Flush: Book summary and reviews of Flush by Bryn Nelson PhD

Flush

The Remarkable Science of an Unlikely Treasure

by Bryn Nelson PhD

Flush by Bryn Nelson PhD X
Flush by Bryn Nelson PhD
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About this book

Book Summary

For readers of Giulia Enders' Gut and Bill Bryson's The Body, a surprising, witty and sparkling exploration of the teeming microbiome of possibility in human feces from microbiologist and science journalist Bryn Nelson.

The future is sh*t: the literal kind. For most of human history we've been, well, disinclined to take a closer look at our body's natural product—the complex antihero of this story—save for gleaning some prophecy of our own health. But if we were to take more than a passing look at our poop, we would spy a veritable cornucopia of possibilities. We would see potent medicine, sustainable power, and natural fertilizer to restore the world's depleted lands. We would spy a time capsule of evidence for understanding past lives and murderous ends. We would glimpse effective ways of measuring and improving human health from the cradle to the grave, early warnings of community outbreaks like Covid-19, and new means of identifying environmental harm—and then reversing it.

Flush is both an urgent exploration of the world's single most squandered natural resource, and a cri de coeur (or cri de colon?) for the vast, hidden value in our "waste." Award-winning journalist and microbiologist Bryn Nelson, PhD, leads readers through the colon and beyond with infectious enthusiasm, helping to usher in a necessary mental shift that could restore our balance with the rest of the planet and save us from ourselves. Unlocking poop's enormous potential will require us to overcome our shame and disgust and embrace our role as the producers and architects of a more circular economy in which lowly byproducts become our species' salvation. Locked within you is a medicine cabinet, a biogas pipeline, a glass of drinking water, a mound of fuel briquettes; it's time to open the doors (carefully!). A dose of medicine, a glass of water, a gallon of rocket fuel, an acre of soil: sometimes hope arrives in surprising packages.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Science journalist Nelson debuts with a beguiling look at a 'less-than-charismatic' topic: feces...Nelson has an easy hand in accessibly explaining the chemical interactions involved in upcycling waste, and is generous with enlightening anecdotes. It adds up to a convincing case that humans ought to get more comfortable with what they flush, as doing so can 'help us transition to a more circular economy in which we discard nothing and abandon the fantasy that we exist outside of ancient cycles of...growth and decay.' This is pop science done right." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"[R]emarkable... a fascinating book punctuated with humor and imbued with optimism about the future...An authoritative, informative, and entertaining book that will change the thinking about what comes out of our bodies." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Wide ranging and deeply informed, with a wry sense of humor, this is a solid recommendation for fans of Mary Roach, as well as anyone interested in out-of-the-box ideas to help fix some of our most pressing problems." - Booklist

"A book about poop? How gross, right? Actually, no, not at all -- and that's exactly the point Bryn Nelson makes in this smart, deeply researched book. The revulsion we feel toward an everyday bodily function is holding us back from a slew of imaginative and even ingenious responses to some of society's biggest problems. Can we find our way to a shittier and therefore happier future? Nelson thinks we can, and you will, too, after reading Flush." - Dan Fagin, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation

"Bryn Nelson loves nearly all things scatological, from farts to poop, input and output. In his massively-researched Flush Nelson will quickly have you rethinking everything you thought you knew about shit, manure, piss, turds, urine – whatever terms you prefer. And he'll convince you that what comes from your body, and even your physical self after death, just might save the planet. It's a hell of a journey." - Laurie Garrett, Pulitzer Prize winner writer and author of The Coming Plague and Betrayal of Trust

"With humor, insight, and intestinal fortitude, Dr. Bryn Nelson persuades us that a 'shittier future' will be happier, healthier, and wealthier. Flush is a fascinating read." - Michelle Nijhuis, author of Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life in an Age of Extinction

This information about Flush was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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More Information

Bryn Nelson, PhD, is an award-winning science writer and former microbiologist who decided he'd much rather write about microbes than experiment on them. After receiving his PhD from the University of Washington, he shifted course and completed a graduate program in science writing at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Since then, he has accumulated more than two decades of journalism experience, including seven years at the Newsday science desk where he covered genetics, stem cell research, evolution, ecology, and conservation. Nelson has written for dozens of other outlets, from the New York Times, NBCNews.com, and the Daily Beast to Nature, Mosaic, and Science News for Students.

Among his honors, Nelson has won an Association of Health Care Journalists award for larger newspapers and wire services, a New York Press Club award for best web-exclusive content, and two APEX Grand Awards for trade publication writing. In his spare time, he enjoys photography, singing, travel, and gardening in Seattle, where he lives with his husband, Geoff, and their energetic boxador, Piper.

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