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on 8 November 2011
This book asks more questions than it answers, because the science discussed here is so very young. Lone Frank does not try to over simplify or produce easy certainties. The world she describes is uncertain, full of contradictions, and not yet coherent. By interviewing many different researchers, we get an overview of various current schools of thought, rather than one narrow viewpoint.

Her stroke of genius is in the way she presents the material. She uses herself as a human guinea pig. Because of the way she gradually uncovers more of her own genome, the book operates on one level as kind of auto biography. That's what makes it such a page turner - as you get more and more hooked on Lone Frank's biographical story you really can't wait to find out what type of BRCA gene she has. And by making the subject so personal, she converts what could be a dry and dusty academic discussion of some quite complex science into a joyful read.

While much has yet to be worked out, several interesting and somewhat controversial conclusions come out along the way. Like the finding that different races of humans really are qualitatively different. That our society currently practices a form of eugenics, and most of us approve of it. That the genome is not completely stable, and can be influenced by its environment (epigenetics). That our free will is limited, but ironically we can maximise what free will we have by acknowledging the features that are pre determined by our genes.

Highly recommended.
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on 13 January 2013
Ok, should you read this book? Yes, yes and yes. Is it my favourite book ever written on the subject? Not really. Does it broaden your horizons? Oh yes. Someone wrote in a review, it opens more questions than it answers, which is completely true, but it does so beautifully. You can just start from this book and by the end of it you want to sign up for a degree at Open University or read every copy of Nature you can get hold of. Beware though, the author is irritating. You can't sort of fault the bad bits and only take the good ones, they are like her genome, they are whole. Take it or leave it and I'd say take it. The writer gives you a glimpse on stuff about her that you really do not care or want to know, without making a call for empathy and telling you her story so you might actually understand her or start to like her.

But apart from that, recommended :).
Are you keen on the subject? Read this book.
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on 28 May 2016
This is a great book for anyone interested in what genetics is right now and what it might become.

The author is a scientist and journalist who understands the deep detail and can translate it into something of real interest to non-experts through the story of her own exploration of her genome. It's a brilliantly well-structured book that manages to be both logical and surprising in how it progresses.

Humorous (who knew there was a gene that makes your boobs smaller if you drink too much coffee) and serious, Lone takes you on a journey into the thigs you can learn now, and how you might react to them, and the way genetics will shape our future lives.

Highly recommended to anyone with even a passing interest - this is an excellent read.
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on 27 January 2012
I have to agree with Michael Shermer that this book is a genuine page-turner. It works very well as popular science and covers many of the topics general readers will want to see - getting your own genome interpreted, diseases, epigenetics, sexual attraction, abortion, personality, ethical problems, determinism, etc. Lone Frank even touches on the taboo topic of eugenics. Her journalist's easy and often humorous interview style, moving across continents and via Skype, brings the key scientists alive and she isn't at all shy of using vivifying personal disclosures of her own. The science and its applications have a long way to go but Frank shows a knack here for zooming in succinctly on the trends in genetic research that have begun to really count. Anyone interested in human development, identity, individual differences and personality traits should read it.
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on 26 February 2013
This book held my interest from start to finish. I love how the author makes her scientific research so intensely personal and intimate. I found her descriptions compelling, such as those of close family members, their personalities, behaviour and how they eventually died, her own clinical depression. So for me, the book bridged the gap between science and the soul searching question of "Why am I the way I am?" I will be reading more on epigenetics now that I've had this introduction. Also, I like that all the research is well referenced and the contributors acknowledged.

As for the author's style of writing, many people have said it's witty. Not me; I would only say it's dry, and a even bit moany in places ... though not enough to stop me turning the pages. And the author's second-language use of English was obvious to me at times, making some sentences sound a bit "clunky" to my ear.

Apart from minor taste issues, I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn about genetics and epigenetics, but doesn't want to wade through anything too science-heavy.
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on 2 October 2013
This is a good up-to-date account of the genomic revolution as applied to an individual. It is fairly well written although a little tedious at times. It does give a feel for what it is like to know something of yourself at the genomic level and currently (2013) lets you know what is available to the individual in this field.
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on 25 October 2011
this book is unique in the way that the author uses herself as a prop to go through various genetic tests and then discusses the results with pros.

as such its a gonzo type intro on genetics and a counterweight to the many books that offer a bird's eye view of the field. so good for non-academics
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on 21 June 2014
This book has a huge scope, covering all sorts of recent developments in understanding the self by examining the genes.

Some bits were fascinating (the family tree stuff), some less so (the eugenics stuff). Definitely worth reading but I'm not sure I will re-read in its entirety.
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VINE VOICEon 31 December 2013
The author walks us gently through the required subject matter of genetics and genetic analysis, and examines whether genetic analysis is useful or not. Using her own genetic analysis as a starting point she explores what it has meant to her and her family. She also compares how the major providers of personal genome analysis give you your results and how easy it was to deal with them, as well as how much they charge for the service.

The results for certain disorders are given in the form of probabilities. The best companies provide help with understanding the results, or will test for more disorders. Typically, those disorders where a single gene is responsible gave the most certain results.

There was no commercial company currently conducting expression analysis of a persons genome, which is probably going to be needed before most of this information is going to be useful: the environment affects the genes which affects our phenotype (the outcome - whether we get the disease or not and how severe). This kind of analysis is on the horizon but not here yet. Gene expression analysis will possibly allow us to choose to adapt our lifestyles, ie environment, to suit our genomes sensitivities. The author says most people who get their results do not make changes in their lifestyle choices. This is a little disappointing, but I feel if there were more certainty about the results or what the results of the environmental changes would be people would feel more that they can make a difference.

I enjoyed the book because it taught me what is out there. However, just because I didn't like the fact that what I think is needed is not yet commercially available did not mean I did not value the information I got from the book. The author was very honest in discussing their results and how they felt about them. The book gave me hope for the future of genetic analysis: after many years of research it does seem as though we are moving in the right direction. The promise of being able to know before trying a tablet for depression for example, or other illness fr which drugs are often given at random in the hope they work, or at doses that take ages to get right, gives me great optimism for the future of healthcare based on what we learn from gene expression analysis.

The book was shortlisted for the 2012 Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books.
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on 20 September 2011
A very informative and entertaining book for all of us interrested in genetics from a layman perspective. Here, the complicated subjects are finally explained in a understandable way for us "Dummies". Lone Frank invests her own body in a quest for knowledge of her DNA and what this knowledge can be used for today and in the future. She talks to world leading scientists and share her own thoughts with a lot of wit.
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