Sometimes I confuse myself. I get wildly and pointlessly jealous. I spend too much time hating my bum. And you know what I hate more than my bum? My preoccupation with my bum. I’ve had sexual experiences with boys I wasn’t really in to, but I got a post-coital crush on them. I’ve ruined the start of a relationship by immediately imagining it going into reverse.
There is so much about my behaviour I want to understand. So I started researching what makes me – and us – tick. And what I read made my eyes fall out of my face.
Reader, here is everything I’ve learned from science about love, sexuality, infidelity, boobs, periods, pubes, broodiness, and clever old fat. Merry Christmas and Hallelujah, suddenly being a woman doesn’t look like such a minefield after all. – from Goodreads
This was book 3 of the year for the 12 Months 12 Books book club! (And yes, totally feel free to join!) This year’s theme is FEMINISM, and I really enjoyed this book as a part of it.
ANIMAL is a more scientific book than I expected. Sadly, I didn’t learn a lot; not through fault of Sara, but because I studied psychology A-Level! I learnt some things, and one thing that I felt really made me love the book was that Sara makes a lot of… realisations? Epiphanies? Like how boobs are unique to humans! (Think about it: chimps don’t have boobs, like ours, anyway, do they?) I really felt like I was broadening my view as I was reading. Sara reminds me of Miranda Hart, my favourite comedienne, in this way: asking a lot of seemingly random and perhaps even ‘stupid’ questions, but ones that even scientists with PhDs couldn’t answer.
One thing that was a real strength of the book was how personal it was. It felt part autobiography, part science book, and I really loved that. The wonderful thing is that Sara was equipped to write both autobiography and science, although of course she isn’t a scientist. I have read other books such as this, like Ben Fogle’s LABRADOR, but where Fogle was brilliant at writing autobiographically, he fell down in the historical/scientific aspect. Sara writes strongly in both.
However, it does help that I believe in evo-psychology myself, so some others may have disliked the science-y aspect more. Science and evolution and psychology are hard, and Sara isn’t an expert – so I mean no disrespect to her when I say that, of course, there are some bits that are easily disreputable.
One thing that a lot of the other reviewers have commented on is that, at points, it seemed quite juvenile. I am eighteen years old, and it didn’t seem that way to me, but it did seem very… me. It felt really conversational, and I felt a massive connection to Sara, but I can imagine that some other people may think it’s juvenile. However, I loved this young, conversational way of writing!
Overall, I really enjoyed reading ANIMAL. Sara is a great writer, engaging, and I loved how she was brave enough to add in her own anecdotes and experiences, some of which were quite harrowing. It’s given me a fair bit to think about, and I know that I will flick back into ANIMAL at times throughout my teenage and twenties, definitely. It’s given me the boost to go and learn more, and also, perhaps, the courage to someday share anecdotes of my own.
I would love it if you joined my book group – you can do so by clicking here. In April, we are reading THE FEMALE EUNUCH by Germaine Greer.
AUTHOR: Sara Pascoe
PUBLISHER//YEAR OF PUBLICATION: Faber & Faber // 2017
NUMBER OF PAGES: 328
PERSONAL SOURCE: Bought from Amazon