Book Review: The Body by Bill Bryson

The Body by Bill Bryson
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: October 15, 2019
Source: Borrowed

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 facts and astonishing stories, The Body: A Guide for Occupants is a brilliant, often very funny attempt to understand the miracle of our physical and neurological make up.

A wonderful successor to A Short History of Nearly Everything, this book will have you marvelling at the form you occupy, and celebrating the genius of your existence, time and time again.

It was the end of 2019, I was scrolling through the Goodreads Choice Awards nominees, and a book called The Body stood out to me. I immediately went to place a hold on it at the library, only to find a really, really long waiting list. The hold eventually came in and I got to listening.

Now, some background. I worked in a hospital for seven years. I’m a Certified Professional Coder (for medical claims, not computer programs), which means that I’ve spent plenty of time learning about human anatomy and physiology as well as pretty much every medical condition you can find in the International Classification of Diseases. I’m currently working as a Risk Adjustment Medical Record Coder, which means that I have to sort of infer what doctors mean and put two and two together to match their documentation with the proper code over on the health insurance side. All of this is to say that I find medical conditions pretty interesting and I have a good amount of background in this kind of thing.

I still found The Body absolutely fascinating.

This is not a dry, scientific textbook. This is an incredibly interesting book that touches on each of the human body systems and provides seemingly endless facts on each of them. Since finishing, I’ve found myself interjecting these facts into daily conversations, usually at random. I’ll be talking to my boyfriend about what to eat for dinner and say something like, “Oh! I learned in The Body that sometimes doctors used to do an oophorectomy because of a chronic cough, isn’t that crazy?” or “I forgot to tell you! I read in The Body that there was a woman who scratched all the way through her skull!”

But it’s not just one bit of trivia after another. It’s also really educational! Bryson strikes a great balance between the basic building blocks of information on a topic and some fun stuff to even it all out. The book is funny, but not in an over-the-top kind of way. It’s really a great book for anyone who’s interested in learning more about their anatomy.

The book teetered between four and five stars for me, but I decided to go with four because I felt that the book got a little bit rambly at times. I’d think that a topic was almost over, but it would just keep going (and going, and going, especially The End). But still, I’ve already put a hold on Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything and I can’t wait to learn even more!

Have you read The Body? Is it on your TBR?
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