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I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us…
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I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life (original 2016; edition 2018)

by Ed Yong (Author)

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1,1253313,859 (4.12)87
This book lets us peer into the world of microbes -- not as germs to be eradicated, but as invaluable parts of our lives -- allowing us to see how ubiquitous and vital microbes are: they sculpt our organs, defend us from disease, break down our food, educate our immune systems, guide our behavior, bombard our genomes with their genes, and grant us incredible abilities. While much of the prevailing discussion around the microbiome has focused on its implications for human health, Yong broadens this focus to the entire animal kingdom, prompting us to look at ourselves and our fellow animals in a new light: less as individuals and more as the interconnected, interdependent multitudes we are. I Contain Multitudes is the story of extraordinary partnerships between the familiar creatures of our world and those we never knew existed. It will change both our view of nature and our sense of where we belong in it. --… (more)
Member:becca.helme
Title:I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life
Authors:Ed Yong (Author)
Info:Ecco (2018), Edition: Illustrated, 368 pages
Collections:Your library
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I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life by Ed Yong (2016)

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» See also 87 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
I wasn't sure what I was going to get when I started this book; obviously microbes, but was it going to be dry and academic, or worse, evangelical 'omg-microbes-are-the-answer-to-everything!'?

Luckily I got neither. Instead Yong's book was, from start to finish, utterly fascinating; never too arcane and never to simplistic, he found the sweet spot of science writing, creating an engaging narrative that never talks down to the reader. Anyone with an average vocabulary and an interest in the symbiotic world can pick up this book without feeling intimidated.

Microbes (bacteria, viruses, etc.) are everywhere. Everywhere. And bad news for the germaphobes: this is a good and necessary thing. Life on Earth simply could not exist without these microscopic machines. Plants and animals depend on bacteria for nutrients they can't get from food on their own, for turning on specific and necessary genes in the DNA, even for protecting them from other bacteria gone rogue.

Yong starts at the beginning of humans' awareness that there is life we cannot see. Typically these beginning chapters are the deadliest for me, as I get bored with the 'background' and impatient to get to the 'good stuff', but Yong made sure even the boring background was the 'good stuff'. I was never bored reading this book.

Left to my own devices, this review would go on forever, because there's just so much worth discussing, so I'm going to short-circuit myself and say this: I Contain Multitudes is a great book for learning how microbes help make all life possible; it's a 50/50 split, more or less, of information on microbe/human and microbes/other flora and fauna symbioses. It's easy to read, it's entertaining, and for at least myself, it was laugh out loud funny in one part. I finished with a much better understanding of the microbial world and my own digestive system (for now, I'm going to resist the temptation of probiotic supplements).

A very worth-while read and one I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to anyone with an interest. ( )
  murderbydeath | Jan 20, 2022 |
If I had to live on a desert Island and could only take a small library--I might ask for a set of books written by editors from the Atlantic. Damn, they are all good. ( )
  auldhouse | Sep 30, 2021 |
Really changes your perspective. ( )
  hueyy | Jul 13, 2021 |
nonfiction/science-biology.
I liked the writing style and admired the author's thoroughness but wasn't all that interested in the topic at this time. I read the first couple chapters, then looked through the index to find bits and pieces to sample before returning to the library.
Also recommended on this topic: This is Your Brain on Parasites (which I enjoyed, and finished) and maybe (haven't read yet) 10% Human (which Ed Yong points out is based on a rough estimate and far from proven fact).

update: I got this on audiobook and it was pretty entertaining and interesting. Recommended for people who like science or biology. ( )
  reader1009 | Jul 3, 2021 |
The people who need to read this book most probably won't. Its best feature is that it explains (and explains... and explains some more) the incredible complexity of the microbiome, its inhabitants, its symbionts, its functioning, its dynamics and breathtakingly subtle balancing, rebalancing, and failures. This definitely NOT your "eat yogurt and cure all your ills"! The style is breezy, approachable, only occasionally tipping over into cuteness. Yong presents some fascinating stories; he knows how science works and can explain the exacting, lengthy, and sometimes tedious processes and experiments so you understand not only what they found, but how they figured it out. I was happy for all those scientists who, after the years spent probing the sexual apertures of fruit flies, finally get an affectionate and appreciative shout-out from Yong. There were parts that dragged, some repetition...it did at times read like a padded magazine piece. You need to be pretty interested in the topic to stick with it, but there's a lot of fascinating information, fun Latin terms, and a lovely history of van Leeuwenhoek's amazing microscopy. You will come away with a new appreciation for germs. ( )
1 vote JulieStielstra | May 17, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
Ed Yong is a talented British science writer, a staff writer for The Atlantic and the author of a wonderful blog, Not Exactly Rocket Science, hosted by National Geographic. “I Contain Multitudes,” his first book, covers a huge amount of microscopic territory in clear, strong, often epigrammatic prose. Yong has advanced degrees in biology, and he is remarkably well informed; he includes descriptions of many studies that are still unpublished, and even a few original ideas for new experiments. He is infectiously enthusiastic about microbes, and he describes them with verve.
 
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Prologue : A trip to the zoo.
The Earth is 4.54 billion years old.

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This book lets us peer into the world of microbes -- not as germs to be eradicated, but as invaluable parts of our lives -- allowing us to see how ubiquitous and vital microbes are: they sculpt our organs, defend us from disease, break down our food, educate our immune systems, guide our behavior, bombard our genomes with their genes, and grant us incredible abilities. While much of the prevailing discussion around the microbiome has focused on its implications for human health, Yong broadens this focus to the entire animal kingdom, prompting us to look at ourselves and our fellow animals in a new light: less as individuals and more as the interconnected, interdependent multitudes we are. I Contain Multitudes is the story of extraordinary partnerships between the familiar creatures of our world and those we never knew existed. It will change both our view of nature and our sense of where we belong in it. --

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