The surprising science of the creepers, crawlers, wrigglers, and runners that call our homes, home
However domesticated our houses appear, they are wild beyond imagination. Look down in the basement, up in the attic, under the floorboards, and even in the showerhead, and you'll find life everywhere. Biologist Rob Dunn and his team have done it in homes worldwide, and they found nearly 200,000 species! In Never Home Alone, Dunn introduces us to these tiny tenants and shows us how in almost every case they make our lives better, and explains why trying to eradicate the bad ones just makes our lives worse. No one who reads this engrossing, revelatory, and just plain fun book will look at their home, or the life in it, in the same way again.
Rob Dunn is a professor in the Department of Applied Ecology at North Carolina State University and in the Natural History Museum of Denmark at the University of Copenhagen. He is also the author of five books. He lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Never Home Alone: From Microbes to Millipedes, Camel Crickets, and Honeybees, the Natural History of Where We Live 4.7 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
Never Home Alone explores the variety of life that shares our living spaces with us, from microbes and fungi, to insects and other arthropods; as well as the ways in which those lifeforms are evolving. This is a well written, popular science book that shows us that the ecosystems in our homes are more diverse than we may suspect, and that most of our co-inhabitants are beneficial or benign as opposed to harmful. The author’s enthusiasm for this subject is evident as he tells readers about various interesting studies about the creatures living with us.
The author discusses such things as swabbing the International Space station (ISS) for bacteria and fungi; chronic autoimmune diseases associated with lack of microbes; microbes living in water heaters, showerheads, tap water, dry-walling; technophilic fungi that eat metal and plastics; the “uses” that our co-inhabitants may provide in terms of health and industrial applications; the evolution of pesticide resistance and the use of social spiders as non-toxic fly catchers; pets and the additional creatures they bring indoors; fermented food and bread making (Herman the yeast starter makes an appearance here); and the inoculation of beneficial microbes to prevent colonization by harmful microbes.
I found the sections that deal with microbes and fungi on the Space Stations (ISS and Mir) to be especially interesting. Dunn points out that these fungi are more successful in establishing themselves in space in terms of procreation and living out many generations, that humans have been.
I really would have loved more scientific details, but that’s just my preference. I found this book to be interesting and informative, with a chatty and informal writing style. Human houses provide living spaces and ecosystems for a myriad of organisms. After reading this book, you will never look at your home in the same way again.
8 months ago
The obsession that some people have about being hyper clean is obviously against us. And living isolated from nature is definitely not good for us. This book is an eye opener about the microscopic and invisible life that surround us constantly. Clean does not mean sterile.
More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful, very well-written look at the thousands of creatures we share our houses and lives with. Contrary to expectation, it is not at all creepy; instead, the author argues that exposure to this diversity actually keeps us healthy, and that serious problems arise when we try to sterilize our living spaces. This is one of those books that has something interesting on every page. The author also writes very good notes.
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