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Riddled with Life Book Report

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Submitted By alsland16
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Riddled with Life:
Friendly Worms,
Ladybug Sex, and the
Parasites That Make Us
Who We Are
By: Marlene Zuk

Book Report By: Alex Strickland

What made me choose this book?
Growing up learning about the precedence of keeping clean and remaining germ free to prevent diseases, I was intrigued, when reading through the book list descriptions, that this was a book based solely upon the usefulness and signification of diseases and how they are really living organisms partner in this world. The odd and unique title caught my attention and after I read more into Riddled with Life I was set on learning just how diseases could possibly have a positive impact on life itself. I figured this book was enriched with so many interesting facts that
I could learn from and hopefully benefit from and after reading this book I found out that I had made the right decision! This book had me hooked beginning to end with interesting facts and concepts I had never even fathomed being true.

Synopsis of Riddled with Life
Marlene Zuk does a great job in this book describing not only how parasites are not a bad thing to live amongst and we should not be focused on the unreasonable act of destroying them but also just how much they benefit organisms human beings and flies alike. All living things benefit from parasites, they are part of what makes us who we are. However, diseases and germs are not necessarily short-term beneficial for one personally due to chronic diseases and illnesses, but the picture Zuk is aiming to create here is rather long-term benefiting the evolutionary process of life the way that it always has and always will. Most of this book is revolved around the process of sexual reproduction and aims to answer questions we may have that we have really never questioned. Zuk discusses just how sex acts as a way for parasites to attach to new host and provides a prime example of how there really is no way to escape these diseases. The way the book is laid out makes it easy for anyone to read and understand and doesn't allow for boredom.

What I have learned from this read
In order to explain to you what all I learned from this book it would require me typing all day.
Riddle of Life really made me realize how much there is that I do not know and how much there is to learn about the way life works. But I suppose that’s a pretty good description of Biology right? I think it’s impossible to truly know it all when life exists. One of the most fascinating things I learned from reading this was aspects to sex that I never thought much about. The topic of sex isn't one most people openly talk about but honestly it was fascinating reading about how it relates to these parasites and how important it is. Of course we all know sex is important to life considering it’s how life exists .. but who would have thought it could be important to the evolutionary process of parasites as well? Typically we imagine these parasites being infamous for killing their host when in reality the goal is never really to kill host at all. These parasites will do what they need to to pass on their genes and in the process host may die. However, this is not

the big picture of parasites, to kill, but rather simply so they can exist just as we do. It’s hard to even hear the word parasite without thinking bad, but they are just another part of everyday life.
What fascinated me most with this topic was how parasites can modify a hosts behavior. This was addressed highly in the final chapter of this book. While this aspect is not so much positive it is truly very interesting and could explain a lot of questions relating to psychological diseases and odd behavioral traits people obtain. It talks in the book about how insects can even have suicidal tendencies. I DID NOT KNOW THIS. This could very well be proof that suicidal thoughts can relate to a malfunction in your body. Could parasites really effect things like mood swings, depression, and in extreme cases the taking of ones life and the life of others? From my observation I would say this could defiantly be a cause to these devastating acts. There is numerous more I learned about this book from germs being a good thing to live with to the normalities and dangers of these parasites.

Relevance to Biology
This book truly shows how much there is that we do not know about the study of life. There’s so much that does on in our body that is interesting and also just plain gross. One major topic I feel like I have heard the most about in Biology this year is diseases. Germs and diseases is the topic of discussion in this book and it is really a great reference to Biology when discussing diseases because it explains why diseases are actually our “partner” and not a “foe” as Zuk describes. In life we are expected to adapt to our surrounding and while we spend so much time trying to rid our lives from these diseases there really is no escaping them. To put it into the simplest terms this is how I would explain it, there’s no way to rid our world from all diseases with the amount of germs and parasites that surround us every second of everyday, therefore, we should not be trying to hard to destroy our immune systems with excessive disinfectants. When we are exposed to germs and illnesses its building up our immune system so that when we do get sick it’s not so severe. As I researched more into this the best example Zuk and the internet provided was that of new born babies. New born babies are not supposed to be introduces to a lot of antibacterials and such when they are young because this is the time that our immunities are being built. How interesting is that? You’d think as parents you would want to keep your child germ free as possible but really this isn't so .. you're actually helping your child by not excessively washing them and disinfecting their belongings. Now this is not to say that you should not clean your child and have their animates filthy. But the antibacterial they are introduced to as new borns should be limited. This is really an interesting concept to mention when teaching about germs and diseases.

My Questions
I suppose my largest question about this book would be, if diseases are really a partner in life, where do we exceed our limit on this? Yes I now understand how diseases are prominent in living organisms but there is also no escaping the negative of germs, parasites, and diseases.
Where is it substantial to prevent diseases and when it is how far do we go without breaking up our immune system?

Yes I Would Recommend This Book
I would recommend this book to anyone who would understand it because of the fact that it holds so much information about sex, diseases, and just how life works together and evolves as a whole. The book is a fairly easy read and not only will it interest and fascinate you from beginning to end but it will also give you a whole new outlook on life itself. Some of it may be a little disturbing but deep down who doesn't find that a interesting? I know I did. Marlene does a great job at making the book a perfect balance between entertaining and extremely informative.
You will learn so much new information by reading Riddled with Life.

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