Book – The Year of Living Biblically by AJ Jacobs

Why I Picked It Up: I’m in the process of outlining a novel about a pastor’s family. In my search for a Bible encyclopedia or other similar reference, I came across The Year of Living Biblically – One man’s humble quest to follow the bible as literally as possible, by AJ Jacobs (published in 2008). The synopsis read that Jacobs would follow every rule in the Bible “as literally as possible”. I hoped it would provide some details for the characters in my novel, and just based on the cover, I could tell it would also entertain me.

The Author: I had never heard of Jacobs but he’s written a number of books based on experimenting in his life on things that interest him and advertises himself as a “human guinea pig”. He’s delved into living a literal biblical life, healthful life, and knowledgeable life. After looking at his catalog of published books, I’m definitely interested in reading “Drop Dead Healthy – One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection” because I’m currently on that quest myself. Further, having read how he pursued living biblically, I’m sure the health aspect will be just as entertaining.

What I Learned: Because Jacobs’ style is of a humorous memoirist, the stories are filled with anecdotes relating to people’s (family members and strangers) reactions to his living biblically, his own emotions with following the rules of the Bible, and less about the education and meanings behind the rituals or experiences. The book didn’t really help me much as it related to research for my own book, but I did learn about some of the more extreme rules set forth in the Bible, such as not touching a woman while she is menstruating, wearing tassels on one’s garments, building a hut outside during Sukkot (Jewish festival period).  The book does lightly touch on the deeper question of whether to strictly follow the rules of the Bible or to interpret them in your own way.

What Else I Learned: Oddly enough, Jacobs brings up how he had to contain his lust for other women. Granted, Jacobs is an editor at Esquire magazine, so I can’t be surprised by the open admission. However, as stated above, a book about a married man with a child and two on the way, living biblically – you’d think that summary alone should mean I was safe from any exposure of even thoughts of lust for other women. Yet what I was taken by were the side stories of Jacobs trying not to be lustful – example being attracted to his nanny, checking out a fellow volunteer. I know, I know, I must be living in a hole to think my husband isn’t salivating at cleavage or a nice ass in yoga pants. But to see it written and thus admitted to, I guess I like to live in my delusional world that married men with kids don’t have those thoughts.

Thank the Author: Mr. Jacobs, I read the essay on outsourcing your life, on your website. The emails your off-shore assistant sent to your wife on your behalf – I laughed until I cried. Made my morning!

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