I wanted to read more about genetics, so I picked up The X in Sex: How the X Chromosome Controls Our Lives by David Bainbridge (Harvard University Press, 2003), which focuses on the genetics of the sex chromosomes. It was a very engaging and easy to understand book, and it has left me even more interested in the chromosomes that make up my body.
The X in Sex has a steamy cover, which is a bit unrelated from the book. This book is not about sexuality in terms of passion and romance but rather about gender, specifically the sex chromosomes. David Bainbridge’s text seems to match the suggestive attitude of the cover because it is a readable and fascinating scientific look at the power behind the X chromosome.
What is it that makes a person male or female? Normally, it’s the presence of a Y chromosome that makes the developing fetus become male. That seems to be a powerful chromosome, and Bainbridge touches on the Y chromosome in his discussion. In reality, though, it is the X chromosome that has lots behind it. It is much larger than the Y and that is where the differences appear. Bainbridge discusses the sexual development of a fetus, he discusses Y-linked diseases, and he discusses what having two X chromosomes means for women.
The X in Sex is fascinating reading. I never thought about chromosomes before, and Bainbridge approaches the subject in an easy to read and succinct way. The book is about 180 pages, and Bainbridge is obviously comfortable in both science and non-scientific circles. Bainbridge commented once about how life is in the chromosomes and not from God, but he wasn’t snide about it, and it didn’t bother me at all. Also, I never once felt “over my head” as I read, and that’s saying something. I found out about this book thanks to a review on Eva’s blog. Now I want to know more about the chromosomes that make me human – and that make me a unique human at that!