The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible
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The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  38,869 ratings  ·  4,349 reviews
From the bestselling author of The Know-It-All comes a fascinating and timely exploration of religion and the Bible. A.J. Jacobs chronicles his hilarious and thoughtful year spent obeying―as literally as possible―the tenets of the Bible.

Raised in a secular family but increasingly interested in the relevance of faith in our modern world, A.J. Jacobs deci...more
ebook, 368 pages
Published October 9th 2007 by Simon & Schuster (first published January 1st 2007)
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Carl
Ask yourself: "Would it be fun to literally follow the bible for one year?" If, like most people I know, would answer no, then run away from this book as fast as you can. I got about 200 pages in when I realized, I can't fucking stand this guy, and his story is getting old quickly.

Here's the problem: There are so many retarded things the bible says you should and shouldn't do. Take, for example, do not lie, thou shalt not lie, or however they fucking say it in there. You could write a long enter...more
Lisa Nelson
Dec 27, 2010 Lisa Nelson rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone!
Recommended to Lisa by: Michelle
Shelves: non-fiction
(4 1/2 Stars)
First, To: A.J. if you have Googled yourself thank you for such an interesting and wonderful read! I loved your honesty.
To: A.J.'s Dad you can click that you liked this review.
To everyone else: There were some highlights from this book that I would love to share. I love being able to have a record of what I've read and what I thought about a book, you probably hate getting so many e-mail updates on what I've read so delete if you must. I definitely shared too much on this one, now y...more
Sparrow
Jun 12, 2009 Sparrow rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sparrow by: Heather Persinger
It seems very authentically Jewish to write smart and funny social commentary about exploring spirituality through following obscure rules. I don’t know if such a thing as being “authentically Jewish” exists (versus everyone who is inauthentically Jewish, right?), and I hope I don’t offend by that phrase, but what I’m saying is that I don’t think Moses and Isaiah and all the boys would kick A.J. Jacobs out of their club. In fact, I think Jacobs comes closer to meaningful Bible commentary than an...more
Patrick Oden
Sep 04, 2007 Patrick Oden rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in the Bible
Shelves: fun, religion, nonfiction
G.K. Chesterton once wrote, "Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried." In this book, A.J. Jacobs not only tries Christianity, he tries out the whole Bible, both the Jewish and the Christian Scriptures.

He does indeed find it difficult. But he doesn't find it wanting. In fact his year long quest to follow all of the commands of the Bible results in a most delightful and insightful read.

It is delightful because Jacobs is such an engaging writer....more
Kristopher Jansma
My fiancee has been bugging me for months to read this book and I am oh-so-glad that I finally did. Her enthusiasm for it was unflagging - she brought home an advanced reader's copy from work as soon as she heard it was in the works. She then bought at least two more copies for friends during the holidays - bought them, even though she works for the publisher and could have probably finagled a pair of free ones. But I kept hesitating, despite her praise. For one thing, it's non-fiction, which I...more
Dave
The concept of "The Year of Living Biblically" is this: the author would forgo his secular lifestyle for a year and embrace the Bible and its teachings as literally as possible.

"The Year of Living Biblically" didn't have the same success as his other works. Jacobs, who is known for immersing himself in a project for a year and then writing about it, was warned by family that maybe this wasn't the best concept for a follow-up to his popular "Know-It-All" book, and they may have been right.

Jacob...more
Jordan
The Year of Living Biblically starts out pretty fine: I chuckled; I was interested to find out what would come of it all. Halfway through, however, I'd pretty much had enough. Jacobs is a little too smug (though he puts on the requisite veil of "Oh, God! I'm so bad at this religion thing!"), he doesn't portray his wife or son too nicely (she comes off as a humorless snot, though she's probably lovely in real life; son Jasper sounds like a brat), and it's annoying how little Jacobs thinks of my m...more
Petra X
This is what I call a snork book. So funny in parts that if you are drinking coffee, its going to come spluttering out of your nose. AJ Jacobs is a secular Jew (me too) and spends two thirds of this book researching biblical law and trying to live it. The last third addresses the New Testament in the same way. Living biblically for AJ means dressing in white robes, growing a ZZ Top beard and trying to literally fulfil each commandment even if terribly embarrassing. Like buying the guy behind him...more
John
It's mean of me to say so, because it's clear that writing it was a rather significant spiritual experience for Jacobs, but this book is just silly. It's meant to be entertaining-yet-thought-provoking, but I only found it mildly entertaining, and not at all thought-provoking. I actually found his wife funnier than him. My favorite part by far was when she was temporarily "unclean" and it annoyed her to be thought of that way, so in revenge she sat on all the furniture so that A.J. would have no...more
Abby
I really, really liked this book! A.J. Jacobs is now one of my favorite guys. He writes for Esquire magazine. I don't even know for sure what that magazine is about (I think it's a men's magazine), but it makes me want to read it anyways.

