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Book Review: Your Body: The Missing Manual by Matthew MacDonald

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My wife is an aesthetician.  She went to school for the job and most of what she had to study related to the skin and facial muscles.  We spent a few thousand dollars on her schooling.  Then, I got this book from Matthew MacDonald.  It presents the same information about oily skin, hair follicles and sebaceous glands.  I shared what I read about skin and melanoma and all that jazz and we agreed that it was all the information she got from her textbooks.  So, you might spend $25 on this book, but you're getting a few thousand dollars worth of education.

The introduction states, "… whether it's dazzling or disappointing, the human body ranks as the most remarkable machine you'll ever operate."  The point of the book is to tell you how to make the most of your machine.  Unlike most manuals you might get (full of confounding technical jargon and legal warnings), this one is personable, even intriguing.

Your Body, part of The Missing Manual series, takes its reader into every department of the human body.  Skin, fat, heart, digestion, immunity, sex and death – it covers all of those and a few more.  They insist that the material is taken from the newest information in biology and genetics, so this manual should be very up to date (see above, the whole school textbook thing – it's all good information). 

There are lots of sidebars, information boxes, diagrams and even some cool images of mites, demodex's (an elongated beast that lives upon the eyebrows) and diagrams of various body sections.  There's even a fascinating chart with diagrams of turds; it would make Gillian McKeith quite proud.

The last two chapters are quite compelling.  Chapter 10 is all about sex.  And no, I did not like it just for the diagrams.  It's a very approachable and modest discussion of a subject that sometimes embarrasses people.  I plan on having my children read it.  Seriously, it's a good primer for that talk.  It explains the physical act and the emotional connection, too.

The final chapter is appropriately about death, and how unnatural it is.  Yes, unnatural.  As MacDonald notes in the introductory paragraphs, "to see it [life, the body] succumb without a single external threat, its energy seeping gently away like a leaky balloon, is distinctly unnatural."  He goes on to discuss life expectancy, maintaining dignity when approaching death and even takes a brief look at near-death experience.

You can find more information on the series here

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