Acclaimed science writer Jennifer Ackerman lends her keen eye and lively voice to this marvellous exploration of the human body. Taking us through a typical day, from the arousal of the senses in the morning to the reverie of sleep and dreams, Ackerman reveals the human form as we’ve never seen it: busy, cunning, and miraculous.
Advances in genetics and medical imaging have allowed us to peer more deeply inside ourselves than ever before, revealing that we are intensely rhythmic creatures. The human body is like a clock — an entire shop of clocks, actually — measuring out the seconds, minutes, days, and seasons of life. Ackerman shows the importance of synchronising our actions with our biological rhythms — and how defying them can cause us real harm.
We learn the best time of day to drink a cocktail, take a nap, run a race, give a presentation, and take medication, along with a host of other curious facts, such as why you succumb to a cold and your spouse doesn’t, even though you’ve both been exposed to the same sick child.
Did you know that you can tell time in your sleep? Or that up to half of the calories you consume can be burned off by fidgeting? That women have more nightmares than men? That tuna, sardines, and walnuts may ease depression?
At once entertaining and deeply practical, this fascinating book will make you think of your body in an entirely new way.
‘Her fascinating story of the body's complex workings and how they are driven by a daily rhythm will inspire even the most workaholic reader to consider tweaking their schedule to account for the best time to exercise, say, or even maximise their alcohol tolerance. An engaging, eloquent and accessible book.’
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‘A readable and remarkably comprehensive tour of all that is new and intriguing in the study of normal human physiology.’
New York Times
‘In a chatty, entertaining way, she takes the reader from waking in the morning to drifting to sleep at night.’
Steven Carroll, The Age
‘Ackerman's illuminating and hospitable book helps ensure that the inner life of our bodies will receive its fair share of wonderment.’
The New York Times Book Review
‘This is skilled science writing, well researched and referenced, up to date, dripping with information and compellingly readable. It flows seamlessly, much like the grand cellular symphony that is our body. The orchestra within is a lot less mysterious after this read.’
Natasha Mitchell, The Weekend Australian
‘It's rare to find a book that delivers so much knowledge in prose that's such an enormous pleasure to read.’
Miriam E. Nelson, author of Strong Women Stay Young
‘Science writer and journalist Ackerman (Notes from the Shore) takes readers on a tour of our bodies and complex circadian rhythms, which help to determine our well-being or discomforts like magical clockworks.’
James Swanton, Library Journal
‘Ackerman’s prose is inviting … she does provide a steady stream of interesting information on things like the tiny hair cells inside the cochlea that enable us to hear even the briefest of noises, and the aphrodisiac allure for women of the odour of men’s underarm sweat. All in all, Ackerman offers a pleasant day's diversion.
‘Ackerman has hit her stride in her third book, a virtual full-body scan conducted over the course of 24 hours ... Stress is Ackerman’s most compelling subject: what it is exactly, what havoc it wreaks, and how to control it. As she touts the benefits of exercise, music, companionship, and laughter, which she describes as stress therapy rooted in ancient neural threads of joy, one can't help but note that scientific breakthroughs are proving the veracity of age-old adages about how to live right.’
Donna Seaman, Booklist
‘A unique attempt to describe the science of who we are.’
‘Offers fascinating insight into the workings of our often inscrutable bodies.’
‘Meticulously reported and well-written.’
‘Both a fascinating read about our bodies’ complexities and a potentially lifesaving resource, this is a dream of a book.’