If Our Bodies Could Talk: Operating and Maintaining a Human Body (Paperback)
"If you want to understand the strange workings of the human body, and the future of medicine, you must read this illuminating, engaging book." —Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of The Gene
In 2014, James Hamblin launched a series of videos for The Atlantic called "If Our Bodies Could Talk." With it, the doctor-turned-journalist established himself as a seriously entertaining authority in the field of health. Now, in illuminating and genuinely funny prose, Hamblin explores the human stories behind health questions that never seem to go away—and which tend to be mischaracterized and oversimplified by marketing and news media. He covers topics such as sleep, aging, diet, and much more:
• Can I “boost” my immune system?
• Does caffeine make me live longer?
• Do we still not know if cell phones cause cancer?
• How much sleep do I actually need?
• Is there any harm in taking a multivitamin?
• Is life long enough?
In considering these questions, Hamblin draws from his own medical training as well from hundreds of interviews with distinguished scientists and medical practitioners. He translates the (traditionally boring) textbook of human anatomy and physiology into accessible, engaging, socially contextualized, up-to-the-moment answers. They offer clarity, examine the limits of our certainty, and ultimately help readers worry less about things that don’t really matter.
If Our Bodies Could Talk is a comprehensive, illustrated guide that entertains and educates in equal doses.
About the Author
JAMES HAMBLIN is a writer and senior editor at The Atlantic magazine. He was a 2015 Yale University Poynter Fellow in journalism, and his work has been featured by the New York Times, Politico, NPR, BBC, MSNBC, New York, and The Awl. He was a finalist for the 2015 Webby award for Best Web Personality, and Time has named him among the 140 people to follow on Twitter. He’s based in Brooklyn, New York.
“This book answers all the questions you ever had about your health—plus a whole lot of questions that never occurred to you but should have. Even if you don’t care about your health you should read it, because Hamblin is such a delightfully amusing writer.”
—Walter Isaacson, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Innovators and Steve Jobs
"Reading James Hamblin’s book is like taking a journey through the vast and uncharted landscape of 'health science.' Fad Diets. The science of vaccines. The truth (and lies) behind coffee. The rumblings of the stomach. If you want to understand the strange workings of the human body, and the future of medicine, you must read this illuminating, engaging book."
—Siddhartha Mukherjee, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Gene and The Emperor of All Maladies
“Jim is the friendly pocket doctor I've always longed to carry around with me, chirping helpful medical advice into my ear like ‘You can't stop touching your face’ and alerting me to the dangers of ‘catching a wild cow and convincing it to let itself be milked.’ Without him, I might not have a body at all.”
—Mallory Ortberg, author of Texts From Jane Eyre
“[Hamblin] writes with sarcasm, humor, and a sense of astonishment…. He does a stellar job with nutrition, covering supplements, multivitamins, energy drinks, and gluten. He calls out medical misinformation and marketing myths…. Educational, entertaining, and a bit eccentric.”
“Fascinating... Challenging what one interviewee calls the ‘scientific misinformation and marketing-based “facts”’ we are bombarded with daily, this book will be a useful tool for helping people get in touch with their own bodies.”
“Charming, engrossing, occasionally heartbreaking, and at times political… If Our Bodies Could Talk does not set out to be comprehensive, and yet it feels holistically so—a testament to Hamblin’s intelligence and humor.”
“Underneath the curiosity factor and his nerdy charm, Hamblin conveys useful information. That’s a win-win for everyone.”
“If Our Bodies Could Talk, they’d want James Hamblin taking dictation.”
—Sloane Crosley, Vanity Fair
—The New Yorker
"The book reads sort of like an FAQ section of a how-to manual for the human body, but it’s much more funny and engaging than any manual.”
—The Daily Beast
"A humorous, highly narrative, plainly written manual to the body that covers everything from why we scratch itches to how our hearts know to beat."