The most recommended books on DNA

Who picked these books? Meet our 41 experts.

41 authors created a book list connected to DNA, and here are their favorite DNA books.
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What type of DNA book?


Book cover of The Smallest Spot of a Dot: The Little Ways We're Different, The Big Ways We're the Same

Artika Tyner Author Of Justice Makes a Difference: The Story of Miss Freedom Fighter, Esquire

From my list on children celebrating diversity.

Why am I passionate about this?

The library has always been my favorite place to visit. As a child, I would travel the world through books. I learned about different cultures and studied other languages. Through these experiences, I gained a deep appreciation for cultures around the world. I also learned an important lesson that inclusion is the thread that weaves together a rich multicultural tapestry. Fast forward to today, I share these lessons through my work as an author, leadership scholar, and law professor. My booklist reflects a celebration of diverse cultures, introduces learning tools for becoming an inclusive leader, and provides an invitation to join me in taking intentional action for justice and equity.  

Artika's book list on children celebrating diversity

Artika Tyner Why did Artika love this book?

This book teaches the importance of community-building. It celebrates diversity and inclusion as both a strength and asset.

It dispels the myth of race by focusing on our shared humanity and common destiny. It gets to the basics that our DNA is 99.999% similar hence building common ground across differences.

It also encourages each of us to discover the values of love and kindness.

I shared this book with my students as a tool to explore their cultural heritage and build new connections.

By Linsey Davis, Michael Tyler, Lucy Fleming (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Smallest Spot of a Dot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Now a New York Times bestseller! Using child-friendly language, this playful picture book explains how genetics make each person unique and celebrates how we are more alike than different and are all part of the human race. In The Smallest Spot of a Dot: The Little Ways We’re Different, The Big Ways We’re the Same, Linsey Davis, bestselling children’s author, Emmy-winning correspondent, and host for ABC News, together with co-author Michael Tyler, encourages children to find their own unique dot with sweet, rhyming prose.

”Only .1% of our genes make us uniquely who we are. We are 99.9% identical, alike,…

Book cover of Project Hannibal

Douglas Phillips Author Of Quantum Space

From my list on hard science fiction published this century.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a scientist, I love hard science fiction, especially when the story makes me think about the true nature of reality or takes me on an adventure to places unknown. We’ve all read the classics from Clarke, Heinlein, Bear, or Asimov. But books written decades ago are becoming increasingly dated as society progresses into a new century. (Will people of the future really chain smoke? And why are all the characters men?) Never fear, modern hard sci-fi is alive and well. Here are five recent books that tell an intriguing, uplifting, or awe-inspiring story. Even better than the classics, it’s hard sci-fi for the 21st century!

Douglas' book list on hard science fiction published this century

Douglas Phillips Why did Douglas love this book?

Kathryn is the best sci-fi author you haven’t read. How do I know? I was her critique buddy. We traded chapters as we wrote, each acting as advisor to the other.

I really liked Monkey Girl, a great choice for teen girls. But Project Hannibal is my favorite. Kathryn works at a zoo, so she knows a lot about animals. In Hannibal, she asks, could DNA from extinct woolly mammoths be used to impregnate a modern elephant? And if you could produce mammoth offspring, why do it?

As it turns out, mammoths might be exactly the wildlife our neglected planet needs. Join a flying doctor and her teenage assistant in a grand adventure across the wilderness of Alaska.

By Kathryn Hoff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Project Hannibal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

Book cover of Just One Drop

K. A. Gandy Author Of The Lost Talisman

From my list on sci-fi to fall in love with morally gray heroes.

Why am I passionate about this?

Morally gray heroes are my absolute favorite kind. Whether it’s Batman, Dean Winchester from Supernatural, or the heroes on this list—if he’s not dark and stormy, well, I’m not interested. There’s a depth to these characters that others often lack, and I find it so fascinating. Especially when there’s romance involved. The books on this list are nearly all polar opposites, and yet... they each stretch our capacity to love to the very breaking point—and then make us catch our breath. How far into the darkness can he go, and still come back with a heart left to give to his heroine?

