Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Review: The Year of Living Biblically

I'd meant to readThe Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possiblewhen it was published in 2007, but never got around to it. It was published during the whole stretch where my grandfather died, I started writing a book and went through a crushing breakup. Reading a book about the Bible wasn't exactly on the top of my priority list.

But I'm glad I finally got around to the book where A.J. Jacobs tries to live according to the Bible for a year. It's silly in parts, like him not shaving for a year, wearing all white, and the whole rules about how he's not supposed to share a bed with his life when Aunt Flo's around. It's more serious, though, than I expected and Jacobs is really changed by the experience. Even though he remains agnostic (not really a spoiler, so calm down), his view of the world has changed, and he seems to reach a spirituality that has little to do with God but more with seeing the world in a different way and appreciating why people believe in religion.

It also felt a little bit like a throwback. The book came out when stunt books were popular. Jacobs' first book was about reading the encyclopedia. I don't see as many of these now because how many times can you live in a retirement community as a young adult or live your life according to everything Oprah says? Apparently, when that well ran dry, the publishing industry turns to vampires.

So - good read, even though the trend of stunt memoirs is drawing to a close. Or maybe not - maybe a vampire living according to the Bible?

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