‘The Body: A Guide for Occupants’ by Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson started as a travel writer and then moved into writing about science. In this one he travels through the human body. Bryson does an incredible amount of research into complicated things and then casually talks about them as if he’s giving you directions to the corner store. He can be very funny, in a gentle self-deprecating way (a quality that has no doubt flourished by living in the UK) and he makes the facts entertaining.

For me, learning more about our inner workings, system by system, produced amazement and wonder–he does make science understandable. We seldom stop to thing about all of the wonderful things that are going on while we slouch unawares on the couch, munching popcorn, until something goes wrong of course. His chapters on germs, disease, and microbes read like a thriller, and leave you feeling as many aches and pains as a first year medical student! But because this book is  a long one, and not quite as laugh-out-loud funny as some of his other books, I would recommend the audio version, read by the author himself–he has an amusing American accent with a telltale British twang.

I really like Bryson’s books. They are always a pleasant journey that leaves me with greater general knowledge and an appreciation for the topic he has tackled. I have especially liked his travel books about Great Britain and Australia, and his book called At Home which discusses how we as a society became comfortable. His funniest book is A Walk in the Woods about hiking the Appalachian trail with his fat friend, which also became a movie with Robert Redford. A Short History of Nearly Everything is about the universe and ourselves. It is an awesome adventure into the realms of human knowledge. If you read that one, make sure you get the special illustrated edition.

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