Book Review: Gut by Giulia Enders

gut giulia enders

Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ By Giulia Enders

 

“The gut is our body’s most underrated organ. This is its inside story.”

Gut is a rollicking ride through the vast organ that is the human digestive system. Enders takes us through the whole thing from top to, er, bottom, and from inside to out.

The book is similar in tone to Mary Roach’s book: Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, but where Roach excels at going into the kooky culture behind the science, Enders gives us the low down on the anatomy and physiology of our most ignored organ (appropriate, as she is–at the time of this writing–a medical student). We move through the structure of the various components of the digestive system, on to the structure of the nervous system which services the gut, and make a nice little stopover with the microbiome: the bacterial cells living in our gut that outnumber our or human cells by 9 to 1.

Enders has that rare and precious gift: she is able to impart knowledge in an engaging manner. Many, many nonfiction writers would kill for her delivery. The entire book is written in a wry, accessible tone, making Gut the most fun your going to have with your colon for quite a while. In addition, the book is cunningly (and humorously) illustrated (by Jill Enders) throughout, treating us to images of ballerinas toe dancing on slices of cake, babies diving through a sea of bacteria while being born, and the immune system fitting bad bacteria with little hats, among many, many others.

Gut gives us the best of science writing. You will learn quite a bit while perusing this book, but you won’t realize it right away. I’m almost sad that Enders is seeking a career in medicine, I hope she’ll still find time for her writing; the world needs more books this fun.

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