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Earth (The Book) Book Review!

It’s not a huge secret that I’m a fan of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, right? I guess it might be if you don’t know me but I’m telling you now: I’m a fan of the show. Naturally, I enjoyed America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction so I guess it’s not a big shocker that I super enjoyed Earth (The Book): A Visitor’s Guide to the Human Race.

Earth is set up like a text book, obviously a faux text book, with a sometimes scientific and usually hilarious tone. The whole idea is that we’re reading a book meant for aliens, written by Stewart and his writers, since we’ll all be extinct when they get here. They manage to touch on everything from science, to culture, to nature, to religion and social interaction and so on and so on… the thing that it doesn’t touch too heavily upon is the whole political spectrum of our country and that’s, presumably, because America already did that. Instead, Earth focuses on civilizations (speaking of which, shoutout to the new game, woo!), evolution, anatomy, archaeology, philosophy and the like.

So if you enjoy Jon Stewart’s brand of humor, you’ll enjoy this book. The deadpan, wise-cracking brand of hilarity Stewart dominates is prevalent throughout the book, and while you might not shoot milk from your nostrils with glee after every page, you’ll definitely chuckle from beginning to end. You’ll probably smile a lot. There’s a great spin put on just about everything and while I could go on about how the pages are set up (it’s not the kind of book you’d sit down and read from end to end, it’s kind of a coffee table open-to-a-random-page-and-laugh sort of set up) and yadda yadda, I won’t. I’ll just highlight some of the things I found most hilarious. Okay? Okay.

The faux statistics are fantastic and the charts are just hilarious. I loved the “Time We Were Willing to Wait for a Baked Potato in 1900: 8 Hours in 1900 to 1 second in 2010” chart. Oh and Lifetime Consumption of First Slices of Wedding Cake? 2.1! Duh. The Periodic Table of the Synthetic was brilliant as well, listing everything from G(Gummi) to DD(Silicone) to Wo (Wite-Out). The FAQs (Future Alien Questions) were DELIGHTFUL. I won’t even get into them because they’re DELIGHTFUL, read ‘em!

A terrifyingly nude Larry King is used for an anatomical lesson (red suspender and all), presumably replacing the disturbingly naked Supreme Court Justices of the last book. Why not? (No, don’t answer that, I know why not.) I loved the description of work here, “’that which we didn’t want to do, but had to, if we didn’t want to eat dirt” and a reference to the Grand Canyon being “the biggest rift in Arizona not involving Mexicans”. I especially loved the Mr. Potato Head illustrated guide to the senses (“whose sensory organs could be quickly removed and stored in his ass”).

I think if aliens did land here and they had an awesome sense of humor, they’d learn a lot from this  book… like sarcasm and how to put on pants and tons of other goodies tucked within the delightful pages. I’ll warn you of this though: don’t go in expecting this to be as riotously funny as America was, because while it IS great, I do think it was full of things that are obviously fillers and alternately brilliant and sometimes bland jokes. But! The pros definitely outweigh any cons here and I thoroughly enjoyed this.

I hope you do too, if you pick it up! Happy reading, book nerds! As usual, you can find me on the twitter or catch me via email. I less than three all of you!

Image: Grand Central Publishing

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  1. Listening to a great interview with Jon of Fresh Air right now! Check it out:

  2. Brad says:

    Hi Jessica,

    Great article. I picked up the book last night and truly enjoyed it. Always love reading your takes (don’t beat yourself up about the above by the way). This was uniqe and well thought out.

  3. Deltus says:

    Chris, what does it say about your average fan (like, for instance… me) that the joke of yours that first comes to mind is the “gayer than cum on a mustache” quip?

  4. DefconDan says:

    Thanks for the review! Me and the wife were talking about getting this (massive Daily Show fans!!) and you’re write-up has finally pushed me to get it!

  5. Stacy says:

    Err i mean they discussed a page that DID NOT make it into the book.

  6. Stacy says:

    I saw him on Oprah, and they discussed a page out of this book – one of our Gods: Oprah. I wish it made it in there 🙁

    Jessica, I loved the article… and because of it, I’m going to pick up this book =D.

    (well, not solely because of it.. cause I really liked America the book… and the naked justices compel me to order anything from TDS)

  7. Chris Hardwick says:

    Peter, this wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t chosen to go anywhere else for information but this site.

    Also, some jokes are stickier than others so they may have stood out more. I have hundreds of jokes in my act but when people quote stuff back to me it’s usually the same two or three. Comedy’s weird that way.

    Jessica, this is so not the end of the world. You are a delight and an asset to this site so go easy on yourself! We’ll all live!!! (well, not FOREVER, but you know…)

  8. Actually, I just googled the other articles out of curiosity and this commenter is COMPLETELY correct, a lot of the things I referenced were referenced in other articles or at least touched upon. I’m sorry! I obviously DO need to check out other reviews so that mine don’t come off sounding cheap and I apologize for that! I’ll reiterate that I really, truly had no idea that some of the things I picked out were also picked out by other reviewers, I just referenced them because I thought they were universally funny bits that everybody might enjoy.

    I feel quite sad now that my review has become completely unoriginal. I put a lot of notes and thought into this and I SERIOUSLY appreciate you pointing the other articles out because now I realize that I actually do need to be more aware of other reviews and not just assume that mine is original. 🙁 Total reality check, but thank you!

  9. I liked those jokes/parts of the book a lot. I honestly didn’t realize they were used in other articles, I tend to avoid sites reviewing the books I’m looking at BECAUSE I don’t want to be swayed to include what they included. Not that I’m trying to defend anything, because I’m not, but there were a lot of “meh” jokes in the book, or things that would be too complicated to explain given the way it’s set up. I had to prune down the review quite a bit so it didn’t take up an afternoon to read, also, and those were the bits that I decided to leave in.

    I can put a list of other stuff I enjoyed! I’m cool with that. Let’s see, uh… I liked the Barbie and Ken models for human maintenance. The Periodic Table of the Synthetic is probably one of my favorites, still, but I couldn’t list every single thing on it. :\ Sg for Soylent Green was pretty hilarious. The family portrait part with cut outs to sub for the faces was fun, but how do you explain it in a written article? The entire section on Man was fun!

    I think a lot of the problem with this book is that it’s kind of hard to explain because it’s very picture/illustration reliant and I can’t include those to explain what I found amusing. It’s a difficult book to contain, man! I tried my best!

  10. Peter says:

    All seven jokes mentioned in this review were mentioned in either the EW or New York Times or PW review of the book. Check them out for yourself. There are thousands and thousands of other jokes and these are the ones she happens to pick?