I was browsing the shelves of staff picks at the local library and stumbled across a familiar cover: The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs. I’ve looked at this book before — in bookstores, on friends’ shelves, in libraries — but this time I picked it up and started reading the first couple of pages and realized I wanted to read it. The intro was just so funny (and mostly about Jacobs’ beard), which was not what I was expecting, apparently. I’m not quite sure what I was expecting, but this wasn’t it.
Jacobs’ prose is light and easy-to-read, even when he’s dealing with a serious subject. In fact, the way he wrote this book made it interesting and informative. As a not-very-religious person myself, I was concerned that I might get frustrated with the parts where Jacobs meets with extremists or talks politics…but I found that his own agnosticism made him a voice I could trust to meet radical ideas with skepticism and then think them through in ways that paralleled my own thought process. So ultimately, his conclusions were things I could live with because they came in non-threatening ways.
I feel like I learned a lot, and like I was along for the ride during Jacobs’ interesting year-long experiment. His journey was humorous, perplexing, and educational. I’m glad I finally picked up this book.
GOOD FOR: Non-religious people who want to understand how a variety of religious groups interpret the Bible, those who are curious about the way politicians in the US use the Bible to support their claims, anyone who enjoys a good social experiment every now and then.
BAD FOR: Religious fundamentalists, people who have no interest whatsoever in religion or spirituality, and anyone who might get frustrated with a quirky narrator with an offbeat sense of humor and OCD.
COMPATIBLE WITH: The God Delusion, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and The Happiness Project.