Review: Anatomies: The Human Body, Its Parts and The Stories They Tell by Hugh Aldersey-Williams

Title: Anatomies: The Human Body, Its Parts and The Stories They Tell
Author: Hugh Aldersey-Williams
Publish Date: 7 February 2013
Publisher: Viking Adult
Pages: 320
Genre: non-fiction, Physiology, science, nature
Source: Spinebreakers (Penguin), finished copy

I was excited at first to read Hugh Aldersey-Williams’ take on the human body, in Anatomies, because I was interested in learning about how ideas of the body have developed our culture. For example, how the heart has become the love symbol and how we see it on such things as Milton Glaser’s ‘New York I Love You’.

I first became worried that Anatomies was going to be quite a scientific book (albeit dumbed down) when I realised that the Prologue was 19 pages long. It puts me right off when there are long introductions to books, like in Frankenstein there is a fifty page introduction to Mary Shelley’s back story. Nevertheless, I thought it would be best for me to read the Prologue of Anatomies as to know more about how this book came to be. Although, around ten pages in I quickly grew disinterest and I ended up skimming through the remaining nine pages. Luckily the following chapters of the book were less scientific and more engaging to follow.

What is good about this non-fiction book is that the parts of the human body, like the eye or the foot, have their own chapters to themselves so you don’t need to read from the beginning to the end; instead you can pick and choose the parts of the body which interest you. I read about such parts as the hand and I found out interesting information from why we hold up our pinkie when we drink from a tea cup to the inequalities faced by left-handers (of which I am one of this minority population).

I must admit that I didn’t read the whole of Anatomies as I believe it is something you need to be in the mood to read about or else the information will just seep out of your brain cells. However, I think this will be a fascinating read if you are interested in the human body, culture and if you are taking biology at school.



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