Tag Archives: It’s All Relative

WWW Wednesday, 10-June-2020

10 Jun

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I’m making a push to finish Fiction Writer’s Workshop by Josip Novakovich this week. I don’t think it will be too much of a problem; it should be on my ‘recently finished’ list next week. The only issue is that it hasn’t really inspired me to do any additional writing. Oh well, it was worth a try.
I needed a new ebook and found out I could give myself both the books I wanted to pick up next if I tried Chasing Water: Elegy of an Olympian by Anthony Ervin as an ebook. I know it will be a slower read but I also see myself motivated to keep moving forward with it, so maybe it won’t take as long as other ebooks have.
I started a new audiobook that I’m really excited about. Stories of Elders by Veronica Kirin is one I’ve been wanting to read for a while and have been putting off. I know Kirin personally and am good friends with her brother. I heard her speak a while back about this book and I’m sorry I put it off as long as I did. She narrates the audiobook herself which is always fun.

Recently finished: I wrapped up The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits by Emma Donoghue just in time for our book club meeting on Monday. I’m not a huge fan of short stories so I’m sure that affected my rating of it. I gave it Three out of Five Stars. I’ll have a review up tomorrow.
I also finished It’s All Relative by A.J. Jacobs on audio. I adored hearing the story in Jacobs voice through the audiobook. I’m not sure what project he has coming up next but I’m guessing that it will make for a great book that I’ll love to read. I posted a review yesterday and I gave the book Four out of Five Stars.

I posted my review for The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai on Monday. This was a great read and I’m so glad I was talked into buying a copy by the signage at the story. It was a beautiful story. I gave it Four out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I can’t wait to pick up The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins as my next physical book. It’s time for some YA dystopian binging and this is the perfect book for it. I hope to have started it by next week.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Book Review: It’s All Relative by A.J. Jacobs (4/5)

9 Jun

I adore A.J. Jacobs. I’ve often said he’s my favorite non-fiction writer. His subjects are well selected and his wit and humor always go over well with me. I’ve had this book on my TBR for a while and was excited to run across an audiobook version of it narrated by Jacobs himself! I sped through this one and had a blast with it.

Cover image via Goodreads

It’s All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the World’s Family Tree by A.J. Jacobs

Other books by Jacobs reviewed on this blog:

Drop Dead Healthy

Summary from Goodreads:

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.

One of the things I love about Jacobs is how he throws himself into his projects 100%. Whatever the project is, he lives it and it consumes his life. This project was no different. Of course, Jacobs couldn’t develop a hobby in genealogy; he had to try and break the record for the largest family reunion. It’s the steps along the way that Jacobs took that make his story even more fascinating. I loved the small things he brings up, like family rivalries, blended families, and Mila Kunis. These anecdotes bring the story to life in a way that only Jacobs can.

Jacobs was very honest about his family and roots which I loved. It was fun to hear him talk about the gems and bad apples of his family tree. I felt that he may have held back some things that were particularly damming, but was still able to illustrate what he found about his past. He was respectful using pseudonyms for people who didn’t want their details revealed so he could tell real stories and not hurt anyone.

Jacobs always appears as a character in his own stories. He’s not afraid to talk about his own faults and make fun of himself, usually through the eyes of his family. He realizes when he embarrasses his sons or is not a perfect husband to his wife. He sees the times that he falls short of the person he wants to be. I like how honest he is with himself and how much you see him grow through his research.

I tried poking into genealogy once, rather unsuccessfully. I created a Family Search account and I’ve taken the 23 And Me analysis. But it wasn’t something I decided to invest too much time in and that fizzled out. However, I had a really cool moment a few years ago. I was visiting my parents and I got an email from a 23 And Me user who said he thought we could be related and asked me if a list of last names meant anything to me. One was my grandmother’s maiden name. I asked my dad if he knew the name and he recognized that this was the child of one of his cousins. I wrote back and was connected to my dad’s cousin, who is the family historian. We now get annual updates (via Christmas card) about the new relatives my cousin-once-removed has added to our family tree and the family documents she’s been able to find. I’m always shocked by the documents and records she has translated from Danish that show a relative in the 1600s giving birth or being baptized. It’s cool to think about my family members from that long ago.

A..J. Jacobs
Image via Goodreads

I liked learning how Jacobs connected people to himself. It was cool to see how we’re all related to Beyonce or Ted Bundy. It made me interested in going onto one of the sites he listed and creating another account. Though I doubt I’ll be able to keep up with it, as happened before, and it will fizzle out.

