Inheritance: How Our Genes Change Our Lives—and Our Lives Change Our Genes by Sharon Moalem (Grand Central Publishing, 2014)
I've read 75 books so far in 2022, but my "to read" list just keeps getting longer. Not that I'm complaining. This one was a gift from my sister-in-law, who despite our literary tastes being very different, is very good at recognizing a book I'll probably enjoy. In this case, it helps that we are both genealogists.
Is this a critically important book to read? Probably not—at least not immediately. But it's fascinating to learn that while our inherited genes may be fixed, the expression of those genes is not, and what happens to us in life can indeed affect the genetic inheritance we pass on to our children. And with personal genome sequencing (far beyond what 23andMe has to offer) becoming more common and less expensive, I look forward—despite some privacy concerns—to the day when doctors will be able to be much more accurate in drug and dosage prescriptions, based on a patient's specific genes. It turns out that prescribed dosages tend to be based on averages, and thus sort of work, most of the time, for most people—while ranging from useless to fatal for others. Knowing a patient's specific DNA can turn that from a flashlight beam to a laser.
Inheritance will also give you even more appreciation for how "fearfully and wonderfully made" we are, how remarkable the human body is put together—and how the tiniest genetic changes can have effects ranging from unnoticeable to the hurricane that arises because of the flapping of a butterfly's wings.