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From the New York Times bestselling author of The Know-It-All comes a fascinating and timely exploration of religion and the Bible. A.J. Jacobs chronicles his hilarious and thoughtful year spent obeying―as literally as possible―the tenets of the Bible.
Raised in a secular family but increasingly interested in the relevance of faith in our modern world, A.J. Jacobs decides to dive in headfirst and attempt to obey the Bible as literally as possible for one full year. He vows to follow the Ten Commandments. To be fruitful and multiply. To love his neighbor. But also to obey the hundreds of less publicized rules: to avoid wearing clothes made of mixed fibers; to play a ten-string harp; to stone adulterers.
The resulting spiritual journey is at once funny and profound, reverent and irreverent, personal and universal and will make you see history’s most influential book with new eyes.
Jacobs’s quest transforms his life even more radically than the year spent reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica for The Know-It-All. His beard grows so unruly that he is regularly mistaken for a member of ZZ Top. He immerses himself in prayer, tends sheep in the Israeli desert, battles idolatry, and tells the absolute truth in all situations—much to his wife’s chagrin.
Throughout the book, Jacobs also embeds himself in a cross-section of communities that take the Bible literally. He tours a Kentucky-based creationist museum and sings hymns with Pennsylvania Amish. He dances with Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn and does Scripture study with Jehovah’s Witnesses. He discovers ancient biblical wisdom of startling relevance. And he wrestles with seemingly archaic rules that baffle the twenty-first-century brain.
Jacobs’s extraordinary undertaking yields unexpected epiphanies and challenges. A book that will charm readers both secular and religious, The Year of Living Biblically is part Cliff Notes to the Bible, part memoir, and part look into worlds unimaginable. Thou shalt not be able to put it down.
Hospitalized with a freak case of tropical pneumonia, goaded by his wife telling him, “I don’t want to be a widow at forty-five,” and ashamed of a middle-aged body best described as “a python that swallowed a goat,” A.J. Jacobs felt compelled to change his ways and get healthy. And he didn’t want only to lose weight, or finish a triathlon, or lower his cholesterol. His ambitions were far greater: maximal health from head to toe.
The task was epic. He consulted an army of experts— sleep consultants and sex clinicians, nutritionists and dermatologists. He subjected himself to dozens of different workouts—from Strollercize classes to Finger Fitness sessions, from bouldering with cavemen to a treadmill desk. And he took in a cartload of diets: raw foods, veganism, high protein, calorie restriction, extreme chewing, and dozens more. He bought gadgets and helmets, earphones and juicers. He poked and he pinched. He counted and he measured.
The story of his transformation is not only brilliantly entertaining, but it just may be the healthiest book ever written. It will make you laugh until your sides split and endorphins flood your bloodstream. It will alter the contours of your brain, imprinting you with better habits of hygiene and diet. It will move you emotionally and get you moving physically in surprising ways. And it will give you occasion to reflect on the body’s many mysteries and the ultimate pursuit of health: a well-lived life.
44 million words
10 billion years of history
1 obsessed man
Part memoir and part education (or lack thereof), The Know-It-All chronicles NPR contributor A.J. Jacobs's hilarious, enlightening, and seemingly impossible quest to read the Encyclopaedia Britannica from A to Z.
To fill the ever-widening gaps in his Ivy League education, A.J. Jacobs sets for himself the daunting task of reading all thirty-two volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. His wife, Julie, tells him it's a waste of time, his friends believe he is losing his mind, and his father, a brilliant attorney who had once attempted the same feat and quit somewhere around Borneo, is encouraging but, shall we say, unconvinced.
With self-deprecating wit and a disarming frankness, The Know-It-All recounts the unexpected and comically disruptive effects Operation Encyclopedia has on every part of Jacobs's life -- from his newly minted marriage to his complicated relationship with his father and the rest of his charmingly eccentric New York family to his day job as an editor at Esquire. Jacobs's project tests the outer limits of his stamina and forces him to explore the real meaning of intelligence as he endeavors to join Mensa, win a spot on Jeopardy!, and absorb 33,000 pages of learning. On his journey he stumbles upon some of the strangest, funniest, and most profound facts about every topic under the sun, all while battling fatigue, ridicule, and the paralyzing fear that attends his first real-life responsibility -- the impending birth of his first child.
The Know-It-All is an ingenious, mightily entertaining memoir of one man's intellect, neuroses, and obsessions and a soul-searching, ultimately touching struggle between the all-consuming quest for factual knowledge and the undeniable gift of hard-won wisdom.
