Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" and Brian Greene's "The Elegant Universe" had both been on my "read this someday" list for quite some time. Both got pushed to the top of that list in the last little while for very good reasons.
I read Hawking's book in preparation for seeing the film, "The Theory of Everything," early in 2015, before the Academy Awards. Greene's book pushed its way to the top of my list when he was announced as the headline presenter at our university's writers conference this spring.
Here's my advice to other readers: Do try to read these books close together. I'm glad my reading of them was relatively (13-14 months) proximate. Green acknowledges a debt to the inspiration and spirit of Hawking's book and expands on his work with the science that has come in the subsequent decade or two. They're clearly writing for the same audience - the curious non-scientist. They share a wry wit and sense of humor. These two books belong together on the shelf, and the reader would do well to treat them as companion volumes.
Hawking declares in his book that he was told every equation he included would halve his readership - so he included none. Greene, on the other hand, includes several, in the footnotes, always introduced by the little catchphrase, "For the mathematically inclined reader."
For the record, I really loved the film "The Theory of Everything." Redmayne's performance was certainly Oscar-worthy, but I actually was more taken by Felicity Jones as his first wife, Jane. Here's what I wrote on this blog at that time: http://carissagreen50.booklikes.com/post/1107435/notes-on-adaptation-the-theory-of-everything.
Also for the record: I had seen Greene's PBS series years ago and enjoyed it very much. His appearance at our university this spring was stellar. And there was a most interesting surprise: the chancellor of our state university system was friends with Greene during his graduate school days at Oxford. He gave a charming, humorous, entirely appropriate and enlightening introduction, then we settled in for more than an hour of Greene's wit and wisdom. A most satisfying evening all around.