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The Body: A Guide for Occupants

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  1,988 ratings  ·  358 reviews
In the bestselling, prize-winning A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson achieved the seemingly impossible by making the science of our world both understandable and entertaining to millions of people around the globe.

Now he turns his attention inwards to explore the human body, how it functions and its remarkable ability to heal itself. Full of extraordinary f
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published October 15th 2019 by Doubleday Books
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Avid The advanced readers edition contains the following general subjects. These are subject to change before publication, though.
How to build a human…more
The advanced readers edition contains the following general subjects. These are subject to change before publication, though.
How to build a human
skin and hair
The brain
The head
the mouth and throat
The heart and blood
the skeleton
The immune system
the lungs
The guts
Conception and birth
Nerves and pain
Erica Strand Like you, I would want to encourage my kid's interests as much as possible and there are definitely aspects of the book that could be interesting and…moreLike you, I would want to encourage my kid's interests as much as possible and there are definitely aspects of the book that could be interesting and thought-provoking for an inquisitive 7-year-old. As a whole, I would not recommend a cover to cover reading as some of the content is gruesome and cringe-worthy, even for a fully adult person interested in gruesome and cringe-worthy subjects. I know my 7-year-old brain would not have been equipped to deal with some of the content. Good luck, future Dr. mom! Have fun however you decide to guide your daughter's learning! (less)

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Average rating 4.32  · 
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 ·  1,988 ratings  ·  358 reviews

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Theresa Alan
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I learned so much from this book. One of the things I learned was that continuing to learn and keeping my brain active will help me avoid dementia, so you should read this book, too. I flagged many, many pages, so I’ll just offer a few highlights here.

The most interesting thing was reading about our skin, the tiny tiny layer that we makes us white or black or brown. Bryson watched a surgeon incise and peel back a sliver of skin a millimeter thick from the arm of cadaver. It was so thin it was t
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
How to make a human body:

Blend together the right amount of each of 59 elements, at a cost of US$151,578.46 according to the Royal Society of Chemistry.  


If you don't have that kind of money lying about, you can also do it the old-fashioned way that involves heterosexual sex. I'm not here to judge your methods; make a human whichever way you please.  What I am here to do is tell you that Bill Bryson has done it again!  He has written yet another brilliant and vastly intere
Jul 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Be a bar trivia champion!
Want to dominate any biology questions at bar trivia?

The Body: A Guide for Occupants has you covered! For those of us who haven't had a biology class since we fulfilled some course requirement ages ago, Bryson gives an excellent overview of what doctors and scientists know about all our different body parts and bodily functions.

This book does for biology what books like Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong or A People's History of the United States have done fo
Brandon Forsyth
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I either laughed, shook my head in wonder, or did both on every page. This is Bryson at his best, and it should be handed out at birth.
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, science, medicine
I like Bryson, his books are often amusing and informative. He has a good eye for details that will keep the reader engaged or outraged or just smile. This is a tour of the human body, but it includes stories and asides about people associated with the discovery of various diseases or a cure or a system in the body. Some books on this topic can get a bit carried away with long names for parts that involve endless Latin or Greek. A nice thing he does here when he does give these is to say what th ...more
Karen Rush
Oct 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Bill Bryson’s trademark humor is evident in this fascinating book that provides detailed descriptions of the body, how things function and history of discovery. A big takeaway is that although there have been great strides in what we know about science and medicine, he makes it clear just how much is still unknown about how and why things work.

This book would be perfect to serve as a primer for a high school health and wellness course. Thanks to Doubleday Books for the ARC in exchange for my ho
Sonja Arlow
3.5 stars

This is like A Short History of Nearly Everything but for the body.

Had I not read so many medical books and watched endless hours of QI I would have given this a MUCH higher rating but because of this prior knowledge some sections felt like deja vu.

The scope of the book is impressive, Bill does not leave any stone (or rather muscle, cell, bacteria or organ) unexplored.

