A.J. Jacobs is the author of four New York Times bestsellers, including The Year of Living Biblically (about his quest to follow all the rules of the Bible); The Know-It-All (about his adventure reading the encyclopedia); and Drop Dead Healthy (about his attempt to become the healthiest person alive).
From his Q & A with Alicia Oltuski for Beyond The Margins:
AO: You’ve posed nude for Esquire, where you’re an editor, you’ve stolen and replaced eggs from a pigeon’s nest to fulfill a biblical commandment, you’ve chewed blueberries an exhausting number of times before swallowing them to more properly glean nutrients and taste, and you’ve let a stranger watch you sleep even though your doctor didn’t make you. My point is that you don’t spare yourself as a subject. How does this approach shape you as a writer?The Page 69 Test: The Year of Living Biblically.
AJ: For me, the best way to research a topic is to dive in and immerse myself in it. If I were writing about France, I would read maps and census data and history books. But I’d also want to go to France and taste the almond croissants. So that’s the way I try to write about every topic. If I’m writing about the Bible, I want to live the Bible — grow a beard, wear sandals and turn the other cheek (or take an eye for an eye, whichever seems more appropriate).
AO: Which one of your projects so far has most enduringly changed your life?
AJ: Probably ‘The Year of Living Biblically.’ Just to give one example: It taught me the importance of gratitude. I am now much more aware of the hundreds of things that go right every day, and I try not to focus on the four or five that go wrong.
AO: The Ed Helms resemblance–that’s a thing, right?
AJ: Ha! I’ve never heard that. But I’ll take it. I do get mistaken for McLovin in...[read on]