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Book 35

  1. Pohl, Frederik — Gateway (278 pages)
  2. Clement, Hal — Mission of Gravity (193 pages)
  3. Benford, Gregory — Timescape (499 pages)
  4. O'Hare, Mick (editor) — Why Don't Penguins Feet Freeze? and 114 Other Questions (232 pages)
  5. Dos Passos, John — Number One (218 pages)
  6. Heller, Joseph — Catch-22 (457 pages)
  7. St. John of the Cross — Dark Night of the Soul (119 pages)
  8. Day, Dorothy — The Long Loneliness (286 pages)
  9. Allen, Ted, Kyan Douglas, Thom Filicia, Carson Kressley, and Jai Rodriguez — Queer Eye for the Straight Guy: The Fab 5's Guide to Looking Better, Cooking Better, Dressing Better, Behaving Better, and Living Better (250 pages)
  10. Whittemore, Carroll E., ed. (William Duncan, illus.) — Symbols of the Church (59 pages)
  11. Hardy, Thomas — Jude the Obscure (507 pages)
  12. Lee, Harper — To Kill a Mockingbird (278 pages)
  13. Mann, Thomas (Helen T. Lowe-Porter, transl.) — Death in Venice (73 pages)
  14. Kempis, Thomas à — The Imitation of Christ (165 pages)
  15. West, Canon Edward N. — Outward Signs: The Language of Christian Symbolism (232 pages)
  16. Alexander, Lloyd — The High King (253 pages)
  17. Bellairs, John — St. Fidgeta & Other Parodies (84 pages)
  18. Endo, Shusaku — Silence (300 pages)
  19. Moorcock, Michael — Behold the Man (137 pages)
  20. Pouncey, Peter — Rules for Old Men Waiting (208 pages)
  21. Davies, Robertson — Tempest-Tost (The Salterton Trilogy) (235 pages)
  22. Davies, Robertson — Leaven of Malice (The Salterton Trilogy) (218 pages)
  23. Davies, Robertson — A Mixture of Frailties (The Salterton Trilogy) (311 pages)
  24. Austen, Jane — Pride and Prejudice (274 pages)
  25. Murakami, Haruki — Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World (400 pages)
  26. Burrows, Ruth, O.C.D. — Essence of Prayer (210 pages)
  27. McCarthy, Cormac — The Road (239 pages)
  28. Dahl, Roald — The BFG (184 pages)
  29. Eugenides, Jeffrey — The Virgin Suicides (247 pages)
  30. Geoffrey of Monmouth — The History of the Kings of Britain (280 pages)
  31. Figgess, Sandra — Christian Initiation of Older Children (87 pages)
  32. Clarke, Susanna — Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (1006 pages)
  33. Sobel, Dava — Longitude (179 pages)
  34. Bradbury, Ray — The Martian Chronicles (181 pages)
  35. Jones, Steve — Y: The Descent of Men (263 pages)

Page count: 9,142 of targeted 12,500.

We were discussing genetics one afternoon—and I was fondly remembering Matt Ridley's Genome—when HWMBO suggested I might enjoy Y: The Descent of Men. Well, thought I, Genome was fascinating, so I couldn't go wrong with another popular account of genetics.

I suppose every popular book on genetics has to have a gimmick. Ridley's was to write his account in 23 chapters, each focusing on a gene or group of genes in each of the chromosomes. Jones' was to model his book after Darwin's The Descent of Man, a fact that, despite the title, Jones had to point out to me in a late chapter.

Whereas Ridley's book was a page-turner, Jones' book failed to sustain interest for long stretches. Indeed, some sections of the book were fascinating, particularly in the latter third, but sadly too many plodded on. While the book is generally about the "plight" of maleness, mostly from a genetic perspective, I can't really tell you what Jones was trying to say. Most of the time the narrative devolved into a laundry list of factoids loosely related to the chapter's topic, and I often felt as though Jones were simply trying to impress us with the vastness of his knowledge. (At one point my inner monologue called him Cliff Clavin!)

If you're interested in a popular account of genetics, I couldn't recommend Genome enough, but I think you could safely give Y: The Descent of Men a pass.

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