A.J. Jacobs has become a part of my life.
I write this knowing that Jacobs, author and editor/contributor for Esquire, is prone to checking up on himself via Google. So before Mr. Jacobs begins to worry about the potential for harm, allow me to explain.
I first came across Jacobs by way of his first book, The Know-It-All, a humorous memoir about his reading the Encyclopedia Britannica in its entirety. The book was funny to be sure, but what set it apart for me, and what made it turn up on the top of my list for Nonfiction Book of the Year was how closely the personal touches interwove with my own life. Jacobs mixes his quest to read the encyclopedia with the coming of their first child, and as I went through all the struggles and complications and (ultimately) joy that came with my son, I devoured every word of The Know-It-All.
Well here we are again in another "crux" time in my life, as the Missus and I begin discussing how we're going to bring Jack up with regards to religion. Thankfully Jacobs once again comes through with a book that's equal parts funny and heartwarming and, surprisingly enough, informative about religion and the role it can play in your life. The Year of Living Biblicallly is exactly that: a record of Jacobs' attempt to follow the tenets of the Bible as literally as he can. Eight months in the Old Testament and four months over in the New Testament. Yes there are many many funny parts - try to get through his attempt at "stoning" an adulterer or driving his wife insane with his refusal to sit anywhere she might have sat during her menstrual cycle and I say your a man with no heart. Everything is tested with the yearning to understand not only what religion means to others, but how his religion is already affecting his life.
The Year of Living Biblically is another great example of wisdom gained through the absurb, courtesy of someone just like ther est of us - provided we've read the encyclopedia and have a penchent for dressing in robes.