Brian Greene’s The Elegant Universe and Fabric Of The Cosmos cover much of the same ground and more accessably than Hawking. I once heard A Brief History of Time described as “the most widely read book that no one has ever finished,” and while that claim may be a bit hyperbolic, it does appear that many people get about halfway in and give up. Shamefully, while I have Lisa Randall’s Warped Passages on my bookshelf I haven’t even cracked it yet (I’ve been spending more time of late reading about the Irish Potato Famine and technical stuff on thermodynamics), but it came highly recommended and it’s now out in paperback.
On the topic of evolution I could recommend a panoply of books, but you can’t go wrong with Stephen J. Gould, even if I do disagree with some of the specific theories he promoted (species and group selection, punctuated equilibrium). His collections of essays, mostly written for original publication in Natural History magazine, make for quick, easy reading while being very informative. I’d start with The Panda’s Thumb or Ever Since Darwin. If you want to balance that off with someone on the other side of selective theory (that is, the gene-centric rather than focusing on species- or group-level selection) then Richard Dawkins is your go-to man. Most people will point you at The Selfish Gene because its his first and it was groundbreaking as a popular science presentation of gene-centric theory (which Dawkins professionally advanced but was not by far the first person to establish), and it may be a good place to start, but I personally prefer The Blind Watchmaker. But then, I find his discussion of fig wasps (which was his professional area of study as a young zoologist) fascinating, and he’s not adverse to approaching the problems of evolution computationally or mathematically. This also comes before his current obsession with ranting on about religion (which, even when I agree with his statements I find his placement and demeanor off-putting). Matt Ridley’s The Red Queen is a good book on the role of sexual selection in evolution, and you can’t go wrong with Ernst Mayr–maybe this–though he does get kind of dry at some points, especially in What Evolution Is, so perhaps not the best starting point there.
And you can always throw in a bit of Feynman–or, at least one of his autobiographical books–for some light reading as a break. He’s always a good read.
Is that a start for you?