Book Review: Breasts – A Natural and Unnatural History

Posted On: May 29, 2018

This is a book about breasts – from the fascination about them, their development, their use (breastfeeding), menopause, breast surgery, cancer risks, male breast cancer. This book covers the academic and scientific side about breasts that you never thought to ask, and never thought you’d want to know – including the latest science from the fields of anthropology, biology, and medicine. This book is informative, educational, and fascinating.

We read of how Williams interviews different researchers, and studies her own body – including her hormones, and go on her quests alongside her, much like an expedition. arts of the book read like a story book, and one will find themselves be drawn into it not wanting to put it down.

This book is suitable for those who have breasts (man or woman), who have love-hate relationship with their breasts, or are simply curious about this part of the human body. It would give you more appreciation for the breasts, and their functionality beyond the aesthetics. This book is for especially relevant for those who work with the human psyche – nurses, doctors, breastfeeding counselors, doulas, midwives, for instance. I won’t recommend it for those who don’t like reading, and don’t like reading heady books.

I enjoyed the chapter on breast surgery the most because it delved into the history of it, what was used, what happened, and its evolution. I realized I haven’t read about it, or done any research on it previously so it was nice to read it as if in a story book/ detective novel. The side effects of breast surgery, however, are known to me. I wished that there was more mention (is there any?) about breast reduction. I wished there was mention about the risks of breastfeeding after breast surgery.

This is an award-winning book: 2012 New York Times Notable Book; 2013 Los Angeles Times Book Award Winner in the Science & Technology category. I wished that there was more mention (is there any?) about breast reduction. I wished there was mention about the risks of breastfeeding after breast surgery.

Though the information inside this book was mostly new to me, I did wonder how much has evolved since. At this day and age, though I enjoyed the book. I did begin to wish there was more of a summation at the end of each chapter – chock-a-block full of facts the book was.

The most significant thing relating to my work was what went into breastmilk. Though the student book on breastfeeding module covered how breastmilk cannot be substituted, the chapter on breastmilk really brought it home i.e. more clear how amazing it is. What this means is that I am sold – I am an advocate of breastfeeding.

The other was the agreement of how hard it is to have food that has been untouched by plastic. I’ve become quite aware of how much toxicity is in our environment, and what we are absorbing into our bodies through going about our day.

The book is a book that needs to be re-read and where I can extract the facts/ trivia/ statistics for future presentations. I had borrowed it, and needed to return it. I want to extract some of information inside as I haven’t come across them elsewhere i.e. breast milk; plastic surgery; plastic in hormones and link to cancer.

I’ve been explaining the need to be aware of what we ingest into our bodies e.g. soaps, shampoo, make-up to clients. However, I haven’t had more information to go on with clients. I am going to explore more on this so as to better educate and prepare my clients for childbirth.

About the Author

Florence Williams is a journalist and contributing editor to Outside magazine. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the New York Times Magazine, and National Geographic among others. Her first book, Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History, was a New York Times Notable Book of 2012 and the winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Science and Technology. Williams lives in Washington, DC.

About the Reviewer

Dr. Martha Tara Lee is Founder, Relationship Counselor Clinical Sexologist of Eros Coaching. She is a certified sexologist with a Doctorate in Human Sexuality. She provides sexuality and relationship coaching and counseling for individuals and couples, conducts sexual education workshops and speaks at public events. She is the author of the books Love, Sex and Everything In-Between, and Orgasmic Yoga. She is also the host of the weekly radio show Eros Evolution on OMTimes Radio. For more, visit or email

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