Epigenetics is one area of science that just delights me — even the fact that it really irritates people because of potentially Lamarckian interpretations kind of amuses me. It’s based on solid research about the large scale effect observed from the ‘Dutch Hunger Winter’, and the impact it had on the gene expression of not only children of those who went through it, but grandchildren as well. Given the solidity of that research, it always weirds me out when people want to claim epigenetics is just the latest fad, like it’s not valid. It explains a lot, and we know its mechanisms and can predict its effects: isn’t that enough?
This book is a reasonable introduction to the subject, simple enough for a complete layman to understand. In fact, at times it almost detours away from science into literary criticism, discussing the portrayal of PTSD in different characters in a particular movie. It’s relevant as an example, but there’s so much space spent on it, it was a bit irritating — especially if you know nothing of the movie. It also covers pretty basic science, explaining not only how epigenetics works (in a very basic sense), but also how genetics works.
I actually listened to this as an audiobook, while crocheting, and though I have no specific complaints to make of the narrator, neither did he fill me with any kind of enthusiasm. I’m not sure if that’s how I’ll universally feel about non-fiction audiobooks, since of course, the reader doesn’t need to act. Still, he’s saying these awesome things about how our bodies work, and he sounds like he’s reading out a recipe for bread. It feels weird!