A.J. Jacobs – The Year of Living Biblically


While browsing the humor section at Borders the other day, I had more than a few books in my hands, and kept putting them back.  Then, I went over to the general reference section.  I also had 3 or 4 books in my hand there.  Then I put them back.

Generally, I’m a sucker for books filled with useless information in short bursts.  I like to read before I go to bed, and I generally find it hard to put down something that has a continuous story.

Do Ants Have Assholes?: And 106 of the World’s Other Most Important Questions is one that is definitely in my mental checklist of books to grab on one of the next few trips.

I finally wt back to humor & picked up The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs.  I’ve had it in my hand before, but I’ve always put it back.  My friend Joel visited while we were at camp and actually recommended that I get my hands on this one.

Boy, am I glad that I got this one.  I’m not too far in, but so far the imagery that Jacobs puts forth surrounding his quest (or struggle?) is hilarious.  I have a feeling that not only is the book going to get even more funny, but I think there will be a warm-fuzzy feeling at the end.  Ha ha.

From the book itself:

Everyone – family, friends, co-workers – had the same concern: That I’d go native. That I’d end up as a beekeeper at a monastery or I’d move into my ex-uncle Gil’s spare room in his Jerusalem apartment.

In a sense, they were right to worry. You can’t immerse yourself in religion for 12 months and emerge unaffected. At least I couldn’t. Put it this way: If my former self and my current self met for coffee, they’d get along okay, but they’d both probably walk out of the Starbucks shaking their heads and saying to themselves, “That guy is kinda delusional.”

As someone who was brought up in church, but who also appreciates things like logic… this book really hit home with me.  Around Jr. high, I started driving some more straight-laced ministers insane with questions.  Not long after that, I found the ones with a healthy sense of humor and realism that helped me see where religion can fit into an everyday normal existence without being overbearing or ridiculous.

A.J. comes at the subject as an agnostic but with a  healthy respect for the process.  He recognizes the good in religion along with the insanity.  He points out the insanity and makes it humorous without mocking.  That has got to be a difficult thing to do.

His visits with an Amish family, and we learn that some Amish have deadpan humor down to a science.  He has an Orthodox Jewish clothing fiber inspector come to his house to make sure that his clothing isn’t made of mixed fibers.  (Yeah, that’s actually in the bible.)  I’m anxious to see who we visit next.

I can’t wait to finish this book, and already recommend it to anyone who has ever wondered about all those crazy rules… or all those crazy Christians/Jews/[Insert religion here].  I’m definitely going to pick up Know it All soon too.

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