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The Body: A Guide For Occupants by Bill Bryson

Updated: Jul 7, 2021

In the best-selling, 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 makeup.

I have read every Bill Bryson book out there. Well, the ones in English. I love the way he writes because it’s exactly the way my mind thinks (lots of little asides, veering off on long tangents and finding the weirdest things funny), only better.

His latest book, The Body: A Guide for Occupants, came out last July and confession – it took me quite a while to get through it. Normally, I devour books in the blink of an eye, but with non-fiction, I tend to dip in and out; there is a sense of comfort to non-fiction that I don't get with fiction because of the what happens next factor.

It weighs in at a whopping 544 pages (although, when you are talking about a subject as complex and mysterious as the human body, this is actually quite short), but I’ve read A Short History of Nearly Everything (672 pages!) so I’m not daunted.

I took my time with this book, because of all the information that’s packed into it – and I knew I would want to hold on to some of those random facts, such as our sweating capability being a huge part of our braininess.

And now we come to our next Segment.

Did You Know?

  • All the penicillin made since the mid-1940s is descended from some random mouldy cantaloupe that a lab assistant in Preoria, Mary Hunt, bought from a local grocery store. The mould was harvested and found to be 200 times more effective than anything they had tested previously. The cantaloupe was cut up and eaten.

  • The human body is home to trillions upon trillions of microbes. We’d be dead without them. They would still be alive without us. How’s that for balance of power?

  • -The most important ATP to us has nothing to do with tennis; It's adenosine triphosphate. Go on, look it up. You know you want to!

  • And finally, because I can't just transcribe the entire book here, autoimmune diseases are disturbingly sexist. They be targeting women yo!

And so endeth the segment of Did You Know? If you didn't, well now you know!


A humorous and insightful look at the greatest work of art - the human body. If you like random facts and wry humour, this one's for you.

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