So, when he's not writing for Esquire, he writes books. This is one of them. It's about his quest to live all the laws of the bible the best he can, for a full year. Not just things like "Love thy neighbor", but also the stranger laws- blow a horn at the start o...more
Danna
I found the book to be less about an exploration of the Bible and biblical religions, more about: "I'm OCD and here's my latest obsession!" I did appreciate that the author mentioned this directly on page 148, and the book was quirky and interesting enough that I stuck with it until the end.

The bit that stuck with me the most wasn't one of the oddities, like binding money to your hand or not sitting on a chair that was recently sat upon by a menstruating woman, but rather an omission. In their s...more
Michael
A.J. Jacobs is a journalist and editor of Esquire magazine, who has some really interesting ideas for memoirs. I first heard about Jacobs by a friend who read his book; The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World, in which he all 32 volumes of the 2002 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica. While I’m yet to read this book (but I will) I decided to read The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to follow the Bible as Literally as Possible.

The b...more
M
Ok, I did NOT think I would like this book, and I certainly didn't think it would get five stars - and I grappled with that, as usual, but felt like I can't not give five stars to a book I loved this much just because I'm a snob (I try to apply the same to my students' papers, sadly I am not as effective there).
First, I gotta say, what a painless way to read nonfiction! This is basically Dave Barry does Bible - Jacobs is sharp witted, funny and has fantastic lines - and his breadth of biblical...more
Books Ring Mah Bell
A secular writer (for Esquire, he'll tell you at least 100+ times!) decides to live by the bible literally for a year, and write about the challenges of doing so.

Hits:
- In his effort to try to get a fair representation of the bible, he tries several different interpretations/variations of the bible. This in itself is challenging, as there are thousands of variations available - KJV, NIV, NAB, GNB, GWT, and so on. He is sent a copy of a "hip hop" version. (!!!) "The Lord is all that." vs. "The L...more
Linda
May 26, 2008 Linda rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Linda by: NPR- religion podcast
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bobby
What would happen to the man who really tried to put others before himself? Love his enemies? Turn the other cheek? Give to all who asked- no strings attached?

I'd like to read that man's memoirs.

But unfortunately, at the end of his hilariously pedantic year-long tour of the Bible, Jacobs manages to have covered none of these. (Loving your neighbor as yourself is mentioned only in the last chapter- when he says it is in fact impossible.)

One must wonder at the man who can spend a year in intense s...more
Megan
This book follows the author, A.J. Jacobs, on a year-long quest to follow every single rule in the Bible, from the Ten Commandments to the New Testament.

I read this book in the large-print version from my library. It was a big hit with my friends, who saw it sitting on my dining room table and wanted to know everything about it. For some reason, the concept really seems to fascinate people (or maybe just the weird people I hang out with). Luckily, A.J. Jacobs gave me enough funny stories to ente...more
La Petite Américaine
This book would have been a lot better had it been written by someone more capable and less smug. The premise itself is fascinating -- living the bible literally -- as are the religious groups that the author decided to interview, including snake handlers, the Amish, right-wing Christians, and Samaritans, to name a few. However, his "whoooa, I'm so secular, wow, look at all these religious people, whooooa" attitude made it nothing more than a half-baked project written under a deadline, sloppily...more
Lara
I REALLY enjoyed this book. For starters, I love people who do ridiculous, over-the-top things, so I figured I was pretty much destined to adore the author. (I now really need to read his first book, involving him reading the entire Encyclopedia Brittanica.) In this book (as the title indicates), Jacobs attempts to follow the Bible as literally as possible for a full year.

One of my friends told me he found this book a little contrived - but I disagree. At the very beginning, Jacobs admits that...more
Evan
Given to me by my wife on Christmas (and, incidentally, eaten by my dog exactly one month later), The Year Of Living Biblically was written by A.J. Jacobs, an editor of Esquire magazine. Jacobs’ previous book (The Know-It-All) entailed reading the encyclopedia in its entirety. To find a gimmick for his next project, Jacobs turned to an even more popular volume: The Bible.

Jacobs spends a year attempting to follow all the Old Testament’s instructions as literally as possible, in ways both expected...more
Carrie
May 02, 2008 Carrie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Carrie by: NYT
I loved this book. It was on the NYT bestseller list and I was intrigued. The NYC library system has 115 copies and it took me 4 months on the waiting list to get it. It was so worth the wait.

The author decides to live the bible a literally as possible for a whole year. Side note he has an amazing wife to put up with this for a year during which she is pregnant with twins.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

"You just have to tell them that you have a hunger and a thirst. and you man not sit at t...more
Scott Franklin
I am not even sure how I was turned on to this little book but late this past fall, I added it to my reading list and was fortunate enough to receive it from my parents as a Christmas gift. I love that I usually have time over the holidays to make it completely through a book.

