A Short History of Nearly Everything: Special Illustrated Edition - Bill Bryson
I'm incredulous of the amount of research Bryson put into this book. He really took the time to go above and beyond toward realms of thought and inquiry far outreaching his scope as an author. I can't help but appreciate the immensity of this work.
I encourage anybody of a high school reading level to give this book a chance. The beginning is breathtakingly illustrative of concepts otherwise unimaginable to the average Joe, and what's more, Bryson's language does little to obstruct or obscure the big picture. So much literature of this nature is dismissed on account of lofty diction and esoteric jargon, but this particular book is a breath of fresh air for anybody with even a subtle interest in science and natural history wanting to better understand it all.
All that keeps this book from a five-star rating are the brief periods of dry material which prove necessary in compiling a vast summary of time so succinctly. It's a picky critique and easily overlooked.