Intuition by Allegra Goodman

There is absolutely nothing to dislike about Intuition. It is a well-researched book that takes a choppy ride over the seas of life in scientific research, specifically cancer research, where the tiniest results can extrapolate out with life-saving possibilities. We follow one particular lab, the Mendelssohn-Glass lab, in its battle against cancer, looking at its postdocs and lab technicians, as well as the lab directors and their families.

When one disgruntled postdoc announces significant cancer beating results in his mice experiment, opinion becomes divided about the veracity of those results and the lab is torn apart by the battle between self-glorification and scientific truth, played out against the politics of government funded research and all the responsibilities that should engender. Whilst there is a wealth of material here, and Intuition is by no means written badly, I couldn’t get excited about the book. In the end I felt it came down to me simply not being Intuition’s ideal reader.

I enjoyed reading Intuition and I would encourage those interested in scientific research and its complexities to read it, but I like books to be more than a good read and whilst there was nothing in Intuition to rile me, neither did I find myself lost in the pleasure of a turn of phrase or in the run of the narrative. Intuition could be about the search for truth, and certainly critics have read it that way, but for me it was more about humanity’s incessant and unrealistic desire for longevity, something I’m not entirely sure the book wanted me to think about. However, in this instance, I’m putting my feelings down to taste. Given the subject of longing for eternity, I’d rather read something less scientific, like The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.

Next week, I will be reading Love Life by Zeruya Shalev and of course indulging in Christmas. It remains to be seen whether I can manage both…

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