GUT: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ

gutGIULA ENDERS

Enders has penned an engaging look at our digestive tract: mouth to end and all parts in between. Gut is readable and at times funny. “Have my new girlfriend/boyfriend and I been together long enough for farting in front of each other to be okay—and if so, is it down to me to break the ice and go first?” She has scientist’s drive to uncover the worlds hidden beneath what’s visible to the naked eye. The vast legion of microorganisms populating our guts are “the weirdest of creatures” inhabiting “the most amazing giant forest ever.” The gut’s nervous system, food intolerances, allergies, gut bacteria and even the science of bad breath are discussed. She suggests the body’s “most underrated organ” plays a greater role in our overall well being than we might have otherwise thought.” Medical diagrams show the small intestine as a sausage thing chaotically going through our belly. But it is an extraordinary work of architecture that moves so harmonically when you see it during surgery. It’s clean and smooth, like soft fabric.”

A MAN CALLED OVE

oveFREDRIK BACKMAN

Ove was born a curmudgeon. x. “Ove is fifty-nine. He drives a Saab. He’s the kind of man who points at people he doesn’t like the look of, as if they were burglars and his forefinger a policeman’s torch.” Sweet and lively Sonja became his wife and balanced his pessimism with optimism and warmth. But when she dies he is thrown into a major depression and considers suicide. But every time he tries to kill himself, a neighbour interrupts him, forcing Ove to interact with the world and think about life. Gradually we become aware that under the grumpy persona lies a heart of gold. Funny and smart Ove is a heart warming story.

Backman’s second book, My Grandmother Ask Me to Say She’s Sorry, is actually better but both are worth reading.

SIX METRES OF PAVEMENT

sixFARZANA DOCTOR

Six starts as a tragedy and ends in a heartwarming silver romance. Two decades after his daughter’s tragic death, Ismail is on the brink of alcoholism with no direction in his otherwise neat life. He is unable to reconcile and move on from his loss. A friend from the local bar convinces Ismail to first, join AA with her and second, to take a university writing class. It is at the writing class he meets a young, queer (her term) woman Fatima, who encourages him to rejoin life.”The only way to survive misfortune is to stay in motion.” Fatima was kicked out of her conservative parents’ home her when she published an article titled “Beyond Bisexual: A Queer Girl’s Take on LGBT.” Across the street, six metres of pavement, lives Celia, recently widowed and orphaned, deep in depression and living unhappily in her daughter’s home. Coming from a Portuguese background, months after her husband’s death she is still wearing only black.   Celia and Ismail can look into each other’s front windows. The combination and interaction of these three engaging characters is the foundation of the novel.

Doctor is an excellent writer. Her characters are real and alive. Well worth reading.