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A Guardian Book of the Week Longlisted for the PEN / E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award An award-winning physician and scientist makes the game-changing case that genetic females are stronger than males at every stage of life Here are some facts: Women live longer than men. They have stronger immune systems. They're better at fighting cancer and surviving famine, an A Guardian Book of the Week Longlisted for the PEN / E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award An award-winning physician and scientist makes the game-changing case that genetic females are stronger than males at every stage of life Here are some facts: Women live longer than men. They have stronger immune systems. They're better at fighting cancer and surviving famine, and even see the world in a wider variety of colors. They are simply stronger than men at every stage of life. Why is this? And why are we taught the opposite? To find out, Dr. Sharon Moalem drew on his own medical experiences - treating premature babies in the neonatal intensive care unit; recruiting the elderly for neurogenetic studies; tending to HIV-positive orphans in Thailand - and tried to understand why in every instance men were consistently less likely to thrive. The answer, he discovered, lies in our genetics: two X chromosomes offer a powerful survival advantage. With clear, captivating prose that weaves together eye-opening research, case studies, diverse examples ranging from the behavior of honeybees to American pioneers, as well as experiences from his personal life and his own patients, Moalem explains why genetic females triumph over males when it comes to resiliency, intellect, stamina, immunity and much more. He also calls for a reconsideration of our male-centric, one-size-fits-all view of medical studies and even how we prescribe medications - a view that still sees women through the lens of men. Revolutionary and yet utterly convincing, The Better Half will make you see humanity and the survival of our species anew.


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A Guardian Book of the Week Longlisted for the PEN / E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award An award-winning physician and scientist makes the game-changing case that genetic females are stronger than males at every stage of life Here are some facts: Women live longer than men. They have stronger immune systems. They're better at fighting cancer and surviving famine, an A Guardian Book of the Week Longlisted for the PEN / E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award An award-winning physician and scientist makes the game-changing case that genetic females are stronger than males at every stage of life Here are some facts: Women live longer than men. They have stronger immune systems. They're better at fighting cancer and surviving famine, and even see the world in a wider variety of colors. They are simply stronger than men at every stage of life. Why is this? And why are we taught the opposite? To find out, Dr. Sharon Moalem drew on his own medical experiences - treating premature babies in the neonatal intensive care unit; recruiting the elderly for neurogenetic studies; tending to HIV-positive orphans in Thailand - and tried to understand why in every instance men were consistently less likely to thrive. The answer, he discovered, lies in our genetics: two X chromosomes offer a powerful survival advantage. With clear, captivating prose that weaves together eye-opening research, case studies, diverse examples ranging from the behavior of honeybees to American pioneers, as well as experiences from his personal life and his own patients, Moalem explains why genetic females triumph over males when it comes to resiliency, intellect, stamina, immunity and much more. He also calls for a reconsideration of our male-centric, one-size-fits-all view of medical studies and even how we prescribe medications - a view that still sees women through the lens of men. Revolutionary and yet utterly convincing, The Better Half will make you see humanity and the survival of our species anew.

30 review for The Better Half: On the Genetic Superiority of Women

  1. 5 out of 5

    Martha

    I received an advance copy to review and I have to say that as a woman, I was actually surprised at the number of things I learned from this book that I was never taught in school. I really hadn't understood that women benefit from having two X chromosomes over their whole lives, strengthening their immune systems and even helping them fight some kinds of cancer more effectively than males. I loved how the author explained that two X chromosomes gives females more genetic 'options' to choose fro I received an advance copy to review and I have to say that as a woman, I was actually surprised at the number of things I learned from this book that I was never taught in school. I really hadn't understood that women benefit from having two X chromosomes over their whole lives, strengthening their immune systems and even helping them fight some kinds of cancer more effectively than males. I loved how the author explained that two X chromosomes gives females more genetic 'options' to choose from, which is why overall women don't have as many X-linked conditions as males like color-blindness: mind-blowing! I also totally didn't know how many more problems men have in general during brain development because they only have one X chromosome. I feel like this book gave me an overall understanding for how females are different.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ariel ✨

