From Stunts to Bestsellers: About A.J. Jacobs

The author of this month’s book, The Year of Living Biblically, isn’t afraid to undertake a crazy experiment or project for the sake of a story, and after reading the titles of some of his other works, it’s no wonder that some call this genre of writing “stunt journalism” or “stunt books.” In addition to his quest to follow the Bible as literally as possible for an entire year, Jacobs read all 32 volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica over the course of a year (That project is chronicled in The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World). He also became a “human guinea pig,” undertaking a series of lifestyle experiments on a quest to improve every area of his life, which he writes about in My Life as an Experiment: One Man’s Humble Quest to Improve Himself. His current project is attempting to “perfect his physical condition” for his next book, called The Healthiest Human Being in the World.”

Jacobs was born and currently lives in New York with his wife and three sons (The birth of his twin boys occurred during his year of living Biblically). He is the editor at large for Esquire magazine and three of his books are New York Times bestsellers. He has also written for numerous magazines and is a periodic commentator on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday. You can read Jacobs’ full bio (written by him, but in the third person) on his website.

And if you feel bad for his wife, who has to live with him during all of his crazy stunts (I know I do!), it sounds like she got the opportunity for some revenge as he describes the last chapter of My Life as an Experiment. Here’s the quote from his website:

Whipped (a.k.a. the perfect spouse):
At the suggestion of readers who point out that my wife is a saint, I vowed to spend a month agreeing to her every command. Sure, it was a month of Kate Hudson movies and foot massages —but also of stereotype-shattering insights into the politics of the modern American marriage. Plus, at one point, I had wear a male chastity belt. (It comes in three varieties—clear plastic, wood-paneled and camouflage!) And Julie gets to write the final section.

Go Julie! And if this book is inspiring you to take your own crack at some stunt journalism, I encourage you to learn form A.J. Jacobs and put yourself in the shoes of everyone around you who has to put up with your antics. You never know when they might get their chance for some payback!

There is still time to read The Year of Living Biblically before our next meeting on January 20 at 7 p.m. at the Paradise Bakery and Café at Hamilton Town Center. Hope to see you there!

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