I can’t praise this book enough, and it’s about so much more than it appears.
The research and details that are covered in this book are breathtaking. Rob Dunn is a biologist, as well as Professor of Biology at North Carolina University, and clearly, the things that live in our homes with us are a passion of his. Not only do we learn all about the things we can see; cockroaches, ants, mice, for example, but also the things we can’t see, namely the seemingly endless kinds of bacteria that live on us, as well as around us. We learn the history of our emotions to certain living things, the reasons why we prefer some over others, and the ways they can influence not only our health, but sometimes our personality.
I had so many jaw dropping moments while reading, and I could not wait to share these revelations to anyone who would listen. I can not recommend this highly enough.
A natural history of the wilderness in our homes, from the microbes in our showers to the crickets in our basements
Even when the floors are sparkling clean and the house seems silent, our domestic domain is wild beyond imagination. In Never Home Alone, biologist Rob Dunn introduces us to the nearly 200,000 species living with us in our own homes, from the Egyptian meal moths in our cupboards and camel crickets in our basements to the lactobacillus lounging on our kitchen counters. You are not alone. Yet, as we obsess over sterilizing our homes and separating our spaces from nature, we are unwittingly cultivating an entirely new playground for evolution. These changes are reshaping the organisms that live with us -- prompting some to become more dangerous, while undermining those species that benefit our bodies or help us keep more threatening organisms at bay. No one who reads this engrossing, revelatory book will look at their homes in the same way again.
About the Author
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 the author of The Man Who Touched His Own Heart, The Wild Life of Our Bodies, and Every Living Thing, and his magazine work is published widely, including in National Geographic, Natural History, New Scientist, Scientific American, and Smithsonian. He has a PhD from the University of Connecticut and was a Fulbright Fellow. He lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.
"Utterly fascinating... a spirited romp through the vast diversity that inhabits our daily lives and how we've changed our ecosystems, often for the worse."—Washington Post
"In his fascinating new book...Mr. Dunn brings a scientist's sensibility to our domestic jungle by exploring the paradox of the modern home.... Mr. Dunn also gracefully explains, without getting bogged down in details, the technology that has allowed scientists during the past decade or so to sequence the DNA of millions of previously unknown microbes, making his book an excellent layperson's guide to cutting-edge research."—Wall Street Journal
"Chatty, informative... it's hard not to be occasionally charmed by [Dunn's] prose, as when he catalogs the arthropods with whom we share our homes... And it's hard not to share, at least a little, his awe at their diversity, even in a single household."—New York Times Book Review
"[A] fascinating and illuminating book... Dunn and his colleagues have used the concepts and techniques of community ecology to tease apart the functioning of a mostly ignored ecosystem: the human home. Their research enriches our understanding of ecosystem function, and--more grippingly--gives us insight into how our interactions with living things in the domestic habitat affect our health and well-being."—Nature
"Never Home Alone is a thumping good book that raises alarm and offers reassurance in roughly equal measure. And it is funny... What makes [it] so compelling is a sense of wonder and delight that encompasses all sorts of creatures and all sorts of science."—Los Angeles Review of Books
"Intriguing... Seen through Dunn's curious eyes, a house becomes not just a set of rooms, but a series of habitats to be explored. His writing and research lend a new appreciation of what many of us consider pests."—Science News
"If you're an insectophobe looking for a thrill, you'll love Rob Dunn's Never Home Alone, which details the thousands of species of insects and microbes that live in and around your home."—Bustle
"If you could somehow infuse the curiosity of a 6-year-old with Ph.D.-level intelligence, imagine what wondrous things you could learn. Or why not make it easier on yourself, and just read Never Home Alone. Yes, that delightful, open-minded gee-whiz is exactly what makes this book so enjoyable. Surprisingly, it's doubly so for a germophobe, an arachnophobe, or anyone who can't stand the idea of intruders. Dunn has a way of brushing fears aside so he can tell you about something that's too cool to miss, or a fact that makes you say, 'Wow!'... Science-minded readers will love this book. It's filled with things you'll want to know for the health of it. Really, for anyone who's alive, Never Home Alone is a book to share with a few million of your newest best friends."—Terri Schlichenmeyer, The Bookworm Sez columnist
