So many marvelous books are available that can help us understand the invisible world we live in and, actually, makes everything go: bacteria.
Let me start with a couple of books new to me: The Wild Life of Our Bodies: Predators, Parasites, and Partners That Shape Who We Are Today by Rob Dunn; and, A Planet of Viruses by Carl Zimmer. Both are excellent reads and both deal with items essential (there’s that word again) to our lives.
Mr. Dunn has little to say about probiotics but his explanations on how things work inside of us and why is comprehensive if a little icky in spots.
Mr. Zimmer’s book, on the other hand, will scare the pants off you! Even though it’s scholarly and written in an even hand, the reality of what he has to say is daunting. We ignore the ability of the virus to mutate at our peril. And there are so many of them the numbers seem like science fiction. A very important book on a much neglected subject and meant for the layperson. A brief book, only 109 pages, but filled with SCE photographs of our viral friends—and you know a picture is worth a thousand words.
Along these same lines is Dr. Robert Buckman’s book, Human Wildlife: The Life That Lives On Us. Here the creatures featured tend to be larger: worms and lice, that sort of thing. However, by the end of the book, somewhere beyond the chapter entitled, The Origin of Feces (is that too clever or what!) Dr. Buckman is well into the world of microscopic bacteria. This is a very good book providing a well constructed overview of an unknown world—us! Scary photographs, too.
A book that talks about things in a way that we are all more familiar with is The Discovery of the Germ: Twenty Years that Transformed the Way We Think About Disease by John Waler. It, too, is a short book well written and informative. So many of the cures we have today required someone to come up with the language to talk about what was being seen as it was being discovered. Step back in time to see how difficult that can be at times.
Finally, something we’ll all have to start thinking about sooner or later. In their book Changing Planet, Changing Selves, Paul R. Epstein, MD, and Dan Ferber explain how the climate crisis threatens our health and what w can do about it. So, all those things we thought we finally had under control, well, they’ve changed the rules! From stronger hurricanes to stronger bugs it’s hard to know where it’ll all stop.