"Dr Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation: The Definitive Guide to the Evolutionary Biology of Sex"
Reading history and reviews
Finished on 13th July 2009Another "science trivia book", this time looking at sex from an evolutionary biology perspective.
While the framing device occasionally grated on me (the titular Dr Tatiana dispenses advice in response to letters from different animals troubled by their sex lives), it does a good job at showing how varied the methods for exchanging genes are across the animal kingdom. Some of the behaviours are quite mind-boggling for us humans, and reveals that what we would consider to be "normal" is in this context actually extremely atypical.
The book accompanied a TV series of the same name back in 2004, which from the clips on YouTube to be honest look a bit more fun (and with a dash of "Hitchhiker's..."-style surrealism). More recently Isabella Rosselini's "Green Porno" shorts (see http://www.sundancechannel.com/greenporno/) seem to cover similar ground in a very unusual and humorous way.
My main issue with the trivia approach is that as fascinating as the information might be at the time, I'm often left feeling like I have a set of isolated facts that are quickly forgotten. "Dr Tatiana" suffers a little from this, however in the book's defence this is mitigated by the inclusion of neat summaries in each chapter, which draw out general lessons from the examples that are featured. When explained from an evolutionary biology perspective these seemingly bizarre and even apparently counter-productive sexual strategies make a lot more sense. Overall, both interesting and entertaining.