    I'm not sure how to rate this! If you found your way here after reading SCUM or Hothead Paisan, you've been misled. Dr. Sharon Moalem mixes personal stories with historical anecdotes and genetics to find different ways to say, "the X chromosome has more genetic diversity to draw on in the event of a problem," and "sex differences allow genetic females to survive in adverse conditions for a longer amount of time." He uses both "women" and "genetic females" when discussing people with XX chromosom I'm not sure how to rate this! If you found your way here after reading SCUM or Hothead Paisan, you've been misled. Dr. Sharon Moalem mixes personal stories with historical anecdotes and genetics to find different ways to say, "the X chromosome has more genetic diversity to draw on in the event of a problem," and "sex differences allow genetic females to survive in adverse conditions for a longer amount of time." He uses both "women" and "genetic females" when discussing people with XX chromosomes, not as an attempt at gender inclusivity or recognition of trans identity, but more to cut down on repetition. The title is just a cheeky marketing strategy. The book is dense, but you don't need a medical background to understand it. For a more detailed account of how sex differences affect our daily lives, I recommend reading Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Brinley Harrington

    This is a great book for anyone who has an inkling of scientific interest. The book tackles a topic that is hard to write about anyways but puts it into a format that you can't put down. Not only is it informative but it is easy to read and the author explains everything, so even if you are not scientifically inclined or have that knowledge you will be able to understand. The book focuses on how the two X chromosomes in women give a genetic advantage when it comes to genetic choice against men. This is a great book for anyone who has an inkling of scientific interest. The book tackles a topic that is hard to write about anyways but puts it into a format that you can't put down. Not only is it informative but it is easy to read and the author explains everything, so even if you are not scientifically inclined or have that knowledge you will be able to understand. The book focuses on how the two X chromosomes in women give a genetic advantage when it comes to genetic choice against men. The book has nice progress, going from one chapter to the next and you will learn some things that will make you stop and think and want to get more information. I recommend this book to both inexperienced scientists and more well-read scientists. Even with that, anyone can read and enjoy this book!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Brianna

    This is sort of a strange book. One the one hand, it highlights some recent research about sex differences in morbidity and mortality that might be linked to the possession of XX vs XY chromosomes, which is its main goal, but on the other hand it projects a sensationalist and at times perverse narrative style that necessarily distorts many of the findings. I’m going to focus on this aspect of the book because the science is pretty straightforward. This narrative style is basically to define a me This is sort of a strange book. One the one hand, it highlights some recent research about sex differences in morbidity and mortality that might be linked to the possession of XX vs XY chromosomes, which is its main goal, but on the other hand it projects a sensationalist and at times perverse narrative style that necessarily distorts many of the findings. I’m going to focus on this aspect of the book because the science is pretty straightforward. This narrative style is basically to define a meaningless term, in this case it’s “genetic superiority,” in such a way as to lead you to the inevitability of the author’s conclusion as indicated in the title. Moalem actually defines “genetic superiority” to mean advantages in longevity and immunity, and then proceeds to show how males are more vulnerable than females, on average, in this context. He argues strongly that this difference arises mainly in possessing two X chromosomes versus one. It has been known for a long time that recessive X-linked disorders, for instance, are more common in males. These include conditions like color blindness, hemophilia, and some developmental disorders. Additionally, mosaicism of the X chromosome in female cells might provide them some advantages in immune functioning, and this research is a little more recent. These findings are very interesting and especially topical in the current climate. But they are not really that controversial, in my view. I have heard about them for years in classes, literature, and textbooks when doing my PhD work in biomedical science. It has been long proposed to explain, along with many other factors, the differences in longevity between men and women. On that front, the book has merit and brings some interesting facts to light. The only controversial point is that Moalem almost completely neglects that social factors, such as lifestyle or work differences, could be partly responsible. He mentions it a few times, but doesn’t give it the consideration it deserves in my view. Nevertheless, no overall problems with the information presented. His language and narrative style is really the issue here. “Genetic superiority” is a silly term and not a real concept in biology. Define the criteria however you like and force whatever conclusion you want. The question is should we even have a criteria for such a concept at all? I understand he has a precise definition he is using, but it sows confusion in my view. From a biological and evolutionary perspective, organisms face different challenges and adapt differently to their environments, and so males and females adapted to different challenges to perpetuate their genes and represent two evolved strategies for that purpose. Organisms will compromise their longevity for benefits in other areas, and those compromises come out differently for males and females of many organisms. Do we argue for the “genetic superiority” of males because they are faster, stronger, have higher lung capacity, more red blood cells, greater psychomotor capacity, less likely to have depression, better spatial abilities, have higher pain tolerance, etc? Or how about the “genetic superiority” of whites over blacks because they are less likely to get diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and live longer? Already you can see the issue with this invidious language, as it encourages a kind of divisive thinking and differential valuation of groups. And if you think a book with the opposite title (which could be written with evidence of the differences favoring males mentioned above) would not generate enormous outrage for exactly this reason, I have a bridge to sell you. Don’t get me wrong, the book is an interesting read and I don’t doubt at all that Moalem has good intentions at heart, despite the problematic way he chose to frame the issue. But ultimately I didn’t necessarily learn anything that new or surprising. There’s interesting science here, but the presentation often leaves much to be desired.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Camille Pum

