Review – I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life

This book appears in most ‘Books of the Year, 2016’ lists. This is how I got to hear of this book and read it.
Good science books have a good balance between making the science approachable and relatable while not dumbing it down. This book checks off all these attributes. The vast range of topics covered in this book educate us on the importance of microbes on our biosphere. Ed Yong keeps the reader interested by way of his writing and his selection of stories. ‘The Selfish Gene’ made genes accessible to the public; this book does the same for microbes.
There is a lot of information in this book; most of which was new to me. Some of these
  • how microbes shape organisms (and evolution)
  • what biomes are
  • how gene transfer in microbes causes to learn from others
Ed Yong covers the history of microbial research. He charts their perception from being enemies to friends to acceptance as they are.
There are more interesting hypotheses in this book. Some of these are
  • how buttermilk helps the gut in people
  • how microbes drive digestion
  • how the lack of specific microbes causes obesity
  • how fecal transplants help people etc.
The book is well researched and Ed Yong calls out established facts versus hypotheses.
This book is a great read for people who like science and microbes. But I would not recommend this book for those starting to read science books. Instead, I would suggest starting off with Bill Bryson or Carl Sagan.