Friday, March 11, 2011

The Complete Human Body by Dr. Alice Roberts

The Complete Human Body is "the definitive visual guide to our anatomy, physiology, development and disorders". Using computer generated illustrations, modern technology and the latest medical research, it presents the information in a large format for easy viewing. It's divided into several sections: Integrated Body, Anatomy, How the Body Works, Life Cycle, and Diseases and Disorders.

I love this book. Simply beautiful! It's filled with large well labelled, spectacular illustrations, MRI scans, CT scans and numerous photographs along with fascinating information on the human body. "How the Body Works" section is particularly fascinating. It shows how the lungs work, how the heart works, the function of body hair, how bones grow, how we see and much more. It's really amazing.

My favourite part of the book is the section on anatomy. It takes up a good portion of the book. The illustrations in this part of the book are absolutely stunning. The section first explains the body systems (skeletal, muscular, digestive, endocrine, etc) in great detail and then splits the body into 7 sections from top to bottom. Each section is then explored through the systems within it. For example: The head and neck contains the following systems: skeletal, muscular, nervous, respiratory, cardiovascular, lymphatic and immune, digestive, endocrine; whereas the lower arm and hand contain: skeletal, muscular, nervous, cardiovascular. Some of the illustrations/photographs are larger than life which allows you to get a really good look at the subject.

The book is filled with interesting facts about the human body. Here are some of my favourites:

• 17,000 - the average number of times the human eye blinks each day
• 8.8 pounds - the weight of the skin of an average adult
• 75 trillion - the total number of cells that make up the average human body
• 10 - the number of seconds it takes food to travel from the mouth to the stomach
• An adult heart pumps an average of 15,200 pints of blood around the body every day.
• Roughly half the genes found in humans are also found in bananas.

The table of contents in the book is nicely laid out, but it's pretty basic (a list of sections; no explanations). Still, it's good enough to find the major items or sections. The glossary is really good and offers descriptions for plenty of terms used in the book. The index is extensive. At over 20 pages, it's the longest one I've seen in this type of book. I easily found all of the items I was looking for.

The interactive CD allows the users to view many of the anatomy photographs on their computer. Once a section is selected, the user can move the cursor over a label (such as Femoral Artery in the Upper Leg) upon which an arrow appears and points to that item. It's really well done. In addition, there's a user controlled Head to Toe Body Scan, which allows the user to look at particular areas of interest. Awesome! There's also a couple of annotated MRIs that are quite interesting.

My one complaint is that the book is quite heavy and a little hard to hang on to for long reading sessions. I really don't want to give up the book's generous size, which allows for large photographs, so I guess I'll have to prop it up or use a table to hold the book. Can someone just invent/make lighter paper that's still affordable and durable?

Highly recommended. This will be my new reference go-to book for all things related to the human body.

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

I'd like to thank Chris at DK Canada for this review copy.

The Complete Human Body by Dr. Alice Roberts, Dorling Kindersley (DK), ©2010. ISBN 9780756667337(Hardcover), 512p.

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