I Contain Multitudes

I Contain Multitudes

The Microbes Within Us and A Grander View of Life

Book - 2016
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This book lets us peer into the world of microbes--not as germs to be eradicated, but as invaluable parts of our lives--allowing us to see how ubiquitous and vital microbes are: they sculpt our organs, defend us from disease, break down our food, educate our immune systems, guide our behavior, bombard our genomes with their genes, and grant us incredible abilities. While much of the prevailing discussion around the microbiome has focused on its implications for human health, Yong broadens this focus to the entire animal kingdom, prompting us to look at ourselves and our fellow animals in a new light: less as individuals and more as the interconnected, interdependent multitudes we are. I Contain Multitudes is the story of extraordinary partnerships between the familiar creatures of our world and those we never knew existed. It will change both our view of nature and our sense of where we belong in it--Adapted from book jacket.
Publisher: New York, NY : Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2016]
Edition: First U.S. edition
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9780062368591
Branch Call Number: 579.17 Y55i 2016
Characteristics: 357 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : color illustrations ; 24 cm


From Library Staff

This grand exploration of the world of the microbiome will change how you think about yourself and your environment forevermore.

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Mar 01, 2018

Really fascinating. This information dense, but highly readable book could be read 10 times and you would continue to get more out of it each time. It is a marvelous look at microbes and how they populate and control everything in our world. I have a new born respect for the humble bacteria. A must read for anyone interested in science and development.

JessicaGma Jan 15, 2018

An absolutely fascinating look at microbes in the world around you. It's a fantastic book and really eye opening to learn all about the various communities that live on and in you. Ed Yong has a great style, and this made several of the non fiction lists for best books of 2017. An excellent read!

Nov 05, 2017

Ed Yong’s book I Contain Multitudes was a super interesting look into the world of microbes and other tiny organisms. His descriptions of interactions between big organisms and the numerous but tiny microorganisms inside them were very well balanced. He managed to cover many wacky creatures like flatworms almost completely made of bacteria and discuss complex interactions between our immune system and the bacteria inside our body without getting bogged down in any one topic. He kept up a good pace, zooming down to the microbiome, explaining an interaction between minuscule organisms then zooming back out and showing us what familiar action this had caused in a larger setting. I would certainly recommend reading this book if you would like to get a glimpse of many of the processes that are hidden from us because of their tiny size.
-@CookieMonster of The Hamilton Public Library's Teen Review Board

SkokieStaff_Steven Oct 19, 2017

I confess to being smug about my microbiome. While I may look like a 98-pound weakling, I’m convinced my bacteria resemble tiny Charles Atlases. Thus it was in a spirit of self-congratulation that I turned to Ed Yong’s "I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life." Yong’s book is pretty bipolar as he keeps alternating between saying astonishing things about the powers of microbes and sternly warning us not to get carried away. Fecal transplants, for instance, are highly effective for certain medical conditions, but we mustn’t see them as a miracle cure, good for all that ails you. I listened to the audio and enjoyed the narrator’s British accent. I never knew how he was going to pronounce the words he read and this added an element of interest and surprise.

SFPL_danielay Sep 05, 2017

Human beings are pretty much human-shaped colonies of microbes, every surface on the planet is home to teeming hordes of bacteria and these microbes not only inhabit us but also shape our bodies and we are only just scratching the surface of what they can do. If this sounds fascinating, you should read Ed Yong's excellent book. If this sounds gross, you should definitely read his book - it will change your mind!

JCLCourtneyS Aug 24, 2017

My favorite things about this book were things that I don't necessarily find in other pop-science books, even ones that I love. First, this book readily admits that while these things that we know about microbes are super neat, we don't yet know everything and we need more data before doing much with this information. Second, the narrative encompasses much of the breadth of life, which I found a refreshing contrast to the usually human-centric nature of these types of books.

SnoIsleLib_DarrenN Aug 15, 2017

Utterly fascinating and paradigm-shifting, told with charming thoughtfulness, I Contain Multitudes will make you realize how reliant we are on microscopic life within and among us to survive and thrive. The specific medical points were a surprise, with individual health being increasingly seen as a matter of "environmental" balance and not just metaphorically. A corrective to sanitizing paranoia, this is a book to remember. I also love a natural science book with a title paying homage to poetry. Terrific!

ontherideau Mar 07, 2017

Medical science of the future

Feb 05, 2017

We are one with our ever-changing micro-biome and it is us. This book is a thorough and very readable presentation by a science journalist of the latest research on the integrated ecosystems created by bacteria and their hosts. Those expecting to read mostly about the human biome and its effect on our health will be disappointed as the book ranges across the taxonomic “tree of life" in depicting the symbiotic relationships that exist between bacteria and plants, animals, fungi, viruses and other bacteria. In fact, humans, animals, plants, etc cannot live without bacteria and vice versa, and I was left wondering whether we exist to keep bacteria alive! There are a couple of chapters on the human biome where we learn that what types of bacteria exist in our gut can influence the state of our health and the efficacy of drugs on our bodies. Biodiversity is generally good, which is why overuse of antibiotics can be harmful by causing imbalances and eliminating some species. In the future, we may take specific bacterial infusions to cure us of disease or enhance the effect of a drug. But our integrated ecosystem is complex and we still don’t know enough about how to nurture or manipulate it. This was a fascinating read and recommended as a top book by The Economist in 2016.

Dec 30, 2016

Wow what an eye opener. Our previous assumptions about health and illness have just been reworked and need serious revision. This could very well revolutionize how we are diagnosed and treated by the medical profession, not soon enough in my opinion.

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Dec 19, 2016

Veteran writer Ed Yong takes us on a journey to understand the significance of the "invisible" small microbes around us, inside us, and perhaps sometimes controlling us. He explains what researchers have learned about the human gut and the microbial life that ebbs and flows within. Well-researched and carefully written to entertain while educating.


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