Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Book Review: Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection by A.J. Jacobs

I thought reading this book around the holidays would be perfect timing - it could inspire me to eat less bad stuff and exercise more. Don't know how effective that was, but I did enjoy it thoroughly.

Like his previous books, this is another stunt memoir by Mr. Jacobs (the only stunt memoirist I know of to do multiple stunts.) After reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica (including appendices) and following ALL of the rules in the Bible, he now set out on a 2-year effort to become the healthiest man alive (or so he says.) He looked at everything from sleep to toxins to organic food to barefoot running to noise pollution to treadmill desks. By no means did he make any major changes permanently, but what I did find the most interesting were the changes he decided to adapt for the long-term (treadmill desk, a short list of toxins to avoid and foods to buy organic, wearing his noise-cancelling headphones most of the time, and generally being more active.) As usual, one of the things I love most about Mr. Jacobs's books is the assortment of fun facts, such as exercising outdoors is better for you and people who own cats are thirty percent less likely to have a heart attack.

Unexpectedly, there is a bit of a narrative thread throughout the book involving Jacobs's family, particularly his grandfather who seems like an adorable man (he was the lawyer for the artist Christos!) That added a lovely element as you don't often get much of a narrative in these types of books unless the "stunt" is being done in order to achieve a particular singular goal instead of just to do. (And "being healthy" isn't exactly what I mean by a singular goal.) Jacobs is engaging, fun, inspiring in his own lumpiness, and I always zip through his books (and I think this is the thickest one yet!) as they're easy reads. I laughed several times, teared up once and was shocked another time. You might not think a book about health would have such emotional resonance, but I swear it does. As usual, I think his wife Julie is a trooper (I can't believe she'd agree to try one of those cleansing juice diets for her husband's book.) This is a very entertaining, inspiring, and fun book that you ought to read. I am going to now go walk three miles. You should too.

I borrowed this book from the library.

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