A.J. Jacobs has a formula, and I guess it’s working for him. He spends a year or two of his life devoted completely to “living” a concept, and he writes a book about it. In The Know-It-All, he reads the entire Encyclopedia Brittanica. In The Year of Living Biblically, he adheres literally to the Bible for a year. In Drop Dead Healthy, he spends a couple years doing everything that’s recommended to be healthy.
To me, his books are like Mary Roach books if instead of laughing you politely chuckled. They’re not bad books, but they’re just pretty bland. My gripe with this one is the same as my gripe with The Year of Living Biblically: instead of picking some number of tenants of the concept to follow for a period of time, he jumps around and spends a week or month or so on a chapter about a certain thing. Certain things persist throughout the books, but for example he’ll spend a chapter investigating the barefoot running trend and another trying to aggressively babyproof his apartment. A lot of it gets dropped at the end of its chapter and I feel like that prevents him from ever delving too deeply into anything or really even discovering the potential benefits of that thing. I get that it makes for a more readable book, but it just feels so surface-level to me. Like a series of alright magazine articles on different health gimmicks rather than a truly long-haul experiment. I felt the same way about The Year of Living Biblically.
I guess I’m kind of laying into this book, but it’s an okay book. Jacobs is dorky and likable and funny in the way that dad jokes are funny. There are definitely some fascinating tidbits throughout. Someone else would probably enjoy it more.