K. A.'s book list on sci-fi to fall in love with morally gray heroes

K. A. Gandy Why did K. A. love this book?

There is nothing about this book, and the heroine in it, that isn’t fun and hilarious. Jen is mouthy and wild, and more than willing to tempt Decebel—a hunky, dangerous werewolf—to throw all his rules against getting involved with humans to the wind. This grumpy and sunshine book hooked me before the grumpy/sunshine trend was even a thing. But don’t let the fun fool you—dark magic is at work, and they will be up against life-and-death odds if they’re going to make it as a couple. 

By Quinn Loftis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Just One Drop as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

A wolf.
A girl.
And a whole lot of awkward.

Jennifer Adams, best friend to a werewolf and a gypsy healer, is spicy, outspoken, a little crazy, and completely human...or so she thought. Jen has just found out that human DNA isn't the only thing that resides in her veins. She happens to share that little pesky werewolf gene, although it isn't more than just a drop. Now that she and her friends are living in Romania with Fane's pack, she is oh-so-conveniently stuck with the object of her affection, the broody furball, Decebel. Drawn to each other by something…

Book cover of The God Code: The Secret of Our Past, the Promise of Our Future

Elizabeth E. Botchis Author Of Awakening the Holographic Human: Nature's Path to Healing and Higher Consciousness

From my list on healing ourselves and our planet.

Why am I passionate about this?

Lilli Botchis, PhD, is a psycho-spiritual counselor, educator, and vibrational medicine developer with four decades of experience in advanced body/soul wellness and the development of higher consciousness. Her expertise includes botanicals, gems, color, flower essences, bio-energy therapies, and holographic soul readings. Lilli is an alchemist, mystic, and translator of Nature’s language as it speaks to our soul. A brilliant researcher in the field of consciousness, she understands the interconnectedness of Nature and the human being and is known as an extraordinary emissary of the natural world. Lilli has been inducted into the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Knights Hospitaller. Many seek her out for her visionary insights and compassionate wisdom.

Elizabeth's book list on healing ourselves and our planet

Elizabeth E. Botchis Why did Elizabeth love this book?

Gregg Braden is an example of one who has discovered how to live the spirituality within science. In this brilliant and insightful work, he links our genetic code to biblical alphabets to prove the unity of the human race and the idea that we are all greater than our beliefs. Braden shows that deep within our genetic code, held in the sanctuary of the DNA, is the universal message that traverses humanity—all cultures, all races, all genders: the name of God. Applying this message to our lives, we can transcend our beliefs, our biases, our conditioning to create a more harmonious condition of living for all of humanity.

By Gregg Braden,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The God Code as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A coded message has been found within the molecules of life, deep within the DNA in each cell of our bodies. In this book what we once believed of our past is about to change. Through a remarkable discovery linking Biblical alphabets to our genetic code, the 'language of life' may now be read as the ancient letters of a timeless message. This message is the same in each cell of every man, woman, and child, past and present.

During his extensive 12-year study of the most sacred and honoured traditions of humankind he has discovered tangible and unprecedented evidence…

Book cover of Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love

Linda Rosen Author Of The Emerald Necklace

From Linda's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Novelist Swimmer Public Speaker Reader Lover of gardens

Linda's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Linda Rosen Why did Linda love this book?

I love a book with family secrets, and Shapiro’s is staggering.

She discovered this shocker through a random DNA test, which many people are doing now, never expecting to have their lives ripped apart from the results. Shapiro’s definitely was.

Her honesty and exquisite prose grabbed my heart. This memoir will make you contemplate your own identity and your belief of what makes one a parent, and what makes a family. As I enjoy doing in my own writing, this story had me exploring what should and should not be kept secret. So many will identify with Dani Shapiro’s story, in one form or another.

By Dani Shapiro,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the acclaimed author of Inheritance and host of the hit podcast Family Secrets: a memoir about the staggering family secret uncovered by a genealogy test, an exploration of the urgent ethical questions surrounding fertility treatments and DNA testing, and a profound inquiry of paternity, identity, and love.

