Linda Geddes
Wellcome Collection
2019 | 256pp | £14.99
ISBN 9781781258323

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In Chasing the Sun, Linda Geddes takes us on a journey of exploration into one of science’s newest areas – how the Sun affects human health.

An image showing the Chasing the Sun book cover

A science journalist with a background in cell biology, Geddes has compiled a collection of the most recent research into the effect of the Sun on humans and other mammals from the past 10 years. In this book, she covers several key areas from the effect of the sun on our body clock (or circadian rhythm) to depression, why teenagers struggle getting out of bed in the mornings, and the devastating effect of shift work on the inflammatory response. Geddes explores each section sympathetically, and in an accessible way without using too much scientific terminology unless necessary. However, all references are provided in the appendices giving the curious reader a little more information to investigate with. This combination of easy reading and robust reporting gives great strength to this work, which could so easily have been consigned to pseudoscience. It is to Geddes’ credit that she is able to discuss this important and little-understood topic while maintaining scientific rigour throughout. She conveys the importance of getting outside more. The process of re-setting our body clocks is something we risk damaging by remaining indoors under electric lighting that simply can’t compete with the Sun, even on a cloudy winter’s day.

I don’t know if it was the intention, but Geddes has persuaded me to reconnect with the Sun. I hate bright glaring light, consider myself more of a night owl than a lark, am horribly allergic to everything green and growing and have always preferred to be indoors in summer. Geddes has given me food for thought, particularly the research into social jet lag – the effect suffered by owls surrounded by larks – which struck a chord with me. Perhaps I will never be a lark, but according to Chasing the Sun there are things I can do to help myself.