40 books like The Genome War

By James Shreeve,

Here are 40 books that The Genome War fans have personally recommended if you like The Genome War. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race

Steve Vigdor Author Of Signatures of the Artist: The Vital Imperfections That Make Our Universe Habitable

From my list on science that should inform public policy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been passionate about science as a way of learning how nature works and approaching truth since I was a pre-teen. After five decades of basic research, teaching, and management in physics, I can distinguish good science from pseudoscience even beyond my own areas of expertise. I am greatly disturbed by attempts to undermine science in public policy-making when its findings conflict with ideology, religious beliefs, or business bottom lines. My passion project, via my blog debunkingdenial.com, is to explain to teachers and the public the underlying science and the flaws in science denial across a wide range of topics at the interface with public policy. 

Steve's book list on science that should inform public policy

Steve Vigdor Why did Steve love this book?

I love this book because it turns the most impactful science discovery of the 21st century–CRISPR gene editing–into a page-turner. Isaacson combines a biography of Jennifer Doudna, who shared the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Emmanuelle Charpentier, with lucid accounts of the science and sequence of research breakthroughs that underlie CRISPR editing, as well as the intrigues and jockeying among powerful scientists and personalities vying for prizes and patents on the technology.

I came through this book to appreciate the enormous potential of CRISPR gene editing for good (curing hereditary diseases) and not-so-good (designer babies or, in the words of Vladimir Putin, “a soldier, an individual who can fight without fear or compassion, mercy or pain”). CRISPR promises to make human selection as important as natural selection in the evolution of many species, including humans.

By Walter Isaacson,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked The Code Breaker as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The best-selling author of Leonardo da Vinci and Steve Jobs returns.

In 2012, Nobel Prize winning scientist Jennifer Doudna hit upon an invention that will transform the future of the human race: an easy-to-use tool that can edit DNA.

Known as CRISPR, it opened a brave new world of medical miracles and moral questions. It has already been deployed to cure deadly diseases, fight the coronavirus pandemic of 2020, and make inheritable changes in the genes of babies.

But what does that mean for humanity? Should we be hacking our own DNA to make us less susceptible to disease? Should…


Book cover of Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters

Jorge L. Contreras Author Of The Genome Defense: Inside the Epic Legal Battle to Determine Who Owns Your DNA

From my list on genetics for the general reader.

Why am I passionate about this?

Though my undergraduate degrees are in electrical engineering and English, I have always been fascinated by the natural world. When I was a kid, my mother -- herself a mainframe computer programmer who loved her college biology courses -- bought me a microscope. I used it to peer at everything from the microscopic inhabitants of the canal behind our South Florida home to the onions and celery that we were having with lunch. Now I’m a law professor, but in addition to patents and property, I also teach about genetics and medical ethics. I think it’s really important that we all understand something about how the world works, how the law regulates it, and how we can try to change those aspects of it that aren’t working well.

Jorge's book list on genetics for the general reader

Jorge L. Contreras Why did Jorge love this book?

It is hard to believe that Matt Ridley’s grand tour of the human genome was published back in 1999. Yet even today, more than two decades later, Ridley’s engaging, chromosome by chromosome investigation of our genetic make-up remains a marvel that has never been equaled. From the genes that enable the most basic chemical processes in our cells to those that determine our height and eye color, the mysterious “junk DNA” that lives between our genes, and speculation about the ways that genes affect personality, behavior, and society, Ridley brings science to life in this engaging and timeless book.

By Matt Ridley,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Genome as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The most important investigation of genetic science since The Selfish Gene, from the author of the critically acclaimed and best-selling The Red Queen and The Origins of Virtue.

The genome is our 100,000 or so genes. The genome is the collective recipe for the building and running of the human body. These 100,000 genes are sited across 23 pairs of chromosomes. Genome, a book of about 100,000 words, is divided into 23 chapters, a chapter for each chromosome. The first chromosome, for example, contains our oldest genes, genes which we have in common with plants.

By looking at our genes…


Book cover of Dear Data

Roger Highfield Author Of The Dance of Life: Symmetry, Cells and How We Become Human

From my list on what big data is and how it impacts us.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the Science Director of the Science Museum Group, based at the Science Museum in London, and visiting professor at the Dunn School, University of Oxford, and Department of Chemistry, University College London. Every time I write a book I swear that it will be my last and yet I'm now working on my ninth, after earlier forays into the physics of Christmas and the love life of Albert Einstein. Working with Peter Coveney of UCL, we're exploring ideas about computation and complexity we tackled in our two earlier books, along with the revolutionary implications of creating digital twins of people from the colossal amount of patient data now flowing from labs worldwide.

