We have a lifetime's association with our bodies, but for many of us they remain uncharted territory.
In Adventures in Human Being, Gavin Francis leads the listener on a journey through health and illness, offering insights on everything from the ribbed surface of the brain to the secret workings of the heart and the womb; from the pulse of life at the wrist to the unique engineering of the foot.
Drawing on his own experiences as a doctor and GP, he blends firsthand case studies with reflections on the way the body has been imagined and portrayed over the millennia. If the body is a foreign country, then to practise medicine is to explore new territory: Francis leads the listener on an adventure through what it means to be human.Both a user's guide to the body and a celebration of its elegance, this audiobook will transform the way you think about being alive, whether in sickness or in health.
Gavin Francis is an award-winning writer and doctor and a contributor to The Guardian, The New York Review of Books and London Review of Books.
©2015 Gavin Francis (P)2016 Audible, Ltd
"A sober and beautiful book about the landscape of the human body: thought-provoking and eloquent." (Hilary Mantel)
"Wonderful, subtle, unpretentious...produces a kind of complicity between the author, the reader, and the subject." (John Berger)
The anecdotes in this writing are entertaining. It seems that the author has has had a very interesting medical practice. I had no expectations going into this but after the first chapter I was hooked. I was intrigued by the author's ability to link classical writings to modern medical knowledge and practices. I would recommend this book and I will probably give it another listen at some point.
The reader's voice is pleasant and had a good pace.
The author takes the reader on a tour of body. He clearly excels when talking about the colon/gut/ OB stuff. The rest of the book doesn't quite measure up to that one exceptional part of the book.
While talking about the bowels and related areas of the body, this author was able to find beauty in what most people find disgusting. For me, that was the highlight of this book.
Being from the States, I always enjoy hearing readers from Briton.
This is especially true of the subject matter. Both the author with the reader voice were able translate such an incredibly hard subject with such clarity that I am sure that I will listen to this book possibly 2 more times!!
Family father, neuroscientist, and non-fiction addict.
Contrary to widely held beliefs, doctors are mere human beings. Most doctors are driven by a passion for helping patients, but some are more curious about diseases and chose their profession because they want to explore the human body. For the latter, helping patients is just part of the job. The brutally honest author of this book seems to belong in the latter category. He is impressed by the human body as a system or a machine. Dealing with the humans inhabiting those machines is just a necessity, albeit sometimes an interesting one.
This book describes a number of meetings between the author and patients suffering from a wide spectrum of diseases/problems. Sometimes the stories have happy endings; sometimes they end in death. As a reader, you get the feeling that the author is describing his encounters with the patient exactly as they happened, without trying to romanticize or diminish any details. In doing so, he comes across as very human.
In chapter four, for example, the reader is told the story of a woman who was afflicted with Bell’s palsy. Bell’s palsy is a disease which causes paralysis of the muscles on one side of the face, causing an asymmetrical, and consequently abnormal appearance to the extent that, in this particular case, the woman's’ children became scared of her. When the author first met her, he explained that Bell’s palsy usually goes away by itself (which is true) and that she shouldn’t worry. However, in this case, it did not go away. Instead, it got worse. Even with anti-inflammatory treatment, the palsy did not go away, and the patient seems to have suffered profoundly as a result. She did not, for example, go to work for several months. The second line of treatment, which the author admits to being sub-optimal, is to paralyze the other side of the face as well, using the celebrities favorite tool - botox. This treatment worked in the sense that the patient got a more symmetrical face and people around her did no longer react badly. I guess most books would have left it here - with a happy ending due to the ingenuity of medical science, but this book is not like that. The patient eventually decided she did not want the Botox injections, in part because she felt that not being able to express emotions with facial muscles seemed to reduce emotion. Also, the patient felt it was not her face following the botox. So, the patient decided to stop the botox and then simply live with her palsy. The main reason was apparent that the inability to use facial muscles to express emotions had a dimming effect on the emotions which the patient didn’t like. I suppose the kids got used to it.
There are many other stories, focused on all parts of the body in this book. Indeed the book starts with the head, working its way down to the feet. There are fascinating descriptions of brain surgery and what happens when you apply electricity onto the brain surface of an awake patient. Going further down there is a story about an elite member of society who came in with a dire problem - having a glass ketchup bottle stuck inside his large intestine.
I usually take notes when I read the book, but for this book I just sat back and enjoyed it. All in all, if you like short stories that are often quite unpredictable. And if you are fascinated by the human body and diseases that can afflict it. Then this book is an excellent choice.
The whole story seemed like it would be great but I was bored by everything. The narrator drones on and on. The subject matter is like reading a text book. The reviews really let me down. I'm a total science geek (Chemistry and Biology degrees) and thought it would be interesting. Sorry I got this...
I really enjoyed the fabulous journey from head to toe of the human body. It was an excellent and engaging tale weaved by a doctor with such diverse experiences. The narrator was also an exemplary voice to listen to for the full tale. Highly recommend.
Honestly one of the best books I've listened to. His voice is smooth and fits the topic perfectly. Although if you are looking for a medical journal as a med student, this may not be what you want. He dives into philosophy and culture as much as medicine and anatomy. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about your body as well as how the human body has been viewed, portrayed, and treated throughout history.
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