Monday, November 20, 2017

Book Review: It's All Relative

Author: A.J. Jacobs
Publication Date: November 7, 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

New York Times bestselling author of The Know-It-All and The Year of Living Biblically, A.J. Jacobs undergoes a hilarious, heartfelt quest to understand what constitutes family—where it begins and how far it goes—and attempts to untangle the true meaning of the “Family of Humankind.”

A.J. Jacobs has received some strange emails over the years, but this note was perhaps the strangest: “You don’t know me, but I’m your eighth cousin. And we have over 80,000 relatives of yours in our database.”

That’s enough family members to fill Madison Square Garden four times over. Who are these people, A.J. wondered, and how do I find them? So began Jacobs’s three-year adventure to help build the biggest family tree in history.

Jacobs’s journey would take him to all seven continents. He drank beer with a US president, found himself singing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and unearthed genetic links to Hollywood actresses and real-life scoundrels. After all, we can choose our friends, but not our family.

“Whether he’s posing as a celebrity, outsourcing his chores, or adhering strictly to the Bible, we love reading about the wacky lifestyle experiments of author A.J. Jacobs” (Entertainment Weekly). Now Jacobs upends, in ways both meaningful and hilarious, our understanding of genetics and genealogy, tradition and tribalism, identity and connection. It’s All Relative is a fascinating look at the bonds that connect us all.

Family is complicated.

“So many of the families nowadays are so bizarre and so dysfunctional or so made up, so nontraditional. Maybe that’s the best word. Nontraditional.”

I wish my brain had a bigger cerebral cortex.

My social security number has been used countless times by countless companies and government entries. It’s no secret either, I guess.

This book is really something different for me and my blog, but here I am to tell you that I was pleasantly surprised and loved every minute of A.J. Jacobs’ story and journey through his genealogy. In the past year or so, I have really gotten into learning and researching my own family tree and I think this is ultimately what led me to request this book. This book is addictive, fascinating, and will really expand your world.  If you want to read a funny, refreshing, sometimes painfully honest (yet still funny) account of families and the foibles of family history read this book. Lots of research has gone into this book, and it is appreciated by this reader.

With the combination of humor and brilliant research, do I really need to sell you more on this book? It's a fun, fast read that mixes wit and scientific research behind why humanity came into being and how we are all really related. There were so many moments while reading that I paused and considered just how much the phrase “life is a mystery” is a reality that many of us do not ponder often enough. This book will enlighten you as much as it entertains you.

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Simon & Schuster in exchange for my honest review***

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