Roger's book list on what big data is and how it impacts us

Roger Highfield Why did Roger love this book?

Over a single year, Giorgia Lupi, an Italian living in New York, and Stefanie Posavec, an American in London, exchanged hand-drawn postcards to chart the granular details of their lives using clusters, plots, and graphs. We featured the outpourings of these talented “information designers” in a 2016 Science Museum exhibition on big data and these striking images, in turn, paved the way for their book, Dear Data, which provides a remarkable portrait of these artists. An intimate and human take on big data that invites us all to ponder how to represent our own lives.   

By Giorgia Lupi, Stefanie Posavec,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Dear Data as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From an award-winning project comes an inspiring, collaborative book that makes data artistic, personal - and open to all

Each week for a year, Giorgia and Stefanie sent each other a postcard describing what had happened to them during that week around a particular theme. But they didn't write it, they drew it: a week of smiling, a week of apologies, a week of desires.

Presenting their fifty-two cards, along with thoughts and ideas about the data-drawing process, Dear Data hopes to inspire you to draw, slow down and make connections with other people, to see the world through a…


Book cover of The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA

John Staddon Author Of The New Behaviorism: Foundations of Behavioral Science

From my list on how science works, fails to work and pretends to work.

Why am I passionate about this?

John Staddon is James B. Duke Professor of Psychology, and Professor of Biology emeritus. He got his PhD at Harvard and has an honorary doctorate from the Université Charles de Gaulle, Lille 3, France. His research is on the evolution and mechanisms of learning in humans and animals, the history and philosophy of psychology and biology, and the social-policy implications of science. He's the author of over 200 research papers and five books including Adaptive Behavior and Learning, The New Behaviorism: Foundations of behavioral science, 3rd edition, Unlucky Strike: Private health and the science, law and politics of smoking, 2nd edition and Science in an age of unreason.  

John's book list on how science works, fails to work and pretends to work

John Staddon Why did John love this book?

James Watson was a clever, pushy, and critical young American molecular biologist exposed to the scientific culture of Britain in the early 1950s.

The book is full of acerbic comments about “stuffy” Cambridge dons and the rules of etiquette that young Jim struggled with, all the while scheming to maintain the various fellowships that allowed him to remain in the UK and pursue his ambition: to understand the chemical nature of the genetic material, DNA.

The book provides a lively account of his collaboration with an older Brit, the brilliant Francis Crick, who was also trying to unscramble DNA. Much of the technical stuff will be incomprehensible to most, but the method the two followed is clear. The partnership was hugely fruitful and the book is a lively account of how science actually works.

Watson and Crick tried everything while coping with competitors and their criticisms as well as their…

By James D. Watson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Double Helix as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the two discoverers of DNA recalls the lively scientific quest that led to this breakthrough, from the long hours in the lab, to the after-hours socializing, to the financial struggles that almost sank their project. Reprint. 15,000 first printing.


Book cover of The Gene: An Intimate History

David W. Ussery Author Of Computing for Comparative Microbial Genomics: Bioinformatics for Microbiologists

From my list on the history of heredity and DNA.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love to hear stories about how people solve problems, and I have been curious about how science works since I was 12 years old. A decade later, when I was 22 years old, some of my friends joked that I "spoke DNA," and it’s true that I have been obsessed with trying to understand the physical structures of DNA for more than four decades now. I live my life vicariously through my students and help them to learn to tinker, troubleshoot, and recover from their failures.

David's book list on the history of heredity and DNA

David W. Ussery Why did David love this book?

I love to discuss this book with my students; this is a more recent (relative to the others) retelling of the story, with more details fleshed out through decades of scholarship in the area.

The author tells stories about his family and relates this to the discovery of the physical basis of heredity. This book was the inspiration for a Ken Burns series on PBS.

