Sara's Reviews > Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection

Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs
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Apr 15, 12

bookshelves: first-reads, 2012, non-fiction
Read from April 10 to 13, 2012

I won an advanced copy of this book through the First Reads program. The author has written previous books about various life experiments he's conducted; I'd previously read his book about living biblically for a year, trying to follow all the numerous, and sometimes conflicting, rules in the Bible. This book is along the same lines, following his adventures over the course of two years as he strives to be the healthiest person in the world. This means changing his lifestyle to adopt healthier habits, working out in various ways that are supposed to be best for your health, eating a better diet, and so on.

I wouldn't call this book "hilarious," but it's definitely amusing. Not only are his adventures in the name of health entertaining, but his writing is extremely witty. Even though you might begin reading the book with the thought that he's simply doing this healthy experiment to write a book about it, the results are so interesting and he does so much research about it, throwing himself into this fully, that you can't help but enjoy.

I loved all the descriptions of the ways in which he tries to work out, and the diets he follows, even for brief periods of time. As he points out, there is so much conflicting advice out there about how to be healthy, how to work out properly, how to eat your way to health... it's exhausting. And yet he attempts to follow many of the regiments in the name of science. One of my favorite parts of the book came when he follows the "Caveman Workout", exercising the way cavemen supposedly did, shirtless and barefoot in Central Park, lifting logs in lieu of boulders with a handful of other men in this Paleo Movement. He paints such a vivid picture of what he's doing, and you can't help but laugh at some of the ridiculousness he encounters, with devoted followers to each and every movement.

It was also entertaining to hear his adventures following some of the diets that have been hyped up as the way to health - the raw food diet, the no-carb diet, the juice cleanse... He not only describes what the diet entails, but he goes on to talk about what different scientists and health professionals have said about the diet, and then describes his own experiences following it. One of the more memorable parts for me was his description of the juice cleanse, buying the way expensive juices touted by B-list celebrities, then trying to starve off hunger as he craved anything solid to eat.

For all the entertainment found in this book, there is also some advice about health and ways that you really can make a difference in your own life without going completely overboard. I enjoyed the balance of everything, as it never felt as if I was reading a self-help book, but simply an entertaining social experiment that left me with some helpful advice.

I imagine that not everyone will like this book, as its dry humor and ridiculous situations could seem off-putting at first. However, if you're interested in reading about someone's adventures participating in all sorts of health fads - some that you've heard of, others that are completely strange - and hearing about it all from a self-deprecating but witty narrator, this is a great book. I'd easily recommend it.
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