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Gross Anatomy: Dispatches from the Front (and Back)
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Gross Anatomy: Dispatches from the Front (and Back)

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  497 ratings  ·  92 reviews
An honest, funny, neurotic, and totally gross love child of Mindy Kaling and Mary Roach. Mara Altman's volatile and apprehensive relationship with her body has led her to wonder about a lot of stuff over the years. Like, who decided that women shouldn't have body hair? And how sweaty is too sweaty? Also, why is breast cleavage sexy but camel toe revolting? Isn't it all jus ...more
Hardcover, 312 pages
Published August 21st 2018 by G.P. Putnam's Sons
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Petra X
There ought to be a genre -Mary Roach type. This book, Gross Anatomy attempts to out-Roach the genre's originator, pop science with humour and personal stories but does not succeed. I suffered through the over-long first chapter of Mara trying to get her excess body hair removed and eyebrows plucked. Although I don't have any hair on my legs or face, my mother had issues and went through much of what Mara describes so I could identify. But it was too much detail and too much, 'lucky I can laugh ...more
(4.5) The female body has been a source of deep embarrassment for Altman, but here she swaps shame for self-deprecating silliness and cringing for chuckling. Through a snappy blend of personal anecdotes and intensive research, she exposes the cultural expectations that make us dislike our bodies, suggesting that a better knowledge of anatomy might help us feel normal. While 11 of her 15 topics aren’t exclusive to the female anatomy—birthmarks, hemorrhoids, warts and more apply to men, too—she al ...more
Ashley Holstrom
To be a complete woman, I felt as though I had to get rid of a part of myself. But why? Why does there have to be all this shame and angst about something that's a natural part of being woman? The pressure to be hairless has driven me to feel like I have to hide something from my fiance, to spend thousands of dollars, to feel less worthy than my female peers.

I did not expect to learn SO much about the body, but here I am. Mara Altman takes a very Mary Roach approach to the questions she has ab
Amber Machado
Jul 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
! So witty and comically right! Women feel as if they have to give up something to be accepted! She discussed things about the female body that women are ashamed to talk about usually.
Nov 20, 2018 added it
Shelves: did-not-finish
It was fun for a bit, but I got tired of of the hair jokes it went on too long for me. Sad, too because I really enjoyed her humor, but she burned me out. I just wasn't interested in picking it up anymore.
Oct 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Bless Mara Altman. As a 28-year-old woman who has been fighting the directives of her hormonally-challenged body for a decade of diagnosis, it is so relieving to have a person without PCOS, or Hashimoto’s, or adrenal displasia struggle with the same eight million neuroses that plague me. Altman, unafraid of baring her body or her soul for doctors, lovers, and readers, is an inspiration simply for being open and upfront about her bodily anxieties. Her writing is easy to read, her research is dive ...more
Sue Williams
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone curious about the gross bits of our bodies.
I loved this book. It certainly isn't your everyday anatomy book. Mara Altman seems to have always had a love-hate relationship with her body and a massively large helping of curiosity.
She just didn't accept the fact that certain parts of the female body are problematic, she picked a
problem area, such as stinky armpits, and hunted down people she thought could help her understand armpit stink. She always talked to at least two experts who were studying armpit stink from different perspectives. S
Lori Tatar
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Hilarious self-deprecating humor backed by scientific facts most of the time and strong professional opinions based on scientific research, make this a tremendously humorous and honest look at women’s bodies, issues and the stigmas that surround the feminine. This is a favorite and I already have friends and family lining up to read it. I also want to mention that the illustrations add to the laughter!
Aug 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Ajta krajta. Vypadá to, že Mara Altman má hodně komplexů ze svého těla a psaní je pro ni terapie. A některé problémy jsou mnohem větší než jiné. Třeba hned první kapitola vás naprosto umoří, protože je celá o chloupcích. Pod nosem, v podpaží, v rozkroku, na břiše, na nohou, na palcích. Autorčina posedlost jejich hromadným zničením je místy až fascinující, bohužel ale nezná míru a její boj s chlupy je zdánlivě nekončící.
Každá kapitola je koncipována stejně - představí se "problém", kterým Altman
Megan Patterson
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thoroughly enjoyable. Neither too dense or too frivolous, Mara hit a spot just right for me. Her journey to understanding her body in all of its complexities is relatable, endearing, and often pretty damn funny. I looked forward to reading this book each morning.
Aug 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: giveaways
Gross Anatomy Or Petition To Rename Camel Toe to Koala Paw
If you've ever had a moment where you body has betrayed you and you wonder, "Why are you like this?" then this is the book for you. Mara Altman has questions. Excessive sweating, why?! Hemorrhoids, why?! PMS, real or fake?! She then tracks down the experts and try to find out why we are the way we are. The book is full of cool/weird little medical tidbits and Altman's funny running commentary. While it the book doesn't go into too much de
A wildly engaging and funny look at all of the parts of being a human in a human body in the Western world that too often, we ignore, laugh about, or pretend are things we don't have to deal with. Altman is smart and curious and asks lots of great questions to professionals to find answers to her questions about everything from pooping to chin hair to warts and PMS.

