I thought it was a good time to step outside the world of fiction and maybe even learn something new so I decided to read a non-fiction book. While fiction is my passion, I enjoy learning new things and expanding my knowledge base so I like to mix in the occasional “serious” book. With that in mind, I picked up “The selfish gene” by Richard Dawkins.
In “The selfish gene,” Dawkins explores evolution from the standpoint of the single gene rather than focusing on an entire organism or group. He uses this as a platform to look at many of the actions that organisms take as a gene-centered imperative rather than a choice. This goes a long way in explaining altruism, which seems unselfish at first glance but is actually selfish and beneficial to the gene if the action is toward a close, genetically-related organism.
Dawkins clearly states that there are no inherent motives in how a gene works but that it is programmed to do everything it can to replicate itself and pass itself on to future generations. The gene will do whatever is necessary to pass its traits on to the future for as long as it can. These traits can come and go in a cyclical fashion but the genes do what is necessary to ensure that they will survive and this action in turn leads to what is best for the organism and even the group.
In “The selfish gene,” Dawkins presents a thorough look at evolution through genetics and covers the topic exhaustively and from different perspectives. He looks at how genes are propagated through generations and how this affects what the genes do. This is an extraordinarily well researched book and it is easy to see why it was revolutionary in its field.
The problem with the book from a layman’s perspective is that it is not a compelling read. Yes, it is interesting for the most part and full of information but it often reads like it was written for a scholar of the subject rather than a general reader.
I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone looking to learn more about the topic. It just could be a little dry for the general reader.