100. The Year of Living Biblically (A.J. Jacobs)

Thursday, April 22, 2010
Milestone number 1: 100 books read. Whew. I'm a bit surprised that I've kept up this blog for that long...

After reading his way through the encyclopedia (my book #79), author A.J. Jacobs has undertaken an even more daunting task: spending a full year living a life devoted to following the Bible. Or more specifically, the rules, laws, and practices found in the Bible. And he's not just thinking of the Ten Commandments.

Over the course of year, Jacobs works his way through the Bible, both old and new testaments, trying to live as Biblical a life as possible. He grows a beard which he's not allowed to trim, begins wearing all white clothes (no mixed fibres mind you!), he even stones an adulterer in Central Park. His quest takes him across the United States visiting various religious leaders (both Christian and Jewish), taking part in prayer groups and religious services, and gets first hand knowledge of everything from sacrificing chickens in New York to handling snakes in the mountains of Tennessee. It leads him to Israel where he helps a shepherd tend his flock and meets up with his cult leader ex-uncle. He even takes a (modern day) slave.

Unlike the last Jacobs' book I read, The Year of Living Biblically was much more enjoyable. The ego associated with The Know It All is gone and Jacobs is more focused on trying to become a better person through his self-imposed religious quest. Although he often struggles with trying to stick to the rules, its refreshing to read about someone determined to better themselves (even though he at times falls short). Not content to simply follow the Bible's rules blindly, Jacobs attempts to find the true intent of some of its more unusual passages and their historical context. A fantastic read and highly recommended.

After reading this book though, I feel tremendous ex-Catholic guilt and the need for a good oldfashioned confession. I didn't completely finish book 95, Pierre Berton's The Great Depression. I skipped the last 40 pages or so because I was so eager to get onto reading some fiction. Whew...that felt good.

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