I Contain Multitudes | March

The UN Youth Book Club highlights a non-fiction book every month to inspire you to read and learn more about the world. We’d love for you to participate in discussion in the comments below or on Facebook!

I Contain Multitudes
Ed Yong

I Contain Multitudes is a really fascinating look at the world of microbiology for the uninitiated. We spend so much of our lives surrounded by dettol and hand sanitiser and promises of bench spray killing 99.9% bacteria but I’ve never really had a chance to think about how bacteria actually affects our lives.The book gives an insight into the world of bacteria, and the 99% of microbes that aren’t trying to kill us. It’s an easy read full of stories of science that will make you rethink your place as a mammal in the world.

Every animal, whether human, squid, or wasp, is home to millions of bacteria and other microbes. 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.

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. Those in cows and termites digest the plants they eat. In the deep oceans, mysterious creatures without mouths or guts depend on microbes for all their energy. Bacteria provide squids with invisibility cloaks, help beetles to bring down forests, and allow worms to cause diseases that afflict millions of people.

I Contain Multitudes is the story of these extraordinary partnerships, between the creatures we are familiar with and those we are not. It reveals how we humans are disrupting these partnerships and how we might manipulate them for our own good. It will change both our view of nature and our sense of where we belong in it.


Next month:



The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Rebecca Skloot
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