Inheritance Book Summary - Inheritance Book explained in key points
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Inheritance summary

Sharon Moalem

How Our Genes Change Our Lives, and Our Lives Change Our Genes

4.2 (55 ratings)
16 mins

Brief summary

Inheritance by Sharon Moalem is a thought-provoking genetics book that dives into our DNA's influence on our health and behavior. Moalem argues that our inherited genes are not deterministic, unraveling the complexity of nature vs. nurture debates.

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    A person’s looks tell us about her genes and a person’s genes give some indication of her looks.

    If you meet someone attractive, complimenting his or her genetics probably won’t make the best first impression. But if you have an eye for detail, you can determine a good amount of genetic information just by looking at someone.

    The human eyes alone offer information on a number of genetic conditions.

    One genetic condition related to the eyes is called Fanconi anemia, which results in a person having eyes that are extremely close together. Such people are also more likely to suffer from seizures. (But let’s not get too cocky with our genetic detective work: If we were to isolate what influences the amount of spacing between the eyes, we would still be looking at over four hundred genetic combinations.)

    The shape of a person’s eyes can also hint at genetic conditions. One of the common signs of Down syndrome is that it places the outer corner of a person’s eyes in a higher position than the inner corner.

    Genetics also affects the color of your eyes, and sometimes this can result in color pigments getting an uneven distribution. Other times it can result in heterochromia, a genetic condition that gives someone one eye that is a different color than the other. The actress Demi Moore has this condition: her left eye is green, her right eye is hazel.

    Since the link between genetics and appearance is a two-way street, it works the other way around as well: knowledge about someone’s DNA can help you determine a good deal about how they look.

    A great example of this is the case of Ötzi, the Stone Age man: In 1991, a mummy over five thousand years old was discovered in northern Italy’s Ötztal Alps.

    By analyzing just one piece of the mummy’s left hip, scientists could determine that Ötzi was likely a light-skinned man with brown eyes and an ancestor of today’s Corsicans. But that’s not all. They could also surmise that Ötzi was lactose intolerant, had type O blood and was at high risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

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    What is Inheritance about?

    Inheritance (2014) is proof that you don’t need to be a scientist to understand the importance of your genetics. These blinks explain how your DNA affects your everyday life, from how you look and what you eat to how susceptible you are to things like anxiety and disease. So arm yourself with knowledge, and discover more about the genes that make you who you are.

    Inheritance Review

    Inheritance (2021) by Sharon Moalem is a captivating exploration of the role genetics play in shaping our lives. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Packed with fascinating scientific insights, it sheds light on how our inherited genes can affect our health, behavior, and even our destiny.
    • Through compelling case studies and personal stories, the book brings genetics to life, making it relatable and thought-provoking.
    • With its deft balance of science and storytelling, Inheritance deftly navigates complex topics while keeping readers engaged and entertained.

    Best quote from Inheritance

    Your body is using each gene you carry like a musician uses an instrument. It can be played loudly and softly.

    —Sharon Moalem
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    Who should read Inheritance?

    • People interested in medicine and biology
    • Readers worried about what genes they inherited
    • Anyone in search of the perfect diet

    About the Author

    Sharon Moalem MD, PhD, is a scientist, physician and author who specializes in showing the world how evolution, genetics, biology and medicine work together. His books, including Survival of the Sickest and How Sex Works, have been translated into more than 20 languages.

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    Inheritance FAQs 

    What is the main message of Inheritance?

    The main message of Inheritance is that our genes can have a significant impact on our health and well-being.

    How long does it take to read Inheritance?

    The reading time for Inheritance varies depending on the reader's pace. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Inheritance a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Inheritance is an insightful read that sheds light on the role of our genes in shaping our lives. Highly recommended.

    Who is the author of Inheritance?

    The author of Inheritance is Sharon Moalem.

    What to read after Inheritance?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Inheritance, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • The Evolution of Everything by Matt Ridley
    • The 3-Minute Rule by Brant Pinvidic
    • The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene
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    • Get Better at Anything by Scott H. Young