    I won this book in the giveaway! Sharon Moalem presents a good deal of statistical and factual proof to back their claims and easily kept my interest. Awesome read!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Violet

    I loved this book! It was very accessible, but very informative. I loved learning about chromosomes, the specificities of the female body and its genetics and I was amazed by how little I actually know about it. Reading it I felt like I was discovering some superpowers I have and didn't know about - my immune system works better than the average man's, I can resist a famine better, I will recover faster from an injury... It was amazing to imagine the "silent" chromosomes jumping into action when I loved this book! It was very accessible, but very informative. I loved learning about chromosomes, the specificities of the female body and its genetics and I was amazed by how little I actually know about it. Reading it I felt like I was discovering some superpowers I have and didn't know about - my immune system works better than the average man's, I can resist a famine better, I will recover faster from an injury... It was amazing to imagine the "silent" chromosomes jumping into action when something goes wrong, like an army of little soldiers. It made me appreciate my body more (in a weird way) - there's something really magic about how it all works and it's amazing to learn than in many ways, women are engineered to be more resistant than men. I can't recommend this book enough. (Free copy from NetGalley)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    It turns out that two X chromosomes offer a powerful survival advantage. Dr. Sharon Moalem explains why, to those of us who are not medical professionals, in clear, understandable terms. He explains his research and gives interesting case histories. Highly recommended. I always love a writer who reads his own book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Erika Kraus

    I won this book in the giveaway! Sharon Moalem has done their reserch for this book based on science, genetics and the wonderful ways women are successful. A must-read!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bri

    This is an absolutely fantastic read. Not written in the tone of "women are the best" or really any sort of feminist lens, this takes it down to strictly the benefits of having a diplo set of sex-linked chromosomes (XX in female humans, ZZ in male birds, for example) and the genetic benefits that come from having a backup copy of each gene on the chromosome. This was a riveting read and fantastic narrative of why more medical and pharmacological studies need to include female subjects (mice, cel This is an absolutely fantastic read. Not written in the tone of "women are the best" or really any sort of feminist lens, this takes it down to strictly the benefits of having a diplo set of sex-linked chromosomes (XX in female humans, ZZ in male birds, for example) and the genetic benefits that come from having a backup copy of each gene on the chromosome. This was a riveting read and fantastic narrative of why more medical and pharmacological studies need to include female subjects (mice, cells, humans, etc), and how medically speaking, the genetic sexes should be treated differently in many cases.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    An image exists in fiction and our cultural hivemind of the weak woman. Incapable of survival without male guardianship, too frail to lift anything heavier than a baby, too feeble for feats of endurance. It’s nonsense, but the myth persists. Enter stage left Dr Sharon Moalem. Drawing on experience and research as a medic, geneticist and specialist in rare diseases, Moalem explores in The Better Half why women (or rather, XX chromosome carriers) consistently outperform men (respectively XY carrie An image exists in fiction and our cultural hivemind of the weak woman. Incapable of survival without male guardianship, too frail to lift anything heavier than a baby, too feeble for feats of endurance. It’s nonsense, but the myth persists. Enter stage left Dr Sharon Moalem. Drawing on experience and research as a medic, geneticist and specialist in rare diseases, Moalem explores in The Better Half why women (or rather, XX chromosome carriers) consistently outperform men (respectively XY carriers) in areas such as immunity, stamina, and adaptability. It is a thought-provoking premise, that genetically speaking bodies that carry XX chromosomes are stronger than those with XY (or by extension, any variation where only one X is present). I found it exceptionally well paired with Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez. In her book Perez talks about ‘male default thinking’ - the assumption that the male experience is the default, and everything female is an add-on. The Better Half does something similar in examining the assumption that male bodies are stronger, and everything female is a handicap. It’s a fascinating exploration not only of the survival advantages XX entails, but the clear need for reconsidering the male-centric view of the human body throughout science and medicine. Just why do women cope with disease better? Why are they unlikely to be colourblind? And why do women suffer more auto-immune conditions? For the most part the writing is accessible, suffice to say that even I - nought but a lowly film grad - could understand the science. However, there were moments where it felt Moalem couldn't fix on which ‘mode’ to write in. The established specialist addressing their peers, or as easy and breezy pop-science? There were a few tangents, and a couple of paragraphs that I had to double read. That said, after I had finished the initial text and skimmed through the notes and references there were the expansions I had needed. So I don’t know if this is really an issue with the book, or just that I read it as an eBook. Someone with a print version tell me if there are footnotes instead of a notes section. On the topic of accessibility I have to veer off into Gender Politics for a bit. When I read the title and summary I did worry The Better Half would be ‘terfy’ - endorsing Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist views on gender and sex. If you had that same worry, you really don’t need to. While not much page space if given to trans or intersex bodies, very early on Moalem draws a sharp line between a person’s gender identity and their genetic sex. This book is concerned with the contents of your chromosomes, not the contents of your pants. I haven’t been able to get The Better Half out of my head since finishing it (particularly the immunity part). I’ve already mentioned Invisible Women, I’d also recommend this to anyone who enjoyed The Gendered Brain by Gina Rippon, and/or Inferior by Angel Saini. To everyone else, if you’ve ever looked at a female anglerfish or spider and wondered why nature endowed them with size and survivability over their male counterparts, this is a book for you. I received my copy through NetGalley in exchange for a review, all opinions my own etc etc

