It was the name that drew Alice Moisen’s attention. She spied the book “Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art” and – perhaps because she has a bachelor’s in anthropology – it appealed. The book, she said, was highly readable and she’d give it 4 out of 5 stars.

“Kindred,” by Rebecca Wragg Sykes, taught Moisen that Neanderthals were from everywhere but Africa. They get a bad rap – many of us think of them as “knuckle draggers” – but in reality they were extremely smart. They had tools, knew what to eat and how to stay fed, and how to hunt and grow crops. Though they had no language, they were able to communicate in ways that helped them thrive, Sykes writes.

“Kindred” outlined the differences between Neanderthals and homo sapiens, much of which we’ve learned about through 23andMe and other DNA testing. It turns out, according to “Kindred,” a lot of cross-breeding between the two occurred. Neanderthal DNA has shown up more and more in human DNA testing. Moisen herself had results from a brother, and learned they had small amounts of Neanderthal in her family.

Moisen is a retired computer programmer who lives at Sable Lodge Retirement Community in South Portland.

Mainers, please email to tell us about the book on your bedside table. In a paragraph or two, describe the book and be sure to tell us what drew you to it. What makes it a can’t-miss read for the rest of us? Often, the best recommendations come from your neighbors, friends and family: We want to hear what you are reading now and why. Send your selection to, and we may use it as a future Bedside Table.

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