This has been described like Mary Roach but with more humor, and this is a great description. At times, the essays are a little lon
Katya Kazbek
Aug 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
I translated this into Russian and grew into one with the gross, hysterical tangle that this book is, so I may be biased. But it’s fantastic. Mara is a very relatable neurotic with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. So, the best kind of person. I am literally walking around sermonizing from this book to my beloveds about the right ways of pooping, or how women have been abused by the ad-people for over a century. Oh, and how many discomforting Medieval and Ancient Greek health anecdotes I now ...more
Aug 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First of all, I feel offended. This book only has 2 ratings on Goodreads!!! What kind of world am I living in? One where people don’t read books that talk about most things women have to deal with and experience throughout their entire lives? And not just women, but everyone? A world where people don’t read hilarious, honest, entertaining real stories? What is this life?

Let me tell you something:

Gross Anatomy is one of the best books I’ve ever read and one of the most important ones I’ve read as
Katie Palazzolo
May 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was actually really good and enlightening. I learned a lot and came away feeling so much more comfortable with my weird body

I am of the camp that does the bare minimum to maintain femininity (as expected by society, including not shaving my legs or wearing makeup, etc.) Why should I do those things? And why do I feel so weird, defiant, and outcast if I don't?

Mara has the same questions and has taken steps to find answers, and the historical and cultural context behind them. The chapter on b
Jul 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Yes, GROSS ANATOMY was gross. However, it was also very entertaining and informative.

I received the book as a Goodreads Giveaway.
Gaby (GNTxREADs)
Aug 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
"This piece of non-fiction summarises women’s bodily wobbles as if it had been written by a scientist, psychologist, sociologist, biologist, Doctor, comedian, philosopher, therapeutist, and a woman with many life experiences all in one! There is a personal feel to many of the experiences described but also a literal understanding as to why things are that way."

The book takes a very real life, holistic view of the female body. Taking each part individually, down to the very last hair on our chinn
Oct 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-book
Excavating Dark Cavities: GROSS ANATOMY by Mara Altman
From head lice to camel toe: everything taboo made funny.

My Take Oblong Shaped

This book is almost always funny, and often either disgustingly cringe-worthy or disturbing. Altman her self has a few physical issues — often stuff we all have but which she has to an often alarming degree. These are things people — especially women — are often ashamed of and which are considered taboo subjects. Until now.

Beth Clothier
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I admit that when I began this book the other day that one of my first thoughts was "Who writes a 40 page essay on the intricacies of female body hair?" Even having my own facial and body hair issues, I'm not sure that I could get that much mileage out of it, and the result was that it put me off of reading it for a few days. However, when I picked it back up today and continued through it I ultimately enjoyed the way that Altman wrote of her experiences and insecurities (which reflect many of t ...more
Neerja Joshi
Sep 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Gross Anatomy: Dispatches from the Front (and Back) is a book by Mara Altman who takes you on the ride of female body issues from top to toe, some of them are so relatable. After all which women haven't had any problems with their body and while other matters will help you in enhancing your knowledge, regarding human anatomy. The best thing about the book is its tone, which is very light and witty making you chuckle very often. Its written in a straightforward and relatable manner making you wil ...more
Nitish Gupta
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Mara Altman is obsessed with her body. In this book she talks about sweat, lice, body hair and other much more gross things. She has one chapter dedicated to one body part/phenomenon. I was impressed by how honest and thorough her research was. The book is weird, entertaining, nasty, creepy and insightful at the same time.
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Mary Roach for millennials
Sort of a younger, more self- obsessed version of Mary Roach.

I laughed several times, I grew bored more than once. No regrets about taking the time to finish it, but it felt like it was taking time. Know what I mean?

Nov 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
4 1/2, easily. I laughed and was enraged and enthralled all at the same time. I really enjoyed this.
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow, thank you Mara for such an incredible read! She contacts researchers and specialists as she tries to uncover why we, as women, feel the way we do about our bodies and our "gross" anatomy. Mara is clever, funny, and relays everything she learns exceptionally well to the reader. I also loved all the small doodles throughout. I highly recommend it!
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
I won this book from Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you.

What a fun mix of humor and science.
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Mara Altman has written a book that talks about some of the more taboo parts of the human body, with a focus on the female anatomy. With sections about belly button lint, armpits and slightly more risque areas of discussion, almost no topic is considered taboo. The author has done her research and definitely raises some interesting points about what is acceptable in society and what is not.
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
The author tried to cover a lot in a short amount of time. Head-to-toe. It made me appreciate parts of my body that aren't considered conventionally beautiful, but I was missing the link between why we care about these parts and why we as women should choose acceptance of them.
Kris Touchet
Sep 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Our bodies are pretty amazing things that also do some pretty gross stuff. Mara Altman alternates the discussion between the bodily glory and horror with a healthy dose of humor, science and history. I learned some new things about discharge (who knew?) and the patriarchy. I feel a little better about my mustache and chin hairs now, but have no plans to stop plucking them. I totally had a pluck pact with my Mom if one of us were ever in a coma.
Jaymi Couch
Sep 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
This one was a doozy! This author has zero filter as she explores all the wonderful parts of being a woman. She has done her research and asks a multitude of experts to answer questions about society's obsession with being hairless and what's up with the "toe"?! She also visits a nudist camp with her mom which was pretty endearing!No subject is too personal, sweat, lice or body hair... She discusses them all! ...more
Sarah Marie
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This book was hilarious and utterly relatable. It was so refreshing to have someone look at woman’s body with a sense of humour and scientific curiosity at the same time.

I definitely learned some fun facts and stuff that makes my day to day life a little easier to understand. I totally 100% agree that young females need to be exposed to a range of bodies starting from a young age so they don’t grow up thinking there is something wrong with their body parts. I’ve heard people make jokes about so
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