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  • Published: 21 July 2020
  • ISBN: 9780552779906
  • Imprint: Black Swan
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 544
  • RRP: $24.99

The Body


#1 Sunday Times bestseller in both hardback and paperback, this head-to-toe tour of the marvel that is the human body is as compulsively readable as it is comprehensive. Bryson at his very best, it is a must-read owner's manual for everybody.


'A directory of wonders.' - The Guardian
'Jaw-dropping.' - The Times
'Classic, wry, gleeful Bryson...an entertaining and absolutely fact-rammed book.' - The Sunday Times
'It is a feat of narrative skill to bake so many facts into an entertaining and nutritious book.' - The Daily Telegraph

'We spend our whole lives in one body and yet most of us have practically no idea how it works and what goes on inside it. The idea of the book is simply to try to understand the extraordinary contraption that is us.'

Bill Bryson sets off to explore the human body, how it functions and its remarkable ability to heal itself. Full of extraordinary facts and astonishing stories The Body: A Guide for Occupants is a brilliant, often very funny attempt to understand the miracle of our physical and neurological make up.

A wonderful successor to A Short History of Nearly Everything, this new book is an instant classic. It will have you marvelling at the form you occupy, and celebrating the genius of your existence, time and time again.

'What I learned is that we are infinitely more complex and wondrous, and often more mysterious, than I had ever suspected. There really is no story more amazing than the story of us.' Bill Bryson

  • Published: 21 July 2020
  • ISBN: 9780552779906
  • Imprint: Black Swan
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 544
  • RRP: $24.99

About the author

Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1951. His bestselling books include The Road to Little Dribbling, Notes from a Small Island, A Walk in the Woods, One Summer and The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. In a national poll, Notes from a Small Island was voted the book that best represents Britain. His acclaimed work of popular science, A Short History of Nearly Everything, won the Aventis Prize and the Descartes Prize, and was the biggest selling non-fiction book of its decade in the UK. His new book The Body: A Guide for Occupants is an extraordinary exploration of the human body which will have you marvelling at the form you occupy.
Bill Bryson was Chancellor of Durham University 2005–2011. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society. He lives in England.

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Praise for The Body

Through anecdotes about scientific history and startling facts that seem too extraordinary to be true—the DNA in one person, if stretched out, would measure billions of miles and reach beyond Pluto—Bryson draws the reader into his subject. ... Bryson’s tone is both informative and inviting, encouraging the reader, throughout this exemplary work, to share the sense of wonder he expresses at how the body is constituted and what it is capable of.

Publishers' Weekly

Remarkable ... Every page is dense with scientific facts written as vividly as a thriller, as well as answers to conundrums such as why we don’t fall out of bed when we are asleep ... It is woven through with the kind of human stories that Bryson has made his trademark.

Mail on Sunday

Readable and useful ... witty, jargon-free prose that glides you through 400 pages. It’s fun to read because it’s not just comprehensive, but quirky.

Richard Morrison, The Times

A directory of wonders. Extraordinary stories about the heart, lungs, genitals ... plus some anger and life advice – all delivered in the inimitable Bryson style

Gavin Francis, Guardian

‘Classic, wry, gleeful Bryson… richly interesting… an entertaining and absolutely fact-rammed book. If it sells hundreds of thousands of copies, like the last one, it will be no bad thing.’

The Sunday Times

It is a feat of narrative skill to bake so many facts into an entertaining and nutritious book..where Byrson really shines is in his imaginative glosses on the facts he has collected.

The Daily Telegraph

Bryson rummages about in our vital organs, emerging with a parade of fascinating facts.

Daily Mirror

[Bill] takes us with him, wondering at the complex functions of the tongue, seeing him stick a finger in the aorta…The book’s a bestseller.

Gillian Reynolds, The Sunday Times

There is not an organ Bryson describes that is not illuminated by a fun fact or unlikely anecdote.


Bryson tackles the body in an amusing, fact-filled guide

The Sunday Times (Ireland)

Written with his trademark wit and insight

RTE Guide

As ever, the bestselling writer takes a familiar subject and delivers one revelation after another

The Irish Mail on Sunday

A comforting compendium of fascinating facts

Irish Independent

The brook bristles with data…but the star turns are Bryson's wry forays into the histories of neuroscience, genetics, anatomy and immunology.


Stuffed with enthralling, often mystifying facts.

Christina Hardyment, The Times

A joy to read ... every paragraph contains at least one startling, even awe-inspiring fact ... Infused with an infectious sense of wonder at the miraculousness of it all.

Reader's Digest

One of the strengths of Bryson’s delightful new book... is that it reveals the thousands of rarely acknowledged tasks our body takes care of as we go about our day

A.J. Jacobs, The New York Times

The extraordinary story of what we are made of and how we work ... This revelatory book reads as captivatingly as a thriller.

Teresa Levonian Cole, Country Life

SCIENCE BOOK OF THE YEAR 2019: 'so packed with arresting facts (you eat 60 tons of food in a lifetime) and unlikely anecdotes (such as Isambard Kingdom Brunel's six weeks with a half-sovereign lodged in his throat) that you barely notice the sheer volume of anatomical knowledge you're digesting ... makes complex subjects simple and eminently entertaining.'

Sunday Times

BOOKS OF THE YEAR - 'You'll never look in the mirror the same way again'

Daily Mirror

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The space between your ears

Bill Bryson explores the eighty-six billion neurons that make up your brain.