A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution by Jennifer A. Doudna and Samuel H. SternbergWhat it's about: CRISPR-Cas9, a genome editing technique that makes possible permanent modifications within an organism's DNA.
Why you might like it: This balanced and accessible book describes the research that led to this groundbreaking discovery and examines the potential applications (and implications) of a revolutionary new technology.
What sets it apart: Written by the scientists who discovered this "molecular machine," A Crack in Creation argues that we shouldn't use it without first addressing the serious bioethical issues involved.
The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha MukherjeeWhat it's about: Describing the concept of heredity as a form of information transmission, physician and science writer Siddhartha Mukherjee considers the gene, its long and winding road to discovery, and its future as bioengineering becomes more common.
Why you might like it: From Mendel and Darwin to the Human Genome Project, this sweeping, thought-provoking book by the Pulitzer Prize-winning, bestselling author of The Emperor of Maladies artfully explores both the scientific and cultural significance of genes.
A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Human Story Retold through Our Genes by Adam Rutherford; foreword by Siddhartha MukherjeeWhat it's about: "Geneticists have suddenly become historians," observes author Adam Rutherford, citing discoveries that have transformed our understanding of human evolution.
Contains: the (roughly) 2 million year history of the Homo genus, an accessible primer on genomics, and a discussion of what DNA can (and can't) tell us about ourselves.
About the author: Geneticist and journalist Adam Rutherford is the author of Humanimal: How Homo Sapiens Became Nature's Most Paradoxical Creature.
She Has Her Mother's Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity by Carl ZimmerWhat it is: a comprehensive yet accessible examination of heredity that "masterfully blends exciting storytelling with first-rate science reporting" (Publishers Weekly).
Why it's important: In addition to exploding common myths and misconceptions about the science of biological inheritance, science writer Carl Zimmer also discusses its (often unsavory) cultural history.
Did you know? It wasn't until the 1830s that the word "heredity" acquired its present meaning of a biological inheritance (as opposed to a material one).
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