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paigeawesome

paigeawesome

Currently reading

The Grapes of Wrath
John Steinbeck
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: A Novel
Rachel Joyce
Sex, Drugs, and Sea Slime: The Oceans' Oddest Creatures and Why They Matter
Ellen J. Prager
Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation: The Definitive Guide to the Evolutionary Biology of Sex - Olivia Judson 2.5 stars.
Sigh. This is the kind of book that I really want to like. It is jam-packed full of information about reproduction, biology, life cycles, etc. throughout all kinds of life forms (with an emphasis on insects, it seems). What's more: the references are extensive; every "column" has its own section in back where she cites each claim's source. I was impressed with the documentation and with the wealth of knowledge.

So why only 2.5 stars? There are a couple of reasons:
1. The format concept. It's written like an advice column in Cosmo or something. But the "answers" ramble on and on and she'll make disparate points in one "answer," it doesn't seem to gel together for me. Also it's a lot of the same kind of stuff over and over, and while there was some truly fascinating things in here, I feel like I'm going to forget most of this information within a week. There was nothing to make the separate pieces of information stick in my head, with few exceptions (which had more to do with shocking reality of things--like in the spotted hyena's case--than with her writing). I've read other books and articles that deal with similar topics and the writers manage to make the information novel enough and different enough to stay in my memory.
2. The tone of the book. Because it's written like a Cosmo column, the persistent "I'm super cool and sassy" delivery distracted me and got old pretty quickly. In this vein: she uses the word "slut," wonders if rape in the animal kingdom is really the result of females "asking for it," constantly uses the words "girls" and "boys" to describe mature animals engaging in reproductive sex... She anthropomorphizes a lot a lot a lot (which I don't have an issue with in itself, really, it just seems to make things more confusing in this case). She seems to think "radical feminists" hate men and want to destroy them. Which I found odd, since she's apparently a pretty smart scientist (degrees from Stanford, Oxford) and the vast majority of her acknowledgements go to males; you'd think she'd know better than anyone the challenges women face in the sciences. But maybe that's exactly the problem--maybe in order to make it that far she's had to ingratiate herself or something. Who knows? I don't. But I do know I didn't appreciate that aspect of it.