Favorite DNA Books

My favorite DNA books are not about the science behind DNA.

I'm much more interested in genetic genealogy. And, frankly, you only need to understand a few basic principles about DNA inheritance and the different types of DNA tests.

I divide these books into three groups.

The first group of DNA books is what I call "how-to" books. They can teach you how to use DNA testing for genealogy, finding lost family, measuring ethnicity and so on.

The second group includes many personal stories of discovery through DNA testing.


My own book, Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA, was the pioneering book in that category and is still a classic earning great reviews from new readers.

Since then there have been many more fascinating DNA books published.

The third group is a collection of other DNA books that don't fit either of the first two groups.

For each book I've chosen you'll see a cover image and a link to Amazon. Simply click on any of them to learn more about the book.

Prices shown for most  books may be for a new print book. Click to see if Kindle or used books are available for less.

DNA Books on How to Do It

My own Guide to DNA Testing is the perfect starting place. It's short, easy-to-understand, and just $3.99 since it is only available as a Kindle eBook.

Once you have that information as a foundation, I suggest you dive into the following book by Blaine Bettinger. I'm copying my review of the book from Amazon.

The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy (Second Edition


An Owner's Manual for Your DNAThis 240-page book is the most complete and up-to-date resource on genetic genealogy. While some material is too advanced for raw beginners, you will want this comprehensive book on hand as you work your way through the DNA testing process.

Blaine clearly explains all the different DNA types and their individual inheritance patterns. Then he adds lots of supplementary information, including a great list of More Resources.

Blaine naturally encourages readers to read his book from start to finish. But not many people read their vehicle owner's manual before taking their new car for a ride.

Likewise, you don't need 100% of this knowledge before jumping into the exciting world of DNA testing. Furthermore, each topic will make much more sense when you have your own results to look at.

Do read enough to understand the key points. For example, it's important to know that autosomal DNA passes on random selections of each parent's DNA. But you can get by without knowing exactly HOW recombination occurs.

The subject of X-DNA inheritance confuses even experienced testers. So just skip that chapter until (and if) you encounter a situation where an understanding of X-DNA is needed.

The book is available in both print and Kindle formats. I purchased the print version due to the many excellent tables and illustrations.

DNA Books with Stories of Discovery

Since the groundbreaking classic, Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA, many more first-person DNA success stories have appeared. While every book on the following list is worth reading, I'm sharing my review of one in particular.

American Baby: A Mother, a Child, and the Shadow History of Adoption


A Compelling Personal Story with the Power of a Documentary. As the first adoptee to identify and reunite with birth family through genetic genealogy, I have long been advising countless adoptees on DNA testing.

As such, I have heard and read scores of adoption stories, both good and bad. American Baby is both a true story and the most comprehensive overview of adoption history I have ever read.

Gabrielle Glaser does a phenomenal job of blending a very personal story with a well-researched documentary. The book held my interest from beginning to end.

Adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents clearly need to read this book. Yet almost everyone is touched by adoption in some way. Therefore, I heartily recommend this book to all.

Other DNA Books

These books don't fit either of the first two categories. Yet these are all DNA-related books that I can personally recommend.

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