Written by a non-practicing Jew who decides to embark on a year-long quest, The Year of Living Biblically by AJ Jacobs was a really enjoyable non-fiction read. The trick was to persist with it.
Quite obviously, the book tells of AJ Jacobs’ journey throughout the year as he attempts to follow the Bible as literally as possible. At the start of his quest, he scours through several versions of the Bible to compile a list of all the rules he must follow for the year, which results in his year-long journey being made up of approximately 80% of rules from the Old Testament and 20% of rules from the New Testament.
Some of the rules are fairly straightforward for him to follow, such as not eating shellfish. But others were trickier, and resulted in me enjoying the humourous story telling. As I recommended this book to people, I kept referring to the rule where he was not to sit on any chair that had been sat on by a woman who had her period, as this was ‘unclean’. This did not go down too well with his wife, so one day while he was out, she made sure she sat in every single chair in the house. Love it!
The thing I most enjoyed about this book was its respectful way of exploring and challenging the rules within the Bible and pointing out the contradictions. Throughout his quest, AJ Jacobs consulted with advisors from many religions and always wrote respectfully of their views and insights. His experiment does not mock the Bible, but instead is a personal study of its intricacies and is a great spiritual journey.
I read this as part of my work book club, but not many people actually got beyond 100 pages. I guess it is a little slow to get going, but if you can get through the slow beginning it really is an enjoyable read.
The Year of Living Biblically by AJ Jacobs – 4 out of 5 stars.