Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs

So now that Amanda has officially kicked off the new year with her book review, I decided to follow suit. And I'm happy to report that my first review of 2008 is a good one! I really enjoyed this book, which is a collection of essays by author Chuck Klosterman. Klosterman was a columnist for Spin magazine and the essays are all about pop culture and, mainly, the 30-somethings out there who grew up with shows like The Real World, Growing Pains, etc. It is hilarious and poignant and he really is right on the mark with much of what he observes, which is everything from reality television to why Billy Joel is underappreciated (it's hilarious). And it's such a fun read because, as a (new) 30-something, I could relate to nearly every pop reference he made! I think this is a book that Amanda would definitely enjoy, and is such a quick, fun book - you can pick it up, read an essay, skip essays, whatever you want. It's the perfect book to have laying around when you want a good laugh. Definitely one of the better books I've read in a while!

Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters

Hello, everyone...welcome back to the blog! Let's all take our seats for a new year and new ride and some new books and (hopefully) new things to laugh about. Running with Scissors, anyone? I thought not. Let's move on.

I read this book a couple weeks ago and it was great! We all suspected the title was true, didn't we? Well, it is. At least on a grand, societal level. Basically, when you let people reproduce for tens of thousands of years, certain trends pop up. For example, babies resemble their fathers during their first year of life - it increases their chance of the father protecting and caring for them.

The book discusses a lot of stereotypes and where the truth lies from a genetic and societal level. Men are generally more aggressive than women for very good reasons. Women are more likely to be awarded custody of their children during divorce for good reasons. Sex, love, money, racism, power, the book covers all of them and how they all relate back to our genes trying to outdo everyone else's to get passed on to future generations. The important thing to remember is that this book deals with generalities. There are exceptions to every rule, of course.

The authors did a great job explaining the relatively new field of evolutionary psychology which attempts to explain human nature on many different levels. It starts from the supposition that we are mammals like other mammals, no better or worse. We have a human"ness" like dogs have a dog"ness" and cats a cat"ness." What is it that makes people people? Why do we do the things we do? Studying humans as a subset of primates, not beknighted children of god, was refreshing!

I also connected with the idea that modern humans are using a 10,000 year old brain, one that was adapted to a very different world from the one we find ourselves in today. It was a slower paced world, a more dangerous world (in some ways) and a more basic existence. When you think that many of our instincts are based on life 10,000 years ago, it explains a lot. Check this book out. I think all of you would find it really enjoyable!