Ooh-wee am I excited to share this book report! I’ve been making myself obnoxious the entire time I’ve been reading it, because I keep telling everyone little tidbits I’ve learned or recommending it with great abandon. I sure liked The Body: A Guide for Occupants, by Bill Bryson. I am a complete sucker for nonfiction that both informs and entertains, and this book certainly achieves those goals and more.
Even Penney the dog liked this book, at least at first.
Bryson, who is many people’s favorite nonfiction writer, according to the many people who told me that, takes you on a tour of the human body and all its systems, and he shares lots of current information (the book just came out) as well as fascinating stories of what people used to believe about various aspects of ourselves.
One thing I know for SURE is that I am glad I didn’t go to the doctor in the 1800s. Back then, from Bryson’s detailed descriptions, you were more likely to be killed than cured by some of the techniques used. Poor George Washington, bled to death for a viral infection. I almost fainted from the description of a mastectomy that a woman actually survived.
But, most of the book leads you to be amazed at how the human body that we all occupy functions and coordinates all the various symptoms as well as it does. Yes, we get sick, but we hold up pretty darned well.
A sobering point Bryson makes is that people once died from infectious diseases, like diphtheria, but now that we have controlled those, most of the things that kill us are caused not by viruses and such, but by our lifestyle. Because of our sedentary ways, eating more than we need to eat, polluting our air and water, and engaging in habits like smoking tobacco, we now shorten our own lives. Worse, just being poor shortens people’s lives. The statistics really made me sad. All that is preventable.
Learning about the wonders that make up my body has reinforced my goals to climb back on that healthy eating bandwagon I’d exited for a couple of years and to keep up the healthy amount of exercising I’ve built up to in the past few years. I don’t want to make things any harder for my parts and systems than it has to be!
There are a few scientific digressions that might not be everyone’s idea of “fun reading,” but if you like biology, chemistry, anatomy, medicine, and accurate facts, this book is for YOU. Just because the dog didn’t like it, you shouldn’t be swayed. I, the human, liked it a lot!