This was an absolutely fascinating read, chock-full of interesting information told in a warm and funny way. Bill Bryson comes off as someone who is genuinely excited to teach this material, which is my favorite kind of person to learn from. Also, I listened to the last hour or so of the audiobook while running a marathon on Sunday, and I’ll tell you, there is no greater motivation to keep yourself moving than listening to all the different ways your body is slowly dying!
“It’s a slightly humbling thought that the genes you carry are immensely ancient and possibly—so far anyway—eternal. You will die and fade away, but your genes will go on and on so long as you and your descendants continue to produce offspring.”
Broken into sections concerning specific body parts or systems, The Body is a tip to toes investigation into all of the amazing things that we take for granted. If you really stop to think about it, the fact that we’re all just walking around in these things is pretty unlikely.
“All that is really going in your mouth is texture and chemicals. It is your brain that reads these scentless, flavorless molecules and vivifies them for your pleasure. Your brownie is sheet music. It is your brain that makes it a symphony.”
Bryson packs each chapter full of interesting facts, relayed in a way that makes them easy to comprehend, even when they’re really astounding.
“The most remarkable part of all is your DNA. You have a metre of it packed into every cell, and so many cells that if you formed all the DNA in your body into a single fine strand it would stretch ten billion miles, to beyond Pluto.8 Think of it: there is enough of you to leave the solar system. You are in the most literal sense cosmic.”
I am always interested in books about disease, so the chapter concerning our immune system and how science has worked over the years to cure or prevent certain diseases while still being completely incapable of understanding others was the most interesting to me:
“The history of epilepsy can be summarised as 4,000 years of ignorance, superstition and stigma followed by 100 years of knowledge, superstition and stigma.”
But really, this book could be picked up at any part and something interesting will jump right out at you!
“Adults in the West produce about 200 grams of feces a day—a little under half a pound, about 180 pounds a year, 14,000 pounds in a lifetime.”
I mean, come on!