  11. 4 out of 5

    And On She Reads

    There is an immense amount of power in this book. The strength that Sharon Moalem shows through her personal experiences and through her research is as supportive as it is fascinating, and you feel as if you are almost witnessing a change in yourself as you read, almost unwittingly, sucked in by the power of this book. It is utterly intriguing, and there is so much to be gained from reading it. At times I felt I was sitting there with my eyebrows raised, but every statement was backed up with va There is an immense amount of power in this book. The strength that Sharon Moalem shows through her personal experiences and through her research is as supportive as it is fascinating, and you feel as if you are almost witnessing a change in yourself as you read, almost unwittingly, sucked in by the power of this book. It is utterly intriguing, and there is so much to be gained from reading it. At times I felt I was sitting there with my eyebrows raised, but every statement was backed up with various points that the author had evidently dedicated herself to writing, and there were various points that I said to my friends "did you know?" or "What do you think about this?". If nothing else, it led to some interesting discussions! Highly recommended reading, especially during these troubled times.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Peter Z.

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. "They are simply stronger than men at every stage of life" Hey this is a really stupid debate but if women are stronger than men why does the military need to lower the strength requirements for women to be able to compete with men? Anyway, this is dumb. Women are predisposed to be better at some things and men, others. Fish are totally failing the flying exam given by the birds. But somehow birds are doing really badly at the underwater agility tests the fish are giving. Might as well argue that "They are simply stronger than men at every stage of life" Hey this is a really stupid debate but if women are stronger than men why does the military need to lower the strength requirements for women to be able to compete with men? Anyway, this is dumb. Women are predisposed to be better at some things and men, others. Fish are totally failing the flying exam given by the birds. But somehow birds are doing really badly at the underwater agility tests the fish are giving. Might as well argue that green is a better color than red or daytime is better than nighttime. Silliness.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    I won and advanced copy of this book on Goodreads. A fascinating and intriguing read. I always felt too that women genetically seem a lot more heartier and stronger. Not meaning physically but being able to ward off certain diseases and overall seem healthier and recover quicker. After all, we all know women live longer than men in general. A very interesting topic that blends medicine, science and a lot of examples throughout history.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    Although it became a little repetitive, I learned quite a lot so this was a worthwhile read. Moalem does a good job acknowledging the gender data gap and providing medical terminology and examples in a way that was easy to understand.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jan Peregrine

