What’s it all about?:
Most humans contain between nine and twelve pints of blood. Here Rose George, who probably contains nine pints, tells nine different stories about the liquid that sustains us, discovering what it reveals about who we are. In Nepal, she meets girls challenging the taboos surrounding menstruation; in the Canadian prairies, she visits a controversial plasma clinic; in Wales she gets a tour of the UK’s only leech farm to learn about the vital role the creatures still play in modern surgery; and in a London hospital she accompanies a medical team revolutionising the way we treat trauma.
Nine Pints reveals the richness and wonder of the potent red fluid that courses around our bodies, unseen but miraculous.
What did I think?:
First of all, a huge thank you to Portobello Books for sending me a review copy of Nine Pints, a non-fiction book that does what it says on the tin and much more besides. I actually read this book as part of Nonfiction November and am shamefully only getting round to posting my review now as I found myself taking a rather unexpected break in December from my blog, another reason why you haven’t been seeing that many reviews from me! This book first came to my attention via my blogger buddy, Stuart from the fabulous blog Always Trust In Books and it’s also thanks to him that I managed to snag my very own copy. I’m so excited to finally be able to tell you all about it because this book could not be more “me,” even if it tried.
Rose George, author of Nine Pints: A Journey Through The Mysterious, Miraculous World Of Blood.
As a scientist working with blood as my day job, I knew I had to read Nine Pints and I was delighted to discover that what was inside was just as fascinating, insightful and informative as I could have anticipated. In fact, it completely surpassed my expectations and I discovered huge chunks of knowledge about blood, its history and the people who championed advances in science and technology that I hadn’t previously been aware of. The author focuses on a range of different topics related to blood and the format of having a variety of essay-like chapters specific to a certain subject made for a fantastic reading experience. I found myself immersed in a particular area like the use of medicinal leeches or the AIDS epidemic in Africa and was able to absorb the information given without feeling like anything was rushed or skipped over.
Rose George has such a personable writing style and the way she disseminated scientific and technical details to the reader was both clear and precise but with a wonderful entertaining quality that put me in mind of Mary Roach. I felt she really opened up the field of science to the layperson, without insulting anyone’s intelligence or assuming any prior knowledge of the reader but at the same time, never simplifying things down to the extent where you feel you’re back at school. Her engaging manner of writing meant that you never felt lectured to – you just felt you were part of the conversation WITH her and that’s such a rare quality in a writer, I take off my metaphorical hat to her.
Quick science lesson (!!) – the components of blood.
It’s true, I do have prior knowledge of this subject because of my day job however what I loved most about this book was that Rose George still managed to surprise me with exciting new portions of information and the topics she covered were so diverse and not necessarily expected for a book on the subject of blood. I especially enjoyed learning about Janet Vaughan (my new favourite lady scientist heroine) whom, amongst many other achievements, pioneered the blood donor system in Britain today. Who knows where we’d be without her? Then there were entire topics on menstruation, one following super-inventor Arunachalam Muruganantham, otherwise known as Pad Man in his fight to make appropriate and necessary sanitary protection for women in his country who were forced to resort to horrendous measures just to stem their monthly flow of blood. These specific chapters I found very affecting, especially as I hadn’t really realised how taboo menstruation still is in some countries – to the extent where women are forced to live in separate accommodation and not allowed to touch men whilst bleeding as they are thought to be contaminated.
Rose George approaches all these topics and so much more with intelligence, heart, a dry wit and sensitivity and it left me with a new-found respect for the life-giving fluid I take for granted both within my own body and the fluid I see as just a “substance,” when I work with it every day. If you’re at all interested in how our body works, how far scientific advances have come in history and sadly, how behind we are elsewhere in the world, this is definitely the book for you.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):