10% Human – Alanna Collen

I’m not well right now. I haven’t been for quite some time – my body is low-key, consistently letting me down, and we can’t quite figure out exactly how, or exactly why. So today, when I caught sight of Collen’s beautiful hardback sitting on a shelf, I flicked through the blurb and prologue, and in reading her story of hardcore antibiotics and the subsequent health mysteries she encountered, I experienced an absolute lightbulb moment.

I actually picked up the book thinking it a was a sci-fi type fiction. The interesting title – 10% Human – and the minimalist cover art caught my eye in the first instance… but this book seems so far to be a case of reality being stranger than sci-fi, with some striking similarities. Instead of made up planets, Collen leads the reader through the strange plains and terrains of the human body; instead of alien life in the stars, she introduces us to the alien colonies inside ourselves. At the time of writing, I have only reached chapter two (I was that excited to share this book!) but already the brave new world which Collen describes is completely riveting.

10-human (3)

The author’s writing style is incredibly accessible – I’m not particularly science-minded, but am following her threads easily enough. She makes the subject matter understandable without dumbing down to the point of being patronising, which as a reader I massively appreciate; there is jargon, but it is always contextualised and explained. Already, by chapter two, her narrative is patient and logical, setting the foundations clearly for the points she is trying to make. This is important, as some of these claims seem – on first glance – to be pretty wild; take the following extract from the reverse dust-jacket blurb:

Have you ever wondered why so many people are overweight? Or why nearly half of youngsters have allergies? Has it ever seemed strange that depression is so common? Or that more and more children are being diagnosed with autism?

Now, I remain to be convinced that all of society’s ills (and illnesses) can be explained by unbalanced bugs… but honestly, so far this book is only switching on more lightbulbs for me and my own health issues. I recognise that by personally identifying with the author’s introductory story, I’m more likely to listen to what she has to say, but having said that, the book is not inaccessible or boring, and with every layperson being a ‘health expert’ these days, I’m sure it will find a ready audience.

I look forward to reading the rest of this fascinating book, and working out what I think about it here as I do! If you’d like to read along with me, or just find out more, then Alanna Collen’s website with her articles and appearances etc is here.

Disclaimer: This book was a very generous gift; but I promise, I was going to buy it anyway as it had so caught my eye!


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