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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible » User review

A great example of Stunt Memoir

  • Mar 5, 2009
  • by
AJ Jacobs is a fantastic writer, and I enjoyed this book, about a year spent trying to live as literally according to the Bible as legally possible, much more than "Know It All," his experiment in reading the Encyclopedia Britannica. His sections on experimenting with the stranger sides of orthodox religions are funny and fascinating, while his struggles with the basic premise of his challenge (which Bible to take literally? what about the illegal parts?) are eye-opening. Like the movie "Religulous," he keeps a surprisingly even eye on all things holy in an attempt to understand the truth behind them. Unlike Bill Maher, however, he comes out at the end a little more faithful.

Stunt memoirs and stunt documentaries (in which an author or filmmaker challenges themself to an extreme experience for a week/month/year) are very "in" right now, and it's easy to see why. They provide otherwise ordinary people with an extraordinary story to tell, and they allow for soul-searching (or navel-gazing, depending on the quality of the writing) in a way that isn't exclusively narcisstic. This particular example of the genre is one of the best, because it asks just as many questions about humanity as it does about the author.

Also, it's fun to read the asides about Jacobs' wife's reactions to the whole thing. She must be a very patient woman.

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More The Year of Living Biblically:... reviews
review by . June 05, 2010
I had high expectations when I received this book as a gift, and they were fulfilled. A.J. Jacobs is hilarious and insightful at the same time as he tries to live using every rule from the Bible. He starts off with more broad and popular rules, like not gossiping or lying, and moves on to the very particular parts of the Bible like the type of clothing and length of hair to wear. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to laugh and is willing to be open about religious ideas. A must read! …
review by . April 06, 2009
I, like the author, am a secular Jew living in an urban setting. I, also, consider myself agnostic,  although I tend to believe in ideas such as 'destiny' and 'fate', but only to a degree. While the author had a real adventure throughout the book, I can say that it was something of an adventure for me as well. I can't claim to have taken a year to read it but in the few days that I devoted to it I can honestly say I learned something. But, as with those who will read this book and the author …
About the reviewer
Chris Magyar ()
Ranked #1262
I'm a freelance journalist and magazine editor who just moved to Austin, Texas from Santa Cruz, California. If anyone wants to hit me up with hidden gems (especially tips on where to eat) in ATX, I'd … more
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Author: A.J. Jacobs
Genre: Memoir

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