What are genes? What do genes do? These questions are not simple and straightforward to answer; at the same time, simplistic answers are quite prevalent and are taken for granted. This book aims to explain the origin of the gene concept, its various meanings both within and outside science, as well as to debunk the intuitive view of the existence of 'genes for' characteristics and disease. Drawing on contemporary research in genetics and genomics, as well as on ideas from history of science, philosophy of science, psychology and science education, it explains what genes are and what they can and cannot do. By presenting complex concepts and research in a comprehensible and rigorous manner, it examines the potential impact of research in genetics and genomics and how important genes actually are for our lives. Understanding Genes is an accessible and engaging introduction to genes for any interested reader.