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The Body: A Guide for Occupants

por Bill Bryson

Outros autores: Ver a secção outros autores.

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1,483539,266 (4.21)25
One of The Washington Post's 50 Most Notable Works of Nonfiction 2019 Bill Bryson, bestselling author of A Short History of Nearly Everything, takes us on a head-to-toe tour of the marvel that is the human body. As addictive as it is comprehensive, this is Bryson at his very best, a must-read owner's manual for everybody. Bill Bryson once again proves himself to be an incomparable companion as he guides us through the human body--how it functions, its remarkable ability to heal itself, and (unfortunately) the ways it can fail. Full of extraordinary facts (your body made a million red blood cells since you started reading this) and irresistible Bryson-esque anecdotes, The Body will lead you to a deeper understanding of the miracle that is life in general and you in particular. As Bill Bryson writes, "We pass our existence within this wobble of flesh and yet take it almost entirely for granted." The Body will cure that indifference with generous doses of wondrous, compulsively readable facts and information.… (mais)
Adicionado recentemente pormfrank13, saskia17, CreativeAS, MrsLadyMoppy, Gandy-Riddle, biblioteca privada, Biju89, LBroudy, beyertr
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Mostrando 1-5 de 53 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
A decent go, which I read aloud to the astutely literate frog collector via an isolation facility in Ontario over the phone.

Bryson is a competent writer, who is able to take complex processes and distill them for the lay person. At times horrifying, entertaining, and most interesting this book is a recommended read for those looking to better understand how we inhabit the vessel which sustains us, enables us, gives us agency, and will kill us in the end. From birth, to death, this book covers a wide array of experiences and processes that gift us life and being, making sense of the world outside the qualia within the skull. ( )
  peanutgiver | Jun 17, 2021 |
Bill Bryson writes books the way other people get advanced degrees. He somehow manages to distill a lifetime of information into something resembling a master's class for the reading masses. It's all wonderful and moderately intimidating how much knowledge there is in the world. And Bryson is only illuminating a small fraction of a small fraction of it.

Here's my three big takeaways from The Body: A Guide for Occupants. (1) My decision to not work in the medical field was the correct one. The bloodier the chapter, the more uncomfortable I was reading it. (2) Cancer frightens me even more now that I understand it better. Same for diseases. And (3) it was genuinely surprising how much science still doesn't know about the body. So many descriptions of organs or afflictions are concluded by saying, "...and we still don't know what X does or how Y occurs."

This book was published in 2019, and I'm sure it's been noted elsewhere but Bryson comes chillingly close to predicting the COVID-19 pandemic less than a year later. Here are a few quotes.

"A successful virus is one that doesn't kill too well and can circulate widely. That's what makes flu such a perennial threat ... The great Spanish flu of 1918 racked up a global death toll of tens of millions—some estimates put it as high as a hundred million—not by being especially lethal but by being persistent and highly transmissible. It killed only about 2.5 percent of victims, it is thought. Ebola would be more effective—and in the long run more dangerous—if it mutated a milder version that didn't strike such panic into communities and made it easier for victims to mingle with unsuspecting others."

"'The fact is,' [Washington University's Michael Kinch] says, 'we are really no better prepared for a bad outbreak today than we were when Spanish flu killed tens of millions of people a hundred years ago. The reason we haven't had another experience like that isn't because we have been especially vigilant. It's because we have been lucky."

For all of its bloody and frustrating details, the human body really is a wonderous miracle of nature. And it's all the more special because of its limits, and not in spite of them. Life really is a slow roll to the grave, and when we're at our best we do everything we can to slow that roll as much as possible. But death is still inevitable. It's implied several times over that what looks like a loss for the individual turns out to be a gain for the species. Which reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, from The Body and a grim thought: "Cancer is the price we pay for evolution." ( )
  Daniel.Estes | May 31, 2021 |
A decent book but not as gripping as I'd hoped. There are lots of interesting stories about famous and non-famous scientists (many of whom should be better known, as Bryson rightly points out). Could have been helped by a more exacting editor - there are quite a few places in which Bryson repeats things he already said, suggesting nobody really read the whole thing once the chapters had been assembled in their final order. Some of his examples are either misleading or factually inaccurate. One example: he mentions a survey which focused on common misunderstandings of statistics and uses it as evidence that it's difficult to read mammograms. The result in fact had nothing to do with this, and was entirely about the ability of people with medical training to understand the implications of test specificty vs sensitivity depending on the frequency of disease states in a sampled population. ( )
  GLawsonDuck | May 22, 2021 |
A geek-out book for people fascinated by human physiology and medicine, this is a typically Brysonesque take similar to his previous writings on Australia, England, and the concept of "home." He takes the human body, almost literally head to toe, and dissects, describes, and genially tells all manner of weird facts and stories, liberally laced with numbers: "...you are likely to have something like 40,000 species of microbes calling you home - 300 in your nostrils, 800 more on your insides cheeks, 1300 next door on your gums, as many as 36,00 in your gastrointestinal tract..." That's *species,* not actual numbers. All told, "you are roughly 99 percent bacterial." There's lots of this. There are also lots of pretty good stories about the famous and unfamous scientists who discovered or invented drugs, processes, diseases - Bryson is particularly good on the unfamous ones who he feels got the shaft. (Notably one Schatz, whose quiet discovery of the antibiotic streptomycin led only to his imperious boss and employer ripping him off completely, taking all the credit and pharmaceutical profits AND a Nobel prize. He finally sued them, and won, though.)

