The Body Book Summary - The Body Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

The Body summary

Bill Bryson

A Guide for Occupants

4.4 (548 ratings)
29 mins

Brief summary

"The Body" by Bill Bryson takes us on a lively journey through the complex and fascinating systems that make up our bodies. With an engaging writing style, the book presents an informative and entertaining exploration into the science of human anatomy and physiology.

Table of Contents

    The Body
    Summary of 11 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 11

    The human body is a miraculous thing.

    Imagine that you had to build a human being from scratch. How would you go about it? What building blocks would you need? How much would it cost?

    Well, in 2013 the UK’s Royal Society of Chemistry took on the bizarre task of estimating the specific cost of building actor Benedict Cumberbatch. According to their calculations, you’d need 59 different elements, although only six in any serious quantity – carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorous. Those elements would cost you £96,546.79 - labor and taxes not included.

    But that’s only one estimate. An episode of the science program Nova, broadcast by US network PBS in 2012, pegged the cost of building a human at a mere $168.

    Even the cost of the materials for building a human body, then, is uncertain – but more to the point, even with all those materials, the actual act of building a human being would still be beyond us. All we’d have would be a pile of inert elements. The miracle of life isn’t something you can create simply by sticking stuff together.

    In fact, we can’t even say with certainty where life begins. The cell is the essential life-giving unit that we’re all made up of. But how exactly do cells coordinate themselves to create a functioning human being? Science still can’t tell us the full story – which is wondrous in itself.

    Science can tell us a lot, though. Inside the nucleus of each cell is a meter of DNA. Made up of chromosomes and genes, DNA contains the information needed to make you. It’s amazing to think that your DNA is the product of generation after generation of transmission: the information encoded in your genes links you directly to your ancestors of some three billion years ago.

    Some people think of the body as a machine, but it’s so much more mysterious and impressive than that. On all the time, it usually goes for decades without needing repairs, and all it needs to run is water and food. Plus, it’s conscious.

    It’s also remarkable to think that we arrived here through evolution, having started off as nothing more than a few cells in the ocean. All the developments that humans have undergone since that time have basically been wonderful accidents. 

    Want more?
    Read or listen to the key ideas
    from 7,000+ titles

    Key ideas in The Body

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is The Body about?

    The Body: A Guide for Occupants (2019) is an entertaining and fact-filled account of how we all work. With his trademark wit, Bill Bryson explains the astonishing ways in which our bodies are put together, and what goes on inside them.

    The Body Review

    The Body by Bill Bryson (2019) is a captivating exploration of the human body that will leave readers amazed and enlightened. Here's why this book is definitely a worthwhile read:

    • The book presents fascinating facts and trivia about the body, making it a great source of knowledge and a conversation starter.
    • By delving into the history and evolution of different body parts and systems, Bryson creates a comprehensive and compelling narrative.
    • With his unique blend of humor and inquisitiveness, the author keeps the subject matter engaging and entertaining throughout.

    Best quote from The Body

    ... the only thing special about the elements that make you is that they make you. That is the miracle of life.

    —Bill Bryson
    example alt text

    Who should read The Body?

    • Popular science fans
    • Biology and medicine enthusiasts
    • Anyone keen to learn more about their own body

    About the Author

    Bill Bryson is a best-selling American author who lived in the UK for many years. His books include Notes from a Small Island, which in 2003 was voted the book that best represents England, and A Short History of Nearly Everything, which won both the Aventis and Descartes prizes.

    Categories with The Body

    Book summaries like The Body

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked these summaries

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    31 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial

    The Body FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Body?

    The main message of The Body is to explore the fascinating intricacies of the human body and its impact on our everyday lives.

    How long does it take to read The Body?

    The reading time for The Body varies depending on the reader, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Body a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Body is a captivating read that offers insights into the wonders of our anatomy. It's definitely worth reading for those curious about the human body.

    Who is the author of The Body?

    The author of The Body is Bill Bryson.

    What to read after The Body?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Body, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
    • 7 Strategies for Wealth & Happiness by Jim Rohn
    • The 3-Minute Rule by Brant Pinvidic
    • Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg
    • Do Breathe by Michael Townsend Williams
    • Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
    • Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
    • Elevate by Joseph Deitch
    • The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod
    • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson