co-written for children, and it was awesome, by the way. So I haven’t read any of his adult books.) I had only the vaguest idea of what his important contributions to science and physics were. I mean, you’d think that since I’ve been on such a science and physics kick for the last year that I’d have read A Brief History of Time by now, it’s a freaking classic, but I’ve been kind of intimidated by it. Anyways, I was browsing around the library and saw this little 126-page autobiography on the shelf for new non-fiction, and I grabbed it. It was PERFECT readathon reading.
This book is tiny, obviously, but it’s a fantastic intro to Hawking and his life. He quickly describes his childhood and schooling, his diagnosis of ALS, his work in physics and cosmology, up until present day. It’s hard to write an autobiography without coming off as an egotistical jerk, I think, but Hawking does it pretty well. He’s not self-pitying, and he doesn’t glorify himself. I got the impression that he’s more in awe of how fortunate he’s been, despite his hardships.
The shortness of this book has three advantages – you can read it in an hour or two, you get a lot of information about Hawking and his work, and it’s not tedious and bogged down with a million little stories and anecdotes (one of the things that steers me away from biographies, sometimes). And I guess I never really thought about it, but Hawking describes his decision to write A Brief History of Time and why he wanted to write a book for the population that was easy to understand, and I realize that my intimidation of reading it is SILLY. He purposely wrote it for the common reader to comprehend! So clearly I need to buy my own copy and read it really soon. In fact, I’m really looking forward to acquiring and reading all of his books.
I’m going to buy my own copy of this, because I really liked it and want it for my collection. I think my nephew will have fun reading it when he’s a bit older, too. Looking for a short, enjoyable autobiography about a fascinating person? Here you go!
Sarah Says: 4 stars