Never home alone : from microbes to millipedes, camel crickets, and honeybees, the natural history of where we live /

A natural history of the wilderness in our homes, from the microbes in our showers to the crickets in our basements.

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Main Author: Dunn, Rob R., (Author)
Format: Book
Published:New York, NY : Basic Books, [2018]
Edition:First edition.
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Review by Choice Review

Dunn (North Carolina State Univ.) has written a book that is as much about the process and advancements of science as it is about the dynamic, microscopic life coexisting with us in our homes. The prologue sets the stage for the rest of the book by stressing that our health and well-being are strongly tied to other organisms living inside our homes, about which we know very little. Ultimately, Dunn aims to inspire awe from his readers rather than disgust and, although the information is somewhat unsettling at times, he generally accomplishes this aim by providing interesting contextualization and explanations for the information presented throughout. The volume's conversational tone makes it easy to read and accessible to a broad audience. Dunn's descriptions of his and other people's research experiences, along with the connections that are made between our knowledge about microbial communities and modern science, make this book an excellent fit for undergraduates. Summing Up: Recommended. All academic levels and general readers. --Shannon McCarragher, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Those who read this delightfully entertaining and scientifically enlightening book about the thousands of creatures who live alongside humans will never think about their homes in the same way again. As Dunn (Never Out of Season), an ecologist at North Carolina State University, demonstrates via his own fascinating research, houses abound with nonhuman life. When people shower, they're covering themselves with multiple species of bacteria. Drywall is impregnated with fungi just waiting for moisture to grow and, as Dunn says, "Their patience is great." And, of course, pets bring in additional multitudes. But, Dunn explains, the vast majority of these organisms pose no threat, and many help enormously. "Fewer than a hundred species of bacteria, viruses, and [microscopic] protists cause nearly all of the infectious illnesses in the world," though millions of such species exist. Indeed, Dunn plausibly argues that humans are healthier when surrounded by many other species, and are "as likely to be sick from the bacteria we don't have as from the bacteria or parasites we do." Throughout, he makes a compelling case for the value of biodiversity, while also conveying the excitement of scientific investigation, demonstrating that important discoveries can be made very close to home. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A paean to biodiversity by a biologist who sees salvation in cultivating life's infinite variety.Dunn (Applied Ecology/North Carolina State Univ.; Never Out of Season: How Having the Food We Want When We Want It Threatens Our Food Supply and Our Future, 2017, etc.) reports on an impressively wide variety of fascinating creatures all over the world. For example, your hot water heater is home to the same thermal-loving bacteria found in hot springs. That cricket in the basement lives a meager existence, mostly eating dead stuff. The showerhead in your bathroom is a perfect biofilm sheltering bacteria not killed by chlorination. The learning quotient is high in this fact-filled text, but there are also opportunities for learning more, since, as the author notes, specialists tend to study exotic bugs in faraway places, ignoring what is literally underfoot. Who knew that those camel crickets in the basement have gut bacteria that could devour industrial waste? Dunn estimates that there are 250,0000 species that live with us, and most are benign or beneficial. Yet we often choose to kill them, with pesticides for the cockroaches, fleas, flies, and mosquitoes, and antibiotics for disease pathogens, resulting in resistance as well as much collateral damage to other life. Our zeal for sanitation has led to an increase in allergies and asthma, manifested by an overreactive immune response known as the hygiene hypothesis, for which Dunn presents good evidence. The author also discusses pets; whatever the cat dragged in might alter readers' behavior toward their feline friends. For a change of pace, Dunn provides a chapter on the fermenting bacteria and yeasts that give us beer, wine, and foods like kimchi and sourdough bread. The surprise is that long-time preparers of these foods impart unique flavor to the products because their hands acquire some of the same fermenting species not normally found on skin.Of course we must chlorinate our water, wash our hands, get vaccinated, and so on, Dunn argues persuasively and entertainingly. But we also need to relax and cultivate biodiversity for the good of all life on Earth. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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