Finding Identity in Family History
It's All Relative
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 U.S. 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. "Whether he's posing as a celebrity, outsourcing his chores, or adhering strictly to the Bible, we love reading about the wacky lifestyle experiments of author A.J. Jacobs" (Entertainment Weekly). Now Jacobs upends, in ways both meaningful and hilarious, our understanding of genetics and genealogy, tradition and tribalism, identity and connection. It's All Relative is a fascinating look at the bonds that connect us all.
About the Author
A.J. Jacobs is an author, journalist, lecturer and human guinea pig. He has written four New York Times bestsellers that combine memoir, science, humor and a dash of self-help. He is also editor at large at Esquire magazine, a commentator on NPR, and a columnist for Mental Floss magazine.
His first book is called The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World (Simon & Schuster, 2004). The memoir — which spent two months on the New York Times bestseller list — chronicles the 18 months Jacobs spent reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica in a quest to learn everything in the world.
After trying to improve his mind, he turned to his spirit. The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible (2007) tells of his attempt to follow the hundreds of rules in the Good Book. It spent three months on the NYT bestseller list, and was praised by Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, The New York Times Book Review, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today and others.
In 2012, Jacobs completed his mind-spirit-body self-improvement trinity with Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection. It is the tale of his quest to be as healthy as humanly possible for which he revamped his diet, exercise regimen, sleep schedule, sex life, posture and more. He wrote the book on a treadmill desk (It took him about 1,200 miles).
He has appeared on Oprah, The Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Dr. Oz Show, Conan and The Colbert Report. He has given several TED talks and he is a periodic commentator on NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday.
Jacobs grew up in New York City and lives there still with his family.