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

The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs
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's review
Nov 03, 2007

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 knowledge is quite vast. The concept itself is hysterical (as are the pictures of Jacobs bedecked in white, beard flowing as he walks along Amsterdam Avenue) but what really got to me in a 'I want to use this in class sort of way' is that Mr. Agnostic comes to espouse a real appreciation and love for the meaning behind the admittedly freakish things we do. I found that so refreshing (especially reading it on the same day as a rather embarrassing NY Times article about chareidim having kosher cell phones) and actually quite thought provoking. He had no agenda here, and while he's a total weirdo, he's an endearing one, so I still found his insight to be worthwhile.
Granted, there's quite a bit of TMI in this book, as befitting a weirdo, and I don't really get how his wife was ok with that, unless, of course, she, too, is a weirdo, which doesn't bode well for his equaly TMI toddler, though sometimes children of weirdos end up being alarmingly normal. Anyway, a fabulous read - so funny and so interesting. Nice to read about shatnez in a NY Times bestseller - and especially when it's written in such a positive light!
Btw, khay, I met a classmate of auslander's over shab - we must talk!
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10/20/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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message 1: by K (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:32PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

K Great review -- you've really made me want to check out this book! How did it compare to "Devil in the Details," by the way?

message 2: by M (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:32PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

M interesting question, khay - what inspired it? happens to be he is a self proclaimed OCD-nik, though it doesnt seem to hinder him to quite the same extent - and it did help him in his quest - i would say that this book did not make me squeamish while DD did, and this one was a lot lighter and a lot more thought provoking. to be totally honest, i have found myself inspired to work on davening and anger and speech because of Jacobs' book - its hard to explain, but hes just such a likeable unlikely hero that his wide eyed and candid assessment of the bible's value really gives one pause. i need to see how to studentify it, because there is a lot of lust driven discussion.

message 3: by K (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:33PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

K Saadia was actually planning to buy me his other book as a surprise -- the one about how he reads through the entire Encyclopedia Brittannica in an effort to increase his knowledge. He read excerpts of both books, and actually thought that one was even better.

message 4: by M (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:33PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

M Yea I am planning on tackeling that one next - it sounds good - but this one had a moral theme so I liked that.

message 5: by Riv (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:47PM) (new) - added it

Riv I heard Jacobs on NPR and loved the part about his wife sitting in every seat in the house when she had her period so he'd have nowhere to sit -- maybe she's not as nuts as he is ;)

message 6: by K (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:47PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

K Hysterical! You might want to try "Devil in the Details" by Jennifer Traig, Rivkie. It's a memoir of a woman who grew up with OCD that took the form of scrupulosity -- basically, she decided that she wanted to be an Orthodox Jew but had no clue how to go about it, so she tried to follow the Old Testament as literally as possible. Margueya felt that the writer's OCD made her nervous, but I really enjoyed the memoir. This discussion reminds me of that book.

message 7: by Riv (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:47PM) (new) - added it

Riv i'll add them both to my to-read list (I'll get them all eventually, won't I?) Thanks!

message 8: by M (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:49PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

M Yeah I liked this book better because there was no squeamish factor - I don't know, DD was funny but just too OCD for me.

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