PositiveThe Washington PostZada is too good a writer to pen anything as trite as \'the journey is the destination,\' but that is clearly the case here ... Books on supernatural phenomena typically steer one of two courses: tabloid gullibility or mean-spirited debunkery. Zada deftly tightropes between the two ... \'I hope you’re not here to make fun of us,\' one local tells [Zada]. He is not, which makes this big-hearted book more satisfying than it might have otherwise been ... What saves the book from tabloid buffoonery is Zada’s skeptical eye and conversational style. The writing is fresh ... Less compelling are Zada’s countless trips to a lake or a river or a campsite. These fall into a tiresome pattern. Meet characters at local watering hole. Gently inquire about sasquatch sightings. Follow up leads. Reach dead end. Repeat ... at its best when Zada goes off on metaphysical riffs and epistemological explorations: Our eyes and our minds are imperfect instruments that process only a thin slice of reality ... This is not a book for everyone. Subscribers to the Skeptical Inquirer look elsewhere. Ditto die-hard rationalists. Those willing to suspend their disbelief — to just shy of the breaking point — will be rewarded with a quirky and oddly captivating tale.
PositiveThe Washington PostReading \'Origin Story\' makes you feel extremely fortunate to be here at all. Life requires \'goldilocks conditions.\' Not too hot, not too cold. Not too little oxygen, not too much. The unstated conclusion: Life is a miracle ... The storyline occasionally gets lost in a blur of eons and protons, but for the most part Christian’s hand is steady and sure, his grasp of the science impressive. He makes it all accessible, too, as when he likens the universe to \'a vast spring that has been uncoiling for more than thirteen billion years\' or atomic particles to nervous children \'constantly jiggling about with energy.\' ... Origin Story may not be a deep dive, but it is very wide.
PositiveThe Washington Post\"In Jacobs’s hands, this potentially parched subject comes alive. He makes terms like \'mitochondrial DNA\' not only comprehensible but fun ... Jacobs, thankfully, tempers his Kumbaya tendencies with some hard-nosed questions. Does knowing your ancestry expand your circle of compassion or shrink it? The jury is out. An anti-Semite discovers he is part Jewish and reforms his ways. White supremacists hold online contests to see who has the highest percentage of European descendants. Genealogy, too, is fraught ... It’s All Relative is a whirlwind of a book, as Jacobs zip-lines from one branch of the global family tree to another. At times, it feels like a blur of great-great-grandfathers and seventh cousins once removed. So determined is Jacobs to leave no branch unexamined that he sometimes loses sight of the forest. I would have liked less time on the twigs and deeper dives into the roots ... By the end of It’s All Relative, Jacobs feels like, well, family. Mostly endearing, occasionally annoying but always well-intentioned and, in the final analysis, indispensable.\
MixedThe Chicago Tribune\"Nestled within It\'s All Relative is a project, and an ambitious one at that. Jacobs wants to hold the world\'s largest family reunion … Jacobs, thankfully, tempers his Kumbaya tendencies with some hard-nosed questions. Does knowing your ancestry expand your circle of compassion or shrink it? The jury is out … It\'s All Relative is a whirlwind of a book, as Jacobs zip-lines from one branch of the global family tree to another. At times, it feels like a blur of great-great-grandfathers and seventh cousins once removed … By the end of It\'s All Relative, Jacobs feels like, well, family. Mostly endearing, occasionally annoying but always well-intentioned and, in the final analysis, indispensable.\
PositiveThe Washington PostWonderland is no mere diversion. It is a rare gem: a serious (occasionally too serious) take on a seemingly frivolous subject ... This is an ambitious book. Johnson’s goal is nothing short of upending our innovation narrative. For starters, we have the sequencing wrong. Trivial pursuits don’t follow serious endeavors, they precede them and, crucially, inspire them, even if unintentionally. Play is prologue. This is not a self-evident thesis, which is why, I suspect, Johnson goes to such lengths to hammer it home. He revels in the slow reveal. At first, his historical anecdotes feel digressive. Why is Johnson prattling on about some cave bear that met its demise 43,000 years ago in what is today Slovenia? But a reader will follow a good writer anywhere, and so we follow. Usually (not always), Johnson delivers ... Our illogical, enduring fascination with play remains one of life’s great mysteries. That is precisely what makes the subject so fascinating, and Wonderland such a compelling read.