I enjoyed this lighthearted insider's guide to germs called The Invisible Kingdom: From the Tips of Our Fingers to the Tops of Our Trash, Inside the Curious World of Microbes
Author Idan Ben-Barak describes microbes that live in hotter-that-boiling-temperature water, inside rocks, and in and on your body (you've got between two to four pounds of microbes hitching a ride with you). He explains how diseases are transmitted, why germs make us sick, and why the cure for a cold is a long way off ("the common cold is not really a disease. It is a general name for a collection of symptoms that can be caused by over a hundred types of viruses from several different families.")
I'd love to shrink down to microscopic size to see some of the odd lifeforms described in this book. Pilobolus crystallinus is a fungus that lives in cowpatties and propagates by turning into a water cannon to shoot spores onto nearby grass, so cows will eat them and crap them out someplace else. Myxococcus xanthus uses a pushing-motor and a pulling-motor to move over soil. And Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus, which preys on other bacteria, rams into its quarry to kill it, then uses the materials to produce offspring.
I was glad the book was under 200 pages, but it left me hoping Ben-Barak will write a follow up book about microbes that drills a little deeper in a specific topic, such as antibiotics and disease resistance.
The Invisible Kingdom: From the Tips of Our Fingers to the Tops of Our Trash, Inside the Curious World of Microbes
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