A.J. Jacobs has received some strange emails over the years, but this note was perhaps the strangest: “You don’t know me, but I’m your eighth cousin. And we have over 80,000 relatives of yours in our database.”
That’s enough family members to fill Madison Square Garden four times over. Who are these people, A.J. wondered, and how do I find them? So began Jacobs’s three-year adventure to help build the biggest family tree in history. In It’s All Relative, he “muses on the nature of family and the interconnectedness of humanity in this entertaining introduction to the world of genealogy” (Publishers Weekly).
Jacobs’s journey would take him to all seven continents. He drank beer with a US president, sung with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and unearthed genetic links to Hollywood actresses and real-life scoundrels. After all, we can choose our friends, but not our family.
“Whether he’s posing as a celebrity, outsourcing his chores, or adhering strictly to the Bible, we love reading about the wacky lifestyle experiments of author A.J. Jacobs” (Entertainment Weekly). Now Jacobs upends, in ways both meaningful and hilarious, our understanding of genetics and genealogy, tradition and tribalism, identity and connection. “Whimsical but also full of solid journalism and eye-opening revelations about the history of humanity, It’s All Relative is a real treat” (Booklist, starred review).
One man. Ten extraordinary quests.
Bestselling author and human guinea pig A.J. Jacobs puts his life to the test and reports on the surprising and entertaining results. He goes undercover as a woman, lives by George Washington’s moral code, and impersonates a movie star. He practices "radical honesty," brushes his teeth with the world’s most rational toothpaste, and outsources every part of his life to India—including reading bedtime stories to his kids.
And in a new adventure, Jacobs undergoes scientific testing to determine how he can put his wife through these and other life-altering experiments—one of which involves public nudity.
Filled with humor and wisdom, My Life as an Experiment will immerse you in eye-opening situations and change the way you think about the big issues of our time—from love and work to national politics and breakfast cereal.
to be stuck in a tornado?
“[It] is exactly the feel of a freight train approaching—that low, ever-louder howl and the shuddering ground.”
to participate in an orgy?
“And all the while, the thought that keeps going through your mind (and through the cab ride home, and into breakfast the next day): ‘I’m at an orgy! I’m at an orgy!’”
to have a severe stutter?
“The thing is, there’s a disconnect thing between my mind and my tongue. My mind’s processing a thousand words a minute, and the tongue is only squeezing out ten or twelve.”
to be a mob hitman?
“It’s nerve-racking. Don’t let anyone tell you any different. Anybody who’s any good at this is concentrating with every nerve in their body, trying to get it done right and trying not to get caught.”
to be 105 years old?
“I was born in 1897 and I’ve seen a lot in the world. I’ve seen everything there is to see. You look back and tell yourself, ‘What have I been doing all these years?’”
If these tidbits whet your appetite for real, first-person accounts of some of life’s most exhilarating, harrowing, or downright strange experiences, then you’ll be sucked in by Esquire Presents: What It Feels Like. Collected by the ever-curious editors of Esquire magazine, here are more than fifty gripping tales—straight from the mouths of the people who’ve lived them.
This book chronicles the divergent growth trends in car production in Belgium and Spain. It delves into how European integration, high wages, and the demise of GM and Ford led to plant closings in Belgium. Next, it investigates how lower wages and the expansion strategies of Western European automakers stimulated expansion in the Spanish auto industry. Finally, it offers three alternate scenarios regarding how further EU expansion and Brexit may potentially reshape the geographic footprint of European car production over the next ten years. In sum, this book utilizes history to help expand the knowledge of scholars and policymakers regarding how European integration and Brexit may impact future auto industry investment for all EU nations.
This book examines the dramatic increase in automotive assembly plants in the former Socialist Central European (CE) nations of Czechia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia from 1989 onwards. Enticed by relatively lower-wage labour and significant government incentives, the world’s largest automakers have launched more than 20 passenger car assembly complexes in CE nations, with production accelerating dramatically since 2001. As a result, the annual passenger car production in Western Europe declined by more than 20% between 2001 and 2015, and alternatively in the CEE it increased by nearly 170% during this period. Drawing on case studies of 25 current and former foreign-run assembly plants, the author presents a rare historical account of automotive foreign assembly plants in the CE following this dramatic geographic shift. This book will expand the knowledge of policy-makers in Europe in relation to their pursuits of FDI and will be of great interest to scholars and students of business, economic history, political science, and development.