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

The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible
The Year of Living Biblically One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible
Author: A. J. Jacobs
ISBN-13: 9780743291477
ISBN-10: 0743291476
Publication Date: 10/9/2007
Pages: 368
Rating:
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 101

3.9 stars, based on 101 ratings
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Book Type: Hardcover
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

30 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible on + 34 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 31
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.
reviewed The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible on + 326 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 17
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.
reviewed The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible on + 162 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 15
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.
reviewed The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible on + 73 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 12
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.
reviewed The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible on + 62 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 10
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!!!!
reviewed The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible on + 121 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 8
A great, entertaining read that amuses you and educates you at the same time--the best kind of book! Makes you think about religion, spirituality and was a great primer for getting a handle on the some of the sects of modern day Judaism and Christianity and their various rituals. My only real complaint is that I wish the book could have been longer and gone into more depth about the author's experiences and the various things he learned. Definitely recommend!
reviewed The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible on + 27 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
This book may be catergorized as a "Humor" book, but reading it you will learn a LOT about the various faiths followed by modern folks, about some of the really strange "rules" in the Bible, and about the even stranger ways scriptures have been 'interpreted' down through the ages. The author is scholarly at the same time he uses the current American vernacular at relate his thoughts and experiences as he tries to follow the biblical teachings on how to live a pious life. The deeper into his "project' he gets, his alter ego, whom he dubs "Jacob" begins to take a stronger and stronger hold on his thoughts and emotions. Don't miss reading this very HUMAN book, no matter whether you hold with anything from "atheist" to "Zoroastrian" and all between. Need I say that this book is NOT irreverent?
reviewed The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible on + 73 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
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.
reviewed The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible on
Helpful Score: 4
I thought this book was wonderful. It was funny but also very reverent. Highly recommend it to anyone no matter what your religious affiliation.
reviewed The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible on + 32 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
I loved the audio of this book. The author is also the narrator here, and makes listening enjoyable. Very interesting account of him taking the Bible literally for an entire year. Good stuff.
reviewed The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible on + 85 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
The author is an agnostic who goes on a spiritual journey by trying to live the Bible literally for a year. The book is humorous and informative and very enjoyable.
reviewed The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible on + 553 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This book has a long wishlist on PBS, and you may wonder why. I found the book easy to read, you wont find yourself bogged down with a lot of deep theological debates, or church history lectures. As a Bible reading Christian, or any variation of the Jewish religion, this book is not offensive. Yes, he did this book as an agnostic with a Jewish family background. Agnostics are not sure there is a God. The author examines many different Jewish and Christian beliefs. He doesnt make fun of any of the traditions or sects. Of course he was doing this to write a book, which would explain why you are reading a book by him. Some things do come across as just a stupid stunt, but again what did you expect from an agonstic trying to weed through all the religious options. I like AJ more and not less as he got farther in his journey. He doesnt have all the answers or pretend to even try to have all the answers. He consult various religious leaders when he has questions.
reviewed The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible on + 593 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This book was hilarious, at times! A Jewish Agnostic, he sets out to find his own religious path by following all the rules of the Bible (more than 700), to the best of his ability for one year, however obscure and strange some may be. He visits religious places and people to guide him along the way and struggles with his family's frustrations about this, as well as society's skepticism. I laughed so hard, I was in tears through the introduction alone! Funny, funny, funny:)
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Helpful Score: 1
I really enjoyed this book a lot. There was so much he wrote that inspired me and made me think about long afterward, and bring up with friends. I've recommended it to several people.

It was a;so my first audiobook, and I really liked listening to it as I knit - much better than listening to TV.
reviewed The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible on + 27 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This was a great book, even if it's a bit long. It helps the reader understand the differing points of view of the Judeo-Christian faith and how it has evolved over time, through one man's attempt to really get to his family roots. It takes a lot of courage for a man to actively seek out and successfully complete an experiment like this. A good read.
reviewed The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible on + 12 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Funny and insightful....really admirable experiment / commitment.
reviewed The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible on + 27 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Long story short, the author is agnostic Jew and tries to live the Bible literally for a year.

