The human body in all its glory—and faults

That flesh and bone vehicle you ride around in all day is more wonderful than you have ever imagined. It’s like some incomprehensibly complex spaceship that allows us to explore this strange and inhospitable world we live on. It provides us with considerable protection from continual assaults from microbes, radiation and even sharp blows to the head. It is easy to see the human body as something magical and miraculous, but then, upon further investigation, we learn that in many ways it is horribly flawed and poorly put together. Yes, we are mix of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Accepting the human body for what it is can be liberating and inspiring. Forget the hype, the real story of our bodies will do just fine.

  First we need to know the basics. What is really going on inside of us? How does it all work? I know of no better book for the layperson to learn about this than DK’s “The Human Body Book: An illustrated guide to its structure, function and disorders”. This is a goldmine of easy-to-absorb information. Every page is dense with illustrations and facts. I return to my copy all the time. I just flip through it until something catches my eye. I read for a few minutes and then walk away knowing a little bit more about what I am and how I function.

  The book includes an excellent interactive DVD. This presents a basic survey of the body, not as much detail as is contained in the book still worth a look. Best of all are the video clips, including a stunning trip inside the brain. Kids love this added treat.

  “The Human Body Book: An illustrated guide to its structure, function and disorders” should be on every family’s bookshelf. I’m not about to suggest that young children will rush to read this book from cover to cover—it’s not a kid’s book. However, they definitely are likely to respond to a little prodding and encouraging from a savvy parent. For example, few kids will resist the lure of a beautiful color rendering of the human body’s vascular system. When you tell them all of that is inside them, doing its job, they will want to know more.

  Guy P. Harrison’s book recommendations appear twice per month in the Observer on Sunday. Send comments to [email protected]