• I Contain Multitudes

  • The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life
  • By: Ed Yong
  • Narrated by: Charlie Anson
  • Length: 9 hrs and 52 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (46 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Your body is teeming with tens of trillions of microbes. It's an entire world, a colony full of life. In other words, you contain multitudes. These microscopic companions sculpt our organs, protect us from diseases, guide our behaviour and bombard us with their genes. They also hold the key to understanding all life on earth.

In I Contain Multitudes, Ed Yong opens our eyes and invites us to marvel at ourselves and other animals in a new light, less as individuals and more as thriving ecosystems. We learn the invisible and wondrous science behind the corals that construct mighty reefs and the squid that create their own light shows. We see how bacteria can alter our response to cancer-fighting drugs, tune our immune system, influence our evolution and even modify our genetic make-up. And we meet the scientists who are manipulating these microscopic partners to our advantage.

In a million tiny ways, I Contain Multitudes will radically change how you think about the natural world - and how you see yourself.

©2016 Ed Yong (P)2016 Random House AudioBooks

What listeners say about I Contain Multitudes

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Wonderful, fascinating book.

A great book - a tour of the extraordinary world of microbes and the many ways that scientists are studying and using them. The audiobook is only let a bit by patchy production quality - several takes with quite different studio conditions are edited together almost at random - can be distracting. But the book itself is fantastic, not to be missed.

2 people found this helpful

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Very interesting with one small irritation…

Throughout this audiobook the narration noticeably changes. Sometimes it’s just a few words, other times it’s several sentences. The sound and intonation is markedly different and it distracted this listener from what was being said. While I understand that edits need to be made in narration, every effort should be made to match the sound quality, tone and volume etc. Sadly, this seems to have been done pretty haphazardly at times. Overall, I enjoyed this audiobook but the recording did spoil what could have been an otherwise five star review.

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Captures the excitement of scientific discovery

It brings you into the exhilarating viewpoints of scientists finding marvels in the mundane.

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very informative book and intriguing.

very informative book and intriguing. this Book made me aware of my surroundings and biomes it contains.

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Think Small.

If you have been lulled into thinking you know the world, read this and wonder.

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A science class you don't want to miss

Absolutely fascinating. Even though the science itself, as Yong explains, is still in its infancy, I'd go so far as to say it's a revelation: It has forever altered my fundamental understanding of life on this planet and, what's more, has certainly made me grasp why my gut health is kind of a biggie. That's not news, of course: functional health gurus have been peddling the gut microbiome and dysbiosis message for a while, but I was somewhere between skeptical and merely confused, until I Contain Multitudes with its wide-angle lens and telescope both trained on the subject of microbes and their hosts radically altered my perspective - quackery it ain't. Well written and well narrated, I highly recommend this book.

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  • Millymagpie
  • 09-14-16

Very enjoyable read

Any additional comments?

One of the most informative books on the microbiome, dispels some myths, challenges the new multi billion dollar probiotic / fermented food movement. This book gives a very balanced factual look at how we destroy our microbiome with the overuse of antibacterial products, western diet / lifestyle and drugs especially antibiotics. Unlike many other books I have read on the topic this book clearly states that there is no magic solutlion such as stool transplants and change in diet / lifestyle, while these may work the main point I got from reading this is that we are all different and what will work for one person will not work for another! So will I give up my kombucha and probiotics - hummm probabily not however I will not put as much faith in such supposed miracle foods and supplements.
My main takeaways:
We are all different, very different so one solution does not fit all.
Trying to recolonise your microbiome doesn't always work as fermented foods and probiotics seem to produce a temporary alteration in bacteria which can return to your original state shortly after - so don't waist your money!
Stop using antibacterial products, stop cleaning so much (excellent I say), open your windows & eat fiber!
Excellent read, interesting informative and yes this book had an impact on how I live

30 people found this helpful

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  • Lakeskip
  • 11-03-16

Really Fascinating Stuff.

Who knew we had so much going on in us! There's no way I would have got all the way through this in printed form. (Not because of the content but due to my attention span for the technical stuff being too short) but so glad I bought it as thoroughly enjoyed it, so very interesting and the narrators voice is just right. It's one of the books I'll listen to again.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Cian Hickey
  • 11-01-16

Excellent, interesting science book for anyone.

Lots of amazing information on a largely hidden world. The author makes the topic of microbes very interesting and engaging. Faultless narration.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Tony
  • 10-19-16

Excellent. A window into our fascinating world.

This is on a par with The Selfish Gene, Guns, Germs and Steel and the Vital Question as a book which adds a whole new perspective on what we are.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Wras
  • 11-17-17

They are legion and we but one environment


Everything is interlaced, all life is an exchange a compromise with other life, the macro and microscopy are one, developing and destroying in one fluid motion, changing, competing, inventing in chemical signals, in every encounter helping and infecting, colonising being colonized. this book like the life it describes has colonized my thoughts my view of the world; I have lost my singularity in a vast symbiosis that is me, and the singularity of all living things has become a universe within universes. Shaking hands has become an act of exchange, my dog is no longer one animal but a microbial ambassador made of millions of hosts.
A fantastic reality explained and exposed to brilliant ideas and possibilities; Science answering thousands of questions and creating millions more, life's mysteries augmented by including the invisible engineers and chemist within all of us animals.

A great read that needs to be repeated.

3 people found this helpful

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  • polly
  • 10-10-17

Amazingly interesting

This is a book for non specialist scientists containing many academic references and paths of research work. Essentially anyone should be able to understand it, but I found it helpful to have a copy of the hardback from the library to hand so I could reread passages I had not fully understood. I also downloaded diagrams from the net to further enable my understanding.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-24-21

a bit fluffy

There is a lot of very good science backed information in this book, but it is somewhat spoiled by the author's insistance on describing the character, appearance and surroundings of the people he has gathered his information off.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-04-18

Fascinating

Extremely well written and read. A fascinating listen. Recommend to everyone! Even if you have just a passing interest in science.

1 person found this helpful

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  • KT
  • 11-26-17

Microbes are amazing...

Brilliant, informative, well researched with some cutting edge material included, so we can look forward towards new knowledge and applications - respect to the multitudes!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Ozzie
  • 10-13-17

interesting balanced viewpoint

I like the way the author emphasises that it is early days in research and trials in this area. It is not a simple subject and there is not a simple answer. But the days of the "kill all germs" approach should be over.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Barry Thomas
  • 01-04-20

Changed my two dimensional view of microbes

Very well told and illuminating story of the microbes around us and those who study them. This book changed my view on how microbes interact with us and other organisms and the hard yakka it took to work out the subtleties of these interactions and how we can manipulate these associations to our own ends.
If I learnt nothing else it is also never underestimate the far reach and importance of Wolbachia and that they eat ‘Chowbachia’.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Miss Amy V
  • 01-22-18

Enjoyable and very interesting

A really fantastic and eye opening book, about the overall importance of bacteria and other microbes for all living things. Young discusses how new gene technologies are revealing the ways in which we are essentially controlled by our bacteria, and how to use these in the prevention of diseases and overall environmental management.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Bheema
  • 04-06-22

Truly magnificent!

An amazing cornucopia of fascinating facts, exciting viewpoints, and amusing anecdotes. Well researched and brilliantly written. One of my new favouritest favourite books!
Well narrated too, despite a few minor recording inconsistencies.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-08-21

Amazing

An amazing book full of fascinating information, well narrated and one of my favourite books so far on the microbiome.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-16-17

cool journey

amazing read so informative and interesting lots more discovery to be had in the world of microorganisms