Tuesday, October 8, 2019

The Body: A Guide for Occupants

The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson
Penguin Random House: 10/15/19
eBook review copy; 464 pages
ISBN-13: 9780385539302

The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson is a very highly recommended guide to the human body.

Sure we have bodies, but have you ever pondered how and why your body functions the way it does. Bryson takes us on an entertaining, compatible tour of our bodies and the modern understanding of why it works the way it does and what all the various bits and parts do. He talks to doctors and scientists, presenting facts, a scientific history, and interesting tidbits about our various body parts. He manages to present his information in an informative, fascinating, and interesting manner.
The writing is terrific. Bryson, known for his conversational style of writing, along with his dry humor and wit, makes this narrative an interesting, entertaining, and educational experience. Chapters start out with the skin and hair, microbes, the brain, and then work their way down and through the body the brain. This isn't a biology textbook so you aren't going to find all the information about everything, but it is a fascinating book full of extraordinary facts and also disproves several falsehoods, like we only use 10% of our brains. (We don't. We use more.) There are several experiments and studies presented with amazing and engrossing results. The text contains chapter notes, a bibliography, and index.

Two quick, but interesting facts: a teenager's brain is only about 80% developed and all the synapses aren't fully wired until a person is in their mid to late twenties. This explains a whole lot. Another interesting point was about MSG, which no scientists have ever found any reason to condemn, but it has a bad reputation all based on a letter, not a study or article, in the 1968 New England Journal of Medicine. And that is just a small taste of the interesting facts and stories you will discover in The Body: A Guide for Occupants.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Penguin Random House.

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