A. J. Jacobs

Arnold Stephen "A. J." Jacobs Jr. (born March 20, 1968) is an American journalist, author, and lecturer best known for writing about his lifestyle experiments. He is an editor at large for Esquire and has worked for the Antioch Daily Ledger and Entertainment Weekly.

A. J. Jacobs
AJ Jacobs at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival
Jacobs in April 2009
Arnold Stephen Jacobs Jr.

March 20, 1968 (age 51)
Notable credit(s)
The Know-It-All,
The Year of Living Biblically
TitleEditor at Large, Esquire magazine
Spouse(s)Julie Schoenberg

Early life

Jacobs was born in New York City to secular Jewish parents[1] Arnold Jacobs Sr., a lawyer, and Ellen Kheel. He has one sister, Beryl Jacobs. He was educated at The Dalton School and Brown University.[2][3]


Jacobs has said that he sees his life as a series of experiments in which he immerses himself in a project or lifestyle, for better or worse, then writes about what he learned.[4] The genre is often called immersion journalism or "stunt journalism".[5][6]

In one of these experiments ("stunts") Jacobs read all 32 volumes of the Encyclopædia Britannica. He wrote about it in his humorous book, The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World (2004). In the book, he also chronicles his personal life along with various endeavors like joining Mensa. The book spent eight weeks on The New York Times Best Seller list.[7] NPR's Weekend Edition ran a series of segments featuring the unusual facts Jacobs learned in each letter.[8] Jacobs also wrote a column for mental floss magazine describing the highlights of each volume.[9] The book received positive reviews in The New York Times,[10] Time magazine[11] and USA Today.[12] However, Joe Queenan panned it in the New York Times Book Review. Queenan called the book "corny, juvenile, smug, tired" and "interminable" and characterized Jacobs as "a prime example of that curiously modern innovation: the pedigreed simpleton."[13] Four months later, Jacobs responded in an essay entitled “I Am Not a Jackass”.[14]

In 2005 Jacobs out-sourced his life to India such that personal assistants would do everything for him from answering his e-mails, reading his children good-night stories, and arguing with his wife. Jacobs wrote about it in an Esquire article called "My Outsourced Life" (2005).[15] The article was excerpted in The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss.[16] Jacobs also talked about his outsourcing experiences on a Moth storytelling podcast.[17]

In another experiment Jacobs wrote an article for Esquire called "I Think You're Fat" (2007),[18] about the experiment he conducted with Radical Honesty, a lifestyle of total truth-telling promoted by Virginia therapist Brad Blanton, whom Jacobs interviewed for the article.

Jacobs' book The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible (2007) chronicles his experiment to live for one year according to all the moral codes expressed in the Bible, including stoning adulterers, blowing a shofar at the beginning of every month, and refraining from trimming the corners of his facial hair (which he followed by not trimming his facial hair at all). The book spent 11 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list,[19] and Jacobs gave a TED talk about what he learned during the project.[20] In May 2017, CBS Television picked up a TV series based on the book.[21] It was originally renamed By the Book for television, but later changed to Living Biblically.

The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment (2009) is a series of first person essays about his experiences with various guides for human behavior.

Jacobs is the author of The Two Kings: Elvis and Jesus (1994), an irreverent comedic comparison of Elvis Presley and Jesus; and America Off-Line (1996). He also writes for mental floss, a trivia magazine.

His most recent book is Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection (2012) in which he explores different ways humans can bring their bodies to peak health, from diet to exercise.[5] He wrote the book while walking on a treadmill.[22] Jacobs gave a related TED talk about this health quest entitled "How Healthy Living Nearly Killed Me".[23]

From 2011 to 2012, Jacobs wrote the "Extreme Health" column for Esquire magazine, covering such topics as high-intensity interval training[24] and the quantified self. Since 2012, he has written the "Modern Problems" advice column for mental_floss magazine. The column compares modern day life to the horrors of the past.[25]

As of May 2013, Jacobs writes a weekly advice column for Esquire.com called "My Huddled Masses".[26] The column is crowdsourced to Jacobs’s 100,000 Facebook followers, who give etiquette and love advice.[27][28] He also writes the regular feature "Obituaries" for Esquire, which consists of satirical death notices for cultural trends, such as American hegemony.[29]

As of 2015 Jacobs was working on a project called the Global Family Reunion, where he aims to connect as many people as possible to the global family tree at Geni.com[30] and WikiTree. He hosted the Global Family Reunion, planned to be largest family reunion in history on June 6, 2015, at the New York Hall of Science.[31]

On December 5, 2016, Gimlet Media announced Jacobs as the host of Twice Removed, a podcast focused on genealogy. In June 2016, Gimlet announced that the podcast would not be renewed for a second season.

