On Immunity by Eula Biss | Book Review


Hi everyone. I’m Rincey and this is Rincey
Reads. Today I’m going to be doing a book review on ON IMMUNITY by Eula Biss. This is
a non-fiction book that is about vaccinations. This is set up as more like a collection of
essays that covers the topics of vaccinations. This isn’t like a super deep history. Although
this book does a really good job of covering the history of vaccinations. But Eula Biss
basically uses her life and her experiences of being a mother as like a framework of talking
about vaccinations. This was probably my favorite read of February.
I found this to be super interesting, super well done. It’s a pretty short book, but I
actually took my time with this one because I think that the information in here is just
so interesting, but also very intricate. So I didn’t want to like rush through it or anything
like that. But every chapter she sort of talks about her experiences with being pregnant
and being a mother. And even just her experiences growing up cause her father was a doctor.
And using all of that to inform just sort of what her opinions were, as well as what
her opinions are about vaccinations. At least in the United States, there seems
to be this weird climate about vaccinations happening. Certain mothers or parents don’t
want to give their kids vaccinations because they believe it’ll be more harmful in the
future and we don’t have a lot of information about it and the long term effects of vaccinations.
There’s a lot of myths out there about what vaccinations do and don’t do or a lot of misconceptions
out there. And Eula Biss does a really good job of just talking about where vaccinations
came from, how they got started, what effect they have on our society and sort of like
the history of different diseases. I think she does a really good job about talking about
the positive effects of vaccinations, of course, but also covering why people would be against
vaccinations and at least explaining their side for someone like me who doesn’t really
get it. I’m not a mother, I don’t have kids, um, and I got vaccinated when I was a kid.
So I don’t necessarily always understand why mothers would choose not to vaccinate their
children. And so I feel like reading this book, I got a little bit more insight into
their perspective, which I actually really liked even though I don’t agree with them.
Whenever I don’t agree with people I kind of just want to know where they’re coming
from with their opinions. And so I feel like with this book, I was able to understand their
perspective a little bit better. Another thing that I really liked about this
book was the fact that Eula Biss takes the history of like vampires in pop culture and
literature and uses that as sort of a larger metaphor when talking about vaccinations and
diseases and our fears as society and things like that. Which I was not expecting whatsoever
when I went into this book. Like I knew it was about vaccinations and even the personal
things weren’t that surprising because that makes sense. But I think tying in vampires
was a very interesting theme to explore in this book. And again, like I said, this book
isn’t very long but she’s able to cover that very well, as well as covering the history
of vaccinations and her own personal stuff. So she’s very succinct, I suppose you could
say, but she doesn’t do it in a way that compromises the information. I think if you are someone
who is interesting in vaccinations at all, obviously pick up this book. But I think that
in general this is a really good read. I think if you like essay collections, you’ll probably
like this book. If you’re looking for some non-fiction to read and you’re not normally
a non-fiction reader, then I definitely recommend this book because I feel like it’s so readable
and so interesting that it’s not going to be boring. I think even if you’re someone
who doesn’t normally read a lot of non-fiction, this isn’t really boring. Like this isn’t
super dry medical information. The fact that she’s able to tie in her own life and her
own story and talk about the different controversies makes it super interesting. So yeah, in the
end I gave this book a 4 out of 5 stars. I think this is a really interesting book and
I definitely think this would be a good book club book pick because I think there’s a lot
to discuss and take apart and dissect. And I think talking about it with other people
would be really, really interesting. So yeah, those are my thoughts on ON IMMUNITY. If you’ve
read this book, please leave comments down below letting me know what you guys thought
of it, what you guys thought were your most interesting sections to you or the most interesting
things that you learned about vaccinations in this book. Or if you have any questions
about this book, feel free to leave that down in the comment section as well. So yeah, that’s
all I have for now and thanks for watching.

12 thoughts on “On Immunity by Eula Biss | Book Review

  1. I don't normally read nonfiction. But this book sounds like a good read. Especially since I don't know much about vaccinations. 

  2. Biss is a fantastic essayist.  I really appreciated how she brought in reasoning like the fear of the "other" and vampirism as well as good scientific research without being too jargon-y (although, full disclosure, I was reading with my red pen in hand bc I'm an epidemiologist and I was actively looking for science mistakes).

  3. Whoa, you're speaking right to me, here—I'm aiming to read more non-fiction this year, and this one sounds like a great (and highly topical) read! I just read Stiff by Mary Roach (and I think you mentioned her latest book not too long ago…?), and I really took a shine to her work. Do you typically check out science-based non-fiction? I was wondering if you had some other titles to suggest…?

  4. Woah the vampire metaphor sounds awesome! I'd be so interested to see how that plays out! And it's great that it's kind of impartial for both sides of the vaccination debate (since I'm in the same boat of you as not understanding the not vaccinating your kids thing) so this would probably be helpful.

    Sounds awesome! I'm on board! Adding it to my forever increasing TBR list! 

  5. Sounds like a very interesting read. I had my son vaccinated when he was young but I have friends who opted not to vaccinate. I'd love to hear what she has to say on the subject and the whole vampire angle seems really crazy but also kind of makes sense.

  6. I haven't read this yet, but it's been on my radar for a while. It sounds really interesting (and I wasn't aware of the vampire bit before watching this video…woah), so hopefully I'll get to it eventually. I might try the audiobook.

  7. I stopped by my public library today and there was a copy of this book on the shelf, so I checked it out.  I normally don't read a lot of nonfiction unless it is religious in nature, but after seeing your video I am am intrigued..

  8. Great Review! I must read this book now. Sounds really interesting and obviously relevant today. I am glad it shows both sides, even though I'm all about herd immunity .

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