Books & Literature

Book Review: The Importance of Being Interested, by Robin Ince

SCIENCE: The popular comedian and presenter journeys through science, explaining why it should be for everyone – including enthusiastic amateurs.

Hard work in parts but well worth the effort.

Some of you may already know Robin Ince as a comedian and the partner of Professor Brian Cox on the BBC’s program The Infinite Monkey Cage, where scientists and others join them to discuss a range of topics—such as a program with Jane Goodall and Bill Bailey revealing what studying chimps has told us about our closest relatives and ourselves. The Importance of Being Interested ranges across some of the most crucial and controversial areas science addresses—from aliens and time travel to the very concept of reality and whether god is on holiday!

While the reader will definitely learn new and fascinating facts from this book, I don’t think that is Ince’s main motivation. He lost interest in science while still at school and he now realises how much he has missed because of it. The book posits that we do not need to be a brilliant astrophysicist like Brian Cox; all we need is a sense of curiosity, to ask why and/or how things are the way they are. In other words, all we need is to be interested. The big questions, such as what the ever-expanding universe is expanding into, are equally full of wonder and terror, as is contemplating the possible answers. The author has conversations with a great number of people about science and creativity and shares their passion and beliefs with us.

Ince’s writing style is very like his stand-up delivery and doesn’t work quite so well on the page. I really enjoyed the book but there are some chapters which are hard work, however, one’s persistence is rewarded.

Attending an all-girls school, I didn’t even get the opportunity to be bored and turned off science as this author did. Physics and chemistry weren’t on the syllabus, no doubt seen as too much of a strain for our feminine brains. But however your lack of interest arose, Robin Ince’s witty and engaging writing and enthusiasm will go some way to reviving it. 

Reviewed by Jan Kershaw

This review is the opinion of the reviewer and not necessarily of Glam Adelaide.

Distributed by: Allen & Unwin
Released: November 2021
RRP: $32.99

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