“Memoir gold: a profound and exquisitely rendered exploration of identity and the true meaning of family.” —People

In the spring of 2016, through a genealogy website to which she had casually submitted her DNA for analysis, Dani Shapiro received the stunning news that her beloved deceased father…

Book cover of Who Wrote the Book of Life?: A History of the Genetic Code

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 the way that this book puts solving the genetic code in the context of the development of the "information age" in the 1950s.

This book explains the origins of the popular (but wrong) idea that DNA is the "book of life" and some sort of advanced information system. I call this a ‘one-dimensional’ view of life (as opposed to a four-dimensional view, which takes into account not just sequence but secondary and tertiary structures and how they change with time).

I use this book in my introductory bioinformatics lectures to help get across the "new" concept that, contrary to popular cultural beliefs, DNA is not a language, nor is it a 'sophisticated computer code’. Biology is messy and complicated and very much contextual.

By Lily E. Kay,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Who Wrote the Book of Life? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a detailed history of one of the most important and dramatic episodes in modern science, recounted from the novel vantage point of the dawn of the information age and its impact on representations of nature, heredity, and society. Drawing on archives, published sources, and interviews, the author situates work on the genetic code (1953-70) within the history of life science, the rise of communication technosciences (cybernetics, information theory, and computers), the intersection of molecular biology with cryptanalysis and linguistics, and the social history of postwar Europe and the United States.

Kay draws out the historical specificity in the…

Book cover of The Music of Life: Biology Beyond Genes

Michael Edgeworth McIntyre Author Of Science, Music, and Mathematics: The Deepest Connections

From my list on to get you past selfish-gene theory.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a scientist at the University of Cambridge who’s worked on environmental research topics such as jet streams and the Antarctic ozone hole. I’ve also worked on solar physics and musical acoustics. And other branches of science have always interested me. Toward the end of my career, I became fascinated by cutting-edge issues in biological evolution and natural selection. Evolution is far richer and more complex than you’d think from its popular description in terms of ‘selfish genes’. The complexities are central to understanding deep connections between the sciences, the arts, and human nature in general, and the profound differences between human intelligence and artificial intelligence.

Michael's book list on to get you past selfish-gene theory

Michael Edgeworth McIntyre Why did Michael love this book?

This short and lucid book by an eminent molecular biologist shows how our DNA and its genes do not act as a blueprint that dictates everything, as assumed by selfish-gene theory.

Rather, there’s a fascinating ‘systems biology’ of the DNA and its surrounding biomolecular ‘circuits’, which act like electronic circuits in many ways. Different parts influence each other. So there are influences on the DNA as well as from the DNA. Noble likens the DNA to a musical recording, which can influence our mood but not dictate it.

By Denis Noble,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Music of Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What is Life? Decades of research have resulted in the full mapping of the human genome - three billion pairs of code whose functions are only now being understood. The gene's eye view of life, advocated by evolutionary biology, sees living bodies as mere vehicles for the replication of the genetic codes.

But for a physiologist, working with the living organism, the view is a very different one. Denis Noble is a world renowned physiologist, and sets out an alternative view to the question - one that becomes deeply significant in terms of the living, breathing organism. The genome is…

Book cover of Flight of Shadows

Tracy Krauss Author Of Conspiracy of Bones: And the Beat Goes On

From my list on paranormal elements from a Christian worldview.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love books and movies that contain paranormal, supernatural, or Sci-fi elements. I also enjoy a good romance, especially when it contains “forbidden” elements or some major obstacles. However, I don’t always appreciate work that is too graphic. As a person of Christian faith, I have often found it challenging to find books and movies that pique my interests but that aren’t preachy or full of pat answers, especially if they come from a Christian worldview. I’ve listed some of my absolute favorites that meet all the criteria: suspense, thrills, a bit of edgy content without being too graphic, and a touch of the unexpected.

Tracy's book list on paranormal elements from a Christian worldview

Tracy Krauss Why did Tracy love this book?

