Drop Dead Healthy by A. J. Jacobs

Jacobs, editor at large of Esquire magazine, decided to become “as healthy as humanly possible.”  At the age of forty-one, hedrop dead was in pretty good health, but he called his body shape “a python-that-swallowed-a-goat,” and he was sure that he’d benefit from some lifestyle changes.  In an attempt to discover the prevailing medical views on healthy living, he did a lot of reading and consulted a variety of experts, including his eccentric aunt, who examined every inch of his apartment for toxins.  He made a 53-page to-do list and even completed a lot of the items on it.  This included a variety of workouts, including one very embarrassing pole dancing class in which he was the only man.  He even wrote his book while walking on a treadmill!

Drop Dead Healthy includes some useful health tips, especially in the appendices.  His studies and lifestyle changes worked for him.  During the year Jacobs lost 16 pounds, and he “can now run a mile in less than seven minutes as opposed to not at all.”  However, he warns, “This book is for informational and entertainment purposes.  I have a B.A. after my name, not an M.D.  Talk to a doctor before following any health tips in this book.  And consult your spouse before moving to Okinawa.”

This is quick, entertaining reading, especially if you’re trying to improve your own health – or to become motivated to do so.

I also enjoyed Jacobs’ earlier books The Know-It-All and The Year of Living Biblically.  For the first one, he read the Encyclopedia Britannica in its entirety, sharing with us some of the interesting facts he learned as well as some of his own experiences.  In the second, he read the entire Bible, consulted experts from a variety of Christian and Jewish traditions, and attempted to learn the Bible by living it.  He is not religious (“Jewish in the same way the Olive Garden is Italian”), but he now tries to observe the Sabbath, to be grateful, and to avoid gossiping.

Choose the book of most interest to you at the moment, and, once you’ve sampled Jacobs’ writing, you may want to read the other two!

(Helen Snow, retired from Information Services)

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