Balance (Hardcover)

A Dizzying Journey Through the Science of Our Most Delicate Sense

By Carol Svec

Chicago Review Press, 9781613734827, 288pp.

Publication Date: September 1, 2017

Other Editions of This Title:
Compact Disc (9/1/2017)
MP3 CD (9/1/2017)

List Price: 26.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.


Some low-frequency sounds—such as noise from storms or truck engines—can make you feel dizzy and nauseated. An index finger’s light touch can stop people from losing balance. You are more prone to trip when you think someone is watching you. A breakthrough in improving balance as we age might just come through the study of the Achilles tendon. A person gets “falling down drunk” due to a tiny structure in the inner ear that floats when it becomes soaked in alcohol.
These and other surprising and useful nuggets of information can be found in this lively, 360-degree exploration of our body’s most intricate, overlooked sense—balance. Readers follow award-winning science and health writer Carol Svec through various facilities as she talks with leading scientists doing state-of-the-art balance research. Svec translates their most fascinating findings for the layperson in a way that is highly entertaining and broadly accessible. She showcases the coolest gadgets used by researchers as she grills an egg in a virtual kitchen, has her senses fooled by a mannequin named Hans in a Tumbling Room, survives “the Vominator” without losing her lunch, and experiences drunken dizziness inside a police muster room. Along the way she cites case studies of people whose lives are affected by balance dysfunction; explains how balance research is being applied today to help those who are ill, elderly, disabled, or simply prone to motion sickness; and provides a glimpse at what ingenious, potentially life-changing advances may be coming down the road.

Whether you have a balance disorder or care about someone who does, are an athlete or performer whose livelihood depends on balance, or just love accessible, page-turning popular science, you’ll be enlightened and entertained by this appreciation of our complex super-sense.

About the Author

Carol Svec has a master’s degree in physiological psychology. She writes for health and wellness websites, is a regular contributing writer and editor for Bottom Line/Health newsletter, blogs for, and has been a columnist for Endurance and Brain Injury Journey magazines. A member of the National Association of Science Writers, she is the coauthor of five health and wellness books and sole author of After Any Diagnosis, which was named one of the Best Consumer Health Books of 2001 by Library Journal. She lives outside Raleigh, North Carolina.

Praise For Balance: A Dizzying Journey Through the Science of Our Most Delicate Sense

“Balance is an incredible book by one of my favorite authors. From the first chapter, I was swept up in a quirky journey that illuminates one of the most mysterious aspects of the human body. Both awe-inspiring and funny, this is science writing at its best.” —Joy Bauer, MS, RDN, health and nutrition expert for NBC’s Today show and best-selling author of From Junk Food to Joy Food


"Svec takes us on a fascinating romp through the science of balance and the mind-body connection…a well-balanced blend of science, stories, surprises and her own dizzying adventures as a guinea pig.”  —Jena Pincott, author of Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies?:  The Surprising Science of Pregnancy

“Never again will I understand the mere act of standing upright as anything less than a small miracle. Carol Svec's exploration of balance is unexpected, engaging, and ultimately enlightening.” —Samantha Dunn, author of Not By Accident: Reconstructing a Carrless Life

Balance is easily taken for granted. In this book, Carol takes you on a journey through the vestibular system to demonstrate how the inner ear works with the eyes, muscles and brain to control our ability to balance. She interviews some of the top researchers in the field and exposes herself to tests that would make your stomach flip (literally). Carol's writing is informative and funny, educational and illuminating. A great introduction to a very complicated system.” —Cynthia Ryan, Executive Director, Vestibular Disorders Association (VEDA)

“With crisp, lucid, and witty prose, Svec leads us on a kind of Odyssean journey into the secret symphony performed every second of every day between our eyes, ears, brains, nerves, joints, and even blood. Who knew ‘balance research’ could tell us so much about ourselves? I didn’t, and was bowled over by the whole thing. This is less a book about the misunderstood sense of balance and more a paean to the clever clockwork of the human body.” —James Nestor, author of DEEP: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us about Ourselves

“A comprehensive view of what we take for granted—until the devastation of no longer having it.” —Nicole Detling, owner and senior consultant with HeadStrong Consulting

“...thoroughly informative and engaging, Svec's "dizzying journey" maps a crucial, too-little understood aspect of health and well-being.” —Booklist