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Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream: A Day in the Life of Your Body Paperback – October 2, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (October 2, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547085605
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547085609
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #627,249 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Just as Michael Sims does in his planetary guide, Apollo's Fire (Reviews, June 11), science journalist Ackerman (Notes from the Shore) uses a single day as a narrative framework for examining a wide array of scientific information, but she has chosen a much more intimate subject: the human body. Starting with a 5:30 a.m. wakeup call and working through to the wee hours (with a pause for a restorative midday nap), she explains the complex details behind some of the body's most basic functions. The day is a somewhat arbitrary structure for topics that could be discussed at any time (she holds off on exercise until the late afternoon, for example), but the arrangement is never obtrusive, and Ackerman's prose is inviting. While she doesn't offer a radical new perspective on the human body, she does provide a steady stream of interesting information on things like the tiny hair cells inside the cochlea that enable us to hear even the briefest of noises, and the aphrodisiac allure for women of the odor of men's underarm sweat. All in all, Ackerman offers an pleasant day's diversion. (Oct. 2)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

When are we the most mentally alert? What makes us feel hungry? A skilled and personable science journalist, Ackerman has hit her stride in her third book, a virtual full-body scan conducted over the course of 24 hours. With informational exactitude and conversational casualness, Ackerman summarizes and contemplates the latest findings regarding body processes and life habits. Beginning with our grogginess upon awaking and moving through a typically demanding day and night of too little sleep, Ackerman explains the mechanics and significance of the body's inner clock, why touch is essential to our well-being, and how those billions of microbes we host, weighing an estimated two pounds, help us digest food. Stress is Ackerman's most compelling subject: what it is exactly, what havoc it wreaks, and how to control it. As she touts the benefits of exercise, music, companionship, and laughter, which she describes as "stress therapy rooted in ancient neural threads of joy," one can't help but note that scientific breakthroughs are proving the veracity of age-old adages about how to live right. Seaman, Donna --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Ms. Ackerman writes like an angel.
ann kern
The author depicts things in a wonderfully direct and often personal manner that really makes it easy for the reader to relate.
KWDC
Some people really do get fatter than others on the same donut - and they can thank their gut microbes.
Lynn Harnett

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By G. M. Arnold VINE VOICE on October 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I suspect that most of us assemble an ad hoc model of how bodies work when we are children, and then forget about the subject until things go wrong or major stories hit the news. Recent advances in genetics, endocrine analysis, imaging, and so forth mean that much of what we learned is probably wrong, or at least woefully inadequate. Ackerman's book provides a nice survey of the state of the art, mixing the simply fascinating (e.g. the way temperature affects our tastebuds) with the extremely practical (many medical tests, including simple observations like temperature, vary so much over the day that it makes sense to timestamp them). One of my favourites: why do sick people always seem impatient with their caregivers? It turns out that if you have a fever, your sense of the passage of time is substantially compressed.

One reviewer was ticked off by the first person style, which I found weird: should Ackerman have concocted an artificially neutral, PC persona? I don't think so. She quotes Thoreau: "I should not talk so much about myself if there were anybody else whom I knew as well", and the book is better for it.

I do, however, wish that in the Acknowledgments she had credited the title of the book to King Crimson: [...] . Also, it would be nice if she or her publisher had put up a website with links to the various research papers and authors that she cites. Paper end-notes don't really cut it any more.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Leslie on November 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As a psychiatrist with a special interest in sleep and wake disorders, I thought I wouldn't learn anything new in "Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream". Was I wrong?

Absolutely, this is a book that we all should read. Ms Ackerman talks about bodily functions that we never think about - with elegance and wit. Her literature citations are up-to-date and relevant. Even those with a Y chromosome will appreciate the beauty in her prose (except Mr. Reid).

I strongly recommend this book to the lay public and health professionals alike.
LPL
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Laura Delano on October 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
All I did was read the prologue of this book and I was hooked. I decided to take a "sick day" so I could read it without interruption. It is written with great wit, style, and is a veritable page-turner. I work in Health Services and I am going to highly recommend this book to all my clients. It is informative, fascinating and fun. I am going to give it to everyone on my list for Christmas!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Steve Reina VINE VOICE on October 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is one many great recent 200 page or so science books which are helpful at introducing the subjects they discuss.

In this case, the subjects treated are sex, food consumption, and sleep and dreams.

With reference to the sexual issues, those who find their curiosity peaked by the issues in this book would be well advised to do follow up reading with such books as Dr. Helen Fisher's Why We Love as well as Matt Ridley's The Red Queen and Jared Diamond's Why is Sex Fun?

As it relates to the sleep research could follow this book up with Andrea Rock's very excellent Mind At Night which follows up some of the points made in this book concerning the essential nature of sleep.

As it relates to food consumption this book was a great primer and for me opened up new vistas of thought about what I had previously thought was just a mundane issue...eating and drinking.

But in the end I guess that's the function of great science writing to make us see the wonder in even supposedly ordinary things.

Or as Confucious once said: "Ordinary thinkers only see the wonder in great things but great thinkers see the wonder in even the ordinary."
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Michael Sims on November 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I've been reading Jennifer Ackerman's work for more than a decade, since I ran across her insightful and beautifully written first book, NOTES FROM THE SHORE. I keep it on my shelf that holds Annie Dillard's PILGRIM AT TINKER CREEK and Thoreau's WALDEN and Henry Beston's THE OUTERMOST HOUSE. Her freshman access to my club of household gods meant that from the first I thought that Ackerman had style and a voice and staying power. Immediately I knew that I would have to watch the rest of her work evolving over the years.

Her natural history of heredity, CHANCE IN THE HOUSE OF FATE, proved that she could handle larger thematic approaches as beautifully as she wrote first-person anecdotal natural history.

In her latest book, she merges the two, creating a larger thematic overview of a day on earth in personal, up-close terms that make all the science relevant to everyday life. In SEX SLEEP EAT DRINK DREAM, Ackerman marshals an impressive amount of research, keeps it relevant and part of the narrative that we relive every day, and does all this work for us in an elegant, lucid voice. As someone who loves good writing about nature and science, but who picks up and puts down a lot of science books, I have to ask, "What more do you want from a writer?"

To respond to the cosmos with a sense of its mystery, to use the tools and discoveries of science to launch a meditation on meaning and significance, is to rise above ordinary science writing and create literature. That some science nerds will complain about the art may itself be a testament to the art.
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