Martin's Must Reads: 'The Body'

Jun 23, 2020

“Long ago, when I was a junior high school student in Iowa, I remember being taught by a biology teacher that all the chemicals that make up a human body could be bought in a hardware store for $5.00 or something like that.”

I’m Betty Martin with "Martin’s Must Reads" and those are the first lines to Bill Bryson’s newest book The Body: A Guide For Occupants.

Over the course of twenty-three chapters Bryson explains the mysteries of the human body. The chapters are also riddled with information about the medical geniuses who discovered how the body works, how they tried to solve medical issues and some of the unique patients who helped with their discoveries.

Just when the narrative seems to get a little too technical Bryson shares an anecdote. There is one about the British engineer who swallowed a coin that lodged at the base of his trachea and only fell out six weeks later after strapping himself upside down into a swinging contraption. Another about a British tail gunner who survived a fall of three miles from his plane. He fell through some lofty pine trees landing in a seated position with only a sore knee.

At the end of his chapter on diseases, Bryson shares a telling quote by scientist Kinch, “The fact is we are really no better prepared for a bad outbreak today than we were when the Spanish flu killed tens of millions of people a hundred years ago. The reason we haven’t had another experience like that isn’t because we have been especially vigilant. It’s because we have been lucky.”

If you’re looking for a well researched and entertaining book about the mysteries of the human body, then you must read The Body by Bill Bryson.