    The Better Half: On The Genetic Superiority Of Women~~ I've just enjoyed my third nonfiction book by Sharon Moalem, MD, Phd. The first was The Survival of the Sickest and the second How Sex Works. This one is 2020's The Better Half: On The Genetic Superiority of Women. Moalem is a male physician renowned around the world for creating vital antibiotics in this time of antibiotic overuse and resistance. He wants to save the human race from pandemics if he can, but he needs our ears. He needs us to The Better Half: On The Genetic Superiority Of Women~~ I've just enjoyed my third nonfiction book by Sharon Moalem, MD, Phd. The first was The Survival of the Sickest and the second How Sex Works. This one is 2020's The Better Half: On The Genetic Superiority of Women. Moalem is a male physician renowned around the world for creating vital antibiotics in this time of antibiotic overuse and resistance. He wants to save the human race from pandemics if he can, but he needs our ears. He needs us to listen. It is no joke for him to declare that women are genetically superior to men. It's the biological truth. It's science. Women have two X chromosomes giving them far more genetic diversity while men have one X chromosome only they must rely on. When there's a genetic mutation, women can use their other X chromosome. Men can't. Moalem explains that this is why women around the world win at resilience, intellect, stamina, immunity, and more. They live longer, even if as premature twins. They survive famines when man can't. They get much less of the cancers both sexes get and much less heart disease and infections. Women have such hypervigilant immune systems they're more prone to autoimmune diseases and Alzheimer's, but much less autism and neurological disorders.. I learned that there are only 100 females born for every 105 males. This is because females are more difficult to make, requiring one X chromosome to be silenced for fetal growth and this often fails to go right. Most miscarriages are for females. The silenced X is partly active, however, after birth, giving women genetic diversity. The main point of Moalem's book is to help us understand that the sexes need to be treated medically according to their sex. Women react much more dramatically to drugs and vaccines than men. Our donated organs need to come from the same sexed patient He tells about his wife and him getting typhoid shots together. She had a strong response that made her sick and sore, but he didn't and contracted typhoid while she didn't. He talks about how only male rats would be sent him at his lab and he'd have to special order female rats. There's significant differences in how even female rats respond to drugs and that can be dangerous or ineffective for human females. Remember this: women's digestive system works slower than a man's. Women need to wait longer to take medication that';s supposed to be taken on an empty stomach. Fascinating book and highly recommended! .

  16. 5 out of 5

    Esther King

    This was a fascinating book about the biological differences between AFAB and AMAB bodies, and how there seems to be a prevalence of women who manage to outlive the men in their lives. It swings between examination of quantitative and qualitative research in an effort to highlight the difference between types of bodies, giving the reader an encompassing view of the many facets surrounding biology. The chromosomal partiality to genetic conditions such as colourblindness was fascinating, and the I This was a fascinating book about the biological differences between AFAB and AMAB bodies, and how there seems to be a prevalence of women who manage to outlive the men in their lives. It swings between examination of quantitative and qualitative research in an effort to highlight the difference between types of bodies, giving the reader an encompassing view of the many facets surrounding biology. The chromosomal partiality to genetic conditions such as colourblindness was fascinating, and the ICU survival rates are also a sobering but interesting series of facts to learn about. If you’re concerned about TERF-y content, worry not- this is purely a take on the way that the X chromosome affects medical outcomes. I do wish that there was a deeper dive into the fundamental differences between the expectations of medical doctors in the modern day and the reality of female sexuality- Samantha’s story is far too common for comfort, with many people who have vaginas mistaking their orgasms for incontinence. It also could have done with a little more content regarding most of the matters included, but it serves as a good introduction to chromosomal difference. Thanks to NetGalley for my ARC!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tanya

    I would say it's a pretty fun read considering it's a nonfiction book (but I'm also kinda nerdy, so take that into consideration). I wouldn't suggest reading this if you have little boys, you might be a little heartbroken about the potential health problems they could have just by being born with XY chromosomes. But if you are a woman that needs a pick me up, this book might just do it for you. I've known for a while that medical care and more (hello, seat-belts/cars where not designed for women) I would say it's a pretty fun read considering it's a nonfiction book (but I'm also kinda nerdy, so take that into consideration). I wouldn't suggest reading this if you have little boys, you might be a little heartbroken about the potential health problems they could have just by being born with XY chromosomes. But if you are a woman that needs a pick me up, this book might just do it for you. I've known for a while that medical care and more (hello, seat-belts/cars where not designed for women) have not been taking women's bodies into account. This book helps to bring that a bit more into the light, but also why men have such a harder time with being sick (man cold is a thing, but not for the reasons we thought). We're just at the toddler stage of understanding what our bodies do/can do. I think anyone that deals with medical care would be benefited by reading this book, but with the lack of medical professionals not being updated with the most current information, everyone can benefit from having a bit more knowledge about what is going on in their body.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Colin Marks

