Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Body: A Guide for Occupants” as Want to Read:
The Body: A Guide for Occupants
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Body: A Guide for Occupants

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  2,167 ratings  ·  389 reviews


'A directory of wonders.' – The Guardian

'Jaw-dropping.' – The Times

'Classic, wry, gleeful Bryson…an entertaining and absolutely fact-rammed book.' – The Sunday Times

'It is a feat of narrative skill to bake so many facts into an entertaining and nutritious book.' – The Daily Telegraph

‘We spend our whole lives in one body and yet most of us have practically no idea how it works and what goes on inside it. The idea of the book is s/>‘We/>

Kindle Edition, 445 pages
Published October 3rd 2019 by Transworld Digital
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Body, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
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)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.32  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,167 ratings  ·  389 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Body: A Guide for Occupants
Theresa Alan
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 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 an
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, medicine, science
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
Brandon Forsyth
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Karen Rush
Oct 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nov 09, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: medical
See my review on booktube:
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
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
"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
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 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.
Gretchen Rubin
A delightful, fascinating book all about the body.
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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. Th
Ryan Boissonneault
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
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
Nov 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great Bryson book. It goes through every part of the body and explains some bits of history of understanding and bits of modern science—all with humor and wit.
A fascinating look at the human body. This would definitely be a good one for readers who have wanted to better understand what happens inside us but who might be intimidated by real "science-y" books.

I will say: Bryson is still a 60+ year old white man and that shows in some of how he approaches stuff in here, and his inability to humanize fat bodies or the weaknesses of "overweight" as the factor in many illnesses is a bit embarrassing.

Tanja Berg
Nov 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This is the first Bill Bryson I have read in a while. I was hoping it would be something like "A Short History of Nearly Everything" which was truly delightful and informative. This is captivating, has the latest scientific results and is very informative - but only very occasionally funny. If you want to brush up your highschool human biology, this is a very effective way to do it.
Angie Boyter
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very informative and in-depth look at what the heck our bodies are/do. It explores disease and really cool capabilities and phenomena, in addition to just your regular functions. It’s not exactly bryson-humorous, but it does have a bit lighter tone for a science book. With bryson’s established quality/brand, this should be an easy handsell.
Kate  TerHaar
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 18, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
Final Round
3,656,006 Votes Cast

Readers also enjoyed

  • Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know
  • The Lager Queen of Minnesota
  • Guts
  • Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion
  • Frankly in Love (Frankly in Love, #1)
  • Turbulence
  • The End Is Always Near: Apocalyptic Moments, from the Bronze Age Collapse to Nuclear Near Misses
  • After the Flood
  • Chances Are...
  • The Butterfly Girl (Naomi Cottle, #2)
  • Crisis in the Red Zone: The Story of the Deadliest Ebola Outbreak in History, and of the Outbreaks to Come
  • Rough Magic: Riding the World's Loneliest Horse Race
  • His Hideous Heart
  • The Library of the Unwritten (Hell's Library #1)
  • On the Clock: What Low-Wage Work Did to Me and How It Drives America Insane
  • Black Death at the Golden Gate: The Race to Save America from the Bubonic Plague
  • Salvaged
  • Word to the Wise (Library Lover's Mystery, #10)
See similar books…
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
More quotes…