I Contain Multitudes

I Contain Multitudes

The Microbes Within Us and A Grander View of Life

Book - 2016
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New York Times Bestseller

New York Times Notable Book of 2016

NPR Great Read of 2016

Economist Best Books of 2016

Brain Pickings Best Science Books of 2016

Smithsonian Best Books about Science of 2016

Science Friday Best Science Book of 2016

A Mother Jones Notable Read of 2016

A Bill Gates "Gates Notes" Pick

MPR Best Books of 2016

Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books of 2016

Minnesota Star-Tribune Best of the Year

A Kirkus Best Book of the Year

A PW Best Book of the Year

Guardian Best of the Year

Times (London) Best of the Year

Joining the ranks of popular science classics like The Botany of Desire and The Selfish Gene, a groundbreaking, wondrously informative, and vastly entertaining examination of the most significant revolution in biology since Darwin--a "microbe's-eye view" of the world that reveals a marvelous, radically reconceived picture of life on earth.

Every animal, whether human, squid, or wasp, is home to millions of bacteria and other microbes. Ed Yong, whose humor is as evident as his erudition, prompts us to look at ourselves and our animal companions in a new light--less as individuals and more as the interconnected, interdependent multitudes we assuredly are.

The microbes in our bodies are part of our immune systems and protect us from disease. In the deep oceans, mysterious creatures without mouths or guts depend on microbes for all their energy. Bacteria provide squid with invisibility cloaks, help beetles to bring down forests, and allow worms to cause diseases that afflict millions of people.

Many people think of microbes as germs to be eradicated, but those that live with us--the microbiome--build our bodies, protect our health, shape our identities, and grant us incredible abilities. In this astonishing book, Ed Yong takes us on a grand tour through our microbial partners, and introduces us to the scientists on the front lines of discovery. It will change both our view of nature and our sense of where we belong in it.

Publisher: New York :, Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers,, 2016, ©2016.
Edition: First U.S. edition.
ISBN: 9780062368591
Branch Call Number: 579. 17 YON
Characteristics: 355 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : colour illustrations ; 24 cm


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Mar 20, 2019

I took a MOOC entitled Gut Check and got myself on a journey on the topic of microbiome for a few years. This is a wonderful book that is almost a page turner. I thoroughly enjoyed the author's presentation.

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.

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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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