Book of the Week 4: The Body – A guide for occupants
A confession: Bill Bryson came to visit the More or Less studios, gave us a signed copy of his book and was wonderfully charming to all of us. I was well-disposed to him before I even cracked the spine.
That said: it’s a wonderful book. I used to read a lot of Bryson books (as a rambler, A Walk In The Woods had particular appeal) but it had been a while since I picked one up, and I’d forgotten just what an effortlessly engaging writer he is.
Structurally, The Body: A Guide For Occupants is simple. Bryson tells you all sorts of things about the body – your brain, your skin, your blood, your ears – and while it all seems to be bang up to date, there’s no radical reinterpretation of medical science (thank goodness). Nor is there some too-clever-by-half conceit to the way the tale is told.
Instead, Bryson is just wonderfully fun to read: there’s the perfect blend of crazy medical stories, biographical snippets about scientists, surprising facts and figures, and invitations to reflect on your own experience. A remarkable volume of information is conveyed with the easy charm of a skilled raconteur. Writing a book like this is very, very hard and Bryson makes it look very, very easy.