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Publisher's Summary

The language of genes has become common parlance. We know they make your eyes blue, your hair curly, or your nose straight. The media tells us that our genes control the risk of cancer, heart disease, alcoholism, or Alzheimer's. The cost of DNA sequencing has plummeted from billions of dollars to a few hundred, and gene-based advances in medicine hold huge promise.

So we've all heard of genes, but how do they actually work? According to legend, Ernest Hemingway was once given a six-toed cat by an old sea captain, and her distinctive descendants still roam the writer's Florida estate today. Scientists now know that the fault driving this profusion of digits lies in a tiny genetic control switch, miles away (in molecular terms) from the gene that "makes" toes. And it's the same mistake that gives rise to multi-toed humans too. There are 2.2 meters of DNA inside every one of your cells, encoding roughly 20,000 genes. These are the "recipes" that tell our cells how to make the building blocks of life, along with myriad control switches ensuring they're turned on and off at the right time and in the right place. But rather than a static string of genetic code, this is a dynamic, writhing biological library. And figuring out how it all works - how your genes make you, you - is a major challenge for researchers around the world. Drawing on stories ranging from six-toed cats and stickleback hips to wobbly worms and zombie genes, geneticist Kat Arney explores the how our genes work, creating a companion to the book of life itself.

©2016 Kat Arney (P)2015 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Very good

Great overview of basic genetic concepts, would recommend to all university students studying the subject. Only issue was the author attempting the voices of the people she interviewed, accents and all. It made it a bit difficult to listen to in places but on the whole it was excellent.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A non-scientists misguided interpretation

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

People who want outdated information, who don't mind the unnecessary use of 5-dollar words to explain what many other truly intelligent authors have given us. She revels in her trips to talk to to famous researchers, her descriptive passages are cloyingly engulfed with the cocky pride of her accomplishments. Pass the barf bag.

Did Kat Arney do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

No characters - it's NONFICTION

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Anger. Disappointment. Disgust. I literally batted my iPhone across the room in disgust (I have a great case - no worries). Total waste of money.

Any additional comments?

The author needs to know that her works is outdated and provides much incorrect information. I literally had JUST finished another book about genes written by an actual doctor in the midst of genetic research. Thought this book would be a great followup to that. I was wrong.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Should be in everyones "must read" list

Exceptional book that does a great job of demystifying genes. The narration by the author is very engaging

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Fascinating

This a very complex story told in an engaging manner It does require your serious attention if you wish to learn something,

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Lewis
  • 04-10-16

Excellent in depth look at genetics

Great book, excellently narrated. Goes into genetics in quite a bit of detail - so not for a reader who knows nothing about biology - but pays off nicely for those with a little bit of knowledge in genetics.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • L. J. Carey
  • 07-29-16

Excellent book which makes understanding genes easy

This is a great read, the author takes you on her journey of discovery in understanding genes. It's easy to follow and the examples given are easy also easy to understand and imagine.
I highly recommend this book

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr. S. J. Oxley
  • 02-18-17

Excellent, and easy to understand.

Even when I was studying genetics as one my subjects at uni, it was not an easy subject to grasp. This book, blows that out of the water. It is jovial dance upon the subject, putting it in an easy to grasp manner that most people could understand.
If you only ever buy one book on genetics, it must be this one. Kat Arneys enthusiasm and passion for the subject, shines through. A great listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Jay Dermott
  • 05-06-16

Informative and current

Kat Arney casts herself well as both advocate and party pooper in the quest to open up the world of the cell and the gene. She has the healthy scepticism of the professional real world lab scientist, a world she knowable and acknowledges that she feels most comfortable in. Too frequently we hear newspaper or TV hype around this field in a frenzy of "New DNA breakthrough" or genes-as-saint-or-sinner discourse. Kat makes it very clear that we have a lot to learn and although there is a lot of promise, there is SO much we don't yet understand.
I would openly challenge whether there was actually any need to recount the content of the interviews in accented impressions all the time. At worst it was distracting, and this was content that I didn't want to be distracted from. I could have forgiven,and probably enjoyed, the occasional drift into Floridian or Californian soundtrack to emphasize a quirk or bon mot, since it suits Kat's highly engaging style to bring the interviewees to life. I was finding myself relieved when certain recollections were over and in a work which was a series of interview accounts strung together by editorial, this wasn't the intention I think.
I'd recommend Kat's work to anybody interested in this vital field, along with her wonderful podcasts.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • neil
  • 05-21-18

Excruciating

It is written like a bad school essay more interested in describing characters and situations than the actual subject. Really frustrating to listen to. After one and a half chapters I could not stand any more.

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  • Meirion
  • 10-13-17

Joyfully Informative.

It's rare for an author to be the best person to narrate their own books, but Kat Arney nails it. Her enthusiasm and her intelligence shine through, and she makes complex processes and concepts easy to understand. This book is one of my favourites this year and my understanding of the molecular genetic processes has been greatly enhanced. It was a joy to listen to and I now look forward to getting other work by her.

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  • KathyJean
  • 01-15-17

fabulously informative

Fascinating , well presented information. A great overview of the developments in this area of science.

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  • Calum Nobles
  • 12-01-16

Not often a genetics book will make you laugh

Would you consider the audio edition of Herding Hemingway's Cats to be better than the print version?

educational, articulate, amusing

Any additional comments?

A good general coverage of genetics ... we listened to it for the entire car journey through France.

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  • Pensive
  • 11-19-16

Informative and well presented

I enjoyed this immensely. It started out at a very basic level, but soon highlighted the intricacies of what we don't yet understand. The author's narration brings the subject to life with very good analogies and light-hearted banter. Never boring.

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  • K. Rumph
  • 11-13-16

Engaging survey of a diverse field

Kat Arney as both writer and narrator does a great job of both explaining a complex and (excuse the pun) evolving field and it's personalities, and bringing the latter to life through her engaging personality and delivery. Highly recommended PhD meets performer

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  • Paul Atkins
  • 08-14-17

Entertaining and informative. Thank you kat arney<br />

Excellent narration makes this an interesting and informative book. I am inspired to learn more.

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  • Ryan
  • 01-24-17

great listen

the narration, interviews and topics in this book are fantastic. definitely recommend! Kat's accents that she puts on are hilarious 😂

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  • Heinrich Ferreira
  • 04-26-16

Excellent

Loved it. It really simplified the concept of genes in my mind. I recommend this book