Not as funny as Bryson usually is, this one is a bit rambling and uneven. I could wish he'd spent a bit more good-humored space on some aspects of quackery, ripoffs and other medicinal nonsense (anti-vaxxers, I'm looking at you...). I can see chapters of this being useful to high school science teachers as an accessible source for students to read. Mostly just kind of fun if you're into this sort of thing. ( )
  JulieStielstra | May 17, 2021 |
I really choose the wrong time to read this book. Its not the best read in the midst of the epidemic. I think I now have 278 viruses that I never knew I had before. Scary , oh so scary. ( )
  bergs47 | Mar 31, 2021 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 53 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
"He has waded through a PhD’s worth of articles, interviewed a score of physicians and biologists, read a library of books, and had a great deal of fun along the way. There’s a formula at work – the prose motors gleefully along, a finely tuned engine running on jokes, factoids and biographical interludes."
adicionada por Edward | editarThe Guardian, Gavin Francis (Sep 26, 2019)
 
adicionada por zasmine | editarOutlook India
 
 

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Setterborg, ElisabetTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Setterborg, GabrielTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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To Lottie.
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Long ago, when I was a junior high school student in America, I remember being taught by a biology teacher that all the chemicals that make up a human body could be bought in a hardware store for $5 or something like that.
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(p180) Study after study since then (the late 1940's?) has shown that exercise produces extraordinary benefits. Going for regular walks reduces the risk of heart attack or stroke by 31 per cent (sic scil percent).
(p223) Although two of the world's most prestigious medical journals had now (in 1950) demonstrated a clear association between smoking and lung cancer, the findings had almost no effect. People just loved smoking too much to quit.
(p224) When Britain's Minister of Health, Iain Macleod, formally announced at a press conference (in 1952) that there was an unequivocal connection between smoking and lung cancer, he rather undercut his position by smoking conspicuously as he did so.
(p224) In 1964, the US surgeon general announced an unequivocal link between smoking and lung cancer, but the announcement had little effect. The number of cigarettes smoked by the average American over the age of 16 fell slightly from 4,340 a year before the announcement to 4,200 afterwards, but then climbed back to about 4,500 and stayed there for years. Remarkably, the American Medical Association took fifteen years to endorse the surgeon general's finding.
(p236) ... a 150g serving of white rice or a small bowl of cornflakes will have the same effect on your blood glucose levels as nine teaspoons of sugar.
(p378) ... at present only about one person in ten thousand lives to be even a hundred. ... The chances of reaching your one-hundred-and-tenth birthday are about one in seven million. ...
The longest-lived person that we know of was Jeanne Louise Calment of Arles, in Provence, who died at the decidedly ripe age of 122 years, 164 days in 1997. ... Calment had a leisurely life: Her father was a rich shipbuilder and her husband a prosperous businessman. She never worked. Calment smoked all her life - at the age of 117, when she finally gave up, she was still smoking two cigarettes a day - and ate a kilo of chocolate every week, but was active up to the very end and enjoyed robust health.
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One of The Washington Post's 50 Most Notable Works of Nonfiction 2019 Bill Bryson, bestselling author of A Short History of Nearly Everything, takes us on a head-to-toe tour of the marvel that is the human body. As addictive as it is comprehensive, this is Bryson at his very best, a must-read owner's manual for everybody. Bill Bryson once again proves himself to be an incomparable companion as he guides us through the human body--how it functions, its remarkable ability to heal itself, and (unfortunately) the ways it can fail. Full of extraordinary facts (your body made a million red blood cells since you started reading this) and irresistible Bryson-esque anecdotes, The Body will lead you to a deeper understanding of the miracle that is life in general and you in particular. As Bill Bryson writes, "We pass our existence within this wobble of flesh and yet take it almost entirely for granted." The Body will cure that indifference with generous doses of wondrous, compulsively readable facts and information.

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