“The Universe in a Nutshell” by Stephen Hawking (And Other Amazing Used Books at WSB)

Changing our name from Wellington Square Bookshop to “The Best Kept Secret in Chester County” seems logical to me, given that at least once per week I meet a local who strolls in for the first time, having had no idea we have existed for years. Upon meeting “first-timers”, I am excited to point out the used book collection in the back of the store. Where else can you find a thoroughly captivating, often best-selling book in hardback for $4.95?

Our used non-fiction, in particular, fascinates me. This esoteric and eclectic
collection represents topics as varied as World War II missions, parenting advice,
spiritual encouragement, coffee table books of dog photography, a travel guide
of Paris and instructions on the practice of yoga. The biography selection alone
encompasses such a wide variety of characters (Ayn Rand, Nancy Reagan, Mark
Twain, Ted Hughes) a reader could get lost for hours.

Recently, a used copy of Stephen Hawking’s The Universe in a Nutshell found
its way onto our shelves. Though familiar with and in awe of Stephen Hawking, I
did not think his subject matter was accessible for a non-science/non-math brain
like mine (think colors person in a numbers world). After all, Stephen Hawking
is a genius – an intellectual icon. I was unaware of his ability to synthesize
information in a clear and concise manner. In this book, Hawking aims to explain
some high level concepts to a more general audience; a nice way of saying he
tries really hard to “dumb it down”. I would say Hawking is somewhat successful.
Every page includes photographs or colorful illustrations creating a physics
picture book. Most striking is Hawking’s sense of humor. I often found myself
chuckling at his remarks, like a favorite uncle zinging one-liners at family dinners.

In all honesty, there are still large parts of this book that are just not getting
through to me, but I really enjoyed much of it. This is the kind of book I could
see myself going back to over the years and possibly making notes in as
understanding progresses.

The Universe in a Nutshell is just one of many books in our used science
collection. I find our used science books intriguing, but I may be even more
infatuated with the used history section where Stephen Greenblatt’s Pulitzer prize
winner, The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, resides alongside Flyboys,
Band of Brothers and other accounts of world history. Fans of Michael Lewis
will find The Big Short in the business section. I have my eye on Seabiscuit and
Betrayal, the story of Aldrich Ames, as well as a few other biographies.

Stop in and browse the used non-fiction. What you find may surprise and delight
you.

~ Donnna

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