cover image The Generous Man: How Being Generous Is the Sexiest Thing You Can Do

The Generous Man: How Being Generous Is the Sexiest Thing You Can Do

Tor Norretranders, . . Thunder's Mouth, $25 (350pp) ISBN 978-1-56025-728-8

From his first sentence—"Welcome to this book about sex, or, more precisely perhaps, a book about how to get it"—Danish science writer Nørretranders offers his fresh, irreverent take on popular sociobiology (by this point a veritable genre). While deploying the standard tropes—a bit of game theory, descriptions of psychological experiments, some colorful anecdotes from the natural world—he does so in the service of a novel and intriguing perspective: that human generosity, creativity, cooperativeness and cleverness serve the singular evolutionary purpose of making us sexier. According to Nørretranders (The User Illusion: Cutting Consciousness Down to Size ), "costly" actions, like sharing one's food and expending valuable energy on artistic pursuits, that don't directly contribute to our survival make us seem stronger and more virile. Rather than trying to transcend our sexual instincts, he claims, we should embrace them. Horniness is good!—it drives us to the limits of our capabilities. Nice guys do finish first!—at least when prospective partners are looking for more than a one-night commitment. And all the best in human endeavor, from open-source software to international medical aid, "everything spiritual, beautiful, and wise is 'merely' an aid to getting laid." (Nov. 7)