Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters by Matt Ridley, narrated by Simon Prebble
Published in audio by Harper Audio, published in print by Harper Perennial, imprints of Harper Collins
Our genomes determine so much. Not only who we are, but our history as well. In Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters, Matt Ridley takes us through the history of ourselves. In order to make it more easily comprehensible, Ridley uses the extended metaphor of literature.
There are twenty-three chapters, called chromosomes,
Each chapter contains several thousand stories, called genes.
Each story is made up of paragraphs, called exons, which are interrupted by advertisements called introns.
Each paragraph is made up of words, called codons.
Each word is written in letters, called bases.
Ridley discusses everything from disease resistance, species evolution, the selfishness of genes, to eugenics and the determinism of genes.
Thoughts on the work:
I do not have the background to speak to the validity of Ridley’s science. His presentation, however, is top notch. He hits the balance precisely between meaty detail and neither condescending to nor overwhelming his audience. I particularly liked the way he organizes his content, into thematic chapters based on the 23 human chromosome pairs. The content itself was fascinating as well. Every minute it seemed I was learning something new and interesting about the genes that make us who we are.
Thoughts on the audio production:
Simon Prebble does a fantastic job, as always. Even with Ridley’s engaging style, the wrong narrator could have made Genome incredibly boring, but Prebble does the work to keep my attention constant.
A fascinating book. If you’re worried about getting bogged down in the science, try the audio. Even if you barely passed high school biology you will understand enough to get the gist without becoming overwhelmed trying to parse every sentence.
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