I've lamented the lack of good popularizations of condensed matter/solid state physics. I do, however, have recommendations for two relatively recent books about materials and chemistry, which is pretty close.
The Disappearing Spoon, by Sam Kean, is a fun, engaging stroll across the periodic table, exploring the properties of the various chemical elements through the usually fascinating, sometimes funny, occasionally macabre histories of their discoveries and uses. The title references joke spoons made from gallium that would melt (and fall to the bottom of the cup) when used to stir tea. The tone is light and anecdotal, and the history is obscure enough that you haven't heard all the stories before. Very fun.
Stuff Matters, by Mark Miodownik, is similar in spirit, though not quite so historical and containing more physics and materials science. The author is a materials scientist who happens to be a gifted author and popularizer as well. He's done a BBC three-episode series about materials (available here), another BBC series about modern technologies, and a TED lesson about why glass is transparent.