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A year...

I am listening to a book by A.J. Jacobs called A Year of Living Biblically. It's on CD, a copy given to me by a friend who loved it. I am not liking it. I am having the same reaction that I had to his other book, The Know-it-All, about his quest to read every word in the Encylopedia Brittanica. I thought that one was silly and self-serving and that's exactly how I feel about this bible one as well. [You'll notice I did not include links to these books. If you want one you will just have to hunt it down yourself.]

It's a nice little hook he's got going there, though. His main motivation (he only admits to it being one of several reasons but I know the real truth) is to sell a book. It is obvious throughout that he knows it's funny and he's going to milk it. Well, obviously. We all know (even we atheists) of the weird and funny rules in the bible. Think about following them or trying to follow them, and then add to that a few comments about the two people in the world who actually do follow them because we found them, and yeah, it's got legs.

For me, his personality gets in the way of the story. It doesn't help that he is reading it himself. I might have believed it more if someone else read it but he can't keep that "hear how clever I am" sound from his voice. And when he talks about the effect of his quest upon his wife and son all I can wonder is, "why the hell doesn't she leave him...right now???" but it occurs to me that she too is thinking about the money. She'll put up with the arrogant bastard a little longer, maybe until he finishes his third book, about...about...let's see, we do have a theme here, I am sure we can guess it...what's another stupid quest? The reality shows have cornered the market on stupid quests, of course, but there is always one out there if we're really really looking.

A year of drinking beer...no, that's been done...what's something that people actually read for information? For enlightenment? No, really, some people still read. I think I've got something: choose a tough cookbook and make everything in it. Julia Child, for example. Would that entertain us? Sustain us? No, not unless there were something added, like a cooking competition. Maybe he could try becoming a vegan.



Judith Lautner
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January 2012


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