Overview (Spoilers Abound):
It has been years since I’ve read Bryson’s, A Short History of Nearly Everything, but I still routinely give this title as a nonfiction book recommendation. I’m sure my Mom, who is a high school science teacher is tired of me bringing up every summer that she should require all her students to read this overview during their class. What had impressed me with A Short History of Nearly Everything was not only the way in which complex topics were conveyed in an understandable, logical story but the effort Bryson went in order to talk about the scientists/researchers behind the discoveries. In The Body, Bryson took the same formula and applied it to the human body, taking the reader on a fascinating, in depth, but comprehensible journey from our head to our toes and everything in between. Halfway through this read I had the thought that I didn’t want this book to end, which is an easy telltale marker of a great book. Bryson continued to highlight the scientists behind the discoveries, bringing to life the science in a way that rarely is captured in often dry textbooks. There were some parts of the body that I was looking forward to learning about that I was sure he would cover, that were glossed over. To be fair, I can’t imagine how difficult it would have been to decide which facts made the final manuscript and what anecdotes pushed the topic too far in depth. I can’t help but be curious as to what subjects or chapters were left abandoned on the editing board, let alone the effort that was employed to organize this book into something resembling a flowing story to keep the reader engaged. So many facts were conveyed that I foresee a reread soon in my future because I likely only soaked in a fraction that The Body had to offer. In many ways this was a trip down my literary past as this review touched topics covered in many of my previous, highly enjoyed reads, e.g., The Gene, The Emperor of all Maladies, The Radium Girls, Invisible Women, The Death of Expertise, Salt, Patient H.M., Bottle of Lies, and Rosemary, ultimately triggering nostalgia. As much as I loved A Short History of Nearly Everything and The Body, its surprising how much I disliked one of Bryson’s travel books when I attempted it. I was maybe an hour or two into the read before I finally gave up, which is a rare event in my reading life. Overall, I can’t recommend enough how entertaining Bryson made such an unwieldy topic such as the human body by interweaving scientific discoveries with the very human element of the very researchers behind the important finds.