Breath Taking by Michael J. Stephen [6/10]

I’ve recently read a fascinating book about breathing, so the opportunity to learn more about our lungs could not be skipped. In “Breath Taking: The Power, Fragility, and Future of Our Extraordinary Lungs” [don’t have cover image yet], pulmonologist Michael Stephen offers an expert’s perspective on the subject, stylishly presented in terms comprehensible even to this layperson. The introductory chapters on the evolution of our breathing apparatus and its structure and functionality are deftly unwound. I was especially taken with his startling (to me, remember, I’m a neophyte) explanations of the differences between human and avian lungs and breathing. The profound impact breathing, and hence our lungs, have on health and well-being is covered without fanfare. The second half of the book details the incredible sophistication of the lungs’ defence mechanisms, and the plethora of ways in which they can be breached, from smoke inhalation to lung cancer and other illnesses. The tale of cystic fibrosis is especially harrowing, both depressing and encouraging. Covid-19 even receives summary, early treatment. All in all, this is a splendid everyperson introduction and resource.

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