Adventures in Human Being
Review by Paul Fiander
Written by: Gavin Francis
Narrated by: Thomas Judd
Length: 5 hrs and 46 mins
Publisher: Audible Studios
When it comes to complexity the human body ranks up there at almost the top of the pile. The amount of gubbings we have stuffed within our skin and skeleton shell is amazing to say the least. Doctor Gavin Francis has been on the hot end of this remarkable machine within a remarkable scope of roles throughout his professional career. From a regular GP to a medical officer for the British Antarctic Expedition his knowledge base is varied, so has his access to human beings and all the ailments that can affect them. Using this he has created a book that could have been a dry textbook like affair but by adding a highly accessible concoction of quotes, metaphors and anecdotes instead we have a fun guided tour of the engine that carries us all.
The title is actually structured like an anatomical textbook, beginning with a description of the head and working its way down to the feet. This systematic approach mashes each chapter feel distinct and even those without medical knowledge should not feel lost. One small tip which I received from an Anatomy lecturer when I first started studying was “the great thing about Anatomy is you can always cheat! Just put your hands on the body part you are thinking about and it's like a textbook you ashtrays have with you”. I can recommend this while listen as it does help to be able visualise the subject matter in the absence of pictures or illustrations.
Never before have I read a book on this subject that happily floated from descriptions of riding a bike to quotations from the Iliad to an anecdote of the last days of a Cancer patient. At times this mixture can feel a little disassociated to the plight of the human beings involved this may be due to both the writing and the narration by Thomas Judd. Not that the performance by Judd is bad but this is not his experience also we have to mention this is a book by a doctor who as a matter of course have to learn to be guarded or risk being emotionally destroyed in the course of their jobs. To this end there are moments where you will feel a pang of emotion to the stories that you hear. This is a good thing as although names have been altered (due to patient confidentiality) the information contained is a true account of the author's experience. Not all the anecdotes have a happy telling so be warned.
Whether you have a desire to learn more about the body and medical profession or just want a book that is entertaining then Adventures in Human Being is a great title. It's mix of analytical and personal information make for a captivating if at times uncomfortable read.
Review copy and Imagery courtesy of Publisher