Rose George: Nine Pints

An eye-opening exploration of blood, the life-giving substance with the power of taboo, the value of diamonds and the promise of breakthrough science. Blood carries life, yet the sight of it makes people faint. It is a waste product and a commodity pricier than oil. It can save lives and transmit deadly infections. Each one of us has roughly nine pints of it, yet many don’t even know their own blood type. And for all its ubiquitousness, the few tablespoons of blood discharged by 800 million women are still regarded as taboo: menstruation is perhaps the single most demonized biological event.


Rose writes about subjects that are hidden, taboo, ignored or misunderstood. Her first book looked at what it’s really like to be a refugee: how do you wash in the jungle with no soap? What are “refugee windows”? The Big Necessity explored the modern state of sanitation, starting from the startling fact that 2.5 billion people have no toilet, and passing through how sewers function (when people throw fat, wet-wipes and motorbike parts down them); why Japan has the most advanced toilets in the world; and why diarrhea, an easily preventable condition, is the second biggest killer of children under 5, worldwide.