I also learned enough fascinating trivia which I plan to spring on unsuspecting friends at in
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Even for someone with a science/ medical background this was PHENOMENAL!
What an absolutely interesting and eye opening adventure into our bodies; and told in such a entertaining way!!!
Recommend for ANYONE and EVERYONE

Thanks to netgalley and Doubleday books for providing me with a copy of this book for my honest review.
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arcs-2019
A casual readable guide for the ‘common man,’ (you know I mean person). Reading through this book by Bill Bryson, is like talking to your favorite uncle at the Thanksgiving table, after everyone else went to watch the football game. You and he are nibbling dessert, sipping coffee and just chatting about the human body. That’s how easy the writing flows.
So far from any textbook, it contains valuable facts yet it’s not overly technical. The categories or elements of the vast network that con
Brian Clegg
Oct 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a huge fan of Bill Bryson's travel books - he is a superb storyteller, and in the best parts of his science writing, this ability to provide fascinating facts and intriguing tales shines through.

After taking on the whole of science in his first book, here he focuses in on the physiology, anatomy and diseases of the human body. Bryson does so with his usual light, approachable style, peppering the plethora of facts (and 'don't know's - it's amazing how much we still don't know ab
Bam cooks the books ;-)
"I didn't know that!"--the phrase most often used by me as I read this book.

Bill Bryson explores what makes up the human body from head to toe, from birth to death, with his trademark wit and wisdom. He delves into how a healthy body functions and what can go wrong, how medicines and treatments have evolved over the years, discussing which scientists and doctors made important discoveries that benefitted humanity and which crackpot theories were eventually debunked. Best advice for living a lon
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Bill Bryson is so good at this stuff, imparting incredibly interesting information in a light, conversational tone that's easy to digest. Fascinating, informative, somewhat alarming and horrifying at times - such as the case of Fanny Burney, who in 1810 at the age of 58, underwent a radical mastectomy without anaesthesia, she not only lived long enough afterwards to write a detailed, stomach churning account of her ordeal but went on to survive another 29 years. I found it somewhat unsettling to ...more
Gretchen Rubin
A delightful, fascinating book all about the body.
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, science
The fact that I was a) able to read a science book and b) find it interesting, is a testimony to Bill Bryson and his ability to make just about anything entertaining and understandable.
Ryan Boissonneault
Oct 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
If you’d like to learn more about how the body works but don’t want to read textbooks on human anatomy and physiology, this is the book for you. As Bryson writes, “We pass our existence within this warm wobble of flesh and yet take it entirely for granted.” We are the product of three billion years of evolutionary refinement, a biological machine of unimagined complexity, and yet most of us can’t even identify where the spleen is, or what it does.

If this book doesn’t pique your inter
"THE BODY" by Bill Bryson.

Did you ever think you ever needed an owner's manual for our complex body? I think this was a brilliant idea!! We live in this body that we are so intimate with and yet could hardly speak of what goes on inside or tell us the functions of the organs we have, nor even name them, Bryson took a Biology Book, that is the last thing I ever want, and turned it to an amazing book that I cannot keep my hands away from. Converting a daunting and boring science book i
Peter Tillman
Nature's mini-review:
"From skin to gut, the human body is a realm of wonder, and Bill Bryson’s tome explores it to its thrumming depths. The book bristles with data such as our allotment of cells (37.2 trillion) or daily faeces production (200 grams), but the star turns are Bryson’s wry forays into the histories of neuroscience, genetics, anatomy and immunology. Cue visceral gems such as diarist Samuel Pepys’s gruesome bladder-stone surgery, and US physician Chevalier Quixote Jackson’s ret
Kate  TerHaar
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have been living in this body for 60 + years but it wasn't until I read this book did I learn about how many of it's system function and what doctors and scientists already know. Easy to read, entertaining, all the while being scientific make this a great informative book.
Oct 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If I could, I would give this book UNLIMITED STARS!! Do you want to know everything about the human body without reading an unintelligible, dry text book? This is it!! I could not put this book down even to eat or go to bed. There is no way you can read this book and still not believe there is a creator or want to get rid of that little life inside of his/her mother. Life is a miracle and so unbelievably complicated and perfect that it still cannot be understood by human beings -- only lived. ...more
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I wasn't big on the sciences in school, but Bill Bryson has written a book that keeps me turning pages and taking notes to talk about with everyone! Parts may make you squeamish, but 2 paragraphs later you will be laughing out loud! I see this as Christmas gifts this year! Enjoy!
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: net-galley
WOW, I am amazed at how much I did NOT know about the human body! Mr Bryson made this interesting, informative and fun.