For at least the past year, I've been experiencing a faith crisis. I wouldn't go so far to say I'm agnostic, but I'm not as in tune with my Christianity as I once was. I'd like to say this book spoke to me on a spiritual level and brought me back to my faith life, but I won't go that far.

I really enjoyed listening to the book for several reasons. Jacobs respectfully explored reasoning behind some Biblical traditions, stepped out of his comfort zone to explore religious traditions, and consulted with his "faith counsel" for guidance, among other things. He never says to the reader, "you should be this religion, or that," or "you're a sinner because you're not doing this," etc.

Throughout his journey Jacobs comes to understand the peace of ritual and the joys prayer can bring. He doesn't hold back telling us when he doesn't really want to perform a task, but accepts it and then respectfully tells us whether it was worth it or not.

I realize I'm starting to babel, so I should stop. Overall, for a girl who's a little lost in her faith, it was nice listening to this man's Biblical journey.
reviewed The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible on + 324 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
By the time I finished this audio, I went from liking it a lot to loving it. Jacobs, who did a marvelous job reading his book, could have handled this 'report' in many ways: sarcastically, preachy, silly, overly-serious. Instead he was quite respectful, albeit very very funny. Great wry sense of humor, esp when referring to himself in any way. He handled inconsistencies in the bible well, almost like he didn't want to have to do it...but there it was! He also revealed the truth behind some stories that we all know quite differently. The almost-ending was so sad...won't spoil anything...about his neighbor Judy and why she sold her famous sketch of Jimi Hendrix to Hard Rock Cafe.

I kind of wonder what I may have missed by this being abridged.
reviewed The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible on + 636 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I really enjoyed this book. It was interesting, amusing and amazingly, done without a sense of mockery. I think that it must have been very difficult to take a controversial topic like religion and take on this project without being offensive. It was very impressive that that the author not only made so many changes in his own life, but that the spirit behind it all was one of curiosity and not purely ridicule. Obviously, there were branches/sects of Judeo-Christianity that were not even touched upon, let alone explored in depth, but those that were, were well done. I suppose the thing that I am most curious about is whether or not some of the life changes that he made for this project became something of a routine, or habit that will continue - volunteering at the soup kitchen, tithing, etc. I am also VERY curious as to what he will write about next. Overall, I would say that I enjoyed _The Know-It-All_ more, but it was a tough decision to make!
reviewed The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible on + 5 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This book was ok. It had funny parts, emotional parts and spiritual parts. But the whole thing smelled of a money making scheme to me. As I read through it I kept feeling like the author was thumbing his nose at anyone who is religous, making fun of all the commandments in a way. What did he expect from people really; wearing all white with a full beard and a cane?
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i have read most of thois book , and yes , it is funny . it pokes fun at most of what is happening , it seems like everything is being turned into a joke . even tho i like to laugh as much as the next person , i can not go along with some of these "funnies" . to begin with , i am a christian , and for a while have had the opportunity to visit a messianic synagogue , which is somewhat different from a traditional and orthodox synagogue . nevertheless , the authors attempt at "living according to the bible " and bringing some of old jewish rules to light for the sake of making fun of them , just isnt very respectful . somehow , i can not embrace the idea of taking one religion under scrutiny and then getting all other religious tenacles of similar faiths and use their different views as a basis to question and point out what one doesnt understand . in some respect this book is disrespectful as it pokes fun at guidelines G-d has put down for His people to live by in relationship with HIM . and the people chosen as spiritual advisors dont seem to have a relationship with G=d . yes , his advisors come from a broad spectrum of beliefs , but i didnt seem to see one person who was a born again christian , a follower of Christ . or a messianic jew for that matter .

i had wanted for this book to "work', i went outside my box and thought i'll give it a try , i was disappointed . yes , the book is well written and very funny in places , but overall disappointing . maybe i should have finished the book and seen how he addresses the new testamanet , but i did read the last few chapters to find out how it ended . i found , that to the end the author kept up his disconnected view of G-d . in his words , " the bible project changed my life in ways both big and small [ pg appendix] " ... and says it has made him more grateful and further down , he says he doesnt care if his sons become atheists or believers , as long as they are good people . the world is full of people who think they are "good " but being good does not get anyone in the right relationship with G-d . according to Jesus , only one is good , and that is G-d [ matthew 19:17 ] Jesus himself did not call himself good .

