The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson was a book that I figured I would absolutely love or hate. I was right.

I loved the endless facts and history about the body that Bryson gives – things like chemotherapy is actually Mustard Gas that was used in World War I. A weapon that caused unspeakable suffering has been transformed into a lifesaving treatment. Most of us know that women are born with all the eggs they are ever going to have, and they don’t make any new eggs during their lifetime. Did you know that they start with millions when they themselves are in utero but that they start dying off by the tens of thousands every month of life? These are just a tiny sampling of the treasure trove of trivia included in The Body.

I hated that Bryson kept insisting that I didn’t know this stuff. “Adenosine triphosphate is one of the most important things you have never heard of?” Uh, actually Bill, I have. I know what ATP is and how important it is in our bodies. I know it is nit picky on my part but when someone insults my intelligence, it riles me up a bit. He did that about two or three other things as well. Again, not a big deal, but it rankled me enough to leave an impression.

Overall, this is a great book. Bryson’s humor comes through in each chapter and he doesn’t bog you down with technical jargon.. just good storytelling. There is so much information that regardless of your level of knowledge about the body, there will be countless things of interest. The biggest takeaway has to be that as talented as our physicians and nurses are… we know very little about how and why many of our functions exist.

by Chris Doelle