Friday, February 22, 2013

A.J. Jacobs

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?

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]
The Page 69 Test: The Year of Living Biblically.

--Marshal Zeringue