Monday, October 23, 2017

It's All Relative: We're All Linked

I am a fan of A.J. Jacobs' stuff* so I was excited to receive a copy of his newest work It's All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the World's Family Tree in exchange for an honest review.

I am a fan of the guy so I was pretty sure I was going to enjoy whatever latest project he was going to immerse himself in. Turns out yes, this is true. It probably isn't my favorite among his "humble quests" but it's still a fun one.

The basic idea here is that everyone is related if you go back far enough. And in many cases you really don't have to go that far back at all. Everyone is family. Jacobs received an email from that said "You don't know me, but I'm your eight cousin" and like that, Jacobs is hooked on finding out who this family is and, importantly, throwing the biggest family reunion.

Jacobs does what he does, which is really dive into the nitty gritty about genetics (spitting in every vial sent to him by whatever groups will analyze his DNA and tell him where his ancestors are from and who he is related to), speaking with all kinds of experts is genealogy and history, and of course talking to event planners and figuring out how exactly to pull off a huge event, aka the Global Family Reunion (which happened a few years ago, in case anyone was wondering if they could attend).

 The overarching theme is that everyone is family so maybe we should all be a little kinder to one another, like you would with family. His brother-in-law refutes this idea, saying there are PLENTY of people that don't like their family and sure that is true. But still. Maybe if you realize you're family you'll be more likely to cut each other a little bit of slack.

The book has a lot of funny moments, as all Jacobs' stuff does
On the one hand, there shouldn't be alcohol [at the Global Family Reunion]: It's a family event with a lot of boisterous kids running around. On the other hand, there should be alcohol: It's a family event with a lot of boisterous kids running around.
though it felt more repetitive than his other stuff. But the book is also goes by quickly so it never totally veered into "I'm annoyed, you already said that" territory.

If you like the guy and/or are interesting in family trees and genealogy, give this a try. If you're new to him, maybe check out one of his others first (Biblically and Know-It-All are both personal favs).

Gif rating:
*Oh hey, a round up of his other stuff that I've reviewed here
Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection
The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World
My Life as an Experiment: One Man's Humble Quest to Improve Himself by Living as a Woman, Becoming George Washington, Telling No Lies, and Other Radical Tests
The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible

Title quote from location 2753

Jacobs, A.J. It's All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the World's Family Tree. Simon & Schuster, 2017. NetGalley