Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs

Raised in a secular family but increasingly interested in the relevance of faith in our modern world, A.J. Jacobs decides to dive in headfirst and attempt to obey the Bible as literally as possible for one full year. He vows to ollow the Ten Commandments. To be fruitful and multiply. To love his neighbor. But also to obey the hundreds of less publicized rules: to avoid wearing clothes made of mixed fibers; to play a ten-string harp; to stone adulterers.
The resulting spiritual journey is at once funny and profound, reverent and irreverent, personal and universal.
(Summary from back of book)

Ooh. Adult book. Scary, I know. Going to a private school, I have to take religion class and I decided to read this book for a project we were required to do because it seemed sort of light-hearted and like it would still have some interesting insights. I ended up really enjoying reading it which is why I thought it would be worth it to write a little review. 
One of the big issues in today's world is religious tolerance. There are hundreds of different religions out there and the only way for peace to be able to become a reality is if people learn to respect and coexist with people from different walks of life. I really liked that in TYOLB, Jacobs didn't take a side. He made his decisions on religion by himself and wasn't influenced by other people. He's also a pretty decent writer. His sarcasm and wit really made the slow-moving parts take on new life. 
While reading I was forced to look at the Bible through new eyes. It's the most well known book in history and there are so many hidden parts of it that few people know about. To see Jacobs not only tell about, but obey those parts was really interesting and completely ridiculous. What's interesting to me is how different sects of religion have their own completely unique ideas on how the Bible should be interpreted. No one group practices complete literalism, everyone picks and chooses what parts they want to follow. It's also interesting that under the broad tree of one religion so many different extremes can exist. 
What really made this book work for me was how there was no bias. A.J. Jacobs was a Jew but he traveled to Christian mega-churches, talked with the Amish, handled snakes, and spoke with some secular New Yorkers. It's like getting a crash course in various religions. 
I would highly recommend this book for anyone. It's definitely an enlightening and fun read. And you can say you read a nonfiction adult book. Whew.


  1. I really want to read this book. I really enjoyed his previous book, The Know It All!

  2. Aaah I've wanted to read this one forever! Wasn't there also a documentary about it at some point?

  3. I've never heard of this book or this author, but you've convinced me to put it on my TBR List. It looks amazing.


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