If you're looking for a comprehensive explanation for modern life is how it is, there are probably other books to read. But if you're looking for something light, informative and fun, HOW WE GOT TO NOW is just the thing.
There's also a PBS TV show that goes along with it.
I'm not a big nonfiction reader, and so I was really pleased at how seamlessly author Steven Johnson pulled me in. His narrative style is engaging and personable, rather like talking to a socially fluid Jeopardy contestant at a bar. It also made a fascinating pairing with THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY, which I was reading concurrently to Johnson's book. The overlaps in time, particularly in the chapter about artificial light, make them a fascinating duo.
And if HOW WE GOT TO NOW may be light on depth at turns, it certainly makes up for it in great food for thought. The chapter on artificial cold, and how it changed the American political landscape, just the kind of random, curious information perfectly suited for your next dinner party or date.