The author, raised as a secular Jew in New York City, is an agnostic who became fascinated with the role that religion plays in modern life and politics, and especially Judeo-Christian religions in which the Bible is interpreted literally. He decided to try to live one full year in (to the degree possible) literal accordance with all 600+ rules for living in the Hebrew Bible, adding the Christian Bible toward the end of the year.
This was in the humor section of my library, but the book is so much more than humor. Mr. Jacobs is funny, yes, but also gentle and thoughtful and honest and open to all kinds of ideas while remaining true to himself, and the new and slightly improved self he became over the year. He is able to see, and celebrate, the absurdities of others - and his own absurdities - without sneering or becoming cynical.
The book was a delight.
This is one of the best books I've ever had the pleasure to read. An agnostic trying to decide what to write next chooses a study on the Bible. Not just any study, but a year spent trying to follow the Bible's instructions as closely as possible. He takes the project very seriously, makes his friends and family a little crazy in the process, but never mocks or belittles any of the people he interviews or spends time with. He genuinely wants to learn and experience what others experience, not only for his book, but for himself. As a reader, not only do you laugh at some of his experiences, but you learn about the religious world through his eyes. I gained a new level of understanding and respect for the highly observant religious, who at first glance may seem extremely different, but really aren't that different at all.
This is a very eye-opening, humorous, and heartwarming book, and will definitely go down as one of my favorite books of the year.
The author took on the challenge of a year of Biblical living partly so that he could write a book and make money on it. He was not prepated for the changes that occurred in his life. I was not prepared to laugh out loud as much or as often as I did while reading this book. Neither was I prepared to consider the absurdity of some parts of the Bible and the challenges that might present to my own personal faith. However, just as the author came out of his year a better and stronger person, I believe that reading this book has helped me to grow too.
It's not often you find a fun, funny book that also teaches you so much about one of the most important aspects of the human existence. While I enjoyed the book as a whole, the last few chapters were what really made it stand out and hold together as more than just a publicity stunt or bizarre social experiment. I think the conclusion of the book was absolutely inspired. The comments he cites from one of his mentors, a retired pastor, about the relevance of the Bible and distinguishing between following the bible and idolizing the bible were, IMO, spot on and phrased better than I'd ever heard. And Jacobs' final musings on how his year changed him and the ways in which it did not change him were incredibly thoughtful. I'd definitely recommend this book.
This book is by far, the funniest and best book I've read. I laughed out loud on just about every single page! I'd read excerpts to anybody who would listen. And I was fortunate enough to meet A.J. Jacobs at a local book signing while reading the story, get him to sign the book, and take a picture with him. (Which he didn't do for a year because after all, the bible says not to make graven images of yourself)
Regardless of your religious beliefs and views, this book is not offensive. I am a non-denominational Christian and thought it was hysterical. To interpret the bible in its most literal way makes for a good story. I especially laughed at the part where the author actually STONES another man. Literally threw rocks at him. Well, more like pebbles. But still.
My all time fave that I definitely think I will read again and again throughout the years... HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!