Every month or so I go on a quest. It involves a large cup of strong coffee, and time to wander. Hence, I like to do it on a lazy Saturday. (For me, lazy can be an absolutely relevant term, but bear with me, and assume I know what "relaxation" is.)
Last July, my dear friend, Kristi, who is a bookworm like me and has absolutely marvelous tastes in literature- that is, all across the board, no pinning down categories, just like we like our music- recommended
The Year Of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs. I read some reviews and excerpts, then life promptly got ahead of me and I focused on visiting Grandma, watching her, and on her funeral and the aftermath. And on moving. Now, months later, I grabbed a copy while out on a book-store/trip to the playground (I wax sentimental on bookstores, although lately ours seems to be getting smaller and smaller to me.)
I decided to review it. Which means I read it for pure pleasure first, then, as I tend to speed-read- as slowly as possible as often as I needed to.
The Year of Living Biblically,ISBN: 978-0-7-432-9148-4
Author: A.J. Jacobs
© 2008, Simon and Schuster.
The basic subject matter is the Bible, and a search for enlightenment, while the author attempts to live the Bible as literally as possible, and learn as much about faith as he can.
As a feature, numerous photographs mark milestones, important situations and personal victories.
A.J. Jacobs' goal in writing what on its' face is a very simple book ("Oh, it's religion, right?") is that while he was raised in a rather secular manner and is very much a modern New York City dweller (Mr. Jacobs writes for Esquire magazine), he was interested in faith in this increasingly faithless world. Deceptively simple premise, deceptively simple motive.
Mr. Jacobs writes about his journey in the world, combining a rather radical experiment, during which he meets amusing obstacles, herds sheep, meets numerous eccentrics and compiles an unlikely group of advisors from all walks of life.
He also uses graceful humor, and is very self aware that he might seem like a kook to others, and goes ahead anyway.
In many ways, The Year Of Living Biblically is another step on a knowledge-seeker's road. Mr. Jacobs' last novel, The Know-It-All, was full of facts he picked up reading the Encyclopedia, cover to cover. Mr. Jacobs seeks first to teach himself, to grow, and then, to impart his sage wisdom, complete with a wild sense of humor, which can reach self-depreciating at times- when learning to play a ceremonial trumpet, he describes the sound issued as "Still sounds like a fax machine, but a healthy one, this time." when he improves his technique.
At the beginning, A.J. Jacobs is an agnostic, but apparently of the X-Files type- he wants to know, and deep-down, to believe in- something.
Through it all, while he attempts to experience the lives of those that grace the ancient cracking pages of the Bible, he achieves milestones, sadnesses, frights, smiles, and odd looks, especially as he begins the perfect beard for Orthodox Jewish tradition.
And his zest for life and knowledge are never quenched.
Now that I've finished in the speed-reading portion- I grew used to absorbing books at a break-neck pace as a child- I intend to fully absorb.
The Year of Living Biblically made me laugh, made me groan, made me wonder. Most of all, it offered a helpful light.
Don't worry about the religion... keep the faith.
The most hilarious depictions of attempting to live as those that lived in ancient times
Visiting the church of the Jerry Falwell
Meeting with one of the last 7,000 members of the Samaritans, who in 1914 had dwindled to only a little over a 1,000.
Uncle Gil- a can't miss look at a former cult leader
Visiting Jerusalem, where it all began
Mr. Jacobs' changing viewpoints, living, at the same time, the wide-eyed seeker and the hardened modern man, without any false notes (except those of his ceremonial trumpet.)
And more. Kristi was right and I owe a huge thank you.
Time elapsed: about a day and a half.
To view more, and see the author's take on this, visit:
A.J. Jacobs- Website
The blurb on the back of the book is absolutely correct: Thou shalt not put it down... you'll be driven crazy to find out what happens next.
12 months. 8 spent focusing on the Old Testament, from Genesis to Micah, and 4 spent on the New. And laughter at every turn.