11 Nonfiction Books That Answer All Your Weird Questions About Your Body

by Melissa Ragsdale

Every single one of you has a human body that is fascinating, wondrous, and surprising in many ways. If you are curious about how your body actually functions and keeps you alive each and every day, you might want to read a few scientific books about the human body.

Every part of your body tells its own story — the beating of your heart, the rumble of your stomach, the flexing of your fingers. No matter what you're doing, at any given point in time, your body is doing millions of things: breathing, digesting, pumping blood, creating proteins, releasing hormones, and on and on and on. Scientists and doctors have spent millennia exploring all the different ways our bodies function, and answering that unending question of why it does the things that it does.

But you don't have to be a scientist to be intrigued by the way the human body works. After all, it's literally who you are, and there is so much to explore. From the top of your head to the tips of your toes, here are 11 books that will teach you loads about the human body and open your eyes to how miraculous it truly is:

'Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal' by Mary Roach

In Gulp, prolific science writer Mary Roach tackles the mysteries of digestion, exploring what happens in our bodies from the moment we put food in our mouths to when we finally, uh, dispose of it.

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'Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ' by Giulia Enders

Speaking of the alimentary canal, in this compelling read Giulia Enders zeroes in on an organ that does a massive amount of work: your gut. How does it interact with our brain? Why does acid reflux happen? What makes a person gluten-intolerant? Enders answers all these questions and more.

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'Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History' by Florence Williams

In this enlightening book, journalist and author Florence Williams teaches you everything you never knew about breasts — like how breasts have evolved over time and how breast milk can be used for things other than feeding babies.

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'Teeth' by Mary Otto

Oral hygiene in America is affected by classism and prejudice more than you probably realize. In this riveting book, Mary Otto explores everything that impacts what happens in Americans' mouths.

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'The Violinist's Thumb: And Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius, as Written by Our Genetic Code' by Sam Kean

This exceptional book by the author of The Disappearing Spoon explains what genes are and what can be discovered from them — like the reason why some people are exceptional violinists.

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'Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life' by Emily Nagoski

This book is a refreshing examination of the science of female sexuality. Hey, the more you know, the better you can be at giving pleasure to yourself and/or your partner.

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'Human Errors: A Panorama of Our Glitches, from Pointless Bones to Broken Genes' by Nathan H. Lents

This wildly entertaining book dives into the "mistakes" of the human body — from weak knees to the organs that have proven themselves completely unnecessary.

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'Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst' by Robert M. Sapolsky

In this book, Robert M. Sapolsky zooms in and out of each bodily system, and explains how they affect one another.

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'If Our Bodies Could Talk: A Guide to Operating and Maintaining a Human Body' by James Hamblin

If only your body came with a manual like your car did. This book began with a video series from the Atlantic, wherein James Hamblin talked with experts about the ins and outs of our body. Now, the book version seeks to answer the health questions that keep coming up, like "How much sleep do I actually need?" and "Can I 'boost' my immune system?"

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'Anatomies: A Cultural History of the Human Body' by Hugh Aldersey-Williams

This book examines the human body from a historical perspective. From ancient body art to plastic surgery, Hugh Aldersey-Williams writs about how cultures around the world have understood and interacted with the human body.

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'The Science of Kissing: What Our Lips Are Telling Us' by Sheril Kirshenbaum

You know that song, "It's in His Kiss" by Betty Everett? It's more than a bop — turns out, there's a lot happening when you kiss someone, scientifically speaking. What's really happening when you lock lips? And why did humans start kissing in the first place?

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