In this sequel to Broken Angel, the main character has been genetically altered (spoiler) and must now live a life of secrecy and shame. As the story unfolds we see the darkness behind the circumstances of her birth. There is hope at the end of the book, though not necessarily what one would expect. It is a book that keeps you thinking long after you finish, almost haunting in its effects. It is beautifully written and I would read it many times over. 

By Sigmund Brouwer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Flight of Shadows as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Her genetic secret could change humanity forever.
Her DNA grants her the ultimate power. 
But all she wants is to disappear. 

Looming buildings rise into the sky of a near-future America, shadowing the desperate poverty of the soovie parks, death doctors, and fear bombs. In this world of walled cities, where status matters most, Caitlyn Brown is desperate to remain invisible, wrongly believing what she needs to hide is the deformity on her back. The powerful want her for so much more.
She’s forced to take flight again, relying on the help of Razor, a street-smart illusionist she can’t trust.…

Book cover of The Last Legends of Earth

Brent Hayward Author Of Filaria

From my list on sci-fi able to stand toe to toe with any genre.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Canadian science fiction writer who writes very, very slowly. I’m interested in experimental fiction and books that are unique, both thematically and stylistically. I’d like to think my books fall into this category, or at least that’s what I aspire to. I used to read science fiction exclusively, and the five books I’ve listed here were all read during those formative years; they were fundamental stepping-stones for me, as a writer, and each of them left a profound mark on my idea of how good, or effective, novels can be.

Brent's book list on sci-fi able to stand toe to toe with any genre

Brent Hayward Why did Brent love this book?

Attanasio can run hot and cold, but when he’s hot he’s on fire! This book may have the most ambitious plot of any novel I’ve ever read and is almost impossible to describe. It spans galaxies, has a truly bizarre vibe, and yet rings true, with a love story thrown in.  

By A.A. Attanasio,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Last Legends of Earth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Seven billion years from now, long after the Sun has died and human life has become extinct, alien beings reconstruct homo sapiens from our fossilized DNA drifting as debris in deep space. We are reborn to serve as bait in a battle to the death between the Rimstalker, humankind's re-animator, and the zōtl, horrific creatures who feed vampire-like on the suffering of intelligent lifeforms.

The resurrected children of Earth are told: "You owe no debt to the being that roused you to this second life. Neither must you expect it to guide you or benefit you in any way." Yet,…

Book cover of Strangers We Know

Danna Smith Author Of The Complete Book of Aspen

From my list on that prove DNA sucks at keeping secrets.

Why am I passionate about this?

The Complete Book of Aspen is based on my DNA experience. I was crushed after taking a DNA test to learn that the man who raised me was not my biological father. It rocked the foundation my life was built upon. Suddenly I was struggling with my identity, wondering why I am who I am. This led to a deep dive into DNA-related books. I read everything I could, from DNA science to memoirs to novels whose characters were affected by DNA discoveries. I liked seeing how these brave souls handled their heartbreak. Not only is the subject fascinating, but it’s also comforting to know, fictional or not, that we're never alone.

Danna's book list on that prove DNA sucks at keeping secrets

Danna Smith Why did Danna love this book?

Imagine this. You were adopted as a child. You’re now an adult with a medical condition. So, you take a DNA test to find blood relatives who could shed some light and family history on your disease. But you get the shock of your life when an FBI agent shows up and tells you they received your test results too and you are related to a serial killer! Ivy’s life spins out of control as she travels to meet her relatives and find a killer. Ivy is told that her mother was murdered by The Full Moon Killer and now she is getting too close…could she be the next victim? A chilling novel with lots of twists that left me thinking if I were in Ivy’s shoes, just this once, I’d rather DNA kept secrets.

By Elle Marr,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Strangers We Know as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The search for a serial killer leads a woman into the twisted tangle of her own family tree in a chilling novel by the #1 Amazon Charts bestselling author of The Missing Sister and Lies We Bury.

Adopted when she was only days old, Ivy Hon knows little about her lineage. But when she's stricken with a mystery illness, the results of a genetic test to identify the cause attract the FBI. According to Ivy's DNA, she's related to the Full Moon Killer, who has terrorized the Pacific Northwest for decades. Ivy is the FBI's hope to stop the enigmatic…