My thanks to Netgalley and Doubleday Books for this advanced readers copy. This book is due to release in October 2019.
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have been a Bill Bryson fan for quite some time. I first read A Short History of Nearly Everything when it came out, and I was stunned at how much I understood and liked science. I even understood string theory for a total of about six minutes. But it was something!

I have been on the Bryson tip since then, usually with rewarding results. I have loved his books on travel, the English language, Shakespeare, and more. I couldn’t quite get into At Home, but I think I might want to retr
Angie Boyter
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I don't normally rate or review a book before I finish it, but I gotta tell people about this delightful and informative book! It is quintessential Bill Bryson, at his best, full of humor, history, and LOADS of information about the body, all kinds of things you often wondered about (like how long food stays in your stomach or your intestines) or never thought about at all, like ow many times a day you blink (14,000). The research he clearly did for the book is extremely impressive, and I'll bet ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Bill Bryson teaches you everything you didn’t know you wanted to know about the human body in this book. Bryson takes on the brain and skin and hair and the skeleton and the immune system and lungs and food and guts and sleep and birth and nerves and pain and disease and cancer and death. He tells the stories of the scientists behind the discoveries about the body. Everything is backed with science and footnotes, and that’s part of the delight in this book, but the other part are the anecdotes a ...more
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
It's nice to read a new book by Bryson in which he seems to have gotten over the bitterness (especially about aging) that made several of his most recent books unpleasant. And while The Body is written in something similar to his old, familiar, entertaining style, there are several issues that will keep me from buying it for friends. 1. it's hard to be precisely up-to-the-minute with books on science, but a lot of the data Bryson cites is quite old and misleading. Referring to the BMI, for examp ...more
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite books of the year! Bryson made me appreciate how amazing and wonderful our bodies truly are. It is a miracle that each one of us have the opportunity to live. I appreciated how it went area-by-area through the body including some analyses of the lesser appreciated functions like equilibrium, sleep, and more.

I think the title "a guide for occupants" lives up to its name. If you have an interest in your body and/or human medicine, this is an incredibly entertaining a
Oct 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: beauty-body, science
I liked it but, you know, there were some things I thought were missed and glossed over... but I'm an anatomist, so I don't expect a lay-reader to be bothered by any of that.
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, e, giveaways, owned
My first book by Bill Bryson was "A Short History of Nearly Everything." Since reading it, I have frequently included a Bryson book or two in my yearly reading and have suggested them to others. The Body is sure to be another book I will regularly recommend (and in fact already have).
The book itself winds through the system's of the body one after another. Bryson discusses what makes up the system, the important discoveries and discovers of parts in the system, always with an eye toward wh
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What Bill Bryson did for the home, in his book "At Home: A Short History of Private Life", he now does for the human body in "The Body: A Guide for Occupants." This books is full of wonderful and sometimes quirky facts about the human body. Great as a fun read, and it's quite comprehensive in depth of the human body.

As Bill Gates said, "The human body is the most complex system ever created. The more we learn about it, the more appreciation we have about what a rich system it is."

Liz Kirchhoff
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 600s
Funny, smart, entertaining, and thoughtful. A great read for people who like Mary Roach.
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William McGuire "Bill" Bryson, OBE, FRS was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1951. He settled in England in 1977, and worked in journalism until he became a full time writer. He lived for many years with his English wife and four children in North Yorkshire. He and his family then moved to New Hampshire in America for a few years, but they have now returned to live in the UK.

In The Lost Continent, B
“Just sitting quietly, doing nothing at all, your brain churns through more information in thirty seconds than the Hubble Space Telescope has processed in thirty years. A morsel of cortex one cubic millimeter in size—about the size of a grain of sand—could hold two thousand terabytes of information, enough to store all the movies ever made, trailers included, or about 1.2 billion copies of this book.” 3 likes
“For each visual input, it takes a tiny but perceptible amount of time—about two hundred milliseconds, one-fifth of a second—for the information to travel along the optic nerves and into the brain to be processed and interpreted. One-fifth of a second is not a trivial span of time when a rapid response is required—to step back from an oncoming car, say, or to avoid a blow to the head. To help us deal better with this fractional lag, the brain does a truly extraordinary thing: it continuously forecasts what the world will be like a fifth of a second from now, and that is what it gives us as the present. That means that we never see the world as it is at this very instant, but rather as it will be a fraction of a moment in the future. We spend our whole lives, in other words, living in a world that doesn’t quite exist yet.” 3 likes
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