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The Body

A Guide for Occupants
Narrated by: Bill Bryson
Length: 14 hrs and 47 mins
Categories: Non-fiction, Biology
4.5 out of 5 stars (25 ratings)

Non-member price: $28.87

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Editorial Reviews

“Between the mysterious, the unexpected, the unknown and the undiscovered The Body: A Guide for occupants takes us through all the weird and wonderful parts of the human body with humour, historical anecdotes and some truly jaw-dropping facts. Somehow, with all that jam packed in, listening to it still feels like an entertaining coffee with an old friend. I have loved many of Bill Bryson’s books but I think this one may have just jostled its way to the top of my list of favourites. Definitely take a listen if you’ve ever wondered why or how your body does what it does, or, if not, take a listen for the multitude of amazing facts you can pull out at your next awkward dinner party.” (Alex, Audible Editor)

“In this illuminating history of the human form, Bill Bryson presents scientific research in an accessible way, introducing a host of individuals including the world’s first kidney transplant recipient and the Nobel Prize-winning Peter Medawar. Covering everything from sleep to immunity, I came away from listening to the audiobook with a newfound appreciation and respect for my body. A perfect listen for new and existing Bill Bryson fans alike.” (Jess, Audible Editor)

Publisher's Summary

'We spend our whole lives in one body and yet most of us have practically no idea how it works and what goes on inside it. The idea of the book is simply to try to understand the extraordinary contraption that is us.’  

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.

©2019 Bill Bryson (P)2019 Audible, Ltd

What members say

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An informative read ruined by awful narration

Bill Bryson is an amazingly talented writer and this book proves it. That’s where the compliments end. Who on earth convinced him he could narrate this book? He’s got such a boring monotone soft voice that it’s impossible to listen to in a car. Please get someone else to narrate this book and let us download it again as this is just painful.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Not Bryson’s best

This book’s content is fairly average for a Bryson book. A lot of what he talks about is just high school biology. But the worst part is the narration. It’s awful! Bryson should not narrate his own books. He is monotone and slurs his words. Please please get William Roberts to narrate Bryson books - he ‘gets’ Bryson’s writing.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Bill does not disappoint with his latest book

Entertaining, enlightening and educational, what more could you want? Bill does not disappoint with his latest book

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Wonderful.<br />

As always,. Bill delivers facts and fascination. Thank you Mr Bryson for another volume of delight.

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After 71 years I now know how my body works

Bill Bryson has a way of making the most complex subjects sound simple and straightforward.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason
  • 07-10-2019

Average, really needs a professional narrator,

It's great when certain authors narrate their own works, as you can really feel their enthusiasm for the subject, but boy is this not one of those cases. Bryson manages to sound monotone, unexcited and borderline out of breath throughout.

I've read many of Bryson's earlier books, this is the third one of his that I've read with a scientific theme read after "A Short History..." and "At Home". He's still not quite capturing what made "A Short History..." great. This books a mixture of scientific fact, anecdotes and personal observations.

Sometimes there's a great mix of those, but more often than not the science suffers because too much time is taken on some personal observation or anecdote that that isn't all that interesting, or some other mixture of the three.

Finally, for a book that's partly trying to explain a technical subject it contains an infuriating mismatch of differing systems of units of measure. Sometimes Bryson will refer to length in feet, or meters, or weight in kilos, pounds or stones, he might provide conversions, or he might not. Unless you're comfortable in metric, imperial and the UK's various quaint units of measure you'll find yourself pausing to do the conversions yourself.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Roger Boyle
  • 16-10-2019

Excellent starter in Anatomy, Physiology and Bioch

I've been a doctor for over 30 years and enjoyed the book immensely.
Loved the stories about the famous, ( and less famous) characters in medicine and the amazing complexity of our bodies and disease
An interesting overview of over investigation( particularly in USA) and Health Outcomes ( US & UK excellent examples)
I found the pronunciation of some words slightly jarring to UK ears, but perhaps I've said it wrong for nearly 4 decades!!!

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Bammosan
  • 13-10-2019

Bill Bryson at his best.

