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Literary Highlights: Five New Books About Twins

Here are the latest books on twins and their amazing life histories.

Books about twins by investigators, some of whom are also twins, bring a wealth of research information and life history to those who need and enjoy it the most. For the first time, a New Twins Book Panel took place at the 19th Congress of the International Society for Twin Studies (ISTS). The congress was held mostly online, broadcast from Budapest where is it was hosted by identical twin physicians, Ádám and Dávid Tárnoki. It took place between November 11-14, 2021.

Five books were discussed at the panel. Below is a listing of authors and editors of these new and upcoming volumes:

  • A. Matias & I. Blickstein (Eds., 2020): Developmental and Fetal Origins of Differences in Monozygotic Twins: From Genetics to Environmental Factors. London: Elsevier.

    This book, edited by two physicians, covers diverse topics such as biology, epigenetics, growth, anomalies and prenatal screening procedures. The first editor is from Portugal and the second editor was from Israel; Dr. Blickstein passed away in 2020.
  • E. Otta and T.K. Lucci (Eds., 2021): Twin Studies in Behavioral and Health Research: Current Status, Prospects and Applications. São Paulo, Brazil: USP Open Books Portal.

    This book, edited by two researchers from the University of São Paul Twin Panel in Brazil, includes chapters on twin research registries, analysis of twin data, psychological aspects of twinship, reared-apart twins, clinical issues, and a great deal more.
  • Segal, N.L. (2021): Deliberately Divided: Inside the Controversial Study of Twins and Triplets Adopted Apart. Lantham, M.D.: Rowman & Littlefield.

    This book (written by me; I am a researcher from California State University in Fullerton and a fraternal twin) is an in-depth look at the 1960s-'70s New York City twin study in which intentionally separated twins were studied from birth to age 12 years. The study was described in the recent documentary films, Three identical Strangers and The Twinning Reaction.
  • A.D. Tárnoki, D.L., Tárnoki, J.R. Harris, & N.L. Segal, (Eds., in press): Twin Research for Everyone: From Biology to Health, Epigenetics, and Psychology. London: Elsevier.

    This volume, edited by identical twins, a fraternal twin, and a non-twin, is intended for students who are new to twin research, for anyone actively involved in the field. It includes over 35 chapters authored by twin research experts in history, biology, data analysis, psychology, disease and more.
  • Viney, W. (2021): Twins-Superstitions and Marvels, Fantasies and Experiments. Cornwall: Reaktion Books.

    The book, written by an anthropologist at Goldsmiths College, University of London, and identical twin, addresses the many uses and misuses of twins. As the title says, this book offers acquaints readers with the superstitions, marvels, fantasies, and experiments that have involved twins over the years.

The panel was co-hosted by ISTS President Dr. Jeffrey Craig from Deakin University in Geelong Australia and me. The participants began by describing their books, after which they responded to questions from one of the two co-chairs. A new books session is planned for the 2023 congress, and we are looking at other newly published books and books in progress. Past ISTS congresses I have attended have included viewings of twin films, sometimes followed by a question and answer session with the director. I would like to see such events presented in the future because they provide another informative way to appreciate the many fascinating features unique to twinship.

A longer article describing selected highlights from the 19th Congress of the International Society for Twin Studies will appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Twin Research and Human Genetics.