I found his account of the actual family reunion a bit of a letdown. After building to it the whole book, his description of the day was a bit rushed. I know it must have felt that way to him as well, but I think the chapter could have been twice as long to give us a feeling of the size of the day a bit better. It was a huge accomplishment and it would have been good to see it that way.

Jacobs narrating his own audiobook was great. I loved his humor even more hearing the way it was intentioned to be read straight from his lips. I always like when authors narrate their own non-fiction because I think it gives it a much stronger story-telling element. I hope Jacobs will do this again. I’m almost tempted to listen to some of his backlog if he’s done it before. I always enjoy revisiting his stories.

Family is never simple and Jacobs story shows that. He has examples of family secrets, non-traditional families, fights, and failures. I think a great example is his relative who he was so excited to find out served in the Civil War, only to find out he lasted less than a week in the service. There are great and terrible things in each family. And if you look broadly enough, we’re all one family anyway. So any terrible thing you hear is about your family as is every great thing you hear.

Writer’s Takeaway: Jacobs’ humor is what has always made him a favorite of mine. Even in stressful situations (like arguing with his brother in law), he finds a way to make fun of the situation, to find some humor. It often points toward him, but he’s great at looking for it and finding a way to make you laugh, especially when you might have been cringing otherwise.

A great read with some wonderful Jacobs humor. Four out of Five Stars

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Related Post:
It’s All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the World’s Family Tree by A.J. Jacobs | Joplin Public Library

WWW Wednesday, 3-June-2020

3 Jun

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I’ll eventually finish Fiction Writer’s Workshop by Josip Novakovich but it hasn’t been a priority for me this week. I’m pushing to get through my ebook before the book club meeting so I’ve given that more attention. Unfortunately, this one is easy to put down when I want to so it’s gotten a bit of rest this week.
I keep moving forward with The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits by Emma Donoghue but I’m not sold on short story collections, especially for book club discussions. Some of these have been more interesting than others and I’m moving slowly through them. I hope I finish in time for our meeting!
I was able to start It’s All Relative by A.J. Jacobs and I’m loving it already. It’s great to have Jacobs read the audio because I’m getting a lot more out of his humor hearing it right from his mouth.

Recently finished: I was able to wrap up The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai on Friday and just loved this book. I was put off by the length at first but I never wanted it to end. Yale was an amazing character and I adored following him through the story. I look forward to reviewing this one early next week so I can share what I loved about it. Four out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I think I’ll need a physical book next and I’m torn between two. I just got my copy of the newly released The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins and part of me wants to dive in immediately. Another part of me is calling for patience. The next book on my shelf is also one I’m excited about, Elegy of an Olympian by Anthony Ervin. I’ve been wanting to read this one for a long time, too, and it seems silly to skip past it now when I really need some sports-centric motivation. Anyone have a suggestion?


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

WWW Wednesday, 27-May-2020

27 May

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I’m making my way through Fiction Writer’s Workshop by Josip Novakovich but it’s a slow go. I’m feeling a little more motivated to write, but not a lot like I’d hoped. I’ll see about picking up with my editing or maybe start something new. Something new might be freeing.
I’m making good progress with The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai and really enjoying it. It’s a long audiobook, but it’s nice to have a story last a while instead of flying through it. The plot has been great and I’m looking forward to getting further into this one.
I started an ebook of The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits by Emma Donoghue. Our book club made a switch and this is our new book for June. I’m not very excited about it if I’m being honest. I don’t like short story collections very much. I’ll probably finish it without issue, but I’m not sure how much we can talk about.

Recently finished: I pushed to finish The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel so I could start my new ebook. It was a good story but I wasn’t as excited about it as I should have been. Stretching it out over so long dulled how I felt about it. I’ll plan to review it next week.

I posted my review for White Oleander by Janet Fitch on Thursday. I’m glad I read this again, it was a beautiful story. I’m hoping to find the movie soon and see if it’s similar and as enjoyable. I gave it Four out of Five Stars.
I also reviewed Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell and posted that review yesterday. This was fun and I’m so glad I read it. I’m excited for the third book and I hope the release date hasn’t been delayed.

Reading Next: I recently checked for an update to what’s available on my audiobook services and was excited to see that there’s a copy of It’s All Relative by A.J. Jacobs. Jacobs is one of my favorite non-fiction writers so I’m excited to read about this project. He narrates the audiobook himself so I’m getting excited about that, too.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!