If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I’m serious about books; not only as one of the ultimate forms of cheap entertainment – in the same league as quality video games, but cheaper – but also for their own sake.
I have problems with borrowing books, either from the library or from friends. I like to display them when I’m done reading them, even though the odds are good I’ll never read them again. Of course, I’m always eager to find a bargain!
Imagine my pleased surprise when I found a book by an author I really enjoy, AJ Jacobs, in the discount bin at my local bookstore (that would be Indigo, the Barnes and Nobles of Canada). The book is titled Drop Dead Healthy, and I paid a whopping $6.99 for it, in hardcover no less.
AJ Jacobs is the author of two other books I thoroughly enjoyed: The Year of Living Biblically and The Know-It-All. In the first, he spends a year living *exactly* as mandated by the Bible, and let me tell you, modern Jews and Christians: no matter how devout you are, you’re not even CLOSE to what the Bible actually demands of you.
In the second book, he reads the Encyclopedia Britannica from cover to cover in an attempt to know everything, with the predictable result that he becomes an insufferable know-it-all.
As you can imagine, Drop Dead Healthy follows in the same vein. In this case, the project takes him two years. Bit by bit, AJ modifies his habits in a bid to become the healthiest human who’s ever lived.
What I Liked about Drop Dead Healthy
The Format: I love how AJ presents his progress, chapter after chapter, and how he truly tries to apply what he discovers from numerous interviews. The fact that the projects – all the books are similar in that way – seem to completely take over his life, with obvious and often hilarious results, makes for a really easy read.
The Knowledge: AJ Jacobs is obviously a really smart guy, and he interviews really smart people. He knows which questions to ask, or at least he edits properly and puts only the good stuff in his book. I feel like I’ve actually learned a lot of facts from reading this book.
- Did you know that having a 6-pack might not be great for your health?
- The best way to walk, health-wise, is leaning forward (falling in to each step)
- And a thousand other well-researched facts
The Humor: AJ Jacobs is very funny, or at least that’s how he comes across in his books. Think self-deprecating Jewish humor. One of the best. It makes his books fun and easy to read.
The Lists: Mr Jacobs has kindly provided many lists, at the end of his book, which sum up his observations. If you read this looking for inspiration, it’s a great way to get on track without re-reading the whole thing. Some of the topics include:
- How to Eat Less
- How to Turn the World into your Gym
- Five Tips of Treadmill Desks
- Five Foolproof Methods for Stress Reduction
What I Didn’t Like About Drop Dead Healthy
Ironically, The Format: This is the third book AJ Jacobs has written in this style, by which I mean the project taking over his whole life. I’ll probably buy the next one he writes, if he does, but I’d love to see him try his hand at something else. I’d buy that, too.
The Pacing: This is true of all his books, and that may just be the nature of The Projects. The first half to three quarters of each books are detailed, intricate, hilarious and fascinating, and the rest feels… rushed, for lack of a better word.
Buy the book. AJ Jacobs’ books are always funny, very informative, and written in a way as to keep you turning the pages. You won’t be bored, and it’s important to put some good stuff in your brain from time to time. You only get out of it, what you put in, or so I believe. Also, you’ll be supporting AJ, who seems like a really nice guy.