Review of It's All Relative by A.J. Jacobs

Posted by in netgalley copy

Yay! A fun read! I almost never have fun reads! So now, let's criticize my fun read! Yay!

So Jacobs gets an email from a distant cousin, sparking an interest in genealogy, and decides to have a big ol' family reunion, where, basically, anyone can show up. Sister Sledge is going to sing. The genealogy companies are going to sponsor. Jacobs talks to some people about ... stuff ... Mormons, Hatfields and McCoys, and ... well, the whole thing sort of peters out. It's kind of a stretch to fill the premise to a whole book, so there's a lot about Jacobs' family (he's descended from the Vilna Gaon, and some guy who owned a pretzel stand!), which, I assume, if you are Jacobs or interested in genealogy might be more intriguing to you than to me. The book is fun, but it isn't very deep. It is, as Jacobs does point out, very much the college stoner telling you "Woah, we're like all related man." Well, yes. So what?

So I had a lot of fun reading this book. I still enjoy Jacob's shtick. But it's an entertainment book, rather than a non-fiction book, so after the fact, I'm feeling let down by the whole thing (and also angry at myself that I can't find an article I read like a year ago about in-fighting within the amateur genealogical community that I could have used as a suggestion for further in-depth ideas that Jacobs' could have incorporated into his book to give it more heft).

And I'm guessing he didn't get the world record? That part was kinda dropped, rather than explored?

It's All Relative by A.J. Jacobs went on sale November 14, 2017.

I received a copy free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.