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The Body

A Guide for Occupants
Narrated by: Bill Bryson
Length: 14 hrs and 47 mins
4.7 out of 5 stars (306 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 listeners say about The Body

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Another masterpiece.

I have not enjoyed a book as much as this since I first listened to ’a short history of nearly everything’ another Bryson classic. The level of detail and Brysons easy to absorb style of written lead to me arriving home several times, only to reverse out of driveway and drive aimlessly so I could continue listening. A must listen for anyone with a curious mind.

5 people found this 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.

11 people found this helpful

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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.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Engaging and informative with quirky details

The amount of historical and factual detail Bill Bryson manages to weave together seemingly effortlessly in this book is astounding. What sets his style apart and makes it noteworthy is that in an endearing and chatming manner he intersperses 'dry' facts with the human foibles and twists of fate that brought them to our knowledge. By offering the information this way I become aware that I, the reader/listener, too, am on this historical continuum and we are all in this together. I also enjoyed the clear unpretentious reading by the author himself, which was as engaging as the material.

1 person found this helpful

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As usual, great fun.

And as usual, so much I didn't know. Bryson shows again, and so simply, all that we take for granted. On this occasion it's not what is around us but within us. This book is another of his that is on my re-read list.

1 person found this 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

1 person found this helpful

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Interesting facts presented with humour

Bill Bryson has written another very well researched very well put together interesting book full of facts and humour. Definitely worth the read or listen.

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Another good read

I just love Bill Bryson books. This one did not disappoint. Informative, witty and entertaining.

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Fine reading of a magnificent book

First I would like to congratulate Bill Bryson on his engaging way of reading his book. He has a droll, understated style which matches the material and keeps me well entertained. I am gobsmacked by the amount of stuff he has discovered, or already knew - and he has said he is no scientist. I only wish I could remember one tenth of it, but I intend to go back and listen to certain sections again. I loved the stories of doctors and scientists who have made important discoveries - or have pinched them from others, in some cases.

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Insightful and Entertaining

An audiobook that was really informative, interesting and well read. Some interesting random facts along the way about past and current understandings of medical treatment, back stories on how they came about and the intricate workings of our body systems. Even after listening to this book though and appreciate the fascinating body more, I'll most probably won't change some poor lifestyle habits of too much coffee and consuming fat laden (Cheesecake and croissants) foods.

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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 book's 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.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Alberto Simal
  • 09-11-2019

Sounds tired

Maybe it's me, maybe it's the fact that so much of the information was not new to me, but the book failed to engage me and surprise me like his "A short Story...". He sounded tired, less enthusiastic. It's a good book, nonetheless.

2 people found this helpful

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  • kieron t.
  • 28-08-2020

Bryson Magic

Another meticulously researched book for anyone who wants to know everything about their body and life. From trauma to disease, with remarkably strange history all narrated with Bryson's characteristic dry wit.

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  • klimty
  • 13-07-2020

Bad Narration

I think Mr. Bryson should have a professional narrator to re-read this book. His narration is flat, monotone, the voice sounds untrained, it really killed the audiobook for me, like someone boring is discussing even more boring stuff. That Mid-Atlantic accent of Mr. Bryson (neither American nor British) is irritating…Regardless of how many times I tried to finish the book, I couldn't…all due to the bad narration.

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  • Thandi Lamprecht
  • 18-06-2020

It grows on you.

I have mixed feelings about this book - so much so that I actually returned it but now want to purchase it again. I found the first 1/4 very boring and kept falling asleep when I tried to listen to it at night. I then returned the book. Because I felt it wasn’t worth the credit. When I was having trouble sleeping a couple of weeks after I’d returned it, I thought I’d listen to it again (since it had worked so well as a sleep aid before..) but about 1/2 way in I was hooked. It’s a fascinating book and it gets better and better as it goes on. The last 1/4 is the best. My recommendation therefore is to buy this book and just be patient, it will grown on you. Enjoy!

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  • Revd. James T. Fowler
  • 24-04-2020

Very Thoroughly Researched and Entertaining

This book is entertaining and thoroughly researched. The explanations of the facts, however, were very biased towards Evolution Theory.

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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.

21 people found this helpful

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  • Mark D
  • 28-10-2019

Great book, let down somewhat by the narration

This was my first time listening to a Bill Bryson book and whilst the story had all the ingrediants I enjoy about his work, the narration made it difficult to fully appreciate. The author has a very soft voice without huge range and as such, I often found myself having to rewind and turn the volume up high to hear what had just been said. It didn't stop me enjoying the material, but it definitely sent me back to the kindle version for large sections. I'll continue to invest in Bill's books - but I don't think i would choose another audio book where the author has narrated the work himself.

20 people found this 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!!!

25 people found this helpful

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  • Rupert Maddison-Roberts
  • 12-10-2019

Hard listening

Shame he didn’t pay William Roberts to read it as with his other books. Bought it on the strength of his previous work but he’s narrated it himself and he’s no professional narrator- disappointing

33 people found this 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.

48 people found this 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.

16 people found this 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!

14 people found this helpful

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  • HEB
  • 03-11-2019

Just couldn't listen

I was really looking forward to this book as I am a great admirer of the author. However, after less than an hour I had to return it as I just couldn't listen to his narration any more. Very disappointing and I wish they had used an actor.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Richard Carpenter
  • 22-11-2019

The Body

Having read or listened to all of Bill’s books, I’m sorry you say this is a great disappointment! It should be called - the science or biology world. There are occasional dips into the body, but Mr Bryson drifts off to where he is comfortable far too often. The research and references world.

2 people found this 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...

21 people found this helpful