24 October 2022

Review: The Body by Bill Bryson

The Body by Bill Bryson audiobook cover

I enjoyed listening to At Home: A Short History of Private Life at the beginning of the year and decided to seek out more of Bill Bryson's work. The Body: A Guide for Occupants, written and narrated by Bill Bryson seemed like a good place to start, and promises to provide the reader with a Bryson-esque overview of the human body and all of its functions.

Not having any background whatsoever in medicine, physiology or biology, this was a solid introduction to the human body for me.

The book is full of interesting and often entertaining facts, like this one from the Belly Button Biodiversity Project:
"60 random Americans had their belly buttons swabbed, to see what was lurking there microbially. The study found 2,368 species of bacteria, 1,458 of which were unknown to science. That is an average of 24.3 new to science microbes in every navel." Chapter 2, The Outside: Skin and Hair
Bryson seems to have an insatiable appetite for history and science and it made me wonder how this book came about. Did the author set out to write about the human body and then conduct the research? Or did he pursue a natural interest in the topic and then see a need to summarise his learning in a way that would benefit other readers?

Either way, this was an educational and often surprising read, how's this?
"The largest source of foodborne illness is not meat or eggs or mayonnaise as is commonly thought but green leafy vegetables. They account for 1 in 5 of all food illnesses." Chapter 15, The Guts
Wow, I had no idea! The Body: A Guide for Occupants is very accessible to the average reader; it's a fantastic foundation for those eager to learn and a solid introduction for those seeking a general overview. Just now, reading more about the Belly Button Biodiversity Project, (tell me you aren't going to Google it later) and I'm reading it in Bryson's voice, which means he has clearly left an impression.

Published pre-pandemic in 2019, it has aged well considering and I look forward to reading more of Bryson's work in the future. What should I read next?

My Rating:

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