Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Book Review: The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs

BIG THANKS to Julia and Simon & Schuster for my copy of this book!

“The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible" by A.J. Jacobs

Published by Simon & Schuster

Rating: 5 stars

A.J. Jacobs set out to follow the Bible's words, as literally as possible, for an entire year. As ambitious of a task as this seems, it is not entirely uncharacteristic of Jacobs, given his previous book, “The Know-It-All”, which documents his reading of the Encyclopedia Britannica from A to Z. With the guidance of Rabbis, Priests, professors and friends, Jacobs sets out on his quest and ends up learning a lot about himself along the way. He explores a number of religious sects and groups, including Chassidic Jews, Red Letter Christians, the Amish and even a trip to Israel to visit the Samaritans.

When I started reading this book, I wasn't sure what to expect but I was intrigued by the concept and I had to find out more. From the start, I found this book incredibly interesting and really easy to read, despite it being a work of non-fiction. Jacobs has a witty and fun way with words which kept me amused and informed at the same time. His anecdotes are always humorous and in keeping with important themes that he discusses in the book.

Jacobs does a great job of addressing misconceptions found in the Bible and lending explanations to the seemingly bizarre commandments that are seldom understood or even contemplated. While it is difficult to remain completely objective when exploring topics like religion, Jacobs approaches each experience with an open mind and an open heart with just the right amount of inevitable skepticism.

“The Year of Living Biblically” is very funny and yet simultaneously insightful. Because Jacobs gained a great deal from this quest, readers will too. I really appreciated the respectful way he addressed the laws of the Bible and tried to show their greater purpose and meaning.
This book is required reading for anyone, no matter what your beliefs, there is something each and every person can learn from this thought-provoking book.

4 comments:

Literary Feline said...

I added a copy of this to my TBR collection not too long ago and am eager to read it. Great review, Sheri!

Tom said...

Nice job on the review. IF you're into memoirs, you might look into a sort of memoir disguised as a novel. It's "108th Street" by T David Lee. Story about growing up in the 1950s. Rich in detail, which leads you to believe it's based on actual experiences which, ,if so, means the author had a heck of a childhood. Keep up the good work here.

Phyl said...

I've really been wanting to read this book, after loving his book about reading the entire Encyclopedia Brittanica in a year. Thanks for the great review!

Dawn - She is Too Fond of Books said...

I've great great reviews of *The Year of Living Biblically* (and mention of the Encylopedia Brittanica book) ... I'm adding it to my wish list now.

I love the before and after pics you posted!