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Nonfiction November Week 3: Be the Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert

Because putting together book lists is my favorite thing – I’m really excited to be hosting this week’s topic of Nonfiction November – Be the Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert:

Three ways to join in this week! You can either share three or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).

I’m going to break the rules a little bit and offer up a list that’s a combination of Be the Expert and Become the Expert – three books all about genes and genetics.

First, the two books I’ve already read:

The Family Gene by Joselin Linder

For years, members of Joselin Linder’s family have come down with a deadly illness that doctors cannot explain. As Linder struggles to understand her own mysterious symptoms – a blocked liver, swollen legs, and a heart murmur – researchers she spoke with suggested that the illness haunting her family may actually be a private genetic mutation. In the book, Linder explores her family’s medical history, the development of gene science, and what it’s like to be a young woman with a potentially fatal mutation making choices that would affect generations to come. I was gripped by this book from the first page, and will be recommending it often.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

This book is one of my go-to recommendations for people who say they just aren’t interested in nonfiction because it is just so good. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African American woman from Baltimore, was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Without her consent, cells from her cancerous tumor were biopsied and cultured, creating the HeLa cell line. HeLa cells, which have continued to reproduce continually, are known as an “immortalized cell line,” and have been part of many of the most significant scientific breakthroughs of the last 60 years. Based on extensive research and interviews with the Lacks family, this book is a masterful exploration of the intersections of medicine, class and race in the United States.

And finally, the book I am really curious to read now:

The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Siddhartha Mukherjee is one of the best science writers out there right now. I’ve read his first book on cancer, The Emperor of All Maladies, but haven’t gotten around to his second, The Gene. In the book, Mukherjee looks to answer the big question posted by genetic science: What becomes of being human when we learn to “read” and “write” our own genetic information? Mukherjee uses the story of his own family’s struggle with mental illness to explore the science and social history of genetic science and how the things we’re learning now may play out in the real world. He digs deep into the history of genetics, and looks forward to what we know now thanks to the mapping for the human genome.

And Now It’s Your Turn

And now, since I’m the host this week, it’s your turn to share your book lists. If you’re participating this week, feel free to link up your posts to the Mr. Linky below:

Thanks again to everyone who has participated so far. And don’t forget you can join us over on Instagram for our photo challenge using the hashtag #nonficnov. If you follow the hashtag, you’ll find the list of prompts. I hope you’ll join us!

{ 32 comments… add one }
  • Sarah's Book Shelves November 13, 2017, 6:07 am

    Loved Henrietta Lacks and have heard good things about The Gene, but am SO intimidated! I’ll be linking up tomorrow!

  • Unruly Reader November 13, 2017, 6:09 am

    Great list of genetics books! I keep meaning to read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and your strong review might be the factor that makes it actually happen.

  • Kate @ booksaremyfavouriteandbest November 13, 2017, 6:21 am

    Excellent choice of subject (I almost did the same thing and had started picking my favourite genetics titles when I saw that you were focused on genetics – so I picked another favourite topic!).

    The Family Gene is on my TBR list and I’ll have to look out for Henrietta Lacks. Had I done a genetics list, I was including books by Matt Ridley (he’s written a bunch of great titles) and also Christine Kenneally’s The Invisible History of the Human Race (which is fascinating).

  • Kazen @ Always Doing November 13, 2017, 6:31 am

    Wow, The Family Gene looks amazing – an instant add to my to read list!

  • Emma November 13, 2017, 8:50 am

    oh I forgot to mention I’m the expert on France today: https://wordsandpeace.com/2017/11/13/nonfiction-november-2017-expert-on-france/

  • Kim@Time2Read November 13, 2017, 10:21 am

    I read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, but my review was not as favorable. I liked the first part of the book very much, but by the last part, I felt the book had deteriorated into a memoir about the author’s experience. She made it more about her than she did about Henrietta, at least in my opinion.
    The other 2 books sound very interesting. I’m going to add them to my list!

  • BuriedInPrint November 13, 2017, 3:33 pm

    These are great! I tend to avoid science-oriented material, but I should remember that it’s often tremendously satisfying, especially with such strong narratives styles as these authors have.

