The best books about the human body to deepen your appreciation of your own meat sack

Who am I?

People, including me, can be so uptight about their bodies. Early on in my career, I found that writing about my shame (chin hair!) or embarrassment (dogs sniffing my crotch!) helped the stigma go away. Researching and learning about how amazing our bodies are helped empower me to feel confident and comfortable being fully myself. I think it can do the same for others, too. My takeaway: There is greatness in our grossness. 

I wrote...

Gross Anatomy: Dispatches from the Front

By Mara Altman,

Book cover of Gross Anatomy: Dispatches from the Front

What is my book about?

Mara Altman's volatile and apprehensive relationship with her body has led her to wonder about a lot of stuff over the years. Like, who decided that women shouldn't have body hair? And how sweaty is too sweaty? Also, why is breast cleavage sexy but camel toe revolting? Isn't it all just cleavage? These questions and others like them have led to the comforting and sometimes smelly revelations that constitute Gross Anatomy, an essay collection about what it's like to operate the bags of meat we call our bodies. 

Divided into two sections, "The Top Half" and "The Bottom Half", with cartoons scattered throughout, Altman's book takes the listener on a wild and relatable journey from head to toe - as she attempts to strike up a peace accord with our grody bits. 
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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History

Why did I love this book?

This book exploded my beliefs about breasts all that they are and all that they’ve been through and where they are headed next. Williams is a fabulous guide, taking the reader on an adventure as she uncovers the anatomy and evolution of the breast, and even the pollutants found inside her own breastmilk. Knowing the vulnerabilities – and history! – of my rack made me appreciate it all the more. 

By Florence Williams,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Breasts as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Did you know that breast milk contains substances similar to cannabis? Or that it's sold on the Internet for 262 times the price of oil? Feted and fetishized, the breast is an evolutionary masterpiece. But in the modern world, the breast is changing. Breasts are getting bigger, arriving earlier, and attracting newfangled chemicals. Increasingly, the odds are stacked against us in the struggle with breast cancer, even among men. What makes breasts so mercurial-and so vulnerable?

In this informative and highly entertaining account, intrepid science reporter Florence Williams sets out to uncover the latest scientific findings from the fields of…

Book cover of Woman: An Intimate Geography

Why did I love this book?

Angier is probably the most poetic, yet fun science writer around. She could even make the anatomy of a rug sound fascinating, so it is with a subject such as the woman’s body that she was able to truly soar. It’s a science book that you won’t be able to put down. I read it all in one day while belly flopped over my bed. Interpreting female body facts through a feminist lens – I mean, 8,000 nerve endings in the clitoris! Tell me more about that! 

By Natalie Angier,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Woman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book brings to the understanding of the female body the talents of one of the most gifted science writers in English. Beginning with the egg & ending with the love of the female body is the template in this witty, searching, gleefully opinionated book. 'The idea of the body as a package of discrete organs, each operating independently of one another, is fast becoming outmoded & nearly useless. In fact, the interactions between organ systems are what count; they make us who we are,' says Angier. These interactions have stories to tell about the sources of aggression & sexuality,…

Heart: A History

By Sandeep Jauhar,

Book cover of Heart: A History

Why did I love this book?

The amount of blood that passes through a human heart every week is enough to fill a swimming pool. That and facts like it saturate this book about our most essential organ, the heart. Jauhar weaves a dynamic science-based narrative with personal accounts that infuses the reader with love and reverence for the body part, the medical personnel, and the innovations that keep us all pumping.  

By Sandeep Jauhar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Heart as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Jauhar weaves his own personal and family story into his history of the heart...very effectively... This gives a certain dramatic tension to the book, as it tells the fascinating and rather wonderful history of cardiology.'

-Henry Marsh, New Statesman

A Mail on Sunday Book of the Year

The heart lies at the centre of life. For cardiologist Sandeep Jauhar it is an obsession.

In this fascinating history he interweaves gripping scenes from the operating theatre with the moving tale of his family's history of heart problems - from the death of his grandfather to the ominous signs of how he…

Book cover of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Why did I love this book?

In Roach’s macabre yet delightful book, we learn about the usefulness of the human meat sack after its typical expiration date. It’s heartening to think that we can keep contributing to society even postmortem and to learn about the many strides science has taken due to body donation. This read is certified gross, funny, enlightening, and weird. 

By Mary Roach,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Stiff as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For two thousand years, cadavers - some willingly, some unwittingly - have been involved in science's boldest strides and weirdest undertakings. They've tested France's first guillotines, ridden the NASA Space Shuttle, been crucified in a Parisian laboratory to test the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, and helped solve the mystery of TWA Flight 800. For every new surgical procedure, from heart transplants to gender confirmation surgery, cadavers have helped make history in their quiet way. "Delightful-though never disrespectful" (Les Simpson, Time Out New York), Stiff investigates the strange lives of our bodies postmortem and answers the question: What should…

Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body's Most Underrated Organ

By Giulia Enders, Jill Enders (illustrator),

Book cover of Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body's Most Underrated Organ

Why did I love this book?

I don’t know about you, but I always want to know more about my poop and orifices and this book delivered on both desires. It’s got something for everyone – sphincters, intestines, microbiome, a discussion on the best positions for defecation. Enders is a real gut aficionado and I felt her enthusiasm rub right off on me. More guts is what I say! 

By Giulia Enders, Jill Enders (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Gut as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


“Everything you ever wanted to know about the gut (and then some).”

Discover the secrets of your digestive system—and how to hone a healthy gut—plus new research on the mind-gut connection.

With quirky charm, science star and medical doctor Giulia Enders explains the gut’s magic, answering questions like: What’s really up with gluten and lactose intolerance? How does the gut affect obesity? What's the connection between our microbiome and mental health? Why does acid reflux happen? In this revised edition of her beloved bestseller, Enders includes a new section on the brain-gut connection,…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in differences between sexes, the gastrointestinal tract, and the differences between men and women?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about differences between sexes, the gastrointestinal tract, and the differences between men and women.

Differences Between Sexes Explore 16 books about differences between sexes
The Gastrointestinal Tract Explore 6 books about the gastrointestinal tract
The Differences Between Men And Women Explore 9 books about the differences between men and women

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like A Gentleman in Moscow, Being Mortal, and The Blue Zones if you like this list.