    Men have XY chromosomes, women have two Xs. That extra X gives women a level of redundancy - if something bad happens, whether that be dodgy DNA or an infectious disease, the female body can chose between those two Xs and select the stronger. As a result, women live longer and healthier lives. That's the jist of the Better Half - but Sharon goes into various anecdotes and case studies, though often a bit too deep into medicine for a lay person. Some of the conclusions seem a little stretched, suc Men have XY chromosomes, women have two Xs. That extra X gives women a level of redundancy - if something bad happens, whether that be dodgy DNA or an infectious disease, the female body can chose between those two Xs and select the stronger. As a result, women live longer and healthier lives. That's the jist of the Better Half - but Sharon goes into various anecdotes and case studies, though often a bit too deep into medicine for a lay person. Some of the conclusions seem a little stretched, such as the XX benefited the women in the Donner Party (the American pioneers who resorted to cannibalism when trapped over the winter) - I suspect it's more to do with the men out hunting in the cold - but there's a lot of useful information packed into those pages. Well worth a read. I would've given it a 4.5 (as too much medical info) but rounding up to a 5! Book supplied by Netgalley for an honest review.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Gayle Noble

    Across the world, once variables have been adjusted for, having the double X chromosome seems to confer a better immune response and longevity than XY, but conversely means they are more likely to suffer autoimmune conditions. The author takes a look at how and why genetic females seem to have a distinct advantage when it comes to survival. A fascinating look at the advantages and disadvantages of having double X chromosomes, and how science and medicine has let us all down by historically not i Across the world, once variables have been adjusted for, having the double X chromosome seems to confer a better immune response and longevity than XY, but conversely means they are more likely to suffer autoimmune conditions. The author takes a look at how and why genetic females seem to have a distinct advantage when it comes to survival. A fascinating look at the advantages and disadvantages of having double X chromosomes, and how science and medicine has let us all down by historically not including genetic females in research. I thought it was very readable and the science was explained in a clear, concise way. I did find that certain aspects were repeated too often and it began to feel a bit like a sledgehammer to crack a nut, but I did enjoy reading it for the most part. Thanks to NetGalley and publishers, Penguin UK / Allen Lane, for the opportunity to read an ARC.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Celeste

    3/5 Stars. I can't help but laugh at those males who are proud of their Y chromosome. The fact that they are proud of something that makes them weaker is pretty fucking hilarious. But this book was an ok read. While I appreciate the research that the author has done for this book, I still find it pretty repetitive and redundant. This book is very scientific albeit very digestible. But the author repeats himself quite a lot and I personally didn't find the anecdotes presented in it that interestin 3/5 Stars. I can't help but laugh at those males who are proud of their Y chromosome. The fact that they are proud of something that makes them weaker is pretty fucking hilarious. But this book was an ok read. While I appreciate the research that the author has done for this book, I still find it pretty repetitive and redundant. This book is very scientific albeit very digestible. But the author repeats himself quite a lot and I personally didn't find the anecdotes presented in it that interesting. All the points regarding the genetic superiority of women are things that I already knew. This, of course isn't the book's fault. I am a giant nerd. I am to be blamed. But even so, a book like Inferior by Angela Saini summarizes Moalem's entire book in a chapter. In 20 pages. And that's my problem with this book. It's informative, the research is phenomenal but it should've been shorter.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    The Better Half has some really interesting facts and information in it – the kind I found myself repeating to friends whenever I spoke to them. However I struggled to continue reading past around the half way point. I think I just found it a little repetitive and the stories and anecdotes that accompany many of the facts didn’t grab my attention. It’s definitely got some interesting information and it provoked a lot of thought in me as I read it, but it’s also a book I found myself impatient to The Better Half has some really interesting facts and information in it – the kind I found myself repeating to friends whenever I spoke to them. However I struggled to continue reading past around the half way point. I think I just found it a little repetitive and the stories and anecdotes that accompany many of the facts didn’t grab my attention. It’s definitely got some interesting information and it provoked a lot of thought in me as I read it, but it’s also a book I found myself impatient to get through at other times, because some parts felt a little long for me. It might just not have been what I fancied reading more of at that moment, so it’s a book I think I will return to at another time and see if the rest grabs my attention better at that point, as like I said the first third or so was very interesting!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Lane

    Great book a lot of interesting topics

  23. 5 out of 5

    Justine

    Contains a lot of interesting information on genetics and neuroscience, but unfortunately the organization wasn't great, and the interesting information often seemed like long tangents that were only minimally connected to the point being made. Lacks evolutionary and social context. The thesis itself, that women are genetically superior, was often vaguely addressed, and most approached/framed as "XY males have the deck stacked against them from birth to death" rather than "this, that, and the ot Contains a lot of interesting information on genetics and neuroscience, but unfortunately the organization wasn't great, and the interesting information often seemed like long tangents that were only minimally connected to the point being made. Lacks evolutionary and social context. The thesis itself, that women are genetically superior, was often vaguely addressed, and most approached/framed as "XY males have the deck stacked against them from birth to death" rather than "this, that, and the other thing are what make being an XY woman advantageous in the genetic sense". Somewhat informative but ultimately failed in it's goal of actually highlighting superiority.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Carin

