Book Beginnings: The Violinist’s Thumb by Sam Kean

Not only does Gilion host the European Reading and TBR 23 in 23 on her Rose City Reader blog but also Book Beginnings on Friday. While I’m no stranger to her European Reading Challenge, last year I decided to finally participate in Book Beginnings on Friday. This week I’m back with another post.

For Book Beginnings on Friday Gilion asks us to simply “share the opening sentence (or so) of the book you are reading this week, or just a book that caught your fancy and you want to highlight.”


This might as well come out up front, first paragraph. This is a book about DNA – about digging up stories buried in your DNA for thousands, even millions of years, and using DNA to solve mysteries about human beings whose solutions once seemed lost forever.

Last week I featured Ramona Ausubel’s 2012 historical novel No One is Here Except All of Us. The week before it was the 1998 memoir Thanks to My Mother by Schoschana Rabinovici. This week it’s Sam Kean’s 2012 The Violinist’s Thumb: And Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius, as Written by Our Genetic Code. As you might have seen in an earlier post, I recently grabbed this one from my small town public library. I’ve been meaning to read it for years, ever since I heard he did a follow up to The Disappearing SpoonHere’s what the book’s Amazon page has to say.

In The Disappearing Spoon, bestselling author Sam Kean unlocked the mysteries of the periodic table. In The Violinist’s Thumb, he explores the wonders of the magical building block of life: DNA.

There are genes to explain crazy cat ladies, why other people have no fingerprints, and why some people survive nuclear bombs. Genes illuminate everything from JFK’s bronze skin (it wasn’t a tan) to Einstein’s genius. They prove that Neanderthals and humans bred thousands of years more recently than any of us would feel comfortable thinking. They can even allow some people, because of the exceptional flexibility of their thumbs and fingers, to become truly singular violinists.


12 thoughts on “Book Beginnings: The Violinist’s Thumb by Sam Kean

  1. Pingback: Book Beginnings: Earning the Rockies by Robert D. Kaplan | Maphead's Book Blog

  2. Pingback: Book Beginnings: Jade Dragon Mountain by Elsa Hart | Maphead's Book Blog

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