  • Anne@Headfullofbooks November 13, 2017, 5:24 pm

    I am passing on these titles to my daughter, a genetics counselor in training. Thank you. My topic of the week is mental illness: Nonfiction November-3

  • raidergirl3 November 13, 2017, 7:11 pm

    Very cool. I’ve been eyeing The Gene for a while. The Family Gene looks awesome, like a real life House mystery.
    The Seven Daughters of Eve is another book about DNA I’ve been wanting to read.

  • Eva @ The Paperback Princess November 13, 2017, 7:32 pm

    Oh Henrietta Lacks! What a story! Iv’e been terrified to read The Gene though – I have this thing about reading about illness, like I’m opening the door to bring it into my life! His book also seems so intimidating, like I’m going to spend the whole thing going “what?” Will be interesting to see what you think!

    My topic this week is definitely not as heavy!

  • Tara November 14, 2017, 4:11 am

    I just read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks at the start of Nonfiction November and absolutely loved it; I watched the HBO movie over the weekend and, while the acting was great, it left a lot to be desired. The Family Gene sounds really interesting and it’s new to me; thank you for sharing the recommendation and for hosting this week!

  • Susie | Novel Visits November 14, 2017, 7:40 am

    I took a couple of genetics classes in college and really liked them, so I need to take the time to read at least one of the books here. I might start with The family gene. It intrigues me. Thanks for hosting this week’s Nonfiction November!

  • Angela November 14, 2017, 8:50 am

    Great topic! It’s so interesting, but kind of intimidating to me! I’m not much of a science person!

  • iliana November 14, 2017, 11:50 am

    I’ve read Henrietta Lacks and though it was so fascinating. Would love to read more on a topic like this but had no clue where to go so these are great recommendations!

  • Heather November 14, 2017, 12:33 pm

    Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks was so readable. I recommend it to everyone as well. Did you see the HBO movie?

    I’ve heard Crack in Creation is also really good on CRISPR. Genes and gene editing. All fascinating. Great list.

  • Maphead November 14, 2017, 3:39 pm

    I soooo need to read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Not only do I own a copy, but it’s autographed by the author. Plus, she attended high school and community college in my hometown of Portland, Oregon so I HAVE to read it!!!

  • Novels And Nonfiction November 14, 2017, 4:42 pm

    The Gene is a good pick for someone who never studied genetics in high school or doesn’t have a general knowledge of biology. I found it more dry and less narrative than Mukherjee’s previous book, The Emperor Of All Maladies, about the history of cancer research (which btw is absolutely amazing and a must read). The Gene was also a bit basic… it reviewed parts of the history of genetics that I personally was already very familiar with.

  • CurlyGeek November 14, 2017, 10:09 pm

    These look fascinating, especially Henrietta Lacks. I don’t know much about genetics, but it would be great to learn more! Thanks for hosting this event.

  • JoAnn @ Lakeside Musing November 15, 2017, 5:41 am

    I loved Henrietta Lacks and The Gene is already on my list. Guess I need to look into The Family Gene, too.

  • jessicabookworm November 16, 2017, 1:54 pm

    This is my first year taking part and I am really enjoying it. Thank you for hosting this week 🙂

  • Lisa November 16, 2017, 10:05 pm

    Henrietta Laks is such a fascinating story and the science is so, relatively, easy to understand – I’m with you on recommending it often.

  • Brona November 17, 2017, 4:35 am

    The Gene is on my tbr pile, but I just don’t know when I will get to such a chunckster.

  • Tina Culbertson November 17, 2017, 11:14 am

    I just linked up and I hope it’s ok that I wrote about ex-Pat literature. It could be considered a memoir, I guess, but it’s specific to people moving from their country to a foreign country and the challenges.

  • Jenny @ Reading the End November 17, 2017, 8:02 pm

    Aaaaa omg I forgot it was Nonfiction November–I’m such a space cadet! I’ll have to see if I can wrap up some nonfiction reading lickety-split and still get a post up by the end of the month.

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