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Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection Paperback – November 13, 2012
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"A.J. Jacobs is very, very bad for your health. He will keep you up reading til 2 a.m., disturbing your circadian rhythms, making you sleep through breakfast and overeat at lunch. He is delicious. He's habit-forming. He will give you infectious titters and terminal glee. Don't let that stop you. Indulge."--Mary Roach, author of "Bonk "and "Packing for Mars"
"While Jacobs's attempts at health enlightenment can be hilarious, visits with his grandfather, famed labor lawyer Theodore Kheel, provide the most revealing glimpse into the secrets of aging well."--"More"
"We can become healthier by learning from AJ's discomfort in this very funny book. He moves us from theory to practice by dragging his body through all the longevity practices."--Dr. Mehmet Oz, host, "The Dr. Oz Show"
"Jacobs' light touch camouflages the impressive amount of research that goes into each chapter. He reads books and medical reports, interviews experts and scientists as well as enthusiasts on the fringe, then tries everything himself. He brings a skeptic's eye to each point of view, but he remains respectful of even the wackiest ideas... Yes, the results are funny, but this is, at heart, a serious book, with an underlying poignancy: As Jacobs works to get healthier, his beloved grandfather begins his slow decline, reminding us that no matter how healthy we are, it's all going to end the same way."--Laurie Hertzl, "The Minneapolis Star Tribune"
"Why go to the gym when you can sit and read a funny book about it instead?""--USA Today"
"Can one man go from a 'python that ate a goat' physique to perfect specimen? From Roman soldier workouts to Areca palm plants, from the sublime to the absurd, A.J. has tried it all. I laughed my ass off the wholeway and learned a ton ... including about my ass."--Timothy Ferriss, author of "The 4-Hour Workweek"
"I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book, and once again, the brilliant A.J. Jacobs had me laughing out loud--and also deciding to change the way I live. "Drop Dead Healthy" is a rare mixture of the hilarious, the absurd, and the scientifically sound. Who knew it could be so entertaining to read about broccoli puree and shoeless jogging?"--Gretchen Rubin, author of "The Happiness Project"
"You'll exercise your abdominals laughing over his adventures."--"Entertainment Weekly"
"Who wouldn't want to be fitter, happier, more productive? In this riotous, madcap book, A.J. Jacobs sets himself an ambitious goal: to become the person we all wish we could be. It's vintage A.J. Do your future self a favor and read this book." --Joshua Foer, author of "Moonwalking with Einstein"
"You'll burn calories laughing out loud."--"Shape"
About the Author
A.J. Jacobs is the author of Thanks a Thousand, It’s All Relative, Drop Dead Healthy, and the New York Times bestsellers The Know-It-All, The Year of Living Biblically, and My Life as an Experiment. He is a contributor to NPR, and has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Entertainment Weekly. He lives in New York City with his wife and kids. Visit him at AJJacobs.com and follow him on Twitter @ajjacobs.
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Because the cover design shows the author doing a chin-up, I assumed the book focused only on exercise, but he takes a more holistic approach by covering such areas as including noise pollution; the immune system; having more sex (I'll never look at a Graham cracker the same again.); the nervous system; acupuncture; placebos; proper poop practices; managing stress; improving brain proficiency; living in a nontoxic home; teeth; sleep; the bladder; and good posture. There are a few quirky subjects such as the Quantified Self movement, Hygiene Hypothesis, Egonomics (not a typo), and the Caveman Workout. There are amateurish black-and-white photos near the beginning of each chapter showing Mr. Jacobs's in various "health" activities. The inclusion of his interactions with his 94-year-old grandfather and Aunt Marti throughout the book were especially heartwarming and introspective.
After previously reading two successive depressing/infuriating nonfiction works, 'Drop Dead Healthy' was a welcome respite. The only thing that was unnerving in it was a small excerpt describing an 1810 mastectomy that made my nipples tingle... and not in a good way. The Appendix includes a helpful synopsis of what Mr. Jacobs found valuable in his quest for better health. You could just read them and ignore the rest of the book but you'd be missing out on a lot of funny material.
"My sons are annoyed that I won't eat cupcakes with them at birthday parties, opting instead for a plastic bag of carrots." - from DROP DEAD HEALTHY
"A New York spa will spread bird excrement on your pores for two hundred dollars ... Snail secretion facials are also available. Seems we haven't come so far from Elizabethan times, when there was a fad for puppy urine skin cleanser." from DROP DEAD HEALTHY
In DROP DEAD HEALTHY, book author and newspaper/magazine contributor A.J. Jacobs chronicles the twenty-five or so months he spent seeking bodily perfection.
What? There's a physical flawlessness that goes deeper than skin-deep? Say it ain't so, AJ!
In twenty-seven chapters, Jacobs focuses on improving the condition or function of his body parts: stomach, heart, ears, butt, immune system, genitals, nervous system, lower intestine, adrenal gland, brain, endocrine system, teeth, feet, lungs, skin, inside of the eyelids (sleep), bladder, gonads, nose, hands, back, eyes, and skull.
So, whether it's testing the sprayed essence of cucumber plus Good and Plenty candy as an aphrodisiac, running shoeless, getting his teeth whitened with UV-light, attending laughter therapy sessions, getting a colorectal exam, identifying spices by smell, fitting his bed with hypoallergenic sheets and pillowcases, taking pole-dancing classes (for the exercise benefit), juicing and dehydrating raw fruits and veg, or doing brain exercises, the author explores an array of fads, theories, devices, schemes, and recipes to optimize his comprehensive physical and physiological tune-up.
One might immediately wonder if any of this did any good that sticks. Perhaps, then, the most valuable parts of DROP DEAD HEALTHY are Appendices A through G in which Jacobs shares advice, tips, methods, and regimens which he personally found useful after weeding out that which was, at best, just not for him or, at worst, just nonsensical to the point of making his wife Julie roll her eyes.
AJ's narrative is told with self-deprecatory humor and a wink; he undertook the self-improvement project with serious intent, but not too seriously. For each month, he records for the reader the result of a reality check. For instance:
"Checkup: Month 8
Miles walked on treadmill while writing: 302
Meals eaten in front of mirror this month: 18
Miles run per day: 2
Biggest health sin: 27 candy corns in a single sitting"
"Checkup: Month 20
Average grams of sugar per day: 25
Cups of coffee per day: 1.5
Times unsuccessfully attempted to switch to green tea: 7
Number of yoga instructors who have been surprisingly rude to me and other students: 3"
Each chapter comes with a black and white photograph illustrating the topic at hand, and the front and back endpapers each display a color photo of the author composed and labeled in such a way as to give humorous visual reference to those body parts and functions addressed in the text.
Overall, DROP DEAD HEALTHY is an entertaining and informative read. It should, however, be taken more as a book of humor than one on fitness or nutrition, in which latter case it could only be found superficial by a True Believer.
Perhaps the most enduring message that Jacobs wishes to convey, or at least the one that I perceived as such, is not to go to extremes.
"Health obsession can turn you into a selfish bastard" - A.J. Jacobs
"Don't be so obsessed with healthy food that you end up sitting alone in the corner eating organic kale and silently judging your friends." - Steven Bratman, M.D., coauthor of Health Food Junkies: Orthorexia Nervosa - the Health Food Eating Disorder, as paraphrased by Jacobs
Right on about that!
Nevertheless, I still enjoyed the book - even learnt a thing or two- and I really enjoy the author's sense of humour. I laughed out loud in several places, and judging from the book, his long-suffering wife Julie sounds just as funny.
In previous books, A.J.has investigated the intellectual life and the spiritual - what else is left? I wait with bated breath for his next book.