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The Body: A Guide for Occupants

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  11,173 ratings  ·  1,641 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
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Hardcover, 450 pages
Published October 15th 2019 by Doubleday Books
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Avid I would say yes, though guardedly. There’s very little inappropriate language or references, but it very frankly covers things that can and do go…moreI would say yes, though guardedly. There’s very little inappropriate language or references, but it very frankly covers things that can and do go wrong with a body - choking, diseases, dementia, birth defects, and many other ailments and conditions that i think could unnecessarily alarm a 7yo. There is also a lot of data that I would imagine a 7yo would find very dry and boring - like the number of people per 100,000 who develop a certain disease each year in each of several named countries, for example. Or the historical prevalence of a certain condition. There is also a chapter on conception and birth. I mean, it’s all factual, but I know my own kids weren’t ready for that at 7. Maybe yours is. I definitely think the intended audience is adults, though. (less)
Avid The advanced readers edition contains the following general subjects. These are subject to change before publication, though.
How to build a human
skin…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
Microbes
The brain
The head
the mouth and throat
The heart and blood
the skeleton
exercise
Equilibrium
The immune system
the lungs
Food
The guts
Sleep
Conception and birth
Nerves and pain
Diseases
Cancer
Medicine
Death(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.33  · 
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 ·  11,173 ratings  ·  1,641 reviews


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Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
This was actually really good!

Highly recommend it if the topic interested you, the audiobook was also great!
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
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Matthew
Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those with no fear of their own mortality
The definition of a “well” person?
Someone who hasn’t been examined yet

(loosely quoted from the book)

This book is two things:
- Really interesting trivia about the human body
- Terrifying

I love trivia, and this book had tons of it. This was not a deeply scientific analysis of the human body. It is just snippets and brief anecdotes from various regions of the body as Bryson takes you on a journey through our innerspace. If you are not into big fancy words and meandering analysis, then you need not
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Science (Fiction) Nerd Mario
To know that one does not know how not just even a tiny part of the body works is the first step to getting interested in exploring each fascinating, inner landscape.

From up to down, inside to outside, young to old, organ to nerve and so on goes the journey trough our miraculous wonder of nature whose amazing eyes are just sending this information to the brain of the reader.

Many myths about the body are shown and design flaws described, but after billion years of evolution, thats no wonder. We
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Jenna
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.

~Or~

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 interesting book, this time
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Betsy
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
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Trevor
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 ...more
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.
Trish
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Until now, I only knew Bill Bryson for his snarky travelogues. My buddy-reader, however, informed me that his non-fiction book was very good indeed. Besides, many biology books suffer from the fact that their authors are great scientists but horrible writers. So I wanted to read something that had the potential to be entertaining as well as educational.

The book is divided into these chapters:


And yes, we did get a little bit of humour, but that wasn't because Bryson made fun of certain things,
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Paul
Dec 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: medicine
3.5 stars
I am joining a book club; unusual for me because I am not a hugely social animal. It is based at the university where I work for one day a week and it meets a lunch time, once every two months. This is the book for January; it’s not something I would have read in normal circumstances.
Bryson employs his usual wry and laconic style and applies it to the human body. This isn’t a medical text book, but it is detailed and covers pretty much what you would expect. Bryson does cover the
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Bradley
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
For all of you other cyborgs and pure artificial intelligences out there, I should mention that this is a rather interesting primer on regular meat-sacks. It even has the distinction of not being science fiction at all.

But as the title suggests, outright occupancy usually comes with a rental charge. The bill always comes due.


I've read a few Brysons before... and my favorite has got to be A Short History of Nearly Everything. This one, from a regular knowledge-gathering stand, comes in as a tight
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carol.
Dec 08, 2019 marked it as don-t-count
Shelves: not-for-me
Well, if the dude can't get the difference between a feeding tube and a breathing tube coming out of someone's nose, I'm not sure how accurate his guide is going to be. Add in problems explaining kidney failure, gram staining and smallpox vaccines, and I think this is a solid 'miss.'

Most telling phrase from the review: "Recommended 'Not for the science, which can be found in a more detailed and accurate form elsewhere, but for the view, a sweep of landscape with endless little tragicomedies
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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
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Roy Lotz
This book was given to me as a Christmas present, and it was a great gift. As a fan of Bryson, I was surprised that I had not even heard of his new work of popular science. I am glad that it came to my attention, then, since this was my favorite Bryson book since A Short History of Nearly Everything. Structured as a tour of the human body, the book made me feel right at home.

No matter what the subject, Bryson’s style is consistent: snappy prose, engaging anecdotes, and fun facts, all tied
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Candie
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book; it is very entertaining. There are so many interesting facts about every single part of the body in here. There are just enough stories and humor added in that it makes the book very readable; it never seems like it is too technical or dry, but keep in mind that it is still a book about body facts. It was very fascinating to learn just how much we don't know about the body and how or why it does what it does. I also found that there were quite a few things that I ...more
Rebecca
Shelve this next to Being Mortal by Atul Gawande in a collection of books that everyone should read – even if you’re a squeamish hypochondriac or you don’t normally choose nonfiction. Bryson is back on form with his latest, indulging his layman’s curiosity about how the body works. Now, I read a LOT of medical memoirs and popular science. I’ve read entire books about organ transplantation, sleep, dementia, the blood, the heart, evolutionary defects, surgery and so on, but in many cases these go ...more
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 inappropriate times for my
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Snooty1
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.
Olive
Nov 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: medical
See my review on booktube: https://youtu.be/vX_ZVCxF-XA
Nursebookie
"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 into an
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Toni
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 contains
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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
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Julie
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
A truly amazing compendium on the human body aka "a warm wobble of flesh!" Truly engaging and enlightening. Occasionally I wanted to fast forward to avoid the details, but mainly I was truly engaged, appalled or enthralled!

My personal favorite of Bill Bryson's anecdotal stories:
The emergency appendectomy on a US submarine during WWII. The ship's pharmacist assistant was ordered to operate without any knowledge or equipment, as he as was the senior medical personnel on board. This is a little
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Gretchen Rubin
A delightful, fascinating book all about the body.
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 about the
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Ingrid
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting and informative. Easy to read.
Indieflower
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
Emma
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, non-fiction
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.
Laura Noggle
Dec 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Engrossing book, LOVED it! One of my favorites of December 2019.

Very reminiscent of one of my all time favorite books in general, Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything. This has that classic Bryson charm with lots of interesting factoids.

Definitely a deep dive, kind of like hopping on the Magic School Bus with Miss Frizzle.

Would revisit this one in the future.

“Just sitting quietly, doing nothing at all, your brain churns through more information in thirty seconds than the Hubble
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Josh
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
This was my first foray into Bryson territory and it was an interesting experience.

I finished this the day prior to Christmas just an hour or two before a nice meal. Did I feel a little guilty about what I was putting in my body directly after I read The Body? Not really, to be honest.

I learned a few things here and there that I didn't know (hormones are even made in our bones!), but overall it was a reading experience that was helped along by his writing and humor.

There are multiple times,
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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,
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“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.” 11 likes
“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.” 7 likes
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