Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Dirt on Clean

An Unsanitized History, by Katherine Ashenburg.

Quickie recap: Over the years, clean has meant many things to many people - to us, it means soap and water, but to others, wetting the body was to be feared and "cleaning" was "achieved" through applying oils, or raking the skin, or simply changing one's shirt. From bath houses to deodorant commercials, Ashenburg explores a topic we can all relate to (though clearly some more than others).

Quickie review: Not since Mary Roach's Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers have I been so excited over a non-fiction book. Ashenburg is precise and well-researched, but the book thrives because she injects it with lively anecdotes. Ranging from the humourous to the outrageous, The Dirt on Clean serves as a reminder as to where plagues came from, and how germ warfare continues to be waged against us even today. Reading this actually made me giddy in a way that only a finely written book can.

Quickie recommendation: You have to love a book that can entertain AND inform. They're rare gems, so when you come across one, it's your duty to tell the world. Dear world: read it!

**Check it out in the book lounge!


Lorna said...

Jay, how do you go through so many books, and still have what sounds like a more than moderately interesting life? I'm putting in a request at the OPL for The Dirt...

Jay said...

Well, Lorna, my secret is this:

When you cut out 8 hours of "useless" sleep, you can't imagine the things you'll accomplish. And personally, I often get 2 or 3 hours of sleep per night, so with just 5 extra, you can still get things like reading books straight through done in a jiff!

And when you're done reading this marvellous book, you'll be the hit of your next party. Imagine sitting around the Christmas tale regaling guests with the fact that halitosis was once grounds for divorce, and that Elizabeth I boasted that she bathed once a month "whether I need it or not."

Droog said...

Jay, you are a dynamo!

Anonymous said...

Oh my God, I loved Stiff. I shall by the Dirt on Clean right now!

kenju said...

If halitosis was still grounds for divorce, I'd be single again....LOL