Sometimes I pick which book to read next by browsing the stacks at the Library. Sometimes I pick something that was featured in the parenting magazine. Sometimes books catch my eye out of the weekly Barnes and Noble emails.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot landed on my parenting magazine, Barnes and Noble, and random facebook post. I suggested it for book club a few months ago but it wasn't the lucky winner that month. But I read it anyway.
I absolutely loved every page. There's still time yet, but it might just have been my favorite book this year. I don't think I made the connection that this was a true story before I started reading. And I admit that before reading this book I didn't know the origins of HeLa cells. I have dabbled in microbiology and cell culture in my scientific career but it's not something that is routine for me. HeLa cells, it turns out, have the unique ability to multiply and survive indefinitely as long as they are given the needed growing conditions. This differs from other cell lines in laboratories which have a definite lifespan. The whole longer telomeres are the key to living forever theory I suppose.
The Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks is a story both of how the cells were taken without her knowledge and discovered as well as the impact it has had on her family and her children. It also details the struggles of the scientific community in advancing research, collaborations, and tissue ownership.
I have been hounding the husband to read it. I'd like to know if it is as fascinating a book to a regular person as it was to me, a science dork. He has not yet. And seeing as how he is bffs with the librarian and has a smoking, hot of the presses copy of Inheritance, I guess I'll be waiting a little while longer for his thoughts on the matter.
But you should read it. Consider it a science homework assignment.