Sunday Salon: The Year of Living Biblically

The Sunday

The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs

Release date: 2007 / 6 hours (CD — abridged)


Synopsis (from back cover): A.J. Jacobs decides to live for one full year obeying the Bible to the letter. He even goes so far as to grow his beard and stone adulterers. To get a stronger understanding of what it is like to live following the Bible, Jacobs visits communities who do just that such as the Amish and the Hasidim. The Year of Living Biblically is entertaining for the secular and religious.

Review:  Moments before we were about to leave for Colorado a week or so ago, I received a notice from my library that this CD audio book had arrived.  So I scooted to the library, picked it up, and asked my husband if he might be interested in giving it a try as we drove through the cornfields of Iowa. 

I could not remember where I had heard of this — or even what it was about, beyond the title.  But, happily, it was a delightfully amusing memoir of sorts that helped the first leg of our journey fly by.  If Jacobs’ name sounds familiar, his last book described his experience reading an entire collection of encyclopedias (I think I saw him on Letterman?).

Well, this time around he decides, as an agnostic man of Jewish ancestry, to experience the Bible intimately, following it as closely as is reasonably possible.  What makes this journey so enjoyable is not only his sense of humor and well-meaning clumsiness, but the presence of his long-suffering wife, too.  I think most readers will empathize with her reaction as Jacobs attempts to wear clothing “unmixed of fiber,” his attempt to eliminate all thoughts of envy and lust from his mind, and other such rules made difficult if not impossible in 2007.

My only disappointment was that the CD version was abridged, so we did not hear about his experiences with the Amish, who have always fascinated me.  Otherwise, I agree with the cover that this work is equally “entertaining for the secular and religious.” If you are looking for a light-hearted, well-meaning, thoroughly non-offensive look at religion, check it out!

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11 Responses to Sunday Salon: The Year of Living Biblically

  1. I have heard so much about it! However, I am gonna give it a miss.

    Interesting blogs, links and books

  2. Jessi says:

    I remembered wanting to read this when it first came out, but I almost forgot all about it. Thanks for reminding me – I’m off to add it to my wishlist. 🙂

  3. Carrie K. says:

    I enjoyed this one, too. His The Know-It-All, about reading the Encyclopedia Brittanica, is also very funny and full of useless, interesting information.

  4. Not only have I heard about it, but also I am not going to give it a miss. 😉 to Gautami. I actually picked this up at a bookstore this past week and am looking forward to it. Thanks for your quick review of the audiobook.

  5. Kristen says:

    You’re welcome, Jessi!

  6. Kristen says:

    Thanks for posting the title of his first book! It sounds quite funny…

  7. Kristen says:

    I look forward to hearing what you think — especially about the Amish section, too! 🙂

  8. Cynthia says:

    I love A.J. Jacobs! Can you imagine what it must be like to be his wife?? He lives the Bible one time, before that, he reads the Encyclopedia Brittanica (ALL of it) and plus – if you go to Esquire’s website and check out his column – you’ll find that he’s always doing things – our favorite: one month he decided to “outsource” himself with hilarious results. Definitely someone I would love to meet.
    If you have not read anything by Mr. Jacobs – Living Biblically or The Know-it-All are excellent choices

  9. S. Krishna says:

    I’ve heard so much about this book and really want to read it! Thanks for the review!

  10. Kristen says:

    His wife must have a LOT of patience and a great sense of humor. She actually has a “code word” she says when he is getting too far out (usually regarding his germaphobia) — I think it was “bucket” or “helmet”? I wish I could remember what it was… Anyone?

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