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The Secret Life of Germs: What They Are, Why We Need Them, and How We Can Protect Ourselves Against Them
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The Secret Life of Germs: What They Are, Why We Need Them, and How We Can Protect Ourselves Against Them

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  189 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
They're on everything we touch, eat, and breathe in -- on every inch of skin. And despite the advances of science, germs are challenging medicine in ways that were unimaginable ten years ago. No wonder the world is up in arms -- and using antibacterial soaps.
From the common cold, E. coli, and Lyme disease to encephalitis, mad cow disease, and flesh-eating bacteria, Tiern
Paperback, 320 pages
Published January 6th 2004 by Atria Books (first published 2001)
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There were a few helpful nuggets in this book about hygiene and science behind it, but moreover I was turned off by his too simplistic approach (writing like we're not smart enough to understand scientific stuff) and offensive opinions (blaming poor hygiene in the US on recent waves of immigration).

Read Jessica Snyder Sach's book (Good Germs, Bad Germs) to avoid the conflicting information in this one (like not sterilizing everything in your house due to germ resistance, but then suggesting tric
Jan 28, 2008 Krotpong rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We are walking meat sacks filled with germs. While we live, the germs keep us alive (mostly). When we die, they eat us. Another fun book for air travel. PUT THE TOILET SEAT COVER DOWN WHEN YOU FLUSH.
May 01, 2009 Steven rated it liked it
The way people panic over SARS and Swine Flu, this book ought to be a bestseller. Where else will you find step-by-step instructions for proper handwashing (in case you never bothered before)? Actually, the book is very good, an easy read, and filled with useful information, not only on various diseases and some great medical/scientific history, but also with little sidebar tips added here and there about ways to protect yourself from bad germs and to take advantage of good germs. The author is ...more
Dec 04, 2008 Topmar rated it it was amazing
I'm someone who didn't take a book out of the library for about 18 years because -- OK, I'll admit it -- I was afraid of germs. Turns out I had every reason to be fearful! Now a budget-conscious mother, I make do with fanatical alcohol sterilization before I bring my kid's books into bed at night. The mantra: wash your hands! remains especially meaningful after this read. Appears that germs are smarter than we are, with great adaptive skills. There are good germs and bad germs, and everywhere, t ...more
Dec 02, 2010 Julia marked it as to-read
A perfect layperson's guide to understanding microbes, how we effect them, how they affect us, and basic microbiology concepts. The first couple of chapters focus on microbiology 101, which I still find interesting. However, it is the information after that is what I find fascinating. The author walks the reader through a day in the life of a family from when they wake up, and at each moment of interaction with germs, he provides insightful information and advice on how to protect oneself from d ...more
Jan 08, 2009 Jennifer rated it liked it
Recommends it for: those interested in the wonderful world of germs.
Recommended to Jennifer by: my crazy knowledge thirsty self
What I learned from this book...and unthinkingly shared with my very conservative regards to germs--you are better off eating human feces than french kissing another person.
An enlightening read but a bit on the Mr. Clean side, meaning it could turn you into a germophobe, afraid of going anywhere or touching anything!
My advice; eat some dirt & you'll be fine. Oh yeah, and use hot water & soap to be squeaky clean.
Jul 08, 2009 Tom rated it really liked it
I read this book some years ago, but remembered doing so only recently. It was an informative book, but it tends toward unnecessary alarmism. If everything in the book were to be taken to heart, the reader would be afraid to venture out in public or indeed to share living arrangements with family members.
The part about laundering your unmentionables separately in their own private batch, though? Probably a good idea!!
Ben Zajdel
Aug 12, 2012 Ben Zajdel rated it it was amazing
Really good exposition on microbiology and pathology. Even better, the author provides what he calls Protective Response Plans, which are essentially protocol to follow to avoid unhealthy bacterium in your home and workplace.

I've sprayed Lysol on everything I own, though. Not a good side effect for a book.
Aug 14, 2008 Rae rated it liked it
I didn't learn much from this book that I didn't already know, but I was interested in the fact that the author really espouses washing hands frequently...something we don't always hear about anymore. Overall, this is a good introduction to harmful bacteria and the diseases they cause. I also appreciated the fact that the author was not an alarmist.
Sarah Benkovic
Dec 26, 2007 Sarah Benkovic rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone with OCD
I loved this book, but as those who know me would tell you, I might be a little too obsessed with germs and cleaning. However, that aside, it really is a very interesting book on many levels, but if you are easily disturbed you might want to keep looking.
Dora Landaverde
Aug 26, 2012 Dora Landaverde rated it it was amazing
It's such an amazing read! Very informative and things that we should all know to help us live a healthy, paranoid free life. Just some simple steps to protect ourselves from illnesses and becoming more hygienic!
Jun 28, 2012 Sandra rated it liked it
Shelves: science
An enticing overview of the enormously complex world of microbiology, written in a very accessible way. It left me with more questions than answers, however, but I guess that is a good thing. I find myself wanting to read a newer treatment of this subject as the material seemed rather dated.
"Olive"  Kristine Howe
Oct 07, 2010 "Olive" Kristine Howe rated it really liked it
Freaked out after I read this book. Not a germaphobe but could be now! Cleaning with Vinegar, baking soda, lemon on everything. Please remember to wash your hands.
Jan 28, 2009 Mel rated it really liked it
Shelves: mind-body
Quite a fascinating book - in fact, I read it in a day. The only downside to reading this is that I became a bit hyper-aware of germs for awhile after reading the book.
Dec 17, 2008 Steven rated it really liked it
If you have a background in studying germs/microbes it will seem a little dry. If not then it should be very interesting.
May 11, 2008 Marie rated it really liked it
How germs are now a global issue. Many helpful hints about cleanliness. Do you do the 20 second hand wash?
Duane rated it it was amazing
Feb 06, 2015
Bryce Fiero
Bryce Fiero rated it liked it
Jan 23, 2014
Mark rated it really liked it
Sep 03, 2012
Edward Acevedo
Edward Acevedo rated it it was amazing
Aug 31, 2016
Anne Fabing
Anne Fabing rated it really liked it
Nov 13, 2011
Reza rated it it was ok
Mar 05, 2014
Meredith rated it liked it
Jun 18, 2007
Tarasita rated it really liked it
May 14, 2012
Aylin Dunham
Aylin Dunham rated it it was amazing
Jul 20, 2013
Jennie rated it it was amazing
May 21, 2012
Laura Lopez
Laura Lopez rated it liked it
May 30, 2012
Sarah rated it it was ok
Mar 25, 2011
Amy Bradley
Jul 22, 2010 Amy Bradley rated it liked it
a little on the dry side
Carol rated it it was ok
May 30, 2013
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