It’s All Relative by A. J. Jacobs
Written by Ashley Kelmore, Posted in Reviews
Best for: Fans of the experiential non-fiction genre. (I don’t know if that’s actually a thing; it’s just what I call books based on people doing something and then writing about it. Like Morgan Spurlock’s SuperSize Me, but in book form.)
In a nutshell: Author Jacobs decides to explore the connection between all of us, via our ancestors.
Line that sticks with me: “You want to be a Steve Jobs? You want to be an Albert Einstein? Don’t ever confuse that with being a good family man, or a good human being.”
Why I chose it: I’ve read his other books and enjoyed them.
Review: You might be familiar with Mr. Jacobs’s other work. He’s the guy who read the encyclopedia Britannica, who spent a year living by different commands from the Bible, and who tried all sorts of different ways to live his healthiest life. In this book, he decides to throw the world’s largest family reunion, based on the idea that we are all family.
He comes onto this plan when he is contacted by someone who claims to be his eighth cousin. Which, if I understand correctly, means they share the same great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents. The full premise is, if you go back far enough, we all have the same initial great x whatever grandparents. But even without going back that far, you can find relatives that you can actually trace your connection to.
Why does this matter? Because, according to Mr. Jacobs’s hopes, perhaps if we think of the stranger in front of us as a possible relative, we’ll be kinder to them. And not just on an individual level, but on a larger philosophical level.
The book itself is a fun, pretty quick read. If you like his previous work, this won’t disappoint you.