11 January 2009

The Year of Living Biblically by A. J. Jacobs

The Year of Living Biblically falls into a strange genre that doesn't have a name. The book chronicles A. J. Jacobs' attempt to follow the Bible as literally as possible for a year. I've heard some people call this type of writing "performance journalism" or "stunt memoirs". Whatever it is called, they seem to have become more popular in recent years. This is good for me because I tend to enjoy them, and this book didn't fail to satisfy.

Jacobs doesn't just sit in his apartment and grow his beard, although his facial hair is mentioned a lot in the book. He focuses on the biblical rules concerning eating, prayer, purity, and a host of other things. He also went out to visit many different Jewish and Christian groups to get a feel for what they were really like behind the media's portrait of them. All of this was done while working at a men's magazine, raising a toddler, and trying to conceive another child with his wife.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I almost didn't read this book due to negative reviews. Thankfully, I changed my mind. I didn't find Jacobs' tone to be as snarky as many people suggested. There were certainly many amusing passages where Jacobs described other peoples' reactions to his projects, but I never felt that he crossed the line into disrespect. As a matter of fact, I found many of his observations gave me something to ponder in my walk as a Christian. Looking at the Bible through Jacobs' eyes renewed the desire to dig into the Bible myself. This book isn't a devotional, but I would recommend it to my Christian friends.


stacey @ bookthirty said...

I love A.J. Jacobs - I highly recommend his book The Know It-All! And I can forgive his semi-snarkiness, being that he's pretty dang smart and comes up with some brilliant book ideas. :)

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this - and I echo Stacey - The Know-It-All was very good, too.

Stephanie said...

I loved this one. I found it hysterically funny, inspiring, informative, and yet it still managed to be reverent and respectful. AJ Jacobs is wonderful.

I'm going to add you to my list of blogs read, you read a lot of the same books that I do. :)