As you may have noticed from my Instagram account, I love fiction. It’s my go-to genre and my first love. However, I really enjoy good non-fiction as well, especially natural science or history. Lately, I want to read non-fiction most.
Browsing the science section on a recent bookstore trip, and yes, I still go into physical bookstores, I noticed I Contain Multitudes, by Ed Yong. The title jumped out at me because of it’s familiarity. I knew the book had been talked about a lot, but I couldn’t really remember anything specific anyone had said about it. I read a bit of the back cover, and decided to pick it up.
Non-fiction always takes me a bit longer to read. I seem to devour fiction at a rate which alarms those around me (the trade off is that details vanish from my memory relatively quickly after I’m done, just leaving a flavor aftertaste of story), but I can’t do the same thing with non-fiction. It just takes me longer to digest. With I Contain Multitudes, I found myself wishing for vacation—just so that I could read the damn thing already. Engaging, thoughtful, and packed full of info, I wanted to quickly inhale the entire thing in a couple sittings, instead of accidentally falling asleep to it every night.
I’m not saying the entire book riveted me (I did keep accidentally falling asleep after all), but I was always interested in the twists and turns Ed Yong took me on—from modern architecture and hospital design, to mass frog extinction, and everything in between. I even read all the footnotes.
If someone I didn’t really want to talk to asked me what I Contain Multitudes is about, I could easily say, “bacteria,” and leave it at that. That’s not wrong. But the book encompasses so much more, which gives it interest and wonder. I think you should discover what on your own. So, if you’re in a bookstore, pick it up, read the back cover, and give it a try. It’s worth it.