    I was already intrigued by this book but after the author wrote this article in the New York Times, I was determined to read it. After all, why are more men dying of COVID-19? I know that in every place I've ever seen average life expectancies, regardless of era or culture, women always outstrip men by several years. I joke with other girlfriends about how our male spouses seem just decimated by simple colds when we keep on truckin'. But maybe there's something to that? Now, Dr. Maolem doesn't ad I was already intrigued by this book but after the author wrote this article in the New York Times, I was determined to read it. After all, why are more men dying of COVID-19? I know that in every place I've ever seen average life expectancies, regardless of era or culture, women always outstrip men by several years. I joke with other girlfriends about how our male spouses seem just decimated by simple colds when we keep on truckin'. But maybe there's something to that? Now, Dr. Maolem doesn't address "the man cold" specifically, but his other conclusion lead me to believe that it might be a real thing. After all, women's immunological systems are stronger, which is why it hurts so much when I get my last tetanus booster but my husband didn't recall his being a big deal. And women are, in general, healthier. Let me back up. It all boils down to the two X chromosomes. Because genetic women have two, when there's an error or bad gene on one, we usually can fall back on the other. Genetic men cannot. In addition, in certain areas, such as the parts of our bodies that produce antibodies, we likely have 2 Xs in operation, leading to more diversity among the antibody production, which leads to more options and better outcomes. Genetic males, with only one X, don't have these options. Sadly, the Y seems to make a penis and testosterone, and nothing else. It's a tiny, pretty useless chromosome. And it means that men get X-related problems like color blindness, whereas woman sometimes can have super color vision, allowing them to see ten times the number of colors a typical person can see, and even to see a fourth color beyond the standard three (like birds do.) Before anyone jumps on this book for bias, I should note that Dr. Moalem is himself male. And obviously, he's very enlightened, to investigate the differences between the genetics of men and women to see what advantages women have. In the past, when the differences were acknowledged at all, it was only to point out disadvantages women's genetics give us (hormonal, difficult for drug testing). But by looking at the advantages, we might be able to help ALL humans live longer and better lives. Of course, there aren't only advantages. There's always a flip side. Women do get autoimmune diseases at a dramatically higher rate than men, due to our strong immune systems that can sometimes backfire, and there are a few other diseases like Alzheimer's which strike genetic women more often. Then there's the fact that since up until a few years ago, drugs were only tested on male mice and male people, the dosages for women might be way off, if they work for women at all (and don't maybe cause women extreme harm!) Tons of fascinating facts, from why cats and dogs produce their own vitamin C, to how elephants stave off cancer despite being both incredibly large (the more cells you have, the more likely one of them is to go rouge) and their long lives (the longer you live, the more likely you are to get cancer.) If you like armchair science at all, this is incredibly accessible and truly interesting.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kris

    Do not be lulled into believing this book is an argument for feminism. It is the scientific celebration of biological differences on the miniscule level. I originally won a hardcopy through #GoodReadsGiveaway; but, due to the Covid outbreak, the book took quite a while to arrive. In the meantime, I got impatient. I REALLY wanted to read this book. So, I bought a second copy online. Every time I put the book down, someone else in the family would run off with it. So, it's probably a good thing, I Do not be lulled into believing this book is an argument for feminism. It is the scientific celebration of biological differences on the miniscule level. I originally won a hardcopy through #GoodReadsGiveaway; but, due to the Covid outbreak, the book took quite a while to arrive. In the meantime, I got impatient. I REALLY wanted to read this book. So, I bought a second copy online. Every time I put the book down, someone else in the family would run off with it. So, it's probably a good thing, I purchased a back-up. Otherwise, I would have never finished it. As it is, I read the book a second time. Moalem's credentials are beyond dispute. He is not only perfect for covering the subject; he writes in a style that takes science and makes it digestible for those of us who can't begin to understand genetics. It is a homage to looking at sex and the genes that normally 'define' sex in a much broader sense. From the standpoint that XX provides unique opportunities that XY doesn't. From the obvious (childbirth) to more subtle abilities. This book is so perfect for this time & place in human development. It opens doors for mothers, daughters, nieces, and gives them the tools to feel good about who they are. Regardless of how they identify. My original intent in wanting this book? Self-education. I come from a family where generation after generation, the women suffer from horrible, debilitating & deadly auto-immune diseases. Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis. For the longest time, I felt I had been spared...until a Leukemia diagnosis nearly 3 yrs ago. This book, gave me back not only a measure of control; but hope. With doctors like Moalem working to not only understand diseases, but how our bodies are adapted to make the best of a bad situation. I could easily offer examples and spoilers; but, the reader deserves to bring their own personal experience to this encounter, unhindered by my interpretations. Please, Please consider investing in this book. Not only for the science, but for the insight Moalem brings to having practiced medicine for so long. I have already gifted one of my copies to a high school science teacher. My own 18 yr old twins have also read it (to mixed reviews of course!). I have already finished reading sections a second time & have post-it tabs throughout. But the general consensus is that this in an incredible find. Thank-you Mr. Moalem & Farrar, Straus and Giroux for offering up this giveaway. This is one of my 2020 Top 5 books for making science accessible!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mephistia

