Thank you Lollygagger for recommending this book, because I absolutely loved it. It reminded me a lot of Mary Roach, as well as Unmentionable and the one about the plagues. Basically, I’m loving this genre of informative and entertaining nonfiction. I mean, I love a good Eric Larson book. But lately these more humorous takes on history and medicine have really become a lot of fun for me to read.
So the author of If Our Bodies Could Talk: A Guide to Operating and Maintaining a Human Body, James Hamblin, quit medical school to become a writer. He felt that it was ridiculous that doctors were required to memorize massive amounts of information in order to pass a test and then either never use that information again, or have access to it online for the rest of their careers. He felt like a doctor’s training would be better used understanding how things work, not just memorizing data. So he started writing medical columns and eventually wrote this book.
He does frame it as questions with answers about the human body. The first question he asks is one that his ophthalmologist this friend gets asked a lot: can your contact lens slide behind your eyeball and into your brain? But most of the questions that he asks, he answers in ways with social and political and economic ramifications. As Lollygagger mentioned in their review, he turns a question about sunburns into a discussion of the Watts Riots. He talks a lot about how broken our healthcare and medical system is, and what contributes to that. I found it very entertaining and very informative.