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on 8 July 2017
4 star simply because book was 2nd hand, having read a friends copy I wanted a copy for myself.
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on 24 April 2017
Good book, is funny at times and quite informative.
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on 24 July 2009
Am still reading this very entertaining book recommended to me by my daughter in America. Must confess to finding it less amusing than most of your reviewers (apart from when his wife sat on all the chairs in the house to make them 'unclean', when I did laugh out loud). Like the author I am Jewish by birth but not inclination but some of his tasks, like not gossiping, made me think more about my own behaviour. Am just on the last chapters where he will look into the New Testament.

Not sure I like the style but am nevertheless very engrossed though sometimes irritated by his irrational and haphazard approach to living biblically.
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on 4 October 2007
Most of us try to live good lives and help others when we can. But Esquire magazine writer, AJ Jacobs, decided that he would combine the writing of his next book with his search into religion. And what better way to do this then to try and live a year following all the hundreds of rules and laws of the Holy Bible.

To start with the author begins with almost no background at all in religion of any kind. He was born into a Jewish family; he was raised very secular and labeled himself as agnostic. He went into this venture with a very objective mindset and talked to various religious Scholars from various faiths from his Orthodox Jewish heritage to the fundamentalist Christians. He did not even own a copy of his own Bible when he started the project; he had a Bible from his ex-girlfriend from ten years earlier.

His plan, which he follows, is to live the first nine months of the year per the Old Testament and the remainder of the year following the teachings of the New Testament. We see not only what he goes through in trying to accomplish his goal, but some of the reactions to those he interacts with. Of course the first time he is in public and tries to follow the law that he cannot touch a woman to receive his change. But in doing so he breaks another law and sins to explain his actions, he lies. And from there the book just flows. He does try a wide range of literal approaches to the Bible and we get to watch it all.

The book is a very entertaining read. I had never read any of his work before, but I found myself just sitting in my chair and reading page after page. He shares his journey with us from what he physically went through, but also his thoughts and what he learns from these experiences. There are a few of Bible versus he gets wrong in the pre-publication version, and some pages seem a bit slow. But this is a book that is very enjoyable to read. I am sure this will be optioned as a movie. Regardless of your personal beliefs you must read this book.
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on 13 July 2017
The idea is a great and taking idea to follow all the rules of the bible for a certain amount of time and it is surely much work, to compile a list of all those rules. On the one side, the book is really nice to read, on the other side I am not quite sure about the mix - a spiritual journey, a funny writing style - somehow the balance of those two aspects sometimes get lost for my feeling, and I am not quite sure, how serious he takes his own idea, or to which extent he wants to entertain. Also it is a bit too long in the number of pages after a while, and I am not quite certain, if I will read all pages.
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VINE VOICEon 30 September 2010
I was reading this book on a crowded train coming home from Manchester yesterday and attracted some strange looks because I just could not stop myself laughing out loud. When I first picked it up it was because I wanted an answer to the question 'why on earth did he do this'. Within a few pages I was compltely hooked, I can't pick out the best bit, it was all good and you just have to read it. Think he must be a very sweet man -and as for his wife - if there is a heaven she is going to be made a saint, if only for putting up with his awful beard!! I can't wait to read his other books - thanks A.J. loved your book!
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on 28 September 2007
I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I expected it to be funny, and it certainly is, but I also got a highly entertaining course on religion. There is so much interesting information in this book, that it does not matter whether you are a faithful of any religion, or a secular person. I guarantee you will find something revealing.

The author was raised in a non-practicing Jewish household, but in the last few years has become interested in religion. Therefore, in an effort to explore this topic, and write a book in the process, he decided to follow teachings of the Bible for a year. As you can probably imagine, this is not an easy feat. Not only does the author have to adjust to a complex set of rules, but his family also has to endure the results of this quest. A fairly simple rule, like not being able to shave his beard, leads to questions at airports, scared kids, and other uncomfortable situations. But think about the harder rules to follow, like the one dealing with stoning adulterers, or the protocol for interacting with women at "that time of the month".

When most non-religious people think about what "living Biblically" means, we relate to the Ten Commandments. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. After four weeks of reading the Bible, A.J. Jacobs came up with a list of 800 rules to follow. If you add to that the fact that there are 7,000 versions of the best selling book in history, then the issue becomes much more complicated. It is no surprise that an average person breaks many, many, many rules in our everyday life.

