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The Year of Living Biblically by A. J.…

The Year of Living Biblically (2007)

by A. J. Jacobs

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,8511801,340 (3.83)223
  1. 70
    The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World by A. J. Jacobs (schatzi)
    schatzi: this is the author's first book; his exploits in "The Know-It-All" are sometimes referred to in "The Year of Living Biblically"
  2. 60
    The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University by Kevin Roose (kiwiflowa)
    kiwiflowa: Kevin Roose was A.J. Jacobs college intern for this book and decided to do a similar experiment. He enrolled for a semester at the Christian fundamentalist college Liberty University founded by Jerry Falwell.
  3. 30
    The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin (ansate)
    ansate: similar thoughtful project. turns out they share a writers group!
  4. 10
    No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process by Colin Beavan (Deesirings)
    Deesirings: Both of these are a memoir of a "rules-based" experience of living for a one year period
  5. 00
    En Avant, Route! by Alix de Saint-André (yokai)
    yokai: Deux expériences différentes dans le domaine de la religion.
  6. 00
    My Jesus Year: A Rabbi's Son Wanders the Bible Belt in Search of His Own Faith by Benyamin Cohen (ijustgetbored)
    ijustgetbored: Another author-experiment, this one by an Orthodox Jew who decides to immerse himself in Christianity for a year in order to strengthen his own faith.
  7. 00
    Municipal Bondage: One Man's Anxiety-Producing Adventures in the Big City by Henry Alford (reenum)
  8. 34
    Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell (amyblue)
  9. 01
    Big Kiss: One Actor's Desperate Attempt to Claw His Way to the Top by Henry Alford (reenum)
  10. 02
    In the Land of Believers: An Outsider's Extraordinary Journey into the Heart of the Evangelical Church by Gina Welch (Percevan)

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» See also 223 mentions

English (174)  German (3)  Dutch (1)  Finnish (1)  French (1)  All (180)
Showing 1-5 of 174 (next | show all)
There is something that is quintessentially Jewish about living biblically for a year, questioning every step of the process.

Most authors who attempt a diary-style memoir fail miserably. This book feels like a diary, but a good one. I was surprised by the reverent tone that flowed throughout the book. From one agnostic to another, I agree with his end conclusion that whether or not you believe in God, there is such a thing as sacredness. And it is not necessarily a bad thing. ( )
  abergsman | Mar 20, 2018 |

I'm giving it three stars because, although entertaining, it's way too long and I got bored 2/3 of the way through and stopped reading. ( )
  sarahy531 | Aug 16, 2017 |
First off, I LOVE when authors read their work for the audiobook. It just seems as if the book is being the way it was intended to be read so you don't miss any of the humor or the emphasis in certain sections. I wish more authors read their work.

I picked up this book for a couple of reasons. I really enjoyed one of Jacobs' other books, The Guinea Pig Diaries and had a feeling that I would enjoy this book as well. What made the other book work is that he tried out so many different things that I never once felt bored. Living biblically does include a lot but it just ultimately wasn't as interesting to me and I found myself wishing for some variety of sorts.

I think what I most appreciated from this book was how this experiment seemed to change him. It seemed as if by the end he was a more considerate, well-rounded person. For me it showed that some religion or some set standards that you follow isn't a half-bad way to live.

This was an interesting book but nowhere near as entertaining as some of his other work.
( )
  Emma_Manolis | Jun 27, 2017 |
I know a lot about the Bible, but I certainly learned a few obscure things in this excellent read. Jacobs's writing is conversational and quite funny.

Now I have to go look for "Know It All" (his memoir about reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica.) ( )
  Razinha | May 23, 2017 |
Hilariously funny and poignantly serious at turns. A. J. wrings humor out of his year-long experiment while still showing respect to he various religious individuals and belief systems he encounters. All the while he is married, and it's hard to believe his wife is willing to put up with this experiment in immersion into Biblical literacy. ( )
  bness2 | May 23, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 174 (next | show all)
Performance art or not, this is a well-researched, informative and entirely absorbing read.
added by Katya0133 | editPeople, Jonathan Durbin
Jacobs's discussions with his advisers and with men representing other religions make up the most thoughtful and insightful sections of the book.
added by Katya0133 | editLibrary Journal, Joyce Sparrow
The author's determination despite constant complications from his modern secular life (wife, job, family, NYC) underscores both the absurdity of his plight and its profundity.
added by Katya0133 | editKirkus
If he starts out sounding like an interminable Ira Glass monologue, smarmy and name-dropping, he becomes much less off-putting as the year progresses, for he develops a serious conscience about such quotidian failings as self-centeredness, lying, swearing, and disparaging others.
added by Katya0133 | editBooklist, Ray Olson
Throughout his journey, Jacobs comes across as a generous and thoughtful (and, yes, slightly neurotic) participant observer, lacing his story with absurdly funny cultural commentary as well as nuanced insights into the impossible task of biblical literalism.
added by Katya0133 | editPublishers Weekly

» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
A. J. Jacobsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Ross, Jonathan ToddNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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As I write this, I have a beard that makes me resemble Moses.
The Hebrew scriptures prescribe a tremendous amount of capital punishment. Think Saudi Arabia, multiply by Texas, then triple that.
At times—not all the time, but sometimes—the entire world takes on a glow of sacredness, like someone has flipped on a[n] unfathomably huge halogen lamp and made the universe softer, fuller, less menacing. (p.153)
All well and good, right?  The only thing is, this is not the God of the Israelites.  This is not the God of the Hebrew Scriptures.  That God is an interactive God.   He rewards people and punishes them.  He argues with them, negotiates with them, forgives them, and occasionally smites the.   The God of the Hebrew Scriptures has human emotions—love and anger.   (p.153)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0743291484, Paperback)

Amazon Best of the Month, September 2007: Make no mistake: A.J. Jacobs is not a religious man. He describes himself as Jewish "in the same way the Olive Garden is an Italian restaurant." Yet his latest work, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible, is an insightful and hilarious journey for readers of all faiths. Though no fatted calves were harmed in the making of this book, Jacobs chronicles 12 months living a remarkably strict Biblical life full of charity, chastity, and facial hair as impressive as anything found in The Lord of the Rings. Through it all, he manages to brilliantly keep things light, while avoiding the sinful eye of judgment. --Dave Callanan

Subtitled: "One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible," Jacobs, or A.J., as his two-year-old son calls him, does just that. It is likely that no one but A.J. Jacobs could have accomplished such a feat. After all, his last book, The Know-It-All, chronicles his reading of the entire Encyclopedia Brittanica, from A to Z. No one but a smart, witty, self-deprecating, nitpicky kinda guy would undertake two such daunting tasks, and complete them with grace, no pun intended.

Jacobs, a New York Jewish agnostic, decides to follow the laws and rules of the Bible, beginning with the Old Testament, for one year. (He actually adds some bonus days and makes it a 381-day year.) He starts by growing a beard and we are with him through every itchy moment. Jacobs is borderline OCD, at least as he describes himself; obsessing over possible dangers to his son, germs, literal interpretation of Bible verses, etc. He enlists the aid of counselors along the way; Jewish rabbis, Christians of every stripe, friends and neighbors.

In an open-minded way he also visits with atheists, Evangelicals Concerned (a gay group), Jerry Falwell, snake handlers, Red Letter Christians--those who adhere to the red letters in the Bible, those words spoken by Jesus Himself, and even takes a trip to Israel and meets Samaritans. Through it all, he keeps a healthy skepticism, but continues to pray and is open to the flowering of real faith. Jacobs is a knowledge junky, to be sure. He enjoys the lore he picks up along the way as much as any other aspect of his experiment. One of the ongoing schticks is his meeting with the shatnez tester, Mr. Berkowitz. He is the one who determines whether or not your clothes are made of mixed fibers, in keeping with the Biblical injunction not to wear wool and linen together. The two become friends and prayer partners, in only one of the unexpected results of this year.

In the end, he says, "I'm now a reverent agnostic. Which isn't an oxymoron, I swear. I now believe that whether or not there's a God, there is such a thing as sacredness. Life is sacred." Not a bad outcome. --Valerie Ryan

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:17 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Raised in a secular family but interested in the relevance of faith in our modern world, A.J. Jacobs decides to attempt to obey the Bible as literally as possible for one full year. He vows to follow the Ten Commandments. To be fruitful and multiply. To love his neighbor. But also to obey the hundreds of less publicized rules: to avoid wearing clothes made of mixed fibers; to stone adulterers. The resulting spiritual journey is at once funny and profound, reverent and irreverent, personal and universal and will make you see history's most influential book with new eyes. Jacobs embeds himself in a cross-section of communities that take the Bible literally: he tours a creationist museum and sings hymns with Amish; he dances with Hasidic Jews and does Scripture study with Jehovah's Witnesses. He wrestles with seemingly archaic rules that baffle the 21st-century brain, and he discovers ancient wisdom of startling relevance.--From publisher description.… (more)

» see all 6 descriptions

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