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The Better Half: On the Genetic Superiority of Women

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3.97  ·  Rating details ·  324 ratings  ·  74 reviews
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
...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published April 7th 2020 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Nicole Nope. Not at all. To me the book read as a totally inclusive take on the story of the X chromosome.

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Martha
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
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 ...more
Brinley  Harrington
Apr 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Brianna
Apr 22, 2020 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Camille Pum
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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!
Violet
Jun 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-books
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 ...more
Christine
Apr 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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.
Erika Kraus
Jan 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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!
Bri
May 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Laura
Apr 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
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 ...more
And On She Reads
Mar 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Peter Z.
Dec 21, 2019 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jim
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
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.
Annie
Aug 27, 2020 rated it liked it
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.
Jan Peregrine
Aug 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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
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Esther King
Mar 30, 2020 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Tanya
Jul 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfic
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)
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Colin Marks
Apr 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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
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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
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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
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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
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Ryan Lane
Nov 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Great book a lot of interesting topics
Justine
Jul 21, 2020 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
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
...more
Kris
Oct 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, kindle, hardcover
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 ...more
Mephistia
Jun 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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.
...more
Michelle Best
Mar 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Candace Rollins
Aug 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
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.
Laura Luzzi
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaway, science
Genetics are fascinating to me, so I really enjoyed this book with all the different stories.
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Sharon Moalem, MD, PhD, is an award-winning physician-scientist and geneticist. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller Survival of the Sickest and Inheritance, an Amazon Best Science Book of the Year, among other books. His work brings together evolution, genetics, and medicine to revolutionize how we understand and treat disease, and his clinical research led to the discovery of two ne ...more

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