Monday, November 9, 2009

Book 2009_03: "Mean Genes" by Terry Burnham & Jay Phelan

As I previously mentioned, I usually don’t read any type of non-fiction books. I decided I wasn’t being very fair so I decided I should diversify the types of books that I’m reading. I like to read books recommended by someone, and I came upon “Mean Genes” on a reddit thread of non-fiction books that people should read. What did I find? That reading non-fiction books isn’t that bad.

It was a well researched book that tried to bring together and make sense out of the many publications that are floating around about how genes affect your behavior. Plus, the authors tried to make each of their points interesting by using different examples – my favorites where the anecdotes with animals.

The one that sticks out in my mind is about the overweight chimpanzee with the 150+ word sign-language vocabulary. I thought it was hilarious that the chimp became very mean and angry after people put him on a diet. The only word he kept repeating was “candy”. I can totally relate. I’m addicted to sugar, and all things chocolate and I probably wouldn’t be very nice if I didn’t have any access to both. How dare they try to take the poor chimp’s candy away?

In reality, this book is about listening and trying to abide by common sense. In the chapter relating to money, they tell us that we need to trick ourselves in order to save some money. By moving money on pay day to a savings account, and making it hard to withdraw from it, you’ll be much more likely to actually save some money.

The common thread amongst the chapters is to plan ahead. Sure, you’re genetically programmed to consume everything you see, to devour every last ounce of food around you but you can plan around these cravings and confront them head on. As always, listening to common sense is so much easier said than done.

Overall, an easy and entertaining read. Plus, it’s definitely a conversation starter – so much material to chat about!