Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Year of Living Biblically: one man's humble quest to follow the Bible as literally as possible

by A.J. Jacobs

This book is primarily funny and a teensy bit uplifting, so if you're a religion hater like me, you've been warned.

That said, I do recommend this book. It's got some laugh-out-loud moments and an appealing earnestness throughout. The author, a secular New York Jew, seems genuine in his openness to feeling some kind of spiritual effect by adhering to the rules set forth in both the Old and New Testaments, even while his ingrained skepticism and a lifetime of agnosticism underline the utter absurdity of the majority of those Biblical injunctions. He doesn't dwell much on the scarier aspects of fundamentalism or the history behind competing interpretations and translations, but he manages to include a decent sampling of the types of Biblical literalism found in contemporary Judaism and Christianity.

One last (very minor) warning: the author's style is a lot like magazine writing (he's published other books but also has worked for Esquire for many years), which isn't necessarily a bad thing — it's just that, after 300-plus pages of magazine writing, your brain sort of feels the way your stomach would after a three-day juice fast.

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