I was really impressed by the way in which Jacobs handled this balancing act. It is not easy to write about religion without upsetting a fair amount of people, especially if there is an element of humor added to the mix. I am glad to report that the treatment of the topic is as objective as one can expect. The humor is clever and present in the right amount. This results in a pleasant read, that is greatly informative to boot. In this book, I found many facts that I did not know, and I feel like I better understand various religious groups, including some less popular ones, such as the Amish, the Samaritans, the Falwell followers and the Red Letter Christians. Kudos to A.J. Jacobs for writing such a wonderful book!
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VINE VOICEon 22 August 2007
A.J. Jacobs, editor-at-large to Esquire magazine, has hit on a sure-fire high-concept theme for his latest book. Not surprisingly, it has been optioned for a movie by Paramount Pictures and Brad Pitt's Plan B productions. Quite simply, he set out to live according the Bible's precepts, strictly and literally. He identified more than 800 rules and spent a year trying to adhere to them.

Among other things, he has called this venture 'a critique of fundamentalism'. He says, 'I took fundamentalism to its logical extreme in my quest to prove that literalism is not the best way to interpret the Bible'. From the opening, he conflates - in my opinion, confuses - spirituality with religion. Arguably, he has missed the point spiritually, by concentrating on outward, rather than inward, renewal. Or rather, by tending to assume that the former must lead to the latter. Still, I mustn't criticize him for doing just what he said he would do -- live according to the rules. At heart, Jacobs is an anthropologist. He mostly finds spirituality in the same place he finds humor - in social interaction.

He has a chatty, colloquial style that you will find either charming or irritating - probably both, by turns, but mostly charming. The book is very readable, but somewhat rambling, and could have said what it has to say in fewer pages, but if you enjoy his light, amusing style, you won't mind that. This is holiday reading that nonetheless deals with very weighty matters, and that's no mean feat. I found his humour wry and amusing, rather than laugh-out-loud hilarious, but that's a matter of taste.

Atheism, and challenges in general to religious belief, are big business for publishers right now, so Jacobs has timed this book well. When The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins, was published in Britain, some readers complained that Dawkins was 'pushing against an open door', that no one believed in the literal truth of the Bible any more. I'm not sure how true that is of Britain, but I know it's not true of contemporary America. Fundamentalism and literalism are alive and well here. Jacobs presents a formidable challenge to those positions. I am glad that he has done so with humour and sympathy, without Dawkins's vitriolic intolerance of alternative views.

And finally, Jacobs may not have succeeded in doing everything the Bible said he should do, but he did at least read it all. And that's more than most believers have done.
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on 16 October 2010
I loved this book! I was sure I'd find it funny in many places but didn't bargain for it to be quite so thought provoking. Just as revealing about yourself the reader and ourselves in modern society as it is for what you may or may not know of the Bible. My criticism is that all ended so suddenly due to the large section of notes at the back. (I'd started checking them as I read the early pages, but as they're not referenced at all in the main body of text, I'd forgotten all about them when the book abruptly ended...). My favourite obscure commandment was the [unexplained] ban on passing wind when praying with tefilin on! Well worth reading.
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on 22 July 2009
If you belong to any faith at all, and even if you are an atheist, I heartily recommend this book to you. I picked it up at Toronto Airport last year along with a bad case of food poisoning, and can tell you that of the two, the book was infinitely much more fun. AJ Jacobs isn't well-known in the UK, so I am on a one-woman crusade to get this book noticed among friends and relations and my internet groups. It has a wealth of information in there, along with the feeling that although he may have been an agnostic to begin with, AJ has experienced something worthwhile as he attempts to follow the rules and regulations and precepts of the Bible in its entirety.

Yes, there is a bit of picking and choosing, not least because many of the observances are just not practical in the Western world. Try stoning an adulterer in Central Park (as AJ did) and see how far it gets you. But there then follows some interesting facts about the stoning of adulterers - not as clear-cut as it sounds and you still won't like it if you are one.... Apparently, the victim was given enough wine to make him drunk before being shoved over a cliff which had to be high enough to make sure he'd be dead by the time he hit the bottom of it. Barbaric, yet oddly humane.

On the back of 'The Year of Living Biblically', I went on to read 'The Know-It-All', another fascinating book about (some of) the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

AJ says he reads his reviews. Many, many thanks, AJ, for the gift you have of making people laugh, and for making them think. You certainly made me do both.
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