Summary: The book is basically a journal through A.J. Jacobs’ religious experiment to obey the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, as literally as possible. Those familiar with the Scriptures realize that there are a great...more
Skylar Burris
This book was amusing, although it occasionally inspired eye-rolls as the author’s literal interpretations of Scripture sometimes defied the Biblical context and both Jewish and Christian tradition (even orthodox and fundamentalist traditions). The author’s attempts to draw a list of commands and advice from the Bible and to follow it literarily is at times comical, and it ends up highlighting the importance of following Scripture in the context of a tradition and a fellowship of like believers....more
Patricia
Based on the author's own reporting in this book, I would guess that, of all the authors I read A.J. Jacobs would be most likely to Google himself and find this review. If he is reading this, let him rest assured that I enjoyed this book, the story of—as the subtitle informs us—“One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible.”

Parts of this books are laugh-out-loud funny, as when Jacobs describes boning up for an interview with Rosario Dawson by watching two of her movies re...more
JJVid
"It is through being in Christ and following Him that we become transformed. Unless one takes this step, one cannot be truly transformed. So, after your year is over, you will go back to being a man who find purpose in weird projects and writing assignments. Becoming a follower of Jesus Christ is much more rewarding." This is an e-mail sent to A. J. Jacobs by 'a conservative evangelical Christian' which I think aptly sums up this book. Unless he accepts the Biblical stories as valid and honest a...more
Kim
I really thought I'd enjoy this book far more than I did. The premise is great but the actual results just didn't live up to my expectations.

A.J. Jacobs states, numerous times, that he is an atheist. As an atheist myself his attitude and actions throughout the book don't hold that up. He is actively trying to find God which means that to some extent he does believe God exists and I find it a little jarring.

Although there are some humourous parts of this book overall I didn't find it that funny....more
Erin
Jacobs spends a year attempting to strictly live by the hundreds of rules and commandments found in the Bible. While this may sound irreverent, he is respectful of every faith and his secular point of view provides openness and shows a desire to understand all aspects of the Bible and the many branches of Christianity and Judaism, from more liberal to extreme conservative viewpoints. He speaks with different religious groups and individuals and hears a broad range of interpretations. He recounts...more
Rod
I enjoy mixing humor with my religion. I enjoy it even more when people get offended by it - not because religion or humor is offensive, but because people are so easily upset by anything that challenges them or upsets their NORM.

Mr. Jacobs delivered a fun read. Kind of like a Seinfeld episode. It was insanely comical that A.J. assumed he could live out the rules and cultures of certain periods of the Bible. (Better him than me!)
He made a good effort - but missed the philosophy behind it all.

I...more
Trudi
Okay, I liked this book, but I didn't love it. It was amusing in parts and Jacobs has a delightfully quirky writing style that kept me engaged and reading. He's a bit of a geek -- who suffers from mild OCD -- but he's also an all-around "nice Jewish boy" doing his best to be a good husband and father. Hence, his dubious ambition to live biblically for a year -- the logic being perhaps living a literal interpretation of the Bible will make him a better person, bring him closer to a God that he ca...more
Jillyn
Jun 14, 2012 Jillyn rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in religion
I am positively stunned that I enjoyed this book.

First, for the record, I am agnostic. However, I have always had a fascination with things greater than myself, religions included. So when I came across this book, I had to give it a shot. I've often had problems with the literal interpretations of the Bible, & I feel hypocritical thinking that some of its lessons or rules are valid, while others aren't.

I've read the Bible. Probably not as thoroughly or as deeply as I should, but, my brain ha...more
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Topeka & Shaw...: January 2013 - The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs 3 26 Jan 03, 2013 02:31PM  
OP Book Club: #book 1 1 7 Jan 23, 2012 01:44PM  
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A.J. Jacobs is a New York Times bestselling author, Esquire editor and human guinea pig.

Among Jacobs’ life experiments:
--The Know-It-All. The bestselling memoir of the year he spent reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica in a quest to become the smartest person in the world.
--The Year of Living Biblically. The bestseller about his life as the ultimate biblical man. He followed every rule of th...more
More about A.J. Jacobs...
The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment Fractured Fairy Tales Esquire Presents: What It Feels Like

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“My reading list grows exponentially. Every time I read a book, it'll mention three other books I feel I have to read. It's like a particularly relentless series of pop-up ads.” 395 likes
“. . . my obsession with gratefulness. I can't stop. Just now, I press the elevator button and am thankful that it arrives quickly. I get onto the elevator and am thankful that the elevator cable didn't snap and plummet me to the basement. I go to the fifth floor and am thankful that I didn't have to stop on the second or third or fourth floor. I get out and am thankful that Julie left the door unlocked so I don't have to rummage for my King Kong key ring. I walk in, and am thnkful that Jasper is home and healthy and stuffing his face with pineapple wedges. And on and on. I'm actually muttering to myself, 'Thank you. . .thank you. . . thank you.' It's an odd way to live. But also kind of great and powerful. I've never before been so aware of the thousands of little good things, the thousands of things that go right every day.” 38 likes
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