Review: The Body, Bill Bryson

Rating: 4 out of 5

Mr Bryson’s style, best emphasised by a generous overdose of wit, is not wasted on any subject. Nevertheless, the author’s wishes to include tangents on every subject he treats does not work as well in this book though I greatly enjoyed learning about the various scientists who have paved the way of understanding human biology.

The subject matters here concern all parts of human anatomy as well as life in general. This means that the reader learns about organs as well as viruses, medicine, and crime. This great scope gives plenty of leeway for the author to include worthwhile names and stories in the book, many of these shedding light on folks otherwise forgotten.

I found there was plenty in the book that was educating. The style, always interested and never dry, helped me maintain interest in the subject, which though vitally relevant can often be presented uninterestingly. However, in many cases Mr Bryson had to fight against one of the primary problems that relate to this topic: namely that exemplifying some cases is incredibly difficult. So it is that after reading a few books on human history and psychology, certain examples start to repeat and many of those also crop up in this title.

Nevertheless, a small amount of repetition only serves to enhance memory of events so that is not a downside. Indeed, hearing stories one knows in Mr Bryson’s style is well worth the time and effort, and this book has a lot in addition to the previously known. Much in this book, especially when taken to heart, would also help the reader in determining how to live, especially the long comparisons between the US and the UK and the rest of the developed world that the author is particularly experienced to make.

This isn’t the usual Bryson book, but I enjoyed it. More importantly, I learned something from it.

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