Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Drop Dead Healthy - A.J. Jacobs (Audio)

I've never had any experience with A. J. Jacobs prior to this book, but I've been hearing about him for some time.  He is known for a brand of full-immersion non-fiction, where he LIVES whatever he is writing about.  One big blogger hit was "The Year of Living Biblically", where Jacobs follows every single rule of the Bible for an entire year.  Which by itself is enough to make a person go "hmmmm".  

But living healthy?  Alright, I've been on a bit of a health trend for the last 9 months, so I thought I might learn something here.  Book Addiction Heather loaned me the audio, and I was in the mood for something non-fiction and maybe funny.

Synopsis:  A.J. Jacobs looked in the mirror and saw a middle-aged, doughy and out-of-shape guy, and worried about whether he would be around to raise his three small boys to adulthood.  What better project then than to throw himself into every nook and cranny of the business of improving his health?  The task was daunting...like 53 pages worth of things to do.  So with gusto, Jacobs takes it all head-on.  

He covers all the bases.  Sure, there are the topics one would expect to see...like eating the right foods and exercise.  But even in the realm of normalcy, Jacobs finds the abnormal, like a diet and exercise regime tailored to that of the caveman (throwing boulders in Central Park??), paying attention to the number of times he chews before he swallows, the cardio benefits of pole dancing, or walking on a treadmill while on his computer, for example.

He takes off from there, exploring skin and mole removal, the immune system and nurturing his phobia of germs, improving brain function, sleeping habits, maintaining healthy private parts and boosting the libido, decreasing stress, and how to have the most productive bowel movement.  While Jacobs injects his humor into this experiment, his efforts are earnest and thorough and his tips are practical and helpful.  He did, after all, lose 16 pounds along the way and competed in a triathlon.  You may not ultimately embrace a pedestrian helmet or wearing noise-cancelling headphones all day, but you may pick up the inspiration to live a healthier life.

My thoughts:  This was a fun little romp.  Not quite as fascinating as the Mary Roach books, but almost.  But similar to Mary Roach, a little bit of this goes a long way.  I would not be able to listen to this type of book all the time, but is a nice side trip once in awhile.  

Jacobs is totally over-the-top.  He doesn't just do intensive research on, let's say, healthy testosterone levels.  He gets himself tested, and against his wife's wishes even, takes Clomid (a medication I actually used myself when I was trying to get pregnant) to increase his numbers, thus making him aggressive and feisty.  He doesn't just Google sleep disorders, he attends a sleep clinic.  

I think his wife must be a saint.  

So did I learn anything here?  I like the idea of out-sourcing my worrying to someone else, thus reducing stress.  Let Susie Poo do the worrying about that weird pain in my foot, and I'll worry about whether or not she will get a promotion.  Kinda makes sense, in a weird way, doesn't it?  And there is some good, old-fashioned practical advice at the end of the book that rang true.  Everything in moderation. Shopping the perimeter of the grocery store and avoid all that processed crap in the middle.  Own a pet.  Walk.  Avoid white flour products.  Stop shoving so much food in your mouth.  That kind of thing.  Good stuff.  

A word about the audio production:  Jacobs actually narrates the audio himself, and does it well.  There are some authors that narrate their own work and are so good at it, I will never read their work in print (ahem, Joshilyn Jackson, David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell).  I'm not sure I'm at this point with Jacobs, but he was pleasant and delivered the message in the spirit in which it was intended.

Audiobook length:  10 hours and 10 minutes (416 pages)

3.5 out of 5 stars               
  

16 comments:

Jackie Bailey said...

I'm not sure anyone will ever be as good as Mary Roach, but it is good you can see some similarities. I do like these investigative things.

Beth F said...

I love Mary Roach, but I'm always interested in the topics she researches. The difference is Roach's investigative approach. I don't know why, there is something about the "I'm going to live [fill in the blank] for a year and then write about it" angle that is a turn-off for me. I guess I'm weird.

Meg @ write meg! said...

As someone who hops on and off the fitness wagon with alarming regularity, I think I would find a lot of humor -- and maybe hope -- here! Thanks for bringing it to my attention. Jacobs is new to me, but I'm pretty sure I spotted his Bible-inspired book when I worked at the bookstore!

Zibilee said...

I so want to read something by Jacobs! I get the idea that he is a regular guy doing his thing, his way. I might start with The Year of Living Biblically, but this one sounds like a lot of fun too. I love that you came across this one at just the right point in your life. Rockin review today! I enjoyed it!

Belle Wong said...

Ive read My Life as An Experiment and The Know-It-All, and I remember them as light, fun reads. And yes! I think his wife is a saint, too. The thing I remember most is when he outsourced all of his life to an overseas company. They did everything for him, including calling people he knew. So funny!

Linda said...

I've enjoyed his other books so I'm looking forward to picking this one up too.

The Novel Sphere (Melissa) said...

I haven't read any of A.J. Jacobs books or Mary Roach for that matter so thanks for sharing on both accounts. The over saturation of todays market with health and fitness trends is actually pretty alarming and I think it would be a relief to read something factual yet comedic. Interested in the Living Biblically book as well!

bermudaonion said...

I bought the print version of this the last time I visited Hub City Books and I'm anxious to read it. I love this kind of over the top stuff from time to time.

JoAnn said...

My daughter read this not too long ago but, IF I decide to go for it, it'll be on audio. Still not sure I want to invest the time...

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

I've got The Year of Living Biblically on my WishList...both these books sound like quirky little fun reads in between substantial reads (you know, like cleansing the palate ;)

Jenners said...

I didn't think this was his best book … I would highly recommend the Year of Living Biblically and The Know It All. Those got me hooked on him. He basically goes nuts on these projects each time. His wife IS a saint!

Carrie K. said...

I enjoyed this one, too! I agree, though, that the Year of Living Biblically is probably his best, with The Know-It-All as a close second.

Julie P. said...

I'd probably have fun with this one on my morning runs...

Alyce said...

I own The Know it All but haven't read it yet. I've heard from several people that this one is okay but not his best. I do like the idea of outsourcing worry though - that would be nice. I hadn't thought about the healthy food being on the perimeter of the store. That would only work for two sides of our grocery store. The other two are filled with ice cream, alcohol and baked goods (doughnuts, twinkies, etc.). :)

Trisha said...

Ah Roach. Roach. My love.

But Jacobs is probably a close second, and I really need to read more of him.

Melissa said...

I've got the Year of Living Biblically in print, but haven't gotten to it yet. I think that one would be a better one for me to start with. But totally with you on Joshilyn Jackson on audio. I will never read her in print!