cover image Inheritance: How Genes Change Our Lives and Our Lives Change Our Genes

Inheritance: How Genes Change Our Lives and Our Lives Change Our Genes

Sharon Moalem, M.D. Grand Central, $28 (256p) ISBN 978-1-4555-4944-3

Geneticist and bestselling author Moalem (How Sex Works) aims to promote awareness about genes and how they function in this enjoyable read. Writing primarily in a casual tone, Moalem demonstrates an unerring instinct for picking eye-catching discoveries in gene research to write about—this instinct is both a blessing and a curse. The excitement of his prose is palpable: “From striking a ball with a tennis racket, to pinching the cheeks of a loved one, to the bouncing here, there, and everywhere joy of gummy bears, that elastic ‘snap back into shape’ action you’re feeling is all thanks to collagen.” But while the writing is never over-burdened with scientific jargon, it often lacks cautionary notes and vital information that helps to put new research in its proper context. For example, he discusses a study that found striking epigenetic changes in a bullied twin that were not apparent in the twin sibling who wasn’t bullied. Moalem overstates the significance of this finding, claiming “in no uncertain terms” what the rather small study itself says merely “supports a hypothesis,” which may mislead readers. Otherwise, however, Moalem’s book is a page-turner and will surely inspire people to get better educated about genes and genetics. (Apr.)