"If you enjoyed I Contain Multitudes, this book should be next on your reading list. Just like Ed Yong shows readers the fascinating microorganisms all around us, Dunn opens our eyes to the minute creatures that live within the confinement of our own homes... a fascinating and entertaining read."—Read More Science
Finalist, 2020 Smart Book of the Year award—Jagiellonian University
"Crammed full of eensy-weensy tales of wonder from the insect world.... On virtually every page, readers learn about these marvels and their potential applications so the benefit of humans, all of it written with the bounce and insight of a true believer...[a] hugely important book."—Open Letters Review
"A robust, scientific defence for both microbial life and for larger creatures too often exterminated simply because they've invaded our space. While data from copious end notes support staid scientific facts from strictly controlled lab tests, an engaging writing style enlivens narratives such as those about microbes in shower heads and beetles on windowsills, transforming Dunn's latest work into a profound understanding of how all living things help in constructing and maintaining our planet's complex web of life."—Winnipeg Free Press
"A good book about niche science, which deserves to be widely read."—Sunday Times (UK)
"Over a number of years, Rob Dunn, a U.S. biologist and ecologist and his team, surveyed the species to be found in 1,000 houses from around the world. The results, revealed in this remarkable, jaw-dropping, occasionally unappetising book, are astonishing."—Daily Mail (UK)
"A lively compendium of hard science, anecdote, history, and personal memoir.... Something of a scientific raconteur, Dunn tells his story of the macro and micro biome of our homes in a colloquial...stye that makes the heavy science go down easy."—Shelf Awareness
"[An] intriguing and captivating scientific detective story...Dunn eloquently observes that many species we find in our homes have value to us."—BookPage
"Scintillating... In a time of clear-eyed assessment of the environment, Dunn is a voice of reason who should be heartily welcomed."—Booklist, starred review
"Of course we must chlorinate our water, wash our hands, get vaccinated, and so on, Dunn argues persuasively and entertainingly. But we also need to relax and cultivate biodiversity for the good of all life on Earth."—Kirkus Reviews
"An entertaining tour of the biodiversity found in one of the fastest-growing biomes: indoors... This book will be enjoyed by biologists but also general readers with an appreciation for nature."—Library Journal
"Delightfully entertaining and scientifically enlightening... [Dunn] makes a compelling case for the value of biodiversity, while also conveying the excitement of scientific investigation, demonstrating that important discoveries can be made very close to home."—Publishers Weekly
"Easy to read and accessible... Recommended."—CHOICE
"Never Home Alone is a superb guide to your own house--a place that is home to hundreds of thousands of species--a far richer habitat than even the largest backyard. This riveting and surprising book is one of those rare volumes that will make you gasp out loud on almost every page, and phone your friends to report stunning fact after stunning fact. Thank you, Rob Dunn: I love our house even more now I understand it shelters multitudes of fascinating (and mostly benevolent) living creatures."—Sy Montgomery, author of The Soul of an Octopus
"If you're looking for a guide to the teeming, tiny, tenacious creatures that share our bodies, our homes--and may one day well inherit our planet--you could not do better than this fascinating book by Rob Dunn."—Deborah Blum, author of The Poisoner's Handbook
"Rob Dunn is a brilliant explorer of the strange, mostly uncharted biology of our homes and bodies. This must-read book is full of astonishing stories, skillfully told."—David George Haskell, author of The Songs of Trees and The Forest Unseen
"If you truly want to know yourself and be amazed, get to know your ecology. This charming book shows how important and fun it is to discover the astonishing world of marvelous and unseen creatures around us. You'll never take a shower again in the same way!"—Daniel E. Lieberman, author of The Story of the Human Body
"In Never Home Alone, Rob Dunn reveals the unseen wilderness that surrounds us every day. This book will change the way you think about everything from dust to spiders to showerheads--a fascinating and highly recommended read!"—Thor Hanson, author of Buzz, Feathers, and The Triumph of Seeds
"A Brooklyn couple visiting the West told me, 'We don't do nature.' Today, I'm sending them a copy of Rob Dunn's Never Home Alone, with this note: 'Nature made you, so roll in the dirt, open the windows, get a dog. Change your showerhead, but don't kill your spiders. And read this terrific book at once.'"—Dan Flores, author of Coyote America