Personal life

Jacobs is married to Julie Schoenberg and has three sons: Jasper Kheel-Lime Jacobs (born March 11, 2004)[32] and twins Zane and Lucas Jacobs (born August 24, 2006).[33][34]

Jacobs is a first cousin, once removed, of the legal scholar Cass Sunstein.[35]

A secular Jew, Jacobs is self-described as an Atheist in a 2018 interview by Hemant Mehta.[36]

Jacobs is a member of Giving What We Can and pledges 10% of lifelong earnings to charity. He donates to the Against Malaria Foundation and other effective altruism organizations.



  • Jacobs, A. J. (1994). The two kings : Jesus and Elvis.
  • 1996. America Off-Line: The Complete Outernet Starter Kit ISBN 978-0836224337
  • 2003. Esquire Presents: What It Feels Like ISBN 978-1416599081
  • 2005. The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World ISBN 978-0743250627
  • 2007. The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible (2007) ISBN 978-0743291477
  • 2010. The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment ISBN 1439104999
  • 2012. Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection ISBN 978-1416599081
  • 2017. It's All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the World's Family Tree ISBN 978-1476734491
  • 2018. Thanks A Thousand: A Gratitude Journey ISBN 978-1501119927

Essays and reporting


  1. ^ Jacobs, A J. "The Year of Living Biblically". Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  2. ^ "Nonfiction Writing in the World: Our Sources of Inspiration and Nonfiction Beyond Brown | English Department". www.brown.edu. Retrieved 2019-04-12.
  3. ^ Queenan, Joe (2004-10-03). "'The Know-It-All': A Little Learning Is a Dangerous Thing". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-04-12.
  4. ^ A. J. Jacobs: My year of living biblically. TED video. Filmed December 2007.
  5. ^ a b "Print: One Man's Journey Into Stunt Books", Mathew Honan, Wired, July 28, 2010.
  6. ^ By the Book, By HANNA ROSIN, Published: October 14, 2007
  7. ^ "The New York Times > Books > Best-Seller Lists > Paperback Nonfiction". 2014-04-10. Archived from the original on 2014-04-10. Retrieved 2018-03-19.
  8. ^ "NPR Search". NPR. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  9. ^ AJ, Jacobs (23 October 2007). "Guest Blog-star: AJ Jacobs!". mental_floss. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  10. ^ Maslin, Janet (20 September 2004). "BOOKS OF THE TIMES; A Walking, Wisecracking Encyclopedia". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  11. ^ Stein, Joel (4 October 2004). "The Know-Everything Party". Time Magazine. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  12. ^ Blais, Jacqueline (1 December 2004). "If you really must know, these smart reads are for you". USA Today. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  13. ^ Queenan, Joe (3 October 2004). "A Little Learning Is a Dangerous Thing". The New York Times Book Review. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  14. ^ Jacobs, AJ (13 February 2005). "I am not a Jackass". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  15. ^ "My Outsourced Life" Archived June 18, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, Esquire, September 1, 2005
  16. ^ Ferris, Timothy. "Outsourcing Life". Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  17. ^ Jacobs, AJ. "The Moth Presents AJ Jacobs: My Outsourced Life". The Moth. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  18. ^ "I Think You're Fat", Esquire, July 24, 2007
  19. ^ "Paperback Best Sellers: Nonfiction". The New York Times. 11 January 2009. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  20. ^ Jacobs, AJ. "AJ Jacobs: My Year of Living Biblically". TED. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  21. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (2017-05-12). "'Living Biblically' Comedy Picked Up To Series By CBS, Renamed As 'By The Book'". Deadline. Retrieved 2017-05-22.
  22. ^ Minzesheimer, Bob (9 April 2012). "Author takes on his body in quest to be 'Drop Dead Healthy'". USA Today. Archived from the original on 28 June 2013. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  23. ^ Jacobs, AJ. "How healthy living nearly killed me". TED. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  24. ^ Jacobs, AJ. "The Case Against Jogging". Esquire. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  25. ^ Jacobs, AJ. "AJ Jacobs Can Solve all Your Modern Problems". mental_floss. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  26. ^ Jacobs, AJ. "My Huddled Masses: Crowdsourced Life Guidance". Esquire. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  27. ^ Jacobs, AJ. "Crowdsourced Advice with Author A.J. Jacobs". Boing Boing. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  28. ^ Chaey, Christina. "Dear Abbys: A New Esquire Column Sources Life Advice From 100,000 People". Fast Company. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  29. ^ "Esquire Search". Esquire. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  30. ^ "World Family Tree". Geni.com.
  31. ^ "Global Family Reunion".
  32. ^ Jacobs, A.J. The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World. (2004) Simon & Schuster Paperbacks. p. 371.
  33. ^ Jacobs, A.J. The Year of Living Bibically (2007) Simon & Schuster. p. 314-316.
  34. ^ Jacobs, A.J. "The Maximum Good: One Man's Quest to Master the Art of Donating". Esquire. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
  35. ^ Jacobs, AJ. "Cass Sunstein and Samantha Power: Fun Couple of the 21st Century". Esquire. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
  36. ^ Mehta, Hemant (13 November 2018). "In His Latest Book, A.J. Jacobs Goes on a Godless Journey of Gratitude". Patheos.com. Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  37. ^ Jacobs, AJ (1 September 2005). "My Outsourced Life". Esquire. Archived from the original on 3 July 2013. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
  38. ^ Jacobs, AJ (24 July 2007). "I Think You're Fat". Esquire.
  39. ^ Jacobs, AJ. "My Life as a Hot Woman". Esquire. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
  40. ^ Jacobs, AJ. "The 9:10 to Crazyland". Esquire. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
  41. ^ Jacobs, AJ. "How to Blurb and Blurb and Blurb". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
  42. ^ Jacobs, AJ. "Overly Documented Life". Esquire. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
  43. ^ Jacobs, AJ. "Grading the MOOC Universe". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 June 2013.

