I could tell right away that the authors had learned something about being funny on their trip. While the book didn’t have me in stitches, I did chuckle frequently at the humorous anecdotes and often humorous science as well. The mix of science, anecdotes, and humor were just right. As a result, I found this an incredibly easy and entertaining read.
I wasn’t sure about the organization at first, because the book was only almost chronological. More than making the book hard to follow, I think it just bothered my OCD side that I wasn’t sure what point the authors were trying to make with the way they organized the book. However, this didn’t stop my enjoyment of the book, so I decided to let it go at the beginning. It’s a good thing I did, because the low level jumping around eventually came together in a very cohesive story.In addition to my initial dislike of the organization, I wasn’t quite convinced of the scientific value of the questions they were asking. (I’m a science snob, what can I say?) By the end, however, that part of the book had really come together for me too.
The book started with a discussion of what makes things funny and continued into the theories on what purpose humor serves. This is partly a question of evolution, which sparked my interest, but still seemed like very basic, never-going-to-be-applied science. However, the third part of the story discusses some very emotionally moving situations which show how laughter is an invaluable part of the human experience. A large part of why I love non-fiction is for the people stories, so this part really worked for me. I thought the authors clearly showed the value of humor and this convinced me of the value of their research. It also gave their narrative far more emotional impact than I expected. This ended up being one of the few books I’ve read where initial impressions were wrong. It only got better as it went and ended up being a fantastic read.This review first published on Doing Dewey.