From time to time, my big sister, Barbara [Dr. Barbara Searle], makes reading recommendations to me. She is a demon reader, and regularly teaches courses on contemporary developments in molecular and evolutionary biology in the Washington, D. C. branch of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. [Barbara ended her long career as the Ombud of the World Bank, but back in the day, she took a doctorate in Biology at Harvard].
Her latest suggestion, which I am now reading, is Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life, by Nick Lane. This, despite the jazzy title, is a dense, ferociously serious and detailed account of the most recent developments in biologists' efforts to understand the origins and development of cellular life [Eukaryotic life, for those who are technically inclined.] It would be absurd for me even to attempt the most general summary of the themes of the book, but there is one observation I would like to make about what I am learning.
As a consequence of half a century of brilliant, painstaking research, biologists now understand what goes in in living things right down to the molecular level. The difference between what they now know and what I learned as a student sixty years ago is so vast that it dwarfs recent developments in fields like physics. Lane is the author of a number of books [one of which I have in fact also read], and if you have the patience for it, it would be well worth your time and effort to spend some time with one of them.