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!