What I'm reading now: 13 April 11

I've read some AJ Jacobs before, and rather enjoyed his style of immersive (sometimes called "stunt") journalism: learning about a topic by trying it out, and then writing about one's experience. So when I came across a copy of his book The Year of Living Biblically, I grabbed it. It's a topic that's had some press recently, due to the success of another book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood  by Rachel Held Evans. (I haven't had a chance to read Evans' book yet.) Both authors undertake to follow the letter of the law for a year - Biblical law.

I found Jacobs' approach interesting. He is of Jewish background, and is agnostic (possibly atheist; I don't have the book handy to check my facts, sorry), and took on the challenge to follow the Bible literally for a year to prove that it is impossible to do so. He takes it on as best he can, even though he thinks it's doomed and he feels foolish with an untrimmed beard and blowing a shofar at the beginning of each month. Along the way, though, he finds that his experiment affects him in ways he hadn't expected. Jacobs' writing will amuse and might also make you think, whether you believe in Biblical literalism or not.

I've also been reading some books on gutenberg.org, specifically Arthur Morrison's Martin Hewitt stories, and I'm currently reading Ernest Bramah's Max Carrados stories. I enjoy the detection, the clean classic lines of the story, and it's a pleasant change when not every story involves a murder. On the down side, there can be some racial stereotyping going on which I find considerably less pleasant, but it's also educational about the period.