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Never Home Alone – a review


I just finished reading Rob Dunn’s Never Home Alone. The take-home lesson? Among the very large number of organisms that live in our homes and on our bodies, from the microscopic to the visible, there are many, many good guys and a few bad guys. Once we learned about hygiene and germ theory, we tried to kill them all. Unfortunately, as we reduced the number of good guys, it gave the bad guys a better chance to take over.

Rob Dunn leads us through some concepts about the microbiome and metagenomics. His fascinating and conversational writing style makes it seem like he is writing just for you. He connects how small and off-the-wall research results have led to much wider understanding of ecology and what happens when we interfere with the microbiome or with the ecosystem. You can learn about all these topics and more in Never Home Alone.

"We need, like Antony van Leeuwenhoek, to find joy and wonder in the bacteria, fungi, and insects in our daily lives."

Sampling from archaeological homes of early humans to the International Space Station, Dunn teaches us a great deal about our own immediate surroundings from our shower head to our basements. He shows us how research is both a personal endeavour and a big collaborative project that includes not only scientists world wide, but also an engaged public to be involved in a significant way. The scientists bring their individual knowledge, skills and talents. The public, by following prescribed protocols, provide a very large and widespread sampling set.

When I first saw the title and cover of this book, I thought “didn’t I already review such a book?”. Indeed, in 2015 on this blog I wrote about Richard Jones’ book House Guests, House Pests. The only two commonalities are the colour of the cover and the use of the home as the ‘laboratory’.

I made my own extensive notes from Never Home Alone. I found myself telling friends and family what I was learning from nearly every page and chapter. I’m not going to give you a study notes review of this book, I’m encouraging you to read it for yourself.

Link of interest:
     House Guests, House Pests – a review
     You can find me on Twitter - @gwardis

Never Home Alone – a review

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