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 ·  66,450 ratings  ·  5,419 reviews
Avoiding shellfish was easy. The stoning of adulterers proved a little more difficult - and potentially controversial. Was it enough to walk up to an adulterer and gently touch them with a stone? Even that could be grounds for accusations of assault, especially with female adulterers in Manhattan. So what's a good Bible-reading boy to do?

Raised in a secular family but incr
Hardcover, 388 pages
Published October 1st 2007 by Simon & Schuster (first published 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
 ·  66,450 ratings  ·  5,419 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
Petra has the Chinese gift that keeps on giving
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
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 say it in there. You could write a long entertaining
Mar 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Meredith Holley
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 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, fun, religion
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.
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.

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
Jenna is buying a house and mostly too busy for GR ❤ ❀  ❤
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
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
Brian Griffith
Aug 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a social experiment I wouldn't impose as punishment on criminals, but Jacobs makes it both illuminating and entertaining. How far can he take Bible literalism for a whole year? He tries to avoid discriminating in which traditions he will observe. Some hundreds of injunctions, like the one about taking eggs from under mother birds without hurting the mother, can be done once and crossed off, like a list of things to be done within 365 days. Other commands won't go away, like observing "Th ...more
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
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
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
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
Tanja Berg
Aug 15, 2022 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, audio
I don't know what to think of this. On the one hand, kudos to the supreme idiot who actually tries to follow the bible's rules for a year. On the other hand, WHY? Whatever for? Rules written in the desert of some little tribe a bit over two millennials ago has little bearing on the present day. Wearing clothes that are not of mixed fiber, having tassels on your clothes, not cutting side burns, not sitting on the same chair as a menstruating woman. Worse, the author of this book tries to follow t ...more
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
Feels good to finally knock this off my TBR after 13 years, and it was a pretty good read, but I think I wanted more from it. This mindset is puzzling, because I was actually expecting less than what I got here. I was expecting this to be more of a satirical, humorous, critical exploration of the Bible. And it was not that! At all! Jacobs is extremely, beyond-call sincere in his exploration. He's funny, but the humor is secondary. His quest comes first. (He also has OCD, which I can relate to, s ...more
Sheree | Keeping Up With The Penguins
Jacobs is genuine in his approach to The Year Of Living Biblically, which I really appreciated. In the hands of a determined cynic, it would have been a very different book. He actively sets aside his cynicism in favour of curiosity and commitment to the project. He’s not here to make fun of the Bible or those who adhere to his teachings, nor does he accept everything in it blindly. Excellent!

My full review of The Year Of Living Biblically is up now on Keeping Up With The Penguins.
MissBecka Gee
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
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.
Lost Planet Airman
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
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
When I read the premise of this book I imagined it could be very funny. The author decided to live according to the Bible's rules for one year. He is married to a very understanding woman, is a secular Jew, and at the beginning of this book had one son. During the year he decided he should follow the command, "And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein" and ends up with twin boys for a total of 3 sons by the end of this book.

He decided to spe
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Soul Cure: How to Heal Your Pain and Discover Your Purpose
  • The Local School
  • Vision to Reality: Stop Working, Start Living
  • Fierce Love: Creating a Love that Lasts—One Conversation at a Time
  • A Conservation Notebook
  • Sustainable & Responsible Investing 360°: Lessons Learned from World Class Investors
  • Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture
  • A Gracious Enemy & After the War Volume Two
  • Dear Barack: The Extraordinary Partnership of Barack Obama and Angela Merkel
  • The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality
  • Letter to a Christian Nation
  • Please Don't Say You're Sorry: An Empowering Perspective on Marriage, Separation, and Divorce from a Marriage-Loving Divorce Attorney
  • The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason
  • I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After Twenty Years Away
  • How to Get a Date Worth Keeping
  • Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography
  • Firestarters: How Innovators, Instigators, and Initiators Can Inspire You to Ignite Your Own Life
  • Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible & Why We Don't Know About Them
See similar books…
See top shelves…

News & Interviews

As the final days of the year tick themselves off the calendar, the 2022 Goodreads Reading Challenge is coming to a close. Sincere...
38 likes · 8 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.” 467 likes
“Unconditional love is an illogical notion, but such a great and powerful one.” 53 likes
More quotes…