By Siddhartha Mukherjee,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Gene as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Selected as a Book of the Year by The New York Times, The Economist, Independent, Observer and Mail on Sunday

THE NEW YORK TIMES NUMBER ONE BESTSELLER
BBC RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK

`Dramatic and precise... [A] thrilling and comprehensive account of what seems certain to be the most radical, controversial and, to borrow from the subtitle, intimate science of our time... He is a natural storyteller... A page-turner... Read this book and steel yourself for what comes next'
Bryan Appleyard, Sunday Times

The Gene is the story of one of the most powerful and dangerous ideas in our…


Book cover of Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy

Manil Suri Author Of The Big Bang of Numbers: How to Build the Universe Using Only Math

From my list on to make you fall in love with mathematics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a mathematics professor who ended up writing the internationally bestselling novel The Death of Vishnu (along with two follow-ups) and became better known as an author. For the past decade and a half, I’ve been using my storytelling skills to make mathematics more accessible (and enjoyable!) to a broad audience. Being a novelist has helped me look at mathematics in a new light, and realize the subject is not so much about the calculations feared by so many, but rather, about ideas. We can all enjoy such ideas, and thereby learn to understand, appreciate, and even love math. 

Manil's book list on to make you fall in love with mathematics

Manil Suri Why did Manil love this book?

A primary reason to love math is because of its usefulness. This book shows two sides of math’s applicability, since it is so ubiquitously used in various algorithms.

On the one hand, such usage can be good, because statistical inferences can make our life easier and enrich it. On the other, when these are not properly designed or monitored, it can lead to catastrophic consequences. Mathematics is a powerful force, as powerful as wind or fire, and needs to be harnessed just as carefully.

Cathy O’Neil’s message in this book spoke deeply to me, reminding me that I need to be always vigilant about the subject I love not being deployed carelessly.  

By Cathy O’Neil,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Weapons of Math Destruction as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A manual for the 21st-century citizen... accessible, refreshingly critical, relevant and urgent' - Financial Times

'Fascinating and deeply disturbing' - Yuval Noah Harari, Guardian Books of the Year

In this New York Times bestseller, Cathy O'Neil, one of the first champions of algorithmic accountability, sounds an alarm on the mathematical models that pervade modern life -- and threaten to rip apart our social fabric.

We live in the age of the algorithm. Increasingly, the decisions that affect our lives - where we go to school, whether we get a loan, how much we pay for insurance - are being made…


Book cover of Information is Beautiful

Roger Highfield Author Of The Dance of Life: Symmetry, Cells and How We Become Human

From my list on what big data is and how it impacts us.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the Science Director of the Science Museum Group, based at the Science Museum in London, and visiting professor at the Dunn School, University of Oxford, and Department of Chemistry, University College London. Every time I write a book I swear that it will be my last and yet I'm now working on my ninth, after earlier forays into the physics of Christmas and the love life of Albert Einstein. Working with Peter Coveney of UCL, we're exploring ideas about computation and complexity we tackled in our two earlier books, along with the revolutionary implications of creating digital twins of people from the colossal amount of patient data now flowing from labs worldwide.

Roger's book list on what big data is and how it impacts us

Roger Highfield Why did Roger love this book?

Big data can be beautiful and visualisations make for a wonderful coffee-table book. In Information is Beautiful, David McCandless turns dry-as-dust data into pop art to show the kind of world we live in, linking politics to life expectancy, women’s education to GDP growth, and more. Through colourful graphics, we get vivid and novel perspectives on current obsessions, from maps of cliches to the most fashionable colours. A testament to how the power of big data comes from being able to distill information to reveal hidden patterns and discern trends. 

By David McCandless,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Information is Beautiful as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A visual guide to the way the world really works

Every day, every hour, every minute we are bombarded by information - from television, from newspapers, from the internet, we're steeped in it, maybe even lost in it. We need a new way to relate to it, to discover the beauty and the fun of information for information's sake.
No dry facts, theories or statistics. Instead, Information is Beautiful contains visually stunning displays of information that blend the facts with their connections, their context and their relationships - making information meaningful, entertaining and beautiful.
This is information like you have…


Book cover of An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook's Battle for Domination

Roger Highfield Author Of The Dance of Life: Symmetry, Cells and How We Become Human

From my list on what big data is and how it impacts us.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the Science Director of the Science Museum Group, based at the Science Museum in London, and visiting professor at the Dunn School, University of Oxford, and Department of Chemistry, University College London. Every time I write a book I swear that it will be my last and yet I'm now working on my ninth, after earlier forays into the physics of Christmas and the love life of Albert Einstein. Working with Peter Coveney of UCL, we're exploring ideas about computation and complexity we tackled in our two earlier books, along with the revolutionary implications of creating digital twins of people from the colossal amount of patient data now flowing from labs worldwide.

Roger's book list on what big data is and how it impacts us

Roger Highfield Why did Roger love this book?

