Review of You Are Here: A Portable History of the Universe by Christopher Potter

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review of You Are Here: A Portable History of the Universe by Christopher PotterYou Are Here by Christopher Potter
Published by Random House LLC on 2010-05-25
Genres: Science
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

A thrilling biography of the universe, as seen through the lens of today’s most cutting-edge scientific thinking. Here’s the book that explains the universe.You Are Here is an exhilarating journey that shows the cosmos as it has never been seen before. From the smallest parts of matter to the largest structures in the universe, Christopher Potter traces the life of the universe from theories of its conception to theories of its eventual fate. Along this heart-stopping voyage from quarks to galaxies, he writes entertainingly about the history and philosophy of science. With wisdom and wonder, Potter traverses the cosmos from its formation to its eventual end – while exploring everything in between.Some questions You Are Here sets out to answer: • What is this ‘everything’ that has evolved from nothing? And what do we mean by everything?• What stuff is ‘nothing’ made out of?• If the universe contains everything there is then what is it contained in?• Where are we in the universe? • Is there room for God in a material universe? • How scared should we be?• What fate awaits the universe?Science actually has answers to these questions, and in You Are Here, Potter will explain them to you.From the Hardcover edition.

Reading You Are Here: A Portable History of the Universe by Christopher Potter will make you sexier. I know, what an outrageous claim to make, but it’s true. Why? Because intelligent, smart, well-informed people are sexy. I won’t lie, I struggled through You Are Here by Christopher Potter, as it is full of complex subject matter and the last time I took a physics class was in 7th grade, when we made pulleys. The last time I took an earth science class was in 10th grade, and well, I will admit I used to come in everyday, sleep, and then copy my friend’s notes. Despite being head over heels in love with a geologist, I don’t really understand or know much about science. You could mention the term string-theory to me and I would probably think you were talking about knitting.

You Are Here by Christopher Potter made me sexier because it helped me to correct some of my ignorance about the universe and about science. I never really understood why black holes are such a big deal. I couldn’t have told you what the Big Bang Theory was. But now, I feel I can tell you the basics of relativity (measuring something by using another thing in relation), that Pythagoras did not actually come up with the Pythagorean Theorem (a-squared plus b-squared = c-squared), and what a red giant is (not a character in a fantasy novel). It feels good to know these terms and ideas. I like learning about history. I like learning. I should hope we never stop learning, even after leaving the hallowed halls of school and university.

You Are Here by Christopher Potter is definitely a book you should read slowly because the theories, facts, and ideas do take some time to process. It is dense material. I mean, there was one chapter on measuring and numbers and it was so hard for me to get through because my brain doesn’t process numbers as well as it does literary things. The most interesting chapter was on evolution. I took a biological anthropology class, so I have a little background in that, and well I love to say “homo heidelbergensis” (totally cool). Again, it’s interesting to know the ideas of where we come from. Potter doesn’t exactly discount creationism, nor is he disrespectful towards it, so yes, this book is theology-friendly.

Overall, although I struggled through You Are Here by Christopher Potter and it took me forever, I am glad I read, if only because I can now hold a conversation with my love on his favorite subject, science. Lord knows he’s put up with my prattling on books for long enough.

I really liked these quotes from You Are Here:

“Science is a way of translating that individual experience of the world into collective experience.” -pg. 55

“What launched the scientific revolution was not the placing of the sun at the center of the cosmos, so much as the removal of the earth. It’s not about us.”- pg. 80

“In scientific discourse the poetry is in mathematics and the same language judges them alike: symmetry, elegance, simplicity, brevity, subtlety, profundity are the highest qualities of both means of apprehending reality.” – pg. 159

“It’s how the words are put together that matters, and that’s definitely true of the language of life, which has a very small vocabulary and is written in few sentences.” – pg. 226

“As the American astronomer and physicist Robert Jastrow (1925-2008) has predicted: the scientist who has climbed the highest peak may find ‘as he pulls himself over the final rock, [that] he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries” – pg. 274

About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Michelle (my books. my life.) says

    Great review. I just started this book and I hope it makes me sexy (sexier?).

  2. Ooh, what if you read this book while wearing a "Reading is sexy" t-shirt? Then are you basically THE SEXIEST EVER? I think the answer should be yes.

  3. Sounds a bit like Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything, which made my science IQ go up about 20 points.

  4. justicejenniferreads says

    Great review. I too struggled through science, but it's something very near and dear to the hearts of several people I love so I'm seriously going to consider grabbing this book and learning some cool facts about science. And I agree with you, I think being smarter makes you sexier.

  5. Sounds like a really interesting book! I definitely want to check this one out now at some point.


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