What I’ve Been Reading : The Year of Living Biblically

This was an Accidental Book Club requested reading and I just so happened to have it on my bookshelf. My friend Marie dropped the book off years ago and I just never picked it up. The Year of Living Biblically by AJ Jacobs, a type of immersion journalism, ended up being a very interesting read. Through the book he tries to live his life to the literal laws of the bible. There are hundreds of laws, too many for one year and only a fraction of them can actually be attempted in this day and age…although that doesn’t stop him from trying to stone an adulterer or preform an animal sacrifice. Jacobs then decides to tackle one at a time, as well as a combination of about twenty easier rules and laws for every day. The “easier” ones include prayer, being honest, honouring the sabbath, not killing anyone, honouring your mother and father etc. He also follows a handful of Hassidic Jewish laws, such as no mixed fibres, you cannot cut or even trim your beard or the hair on the sides of your head, tithing and he cannot touch women because they could be menstruating or sit in a place where woman who menstruate may have sat.

AJ also visits other religious communities. He takes a few road trips to Amish, Creationists, Jehovah Witness, Red-Letter Christians and many more religious groups. He tries his best to go in with an open mind but in the end he admits he has his limits. He does note that most sects end up following the rules and laws that suit their needs and wants…or possible translations of ancient scriptures. SO interesting!

As he lives this literal biblical life he makes a few revelations about prayer, choices, being thankful, showing kindness to strangers and other honourable ways of living. I love how he questions whether having choices in our lives is helping us to live a good life. When a religion supplies a set of laws, you don’t have to think so much about what you need to do or how you need to live your life.

AJ Jacobs wrote a good book. I probably won’t read it again but I enjoyed the laughs and his points of view and he is most certainly a talented wordsmith.


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