This is Bill at his best, full of wonder and the ability to put across scientific information in a sometimes humorous but concerned and hopeful way,
His audiobooks are always enhanced when he reads them himself, this is no exception. You can listen to an abridged version on BBC Sounds radio 4, but I encourage you to get the full version it will become a go to textbook for healthcare personnel and members of the public and educational establishments.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Avril
  • 09-10-2019

An early review.Do not start this book at bedtime!

I always fall upon Bill Bryson books as soon as they are published. This one is utterly enthralling from the first word. Read by Bill Bryson himself (what a lovely voice) the narrative kept me awake and thoroughly engaged until I was forced by tiredness to pause it at 4am. If I wasn’t so busy I’d be listening again now., my head is bursting with very interesting facts about the mysterious and wondrous human body,and I’m sure I will reread many times in future.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • papapownall
  • 10-10-2019

Entertaining travelogue journey into the body

I do like reading and listening to Bill Bryson's witty travelogues and enjoy the stories of his journeys around the England and the United States. This latest book "The Body" is a bit different. It is a guide for the occupants of the human body explaining in great detail what each part is for and what it does. Other books have, of course, been written on the subject of human anatomy and biology but seldom has anyone been able to portray this with anything other than academic earnestness. Bill Bryson takes a semi light hearted approach to the subject.

Yes this book is stuffed with facts as you would expect such as the length of the intestines and the surface areas of the lungs that you would find in any biology text book, he adds an extra dimension in his tales of the pioneers of medicine, some were geniuses, some were lucky and some were fraudsters; they were all fascinating. He also has some interesting thoughts on diseases and life expectancies across the ages and in different counties that are thought provoking and terrifying at the same time.

All in all, Bill is, as you would expect, good company along this journey and my knowledge of human biology has been enhanced in an enjoyable and entertaining listen that I would recommend to anyone. There is also some "bonus material" to the audible version of this book in which five people discuss sound and what it means to them.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • M. Woods
  • 09-10-2019

Sending me to sleep

I love Bill Bryson's books - but he should have got a professional actor/reader to narrate this. Bill's soft monotone keeps sending me to sleep. Given it three goes of the first two chapters, but just can't listen anymore. I'm going to have to return this audio and maybe get a print copy.

9 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • texaspetey
  • 10-10-2019

Sends me into a sleep slumber whilst educating

Don’t know what it is but there is something very soothing about Bill Bryson’s voice that is just perfect to listen to before sleep. I set my timer for 30 mins and more often then not I’m asleep by 20 minutes. I repeat the books to make sure I listen to the whole book and cover the bits I drifted off to!

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • peebee
  • 14-10-2019

One of those brilliant obvious ideas....

To take a tour round the fascination of the human body, interlaced with serious and amusing historical facts and figures, while at the same time demolishing lots of myths. What is especially informative is what a golden age of knowledge we are living through (many medical discoveries I had assumed were made years ago are quite recent). I'm not sure how the reviewer who claimed to have listened to this in a day managed without sleep though....

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Edith Milne
  • 07-10-2019

Excellent listen.

Very good listen. Interesting, informative and well told. Bill's voice provides a very soothing listen.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Intrepid J
  • 07-10-2019

Great to hear Bill's voice: Audible version review

I'm glad to hear that the author, the guy who did the research, compilation and whatever else these guys do to put a book together, actually reads his work to you. He has a soft, caring and intellectual tone with an accent that washes from Atlantic shore to shore: a pleasure to listen to.

My head is literally bulging with new facts that have been injected there with great skill.

My sense of self has been augmented with wonderful awe and respect for all the bits that make me that I wasn't aware of. I just found myself mentally expressing gratitude, in a Kondo-esque way, to all the little atoms that were along with me for the ride as I wished them farewell and watched them disappear down the urinal.

I am currently part way through chapter 2.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Labrador with class
  • 04-10-2019

Not one of Bryson's best...

I was counting down the days to the release of this book, as I am a huge fan of Bill's books; then devoured it in one day. Alas, all I was left with was a slight feeling of indigestion, not a lasting feeling of fullness. it feels like a slightly rushed summary of high school level biology spiced up with a few truly interesting morsels. it lacks Bryson's usual personal experiences, anecdotes and insights. I will, of course, buy his next book, and maybe try nibbling on it first, instead of swallowing it whole...

17 of 25 people found this review helpful