NetGalley, Non-fiction

A Book That Reminded Me How Magical Our Bodies Actually Are The Remarkable Life of the Skin by Monty Lyman, ★★★★☆ 4 stars

Have you ever wondered how our skin works? I have. So I read a book about it. The Remarkable Life of the Skin taught me that the name of the book truly stands up – our skin IS remarkable. It made me feel so much reverence to the miracle that is our bodies! I need to read more books like this (any to recommend?) Here is my review – I hope it temps you to read it as well.

The Remarkable Life of the Skin: An Intimate Journey Across Our Largest Organ by Monty Lyman

Check out on Goodreads
★★★★☆ 4 stars
How I read this:
free review copy through NetGalley

There are so many things about our bodies most of us don’t really know. The way our skin works is one of them. We just take it for granted.

For example, did you know that if you have a midnight feast, you may get sunburn the next day, and it has a perfectly sound scientific explanation? Or that not only our blood has immune cells, but our skin does as well? And you certainly can’t have heard that there’s a Syrian boy in Germany who would have died because his entire body was made up of torn skin due to a genetic condition that rendered him unable produce healthy skin – and yet, he didn’t, because the scientists took a sample of it, grew it in the lab, infected it with a (good) virus that minimally changed the gene and taught the skin to grow a protein that would make it healthy, and grafted it on the boy’s entire body… Which then made the boy’s body learn to grow healthy skin. Or in other words, MAGIC.

This book is full of miracles or tidbits of curious facts like that! It’s incredibly interesting. You have to read it!

Practical Elements Of The Life Of The Skin

The Remarkable Life of the Skin is all full of trivia, as well as explanations on processes and parts of the skin, so it’s hard to give you an exact rundown of everything. But there was some very interesting information on suntan, aging and sun protection.

For example, I didn’t know that SPF is only about UVB protection, but there’s also UVA to worry about. Apparently, there is a different rating for UVA and not many people know it’s a thing at all. Also, you may want to avoid certain sunblock ingredients, such as retinyl palmitate (I’ll leave the reasons why for the author to explain in the book.) It was all very interesting and is probably going to be very useful the next time I need to pick sunblock for the summer.

There was also an interesting chapter on skin aging – why it ages, what accelerates aging and how most anti-age creams are pure snake oil salesmanship, but how some chemicals actually do work, to some extent. Those are listed in the book – so perhaps it will be interesting to those who are always looking for something effective to make their faces look younger.

Another piece of trivia and shattered myth in this book is about antiperspirants and the idea that they have a connection to breast cancer. The author says that apparently, they don’t! I don’t know about you, but I’m relieved. As a highly anxious person, I don’t know where I’d be without my antiperspirant.

The Remarkable Life of the Skin doesn't just tell you how your skin works – it also has some really useful facts about aging, UV protection and other things! Click To Tweet

Our Bodies Are Truly Magical

But we don’t just learn trivia from The Remarkable Life of the Skin. It shows you the truly magical world of how we’re built. I don’t know if you’ve ever felt this, but whenever I read medical nonfiction it always baffles me how we are made up. How could we ever come into existence? We are so complicated! (And that goes for the rest of living organisms, to be honest, not just us.)

The author tells us about all the receptors we have in our skin and how they help us not only feel, but manipulate objects and understand the world around us. And when you start thinking about it, it is truly unbelievable we are built in such a magical way. I’m sure that only scientists who try to build their own robots are acutely aware of this fact. Have you ever wondered how is it that when you pick up a glass, you don’t break it? Or when you pick up a cupcake, you don’t instantly crush it or let it fall through your fingers? All of that is due to four types of sensors in the skin and I loved how it all was explained on this book. It made me wonder at how wild the world actually is. Wow!

Our bodies and the way they work can sometimes seem like magic. Have you ever pondered about how your skin works? The Remarkable Life of the Skin will explain: Click To Tweet

The Importance Of Mental Health On Skin

The Remarkable Life of the Skin stresses especially the incredibly close relationship between the skin and the mind. One can affect the other in many ways – mental turmoil can bring about skin conditions as seen in egzema and skin irritability during stressful periods in life, and skin conditions in turn can affect your mental illness. We all know that – but we don’t know how it happens in the body, and why. These mechanisms are explained in the book and I found them particularly interesting!

It’s Not Only About The Science Of Skin

This isn’t just a book about how your skin works. The author goes farther, by also examining the social, regilious and representative role skin plays in our lives. It’s our barrier to the world, it’s a means for us to distinguish ourselves from the outside, and from others – it’s also a way to connect to our family, by likely looking a lot like them. Skin can have religious meaning, as well as help express our individuality. Our skin is in a large part the way we see and imagine ourselves in the world. I honestly never thought of it like that before I read the book.

It’s Easy To Read

The Remarkable Life of the Skin is remarkably easy to read – if from my previous statements about it you may have thought that it has a lot of medical info that may baffle you – well, it doesn’t! Medical terminology is used at a minimum, and everything is presented in easy to understand similes or examples. I really found it super easy, and even quick to read. It’s very accessible.

The Remarkable Life of the Skin is remarkably easy to read, for medical nonfiction – it will tell you all you could want to know about the way your skin works (hint: our bodies are magical.) Click To Tweet

Triggers:

Like any book that contains medical descriptions, some of them can be tough to stomach. It wasn’t a very graphic book, but I still delayed reading the bits about skin cancer. Thankfully, there was very little about it, and the info was on point and not too graphic. However, there are descriptions of other skin diseases, like Syphilis and how AIDS manifests on the skin, which may be disturbing to read. Again, not very graphic, so if you’re squeamish you can skim or just simply skip those paragraphs.

Have you read any good non-fiction about the way our bodies work? Recommend away in the comments!

The Remarkable Life of the Skin: An Intimate Journey Across Our Largest Organ by Monty Lyman

Check out on Goodreads

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D.H. Willison
Guest

Hello, and thanks for sharing! I’ll add it to my tbr. I can recommend two in return the first is “Cure: A journey into the science of mind over body,” by Jo Marchant. It’s a fascinating look at where your mind can and cannot play a role in your health, including an extensive discussion of the placebo effect. Fun fact: the placebo effect is a real effect, and in some cases works better than drugs that have been approved by various regulatory agencies. The second is called “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman. This one examines our mind and… Read more »

Anne Clarence
Guest

Wait what is this book (I feel so physically uncomfortable even just thinking about it). Is it just me or investigating and thinking of our skin aging on a microscopic level is so creepy. I’m literally getting goosebumps all of my skin XD.

Thanks Avalinah for giving me nightmares tonight haha XD.

Lydia
Guest

Ooh this sounds fascinating! Sometimes there is nothing better than picking up a random piece of non-fiction. It makes you realise how much out there you’ve never even thought about.

Laura Thomas
Guest

The skin really is a fascinating organ. I would love to read this.

Gayathri
Guest

You always find such rare underrated gems. I am on a phase of reading non fiction books and I will definitely check this one out.

Sarah @ All The Book Blog Names Are Taken
Guest

What a completely random and totally enthralling book – just my type! Added it to the TBR, thanks for bringing it to my attention!

Amy
Guest

This is so interesting! I would never think to pick up a book about skin, of all things, but I can see how it would be really intriguing. Our bodies truly are amazing, and we definitely take them for granted. Thanks for the lovely review!