Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible” as Want to Read:
The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  62,169 ratings  ·  5,308 reviews
From the bestselling author of "The Know-It-All" comes a fascinating and timely exploration of religion and the Bible.Raised in a secular family but increasingly interested in the relevance of faith in our modern world, A.J. Jacobs decides to dive in headfirst and attempt to obey the Bible as literally as possible for one full year. He vows to follow the Ten Commandments. ...more
Hardcover, 388 pages
Published October 1st 2007 by Simon & Schuster (first published January 1st 2007)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Year of Living Biblically, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Kipley Wentz I wondered the same thing, but I just finished reading it and the author does not mock religion, though one could get that impression from the cover p…moreI wondered the same thing, but I just finished reading it and the author does not mock religion, though one could get that impression from the cover photo. It's not like, "Look how silly these religious people are, following these dumb rules!" He does his best for one year to follow the laws, commandments, and advice in the Bible. Sometimes he feels silly and is skeptical, but also discovers unexpected joy, peace, and understanding through the rituals he follows. It is not mean-spirited nor intended to ridicule.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  62,169 ratings  ·  5,308 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible
Nov 02, 2007 rated it did not like it
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
Mar 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Patrick Oden
Sep 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.
Meredith Holley
Apr 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Meredith 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
Aug 26, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Nov 29, 2007 rated it it was ok
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.

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
May 08, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Kristopher Jansma
Mar 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookblog
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
Kjv Excited GIF - Kjv Excited Holy GIFs

Unless you are a member of the clergy or a fundamentalist Christian, you probably don't know much about the Bible. You might have heard the nice stories they tell in church, and how Jesus did many miracles, was killed, and then rose from the dead on the 3rd day. Any of the not-so-nice stuff though? Probably not. Before going any further, I need to say: If you are a clergy(wo)man without a sense of humor or you're a fundamentalist Christian, you might want to stop reading this review right here a
Jan 06, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Jun 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
La Petite Américaine Cash App: $Covid2020sucks
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
Apr 19, 2009 rated it liked it
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
May 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
A humorous but sincere attempt to study the Old and New Testaments and live by their rules for a year. AJ Jacobs, a non-practising Jew in New York, threw himself into this task. He read the Bible thoroughly, noted all its rules, and tried to put as many into practice as he reasonably could. He visited many different churches and consulted rabbis, pastors, professors of religion, worshippers and others, to gain more insight into people’s beliefs and their interpretations of the Bible.

There are a
Nov 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Don't let the subject of this book scare you into thinking it's preachy or self-righteous or filled with sermonizing. It is actually a very funny and open-minded book about the Bible and how following it to a literal extreme is well, just plain silly.

A.J. Jacobs has a wonderful sense of humor throughout his year-long project, but I felt bad for his wife, Julie, who had to put up with all kinds of ridiculous rules and projects. (At one point, he built a yurt in his living room to get a feel for w
“I've rarely said the word ‘Lord,’ unless It’s followed by ‘of the Rings.’”

I first read this about ten years ago and fell in love with Jacobs’s witty approach. I’ve since read many of his unusual journalistic ventures and I must say his wife is a very patient woman! This time I listened to the audio and loved it all over again. He goes in with an open mind and presents a funny, yet thoughtful and balanced report on his year.
Jun 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Written by an agnostic man who grew up in a secular Jewish home.
This is an interesting experiment wherein he tries to abide by the rules and traditions in the Bible as literally as possible. He's included enough personal feelings and side bar stories to keep it entertaining and intimate. It felt like I was reading his journal (which in a way I'm sure I was) instead of a weird experiment.

The research is out of this world!
He read several different versions of the Bible in preparation and many co
Rabbit {Paint me like one of your 19th century gothic heroines!}
I keep going back and forth on keeping this book to donating it, so I'm going to hold onto it until I make up my mind.

This book was honest and funny. There were times that I felt the book drag a little, but I was also sick while reading this book at some points. Keep this in mind. lol

It is making me re-examine my own spiritual views, and that is a good thing. What can I learn from others without appropriating?

I was raised (Roman) Catholic, so I currently re-examining how being raised as such ha
Feb 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: sffbc-tbr-17
Fun and interesting. A little too self-effacing and mild, but I liked where he went with this. The author kept important threads going throughout the book, with a lot of interesting side excursions.

Destined to fulfill The Seasonal Reading Challenge Winter 2017 Task 30.1: Schatzie's Animal Crackers, because the letters "A-B-I- C-O can be found in the title, and "N-A-B-I-S- O" in the subtitle,
to make "N-A-B-I-S-C-O" in the title and/or sub-title.

Also, for 2017 closure on the SFNFBC TBR Shelf Chall
Mar 12, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
"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
❀Aimee❀ Just one more page...
For a guy who doesn't consider himself religious, he has quite a journey trying to live Biblically. I was worried it would be really sacrilegious, but it wasn't. AJ himself gets more out of the experience than he anticipated. He has a lot of deep musings as well as hilarity.
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.

- 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
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
Eric Smith
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
It's been awhile but this popped up on my feed and I do remember reading this. Great concept but I remember being sorely disappointed. All the verses the left uses against us Christians were tried to be lived out. Sanitary laws, dietary laws etc. I do remember a funny bit in there about his wife menstruating and sitting on every seat in the living room. But as new testament Christians we get criticized by some folks that say why do you oppose same sex marriage and yet wear blended garments, eat ...more
Jan 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
May 26, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommended to Linda by: NPR- religion podcast
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
John Wiswell
Nov 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
A.J. Jacobs delivers another fun bathroom book. After Know-It-All, where Jacobs tried to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica in a year, here he spends a year studying The Bible and trying to live it as literally as possible. His clipped, self-deprecating style persists, and so do the extremely short chapters, inviting you into deep topics for very brief periods of time. The best part of the book is Jacobs's balance of his latest life-gimmick and his wife's conception of twins, because all th ...more
Mar 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University
  • Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why
  • Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin
  • The Battle for God: A History of Fundamentalism
  • Bossypants
  • The Partly Cloudy Patriot
  • Letter to a Christian Nation
  • No god but God: The Origins, Evolution and Future of Islam
  • Paul
  • A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
  • Stories I Only Tell My Friends
  • The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever
  • The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason
  • Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith
  • Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
  • Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible & Why We Don't Know About Them
  • Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief
  • The Varieties of Religious Experience
See similar books…
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

Related Articles

In It's All Relative , A.J. Jacobs explores the transformation of the modern family, including the impact of DNA tests and his own tangled...
3 likes · 1 comments
“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.” 464 likes
“Unconditional love is an illogical notion, but such a great and powerful one.” 51 likes
More quotes…