Biology Nonfiction in Review: Gut

December 13, 2021 Uncategorized 4 ★★★½

Biology Nonfiction in Review: GutTitle: Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ
Author: Giulia Enders, Jill Enders
Source: Library
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads

Summary: Engaging and easy to follow, but I found it overly simplistic.

This book about the microbiome came out about 5 years ago, just as people were starting to explore this exciting new field. A lot of the content was in also covered in 10% Human, another book that was published (and that I read) around the same time. It felt immediately dated to me as a result, but the author’s enthusiasm for what was new info at the time was quite enjoyable.

Everyone will have a different preference for how science books balance accuracy and clarity. For me, this book erred far enough on the side of clarity that I felt it’s intended audience might be middle school students. It was delightfully engaging, with fun analogies and cartoons to illustrate the author’s points. However, there were also times where I thought the simplified language became inaccurate. There were other times when I felt the author could have easily introduced technical language without adding complexity. As a someone who works in biology and reads a lot of pop science books, I felt underestimated by the author.

The reaction from my science book club was mixed. Some people really loved this book for how entertaining the writing was. Others shared my problems with it. People also noted that there weren’t citations for individual lines, just a list of sources at the back, and some of the stories the author shared felt like science urban legends. Given that even some of us in a group that regularly reads science nonfiction enjoyed this one, I’d suggest checking out a few other reviews to see if it’s likely to be a better fit for you.

4 Responses to “Biology Nonfiction in Review: Gut”

    • DoingDewey

      Oh, that’s a good question. So, The Lady’s Handbook for Her Mysterious Illness could be a really good choice. It’s a memoir by a woman with digestive/immune issues of a type that often go undiagnosed and are poorly understood. This particularly type of illness is more often found in women, who are more likely to be dismissed by their doctors. The science around this is still somewhat speculative, but if you’re dealing with anything like this, I think this book could be very helpful.

      In terms of just the science, I thought 10% Human did a better job covering the emerging science of the microbiome. The only other book I’ve read on the topic is Gulp, by Mary Roach. It was more entertaining, but it’s a little older and I’m not sure it was much deeper. I’ve heard good things about Bill Bryson’s The Body, but suspect the same caveats apply to that book. I wish I had a better science focused suggestion, but I’m afraid that’s all the books I’m aware of right now.

  1. Lory @ Entering the Enchanted Castle

    The Lady’s Handbook looks good, I will check that out for sure along with 10% Human. Keeping other suggestions on the second shelf for now. If you do come across any more science focused takes on this emerging field, I’m sure you’ll share them with us. Thanks!
    Lory @ Entering the Enchanted Castle recently posted…Stars of 2021My Profile

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