With the holidays upon us, what a better title to review than Never Home Alone? This ain't no Christmas movie, though. This is a great resource from perhaps the most knowledgable author on the subject matter. Instead of criminals and scary neighbors, Never Home Alone stars critters from microbes to millipedes, camel crickets, and honeybees, that share the natural history of where we live. In other words, this book is about the 200,000 critters that share our homes, ensuring we will never be truly home alone.
I read this book for several reasons. First, a good friend of mine recommended it. My friend literally wrote the book on ventilation in homes, so I took his recommendation seriously. Second, I don't talk about my profession at all, but I will say this: My real job includes making homes more healthy. This book is all about healthy homes and people, but with a twist that I have not considered until now. And last, but probably the real reason I gravitated towards and loved this book so much, is the fact that my heroes have always been scientists. My favorite authors are all scientists (E.O. Wilson, Jane Goodall), or the next best thing, science writers (David Quammen, Mary Roach, Susan Casey). The author, Rob Dunn, is a biologist and university professor with an impressive resume. I'm not sure if I should call him Doctor or Professor. I hope to meet him soon so he can tell me, but also to discuss healthy homes. Keep reading and you'll see why.
Never Home Alone tells the extraordinary stories behind the limited number of studies that have been performed on the critters that live in our homes, from bacteria to insects to rodents. Some of those studies discovered there are an average of 100 insects living in American homes. In Chapter 12, Rob Dunn estimates he and his colleagues have found roughly 200,000 species of bacteria, fungi, insects, etc., living in each one of our homes.
I learned quite a bit about bacteria and pathogens from this book. I won't give away all the details, but I want to list some of my key takeaways that will hopefully garner your interest enough to read the book.
Some of you may be thinking this sounds like an anti-vax, essential oil, hocus-pocus take on bacteria. It's not. It was written by a scientist that authored most of the research papers on critters in homes. The book is stocked full of references and studies from all over the world. The content is fascinating and intelligently written, but now that you know my profession, you may consider me biased. I certainly do! Check it out for yourself and tell me your thoughts. This book has probably influenced how I will design healthy homes and programs for the rest of my life. I need to do more research, but I expect inoculating our homes with bacteria could, someday, be as popular as taking vitamins. I highly recommend this book for anyone that lives indoors.