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The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible - A.J. Jacobs I consider myself to be an atheist, but I am still fascinated by the role that religion plays in the lives of others and society at large. This book is a sharp look at how difficult, important, and often hypocritical religion can be. As the title suggests, writer AJ Jacobs decides that he is going to spend a year trying to follow the rules of the Bible as literally as he can. The result is hysterical and thought-provoking.

Jacobs throws himself into Biblical research for months before undertaking his project, turns to a wide variety of spiritual advisors for guidance on his journey, and travels all over the country (and to Israel!) in an attempt to better understand how Biblical literalism is manifested in modern society. It's clear that he was taking this project seriously and was trying to be as balanced as possible in his approach.

Full-hearted acceptance of Biblical teachings proves to be difficult for Jacobs, such as when he examines the Creationist point of view but is still unable to give up his firm Evolutionary viewpoint, and there are certain limitations to how far he can go, as suggested in the section where he tries to figure out how to stone adulterers in Manhattan without getting himself into trouble. This is one of the scenes that made me laugh particularly hard, but I found the whole book to be quite funny.

As Jacobs drives his wife crazy, is teased by his coworkers, and frightens passers by on the street with his unshaven beard, he also finds himself moved by his burgeoning spirituality and reconsiders the ways that he intends to raise his son. It's worth looking into this book no matter where you fall on the religious spectrum.