    I was nervous about reading this. There's a lot of anti-trans stuff out there lately, and I wasn't sure about reading something with a title like that -- it sounds very radically feminist, and inflammatory, and trans*-erasy. I was definitely nervous about reading this book. But. I don't believe in avoiding information just because it's uncomfortable or potentially unpopular, and I do believe in assessing the trustworthiness and validity of the research, source, and claim for myself as best I can. I was nervous about reading this. There's a lot of anti-trans stuff out there lately, and I wasn't sure about reading something with a title like that -- it sounds very radically feminist, and inflammatory, and trans*-erasy. I was definitely nervous about reading this book. But. I don't believe in avoiding information just because it's uncomfortable or potentially unpopular, and I do believe in assessing the trustworthiness and validity of the research, source, and claim for myself as best I can. So I ordered it and read it, and ... he lays out, clearly and cleanly, that 1) medical science has been built on the presumption that genetic males and females differ very little, and 2) this presumption is flawed, and that underlying flawed assumption negatively impacts the medical and pharmacological treatment both genetic males and females recieve (potentially effecting everything from vaccine dosages to medical transplant policies and procedures to medication dosages to different warning signs between the sexes for major medical events). He makes it clear this is not so much about "women" in terms of the gender-identitification thing; he is discussing homosapien genetic women, who have diploid chromosome pairs. He references that existence of male diploid chromosome pairs in other species (birds and reptiles) as an example that it is the diploid chromosome pair which confers the particular immunological strengths he discusses; not whether or not that pair is associated with a genetic male or female. In our species case, it is. Basically, this is biology, not politics.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Best

    An interesting and accessible look at the various ways in which females (genetically speaking) have the advantage. This is NOT a feminist manifesto simply a look at the ways that having two x chromosomes gives females an advantage in many ways. The book is well structured with each chapter taking a look at a different aspect of female superiority. e.g development, immunity, brain function, resilience, longevity. There was a nice balance between scientific explanation and real life examples from th An interesting and accessible look at the various ways in which females (genetically speaking) have the advantage. This is NOT a feminist manifesto simply a look at the ways that having two x chromosomes gives females an advantage in many ways. The book is well structured with each chapter taking a look at a different aspect of female superiority. e.g development, immunity, brain function, resilience, longevity. There was a nice balance between scientific explanation and real life examples from the author's life/work. I did think that there was some repetition of the same point, however this may be a good thing if you haven't previously studied biology/genetics. I would recommend this book for anyone who is interested in gender studies or female v male biology. Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Random House for an advanced reader's copy in exchange for an honest review.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Candace Rollins

    It's been 4 decades since I studied genetics in high school and college, but Dr. Moalem's writing made it easy to understand, even with all the advances since Bb. This book explained a lot about the natural resistance many woman have to disease and cancer and why that is so. Extremely interesting and being a non-fiction book and scientific it was a page turner. It's been 4 decades since I studied genetics in high school and college, but Dr. Moalem's writing made it easy to understand, even with all the advances since Bb. This book explained a lot about the natural resistance many woman have to disease and cancer and why that is so. Extremely interesting and being a non-fiction book and scientific it was a page turner.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Amandainwonderland

    An interesting read. We’re taught that males are the stronger gender, certainly genetically speaking. This book explores an abundance of evidence both biological and environmental based. I’d particularly recommend if your are interested in feminist literature.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Laura Luzzi

    Genetics are fascinating to me, so I really enjoyed this book with all the different stories.

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