“The Body: A Guide for Occupants” by Bill Bryson
Review by Linda Tripp, collection development librarian
Bryson takes the reader on a head to toe survey of the human body, providing both medical facts and historical background about the people who discovered just what it is that makes us tick. Filled with Bryson’s typical mix of humor, historical context, interesting details and trivia, “The Body” travels through human anatomy, evolution, physiology, and illness and diseases. At times reading this book you may feel uncomfortable, for example while reading about early surgical techniques, or even sad, while contemplating the place the US holds on many measures of health compared with other developed nations — the statistics on maternal health and death are upsetting. Writing about contagious diseases, the author posits that the flu might be the greatest potential health risk faced by humans, a prediction we unfortunately are currently experiencing in devastating real time.
I enjoyed this book, as with most of this author’s works, it’s funny, accessible, and really interesting. Reading it was a bit like taking a survey course with a popular teacher, where you learn a little about a lot of topics, and get inspired to delve deeper into the areas that really interest you.