I finished a book last night, and now I’ve got a blog that I need to generate content for I thought that I should post a review. No one wants to read endless updates about how I’ve nearly finished another draft of my novel but have thought of 15 new things I need to go back and edit, do they?
(Although, on that note, I won’t finish the current draft by tomorrow – which was always an ambitious target. Should be done my mid-December though, which might keep me on track for a beta-readable version to be done by Jan 1st)
So here we go, the first in an occasional series of book reviews. I’ll probably only review the books I like because I’m conscious that slating other people’s work isn’t a great look for someone who aspires to be a writer themselves.
A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Stories in Our Genes – by Adam Rutherford
How did I come to be reading it?
This was published in 2016 and I seem to have bought it in the summer of 2017. I feel like I read a recommendation on Twitter (possibly from Brian Cox, who I definitely follow and has a quote on the front) and that’s why it went on the tbr pile… but that might not be true, it’s possible that my wife bought it and I just found it in the Kindle library. Regardless, last month I wasn’t reading any non-fiction and fancied something different one evening so I started this.
What’s it about?
In a word, DNA. Except that’s three words. It’s an interesting exploration of genes and inheritance and heritability (and how those are different things) that was frequently surprising and illuminating. It has interesting things to say on the scientific invalidity of racial classification for which it is worth reading on its own, but there’s also lots of stuff about evolution, the concept of family trees and how they aren’t trees, and the Human Genome Project and what we have (and haven’t learned) from analysing our genes.
What did I think of it?
I enjoyed it, to the point where I had to stop reading the other book I was simultaneously reading because I wanted to finish this one. Some reviews criticise the author’s tendency to go off on tangents, but I didn’t mind that at all as they were generally interesting tangents that were skilfully brought back to the main point having taught you something extra on the way. Anyway, without the tangents there would have been no discussion of the X-Men which would have been a shame. It’s easy to read, without feeling like you’re glossing over the complexities of the subject. In fact the complexities of the subject (and the temptation to simplify it to the point of being misleading) is one of the key things I took away. Also, I no longer think it would be interesting to get one of those DNA ancestry tests, so it’s saved me some money as well.
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