in other words , the author started his year disconnected from G-d and ended it the same way he started . what changed was his outlook and formality how things are "done". the outward person did and worked at participating , but the inner being and heart where unchanged . if you follow G-d , you have to let Him change your heart and all those outward appearances will also become more "bibical".

would i recommend this book ? not nessessarily . it can be springboard to discussions how outward compliance does not prove the heart is also right . G-d is not interested in outward appearance and how right we look to others or how good we feel about getting it right ,but HE looks at the heart and if IT is right .
matthew 10:17-22 shows one young man , who accknowledged to have followed all the rules , but yet Jesus found him lacking . beyond that ,, i can not find redeeming value in a book that pokes fun at what G-d considered important enough to communicate so that we might have a guideline to live righteously .
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I love the perspective. It made me laugh alot. It was very interesting to understand how some of the religious tradition evolved.
reviewed The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible on + 40 more book reviews
Whether you are religious or not; Jewish, Christian,Buddhist, or any other religion; this book is an enjoyable, light, fun read. Jacobs is hilarious in his story telling, but also genuine about the thoughts and feelings he encounters as he takes on a year-long intense religious journey. It is thought provoking, entertaining, and powerful.
reviewed The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible on + 2 more book reviews
Fascinating book - One man's attempt to navigate through Biblical laws as he tries to follow as many laws as possible given constraints of today's culture and access to necessary materials and supplies. Includes explanations of religious traditions - some that were new to me as well as old favorites. Easy to read with appropriate wit and details. One of those books that I want to read again.
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this is an exact copy of my own review from amazon.com

This book is disappointing on two levels. First is my disappointment. I thought the book was going to be more of a journal of Jacobs biblical year. It is more a dissecting or study of the oddities he found in the bible mixed in with some of his daily events. The second is Jacobs disappointment. I felt he found no spiritual enlightenment. It almost seemed like the whole year was over and the project was a failure but I have to write the book anyway.
I'm not sure if I liked the book. A book I enjoy reading I anticipate and look forward to my next reading. YoLB wasn't like that. Some days I'd look at it and wonder if I should continue reading or put it on hold and read a more entertaining book or just stop reading it without finishing.
The author and I are two really different people. I don't know how much this factors in but here is how we are different. Jacobs has many compulsive behavior problems. Lying is his worst. I despise liars and avoid lying in my own life. Jacobs has a problem saying "No" to his two year old son and mentions this numerous times in the book. Not me , children need limits. This is relevant because of the number of times Jacobs writes of this. Saying "No" or the inability to do so is a pet peeve of mine. This lessened the books enjoyment for me. Jacobs also loves pop culture. I have no use for pop culture. Jacobs uses pop culture references in many of his one liners and zingers. Most of them I'm sure are funny but since I am not familiar with the pop culture reference I did not get the jokes.
I am not saying this book is bad it's just not very good , certainly not a page turner. For me it goes back to one of my opening remarks. It felt like Jacobs wrote the book despite the fact that the project wasn't overly successful. To emphasize my point the conclusion of YoLB is more superficial than spiritual and that was very disappointing.
reviewed The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible on
My review is at http://colbyreads.blogspot.com/2009/07/year-of-living-biblically.html.
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I started the book, but it seemed a rather shallow treatment of the situation, leading off the book with the clothes and his beard, and announcing with certainty that there are 800+ (I forget the exact number) rules to follow, sort of like this guy who had never thought about the bible before is reading a manual for assembling a computer. Maybe, like one reviewer said, it got better towards the end.
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THIS BOOK MAKES FUN OF THE BIBLE!!
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I was rather disappointed - seemed rather shallow, at least the parts I read. he seemed to talk a lot about his beard, and was worried about what his wife thought.
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A bit of a disappointment. I felt like I was reading his diary but I didn't really get the message. Good for a few laughs but falls flat overall.