Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Human Body Book by Steve Parker

The Human Body Book is an illustrated reference book detailing the inner workings of the human body. It starts off with an introductory section that shows how the body works as a whole, how the systems work together and more general topics, like cells, DNA and fluids. It then goes on to the individual systems that make up the body: skeletal, muscular, nervous, endocrine, cardiovascular, respiratory, skin, hair and nails, lymph and impunity, digestive, urinary and reproductive. The book is also accompanied by an interactive DVD.

This book has become one of my new favourite reference books. I just love it. The material is fascinating and presented in a clear concise manner. The numerous images, illustrations and photographs are well labelled and annotated. It's gorgeous. If you seen and/or relied on older anatomy books, you'll be amazed by the advancements that have been made allowing this book to feature simply outstanding photographs and images of what's taking place in the human body. The stunning cover completely compliments the book. The vellum dust jacket overlays the book cover which features the upper half of the human body without skin thereby allowing the viewer to see partial sections of the different systems. It's pretty awesome.

The large format of the book makes the book a little heavy (Aren't all medical/anatomy books heavy?) for perusing. However, it's format allows for large photos and adequate font sizes making the book that much more accessible.

At the end of each system section, the book lists and explains the disorders which can occur in the system. For example, the disorders for the respiratory system include: common cold, influenza, bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, TB, and many others. I'd heard about many of the afflictions mentioned in the various sections, but didn't know much about them. I found this part of the book particularly interesting.

For me, the table of contents, glossary and index can either make or break a reference book. If I can't find items I'm interested in, the book isn't very useful. This book does it right, though. These items are exceptional and greatly enhance the material inside. The table of contents breaks the book down by systems. Further breakdowns within the sections make the items easy to access. The glossary is extensive with concise and easy to understand definitions. The index has tons of entries that make area of interest very easy to find. Well done.

The DVD-ROM makes a great companion to the book. It's awesome that it works on both a PC and a Mac. It features full body representations of the systems discussed in the book. The user is able to navigate by body by clicking on the various items which are then highlighted and labelled allowing the user to learn more about the item. The DVD also has a few striking animations that detail the processes that take place in the body. Overall, it's very cool and is a wonderful addition to the book. Despite that I do have two little complaints about it. Firstly, the DVD is really hard to remove it from its plastic sleeve. It seemed to stick to the plastic and I was really afraid that I was going to damage it before I got it out. Luckily, I didn't. Secondly, I would have loved a narration on the animations. There are sound effects, but nothing to describe what I'm seeing. If I switch to the individual frames, I read the text, but it's not really the same.

Highly recommended. For adults or older teens who are interested in how the human body does what it does.

For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit the DK Publishing Canada website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at DK Canada for this review copy.

The Human Body Book: an Illustrated Guide to its Structure, Function, and Disorders by Steve Parker, DK Publishing, ©2007. ISBN 9780756628659(Hardcover), 256p.

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