THE BODY: A GUIDE FOR OCCUPANTS

Bill Bryson has been a favorite of mine for some time. I was introduced to him quite long while ago via his account of his hike along the Appalachian Trail, A Walk In the Woods. As is his wont, he used the stroll to explore not only the trail itself, but matters of history, science, psychology and any number of other subjects as they (seemingly) popped into his mind, all in the most entertaining and educational manner possible.

The Body is no different in some ways. The subject doesn’t lend itself to the sort of meandering that Walk In The Woods did because the body sort of organizes itself in an way that a woodsy trail can’t. Nevertheless, Bryson delivers gargantuan amounts of information in such a folksy manner that you feel you’re at a homesy dinner table even in the midst of extensive scientific analysis. “If you formed all the DNA in your body into a single strand, it would stretch ten billion miles beyond Pluto. Think of it. . . . You are in the most literal sense cosmic.” And so it goes on every page–a new fact, a new wonder about something you carry with you everywhere you go. What will Bryson think of next? Can’t wait.

Bill Bryson