The Violinist’s Thumb by Sam Kean

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 3/5 stars.

Have you ever wanted to hoard cats? Did you know that there’s a sonic hedgehog gene that can make your skin peel off? Can you fathom that pheromones could make you fall in love?

The Violinist’s Thumb contains chapters on all of these topics – it combines shocking facts with biological premises with the history of DNA discovery. For those who love biology Sam Kean incorporates an inundation of knowledge in this book. His writing never gets too long-winded or lackadaisical; his humor is refreshing but he maintains his ethos with a scholarly tone.

However, it took me over two weeks to finish this book just because I couldn’t keep an interest in the subject matter. I sped through certain chapters like the one on atavisms, though the passages about well-known scientists and brazen theories bored me. On an entirely objective level perhaps this book deserves a higher rating. But, because I rate subjectively and feel cheated out of the time I could’ve used to read other books, The Violinist’s Thumb gets a three.

Recommended for anyone who enjoys biology or wants a relatively easy introduction to the subject. I used a chapter of this book for my AP Biology project and impressed my teacher, showing that The Violinist’s Thumb is accessible to a wide variety of ages and knowledge levels.



Filed under 3 stars, Book Reviews, Books

2 responses to “The Violinist’s Thumb by Sam Kean

  1. Seems like an interesting book in some aspects, but I am not that into biology. I’m probably going to pass on this book.

    As always, great review!

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