Book 3: The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible

The Year of Living Biblically Author: A. J. Jacobs, 2007
Genre: Autobiography
Format: Hardcover, 388 pages

The Year of Living Biblically is the second experimental memoir by Jacobs. Even though the idea behind the book is very similar to his encyclopedia quest – to conduct a study and record the observations – the final result is absolutely different. It does carry Jacobs’s quirky humor and sarcasm, but the monologue behind those is much more serious and personal. Maybe it is so because of the subject matter, but I found The Year of Living Biblically to be more deep.

Jacobs is doing it again. He throws random trivia from the Bible at the reader. I’ve never known a rule about cheeseburgers, or the mixed fibers, or the age of fruit trees. I’ve never known about the existence of religious snake-handlers, or gay christians’ group, or people that would sacrifice a chicken for you. It is fascinating to learn about all kinds of believers, from literalists to Cafeteria Christians, or about different ways to interpret the same line in the Scripture.

Again, there are crazy, wacky, colorful and absolutely lovable characters that can happen only in real life. There is aunt Marti, a feminist vegetarian, ex-uncle Gil, who is a self-proclaimed guru, and Nancy, an eccentric neighbour and a friend of the late Jimi Hendrix. They are all very wonderful and memorable.

Throughout the book, Jacobs discusses the morality of his actions and sincerity of his deeds. He tries to be a better person, then stops and wonders, if he does it for his project or out of good intentions. He wants to find the clue in the ancient book that would finally lead him to understanding the enigmatic faith and his religious ancestry.

Over all I should say I enjoyed the book very much. It was easy to read and follow, but it still made me think. Jacobs owes two more books to Simon & Schuster, so I am looking forward to more crazy experiments and thoughtful memoirs.


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