‘They trust me….dumb f*cks.’ This telling exchange from the Harvard days of Facebook co-founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg appears in An Ugly Truth, which shines a harsh light on the tech behemoth that, ultimately, is built on the data of billions of people. As Meta, Zuckerberg’s new business incarnation, wafts into the virtual worlds of the metaverse, the story of Facebook is far from over, which makes this engaging book a tad unsatisfying. Nonetheless, it is a vivid example of how with Big Data comes Big Responsibility.

By Sheera Frenkel, Cecilia Kang,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked An Ugly Truth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'An explosive new book' Daily Mail

'[A] careful, comprehensive interrogation of every major Facebook scandal. An Ugly Truth provides the kind of satisfaction you might get if you hired a private investigator to track a cheating spouse: it confirms your worst suspicions and then gives you all the dates and details you need to cut through the company's spin' New York Times

__________________________________________

Award-winning New York Times reporters Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang unveil the tech story of our times in this riveting, behind-the-scenes expose that offers the definitive account of Facebook's fall from grace. Once one of Silicon Valley's…


Book cover of The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation After the Genome

Karen Levy Author Of Data Driven: Truckers, Technology, and the New Workplace Surveillance

From my list on human stories about technology.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a sociologist, and I study how technology shapes and is shaped by people. I love my job because I am endlessly fascinated by why people do the things they do, and how our cultures, traditions, and knowledge affect how we interact with technology in our daily lives. I picked these books because they all tell fascinating stories about how different communities of people have designed, used, or been affected by technological tools.

Karen's book list on human stories about technology

Karen Levy Why did Karen love this book?

This is one of those books that you have to read either alone or among tolerant friends, because every few pages you’ll be moved to read some bit of it aloud to everyone around you. Alondra Nelson is a brilliant sociologist of science and technology, and this book tells the story of how genetic science and racial politics intersect, sometimes in surprising ways. I love how this book intertwines cultural and political history with clear-eyed analysis of genomics, genealogy, and the life sciences—it’s a great example of how to write about the human stakes of scientific research and innovation.

By Alondra Nelson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Social Life of DNA as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


A Favorite Book of 2016, Wall Street Journal
2017 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Nonfiction (Finalist)
2017 Day of Common Learning Selection, Seattle Pacific University
2020 Diana Forsythe Prize (Honorable Mention)
2020 Best Books of the Year, Writers' Trust of Canada

The unexpected story of how genetic testing is affecting race in America
We know DNA is a master key that unlocks medical and forensic secrets, but its genealogical life is both revelatory and endlessly fascinating. Tracing genealogy is now the second-most popular hobby amongst Americans, as well as the second-most visited online category. This billion-dollar industry has spawned popular television…


Book cover of Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past

Michael Muthukrishna Author Of A Theory of Everyone: The New Science of Who We Are, How We Got Here, and Where We're Going

From my list on changing how you see the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of economic psychology at the London School of Economics with affiliations in developmental economics and data science. Before that, I was at Harvard in Human Evolutionary Biology. During my PhD, I took graduate courses in psychology, economics, evolutionary biology, and statistics. I have undergraduate degrees in engineering and in psychology and took courses in everything from economics and biology to philosophy and political science. As a child, I witnessed the civil war in Sri Lanka; a violent coup in Papua New Guinea; the end of apartheid in South Africa, living in neighboring Botswana; and London’s 7/7 bomb attacks. I’ve also lived in Australia, Canada, USA, and UK.

Michael's book list on changing how you see the world

Michael Muthukrishna Why did Michael love this book?

The new science of DNA reveals a lot about how we think about identity.

Humans are a migratory species and our stories are complicated. Ancient DNA don't always match people's stories about their ancestors. Rather than being in a place for thousands of years, sometimes we replaced those who were there before or only the males of the group.

Sometimes we completely replaced the group that was there before but the original group's culture persisted or even replaced the invading culture. The book complicates our understanding of indigeneity and belonging.

By David Reich,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Who We Are and How We Got Here as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The past few years have witnessed a revolution in our ability to obtain DNA from ancient humans. This important new data has added to our knowledge from archaeology and anthropology, helped resolve long-existing controversies, challenged long-held views, and thrown up remarkable surprises.

The emerging picture is one of many waves of ancient human migrations, so that all populations living today are mixes of ancient ones, and often carry a genetic component from archaic humans. David Reich, whose team has been at the forefront of these discoveries, explains what genetics is telling us about ourselves and our complex and often surprising…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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