Never Home Alone: From Microbes to Millipedes, Camel Crickets, and Honeybees, the Natural History of Where We Live

Rob Dunn. Basic, $30 (336p) ISBN 978-1-5416-4576-9
Those who read this delightfully entertaining and scientifically enlightening book about the thousands of creatures who live alongside humans will never think about their homes in the same way again. As Dunn (Never Out of Season), an ecologist at North Carolina State University, demonstrates via his own fascinating research, houses abound with nonhuman life. When people shower, they’re covering themselves with multiple species of bacteria. Drywall is impregnated with fungi just waiting for moisture to grow and, as Dunn says, “Their patience is great.” And, of course, pets bring in additional multitudes. But, Dunn explains, the vast majority of these organisms pose no threat, and many help enormously. “Fewer than a hundred species of bacteria, viruses, and [microscopic] protists cause nearly all of the infectious illnesses in the world,” though millions of such species exist. Indeed, Dunn plausibly argues that humans are healthier when surrounded by many other species, and are “as likely to be sick from the bacteria we don’t have as from the bacteria or parasites we do.” Throughout, he makes a compelling case for the value of biodiversity, while also conveying the excitement of scientific investigation, demonstrating that important discoveries can be made very close to home. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 08/20/2018
Release date: 11/06/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 320 pages - 978-0-316-43507-9
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-1-5416-1830-5
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