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The Body

A Guide for Occupants
Written by: Bill Bryson
Narrated by: Bill Bryson
Length: 14 hrs and 4 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (127 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER
NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST 
LONGLISTED FOR THE PEN E.O. WILSON LITERARY SCIENCE WRITING AWARD

"Glorious. . .You will marvel at the brilliance and vast weirdness of your design." (The Washington Post)

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-listen 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 listenable facts and information. 

©2019 Bill Bryson (P)2019 Random House Audio

What the critics say

"Bill Bryson is not so much a discoverer of new lands as a charismatic cartographer of existing ones, smartly mapping points of entry into territory that might otherwise remain impenetrable to curious travelers. With light footed prose, The Body winds its way through the dense terrain of anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry.... The result is an absorbing catalog of the human body in all its firmness and fatality.... The colossal roster of facts on display is dazzling.... Bryson's distinctive voice will likely delight readers eager to go sightseeing around the world they embody." (The American Scholar)

"A delightful tour guide...Bryson's stroll through human anatomy, physiology, evolution, and illness (diabetes, cancer, infections) is instructive, accessible, and entertaining." (Booklist starred review)

"[Bryson] describes the often bewildering mystery of diseases, the science of pain, and the advances made in medical treatment, all with care and concern. Bryson's tone is both informative and inviting, encouraging the reader, throughout this exemplary work, to share the sense of wonder he expresses at how the body is constituted and what it is capable of." (Publishers Weekly starred review)

"A pleasing, entertaining sojourn into the realm of what makes us tick." (Kirkus Reviews)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great stories just like Brysons other books

If you like Bryson, you'll like this.
The book seems to endlessly cover just about everything related to the human body. It is at times whimsical, other times quite gory and cringe-worthy, but in a good way. The book kept me captivated and I found so many different interesting topics that made me want to check out in more detail later.
On top of the stories within the book, I find Brysons voice very soothing.

2 people found this helpful

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Required reading for the self-aware

We share as humans the fact that we all have the same basic working parts, and just like with machines and objects these parts wear down, get sick and ultimately fail us. This very long but fascinating work will introduce you in detail to every part making up the human body. The last chapters on disease and how we die are awesome and have led me to think a lot more about the miracle of the human body and how it still hides countless mysteries from us.

1 person found this helpful

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Great book, excellent narration

I really enjoy Bill Bryson’s writing and I was sceptical to see his name as the narrator, but wow he does an excellent work of it. I’ve listened to this one twice and really enjoyed it. A couple of sections are not fully explored, but overall it is excellent and I highly recommend it. I’m a stickler for detail and when I’ve checked some of his facts he was mostly right on.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jmh
  • 2020-01-07

Bryson Takes on the Human Body

An excellent study of the history of the human body broken up into thematic sections. He does an excellent job of exploring the limitations of what we know, as well as how much there is still to do in medicine (his section on how the female body has been represented in medicine is excellent). His performance is pure Bryson, and I learned so much. Highly recommended.

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A LOT of information!

So much information that I was getting brain overload!! To get around it, I decided to use the book for fun facts/ trivia. That made it easier on my poor head and I'm enjoying it a lot more.

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Amazing wonders

Fascinating stories and shocking facts, I enjoyed the insights and scientific stories, but I miss Richard Mathew’s voice and timing. I find Bill Bryson’s voice a bit flat by comparison.

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Love Bill Bryson’s work...

It is obviously the amount of work and research that goes into Bills science books. Love them both and great reads for simpletons like me.

Keep up the good work Bill

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Excellent as Always

Bryson returns with a great informative read. His narration is perfect and keeps the listener engaged.

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A Body of Evidence

Bill romps through bodily functions with gay abandon! Informative, amusing and concerning in equal measure and the author’s rendition adds an extra dimension. Recommended.

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Informative

Struggled to finish, especially last two chapters, a little too morbid. A little too close to home.

1 person found this helpful

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  • J.B.
  • 2019-10-16

Must Read for the Sheer Fun of It

The Body, A Guide for Occupants, written and narrated by Bill Bryson. If you are a Bill Bryson reader, you know his style and quippy manner of writing. Always a joy, no matter what his subject matter. For you, Bryson fans, just stop reading now, buy the book and add a joyful undertaking to your life. You will not be disappointed; this is a full circuit informational source of data about the body, done by analyzing each system of its makeup, organ by organ, function by function, bacterium by a bacterium and done with typical Bryson élan.

For those of you who do not know Bill Bryson; its time to learn. His writing comes with energy, style, and enthusiasm, and a smack of ironic and flip intelligence. Yet, he is always easy to understand. No high flaunting words, just good British syntax. (He is an American ex-pat to Britain.) More important is the fact that when he covers a subject, he gets you all you need to know, and I do mean all the information you may need. As to the science of our bodies, he gives you in a manner that lets the layman know what a chief physician needs to know.

Two last points. If you are a person committed to exercising, dieting, or just an ordinary hypochondriac this is a sourcebook for truly understanding your ailment. Bill Bryson is a pretty good reader, as well.

39 people found this helpful

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  • john
  • 2019-10-19

Very well done

I learned a lot. Detailed, but not boring. Bryson did his research, but kept it interesting.

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  • Barbara Stanbro
  • 2019-10-28

Fascinating

A very interesting review. I learned a lot I didn’t know. Glad he’s reading his own book. I’ve found other narrators annoying, and his words in his own voice are preferable to this listener.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Lindsey Cobb
  • 2019-10-21

Bill Bryson is the best!

Lovely informative book, narrated by the author (so it has his wry sense of humor included in speech).

9 people found this helpful

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  • ScratchGolfer
  • 2019-10-28

Great information

This is an outstanding listen if you want information on how the body works. I don't understand how Bill Bryson is able to gather so much information for his books. Like a couple of his prior works, I will listen to this book over and over because I learn something new with each listen. I have listened to his books At Home and A Short History of Nearly Everything numerous times. I would like to thank him for writing them.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Meddlesome
  • 2019-10-20

Nicely detailed yet Fascinating

As a physician I am gratified to hear such a clear depiction of the history of the human body.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Samantha
  • 2019-10-28

Treat your body well

"You are gone, but it was good while you lasted, isn't it?"
- Last words of the book

7 people found this helpful

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  • Buretto
  • 2019-10-27

Informative, but not really the best Bryson

I love Bill Bryson, but this book just doesn't have the charm or appeal of most of his other works. In my opinion, he's best in the language and travel books, where he can express his dry wit in a more personal way, speaking from experience. There is no question that he is an engaging storyteller and makes his subjects very accessible to the audience. But unlike with books by, say, Richard Feynman, Carl Sagan or Sam Harris, for example, who have presented access into specific subjects of their expertise, I was never quite able to shake the idea that Bryson is merely a conduit of recently (though very thoroughly) researched information about the body. There are some clever moments, and a few intriguing stories, but the book mostly consists of lectures on anatomy, pathology, endocrinology, etc., albeit by an amiable professor.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2019-11-03

Do no harm!

Simply fascinating and in depth look into the body. Easy to understand. This book will leave you with the impression that the well intentioned doctors have been wrong in many instances and serious missteps have been made along the way. We still know very little but are making progress.

2 people found this helpful

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  • David
  • 2019-10-31

Wow! Could you make it sound more doomsday.

Don’t expect to feel good after listening to this book. We’re all doomed ! Makes it sound like being a human is the worst thing you can be. How more bout info on other stuff other than cancer. And heart disease, and diabetes. I would of liked more about how the body works, other than how we’re gonna die.

8 people found this helpful