By Matt Ridley
Review by Jon (Biochemistry)
I had always found genetics interesting at school; I thought it was amazing how genes could act as the instructions for life. But I didn’t realise quite how complex DNA is until I read Genome by Matt Ridley. The book covers everything on genetics from their history to determination of sexuality, giving a summary of the huge subject of genetics. Each chapter discusses a topic in an entertaining way and somehow makes some of the hardest subjects seem simple. One of my favourite things about the book is that it is packed with fun facts that I can still remember now, which in turn made me even more interested in the subject.
I found the chapter on free will particularly interesting. I had thought of DNA as making proteins for cells, but I had never thought that it would be possible for our decisions to be determined by the genetic code that we are born with. Ridley discusses the arguments in such an interesting way that I couldn’t help but read more about it. Each chapter gives such an amazing introduction to each topic that every time I read a chapter I wanted to find out more about it before continuing. This is how I found another book by Ridley, Nature via Nurture, which I would also recommend, since it is a very similar book discussing the genes vs. environment debate in a simple and fascinating way.
Genomeis a great starting point to discover which part of genetics you are most interested in, helping you know what you can read more about. This really helped me to figure out a bit more about what I would be studying and gave me something interesting to talk about in my interview.
Genome by Matt Ridley
Try checking the availability of this book at your school or local library or explore second hand bookshops and websites. You may also wish to purchase from either Amazon or Blackwell’s.