Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson - 9/10
This book had practically everything going against it for me. The main storyline involves a lot of 17th century English history, a subject that I have always found mind-numbingly boring. Throw in some early economics, obscure distinctions in religious sects, and detailed descriptions of naval vessels and you've got the recipe for a 900 page snore-fest. Much to my surprise, I discovered how interesting these topics can be with just a few fictional characters thrown into the mix. As far as I can tell, Stephenson's versions of Newton, Hooke, and Leibniz are reasonably accurate depictions, complete with their unique quirks and spiritual obsessions. The Royal Society of London turns out to be the perfect star for the other stories to revolve around (an analogy I have to admit was a bit overused), and I got a kick out of seeing how the vagabond/natural philosopher/English royalty stories each pulled on one another. There's a fun little physics problem in the Jack Shaftoe adventures that was pure gold.
Oh, and there's some pirates. And lots of mishaps with genitals.