The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World
A.J. decides to read the Encyclopedia Britannica over the course of a year. Hilarity, and an obnoxious vocabulary, ensue. Amusing, yes, but as for reading-the-dictionary-books, I actually prefer Reading the OED by Ammon Shea.
The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible
A.J. decides to spend a year following every rule in the Old Testament. No, really. It’s not a set up for a joke, and he and the reader actually learn a lot about Judaism. It’s a really good book.
The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment
This book is a collection of shorter essays; they’re a little bit uneven, as collections of essays so often tend to be, but on the whole quite enjoyable. My favorites were “My Outsourced Life” (for an entire month, A.J. outsources almost every aspect of his life to India) and “What Would George Washington Do?” (A.J. tries to follow George Washington’s Rules of Civility).
A.J. belongs to the “Hey, that sounds like a wacky idea! I should totally do it and see what happens!” school of journalism. It doesn’t always work out so well for him–or his family–but it usually makes for an entertaining story. My favorite book of the bunch is, hands down, The Year of Living Biblically. Instead of treating the experiment as a joke, which he could have very easily done, A.J. actually learned from it, and it really did influence his life. He put a lot of time and research into that book, and it shows. It’s quite inspiring, and worth reading. I recommend it highly.
A.J. Jacobs’ site
Source: borrowed from library