Barbara Handelin, Isolating Her Literary Gene Geneticist and bioethics expert Barbara Handelin got a pile of books for her birthday. She says her well-wishers understood her personality and her reading tastes.
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Barbara Handelin, Isolating Her Literary Gene

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Barbara Handelin, Isolating Her Literary Gene

Barbara Handelin, Isolating Her Literary Gene

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LIANE HANSEN, host:

From NPR News, this is WEEKEND EDITION. I'm Liane Hansen.

For our summer reading series this week, we spoke with geneticist Barbara Handelin. She works in Westchester, Pennsylvania, as CEO of Kenna Technologies, which makes biological simulations used for drug research and development. She is also a consultant at Handelin Associates, where she advises companies that use genetics and genomics to create medicines and diagnostics. One recent project she worked on helped to identify a gene that most likely is linked to early onset osteoporosis. This past spring Barbara Handelin received a stack of books for her birthday, and she's still making her way through it. She appreciates that her well-wishers understand her personality and her reading tastes.

Ms. BARBARA HANDELIN (CEO, Kenna Technologies; Consultant, Handelin Associates): Books that have a very strong personal narrative, very strong on character and great use of language, the human voice--that's what I have ended up reading almost exclusively since I was a kid, which I think comes out of the fact that my path not chosen careerwise was to be an actress. So the human voice remains an enduring passion.

HANSEN: "The Patron Saint of Liars" by Ann Patchett is one of those gift novels. So far Handelin is riveted by the tale of Rose Clinton, a young Catholic woman living in Southern California in the 1960s. Rose becomes pregnant and leaves her loveless marriage after only three years. She travels to Kentucky and moves into a home for unwed mothers with the idea that she'll give up her child for adoption.

Ms. HANDELIN: It got me wondering about whether there still are such homes for young women to go and have their babies to give up to adoption. It's a little bit of having an experience through a book that I otherwise think I'm unlikely to ever have; also a reflection back on a time, the '60s, when this young woman's choice was perhaps unusual. So it's a little bit of a look back to, you know, a time in my life that is also full of lots of memories.

HANSEN: Handelin recently finished "The Good Wife Strikes Back" by Elizabeth Buchan. She liked it enough to recommend the novel to friends. But when she began to read the novel, Handelin wasn't so sure she would enjoy the story of Fannie and her 19 years of triumphs and heartaches as the wife of a rising star in Great Britain's Parliament, the daughter of a mercurial wine merchant and the sister of an alcoholic.

Ms. HANDELIN: When I saw the title, I thought, `Hmm, trite. Sounds like it's going to be a tongue-in-cheek chick book.' In fact, this is a gem of a book because Elizabeth Buchan has a woman's perspective on fundamental, emotional landscape that I think is common to many women: marriage, having children, perhaps putting one's internal evolution and development on hold until some later time in life.

HANSEN: Geneticist and bioethicist Barbara Handelin. She's CEO of Kenna Technologies and a principal of Handelin Associates in Westchester, Pennsylvania. Barbara Handelin's reading list is available at our Web site npr.org, along with a library of book recommendations from NPR critics, listeners and contributors.

This summer I've had the pleasure of reading Geraldine Brooks' novel "March," the story of "Little Women" told from Mr. March's point of view; "Season of Life" by Jeffrey Marx about a former pro-football player turned minister, who coaches a high school team and teaches them what it really means to be men; and, of course, the new "Harry Potter" installment.

So what are you reading? A great, undiscovered work of fiction? An enthralling biography? Well, we would like to hear what has kept you absorbed during the heat wave. Now we're not looking for a list of books; just the one that will stay with you after the summer ends. We also want to know why you liked it. To write to us, go to our Web site, npr.org, and click on the Contact Us link. Follow the instructions. And in the subject line for your message, please write, `What I'm reading.' And, also, please be sure to include your phone number. We plan to get in touch with some of you to record your comments, which we will broadcast on our show Labor Day weekend.

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