External links

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Core cities of Japan

A core city (中核市, Chūkakushi) is a class or category of Japanese city. It is a local administrative division created by the national government. Core cities are delegated many functions normally carried out by prefectural governments, but not as many as designated cities. To become a candidate for core city status, a city must have a population greater than 300,000 and an area greater than 100 square kilometers, although special exceptions may be made by order of the cabinet for cities with populations under 300,000 but over 200,000. After the abolition of special city status on April 1, 2015, any city with a population above 200,000 may apply for core city status.Application for designation is made by a city with the approval of both the city and prefectural assemblies.

Districts of Japan

The district (郡, gun) is today a geographical and statistical unit comprising one or several rural municipalities in Japan. It was used as an administrative unit in Japan in antiquity and between 1878 and 1921 and was roughly equivalent to the county of the United States, ranking at the level below prefecture and above town or village, same as city.

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Living Biblically

Living Biblically is an American sitcom television series created by Patrick Walsh and produced by Johnny Galecki, with co-executive producers Andrew Haas, Spencer Medof, and director Andy Ackerman. The series was based on A. J. Jacobs' best-selling book, The Year of Living Biblically. The Warner Bros. Television-produced series began airing on CBS on February 26, 2018. The running time was 30 minutes per episode and included a laugh track. On May 11, 2018, CBS canceled the series after one season. The series aired the remaining episodes from July 7 until July 21, 2018.

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A special city (特例市, Tokureishi) of Japan is a city with a population of at least 200,000, and is delegated functions normally carried out by prefectural governments. Those functions are a subset of the ones delegated to a core city.

This category was established by the Local Autonomy Law, article 252 clause 26. They are designated by the Cabinet after a request by the city council and the prefectural assembly.

Because the level of autonomy delegated to special cities are similar to core cities, after consultation with local governments, the category of special cities was abolished in the revision of the Local Autonomy Act enacted on April 1, 2015, and cities with a population of at least 200,000 may apply to be directly promoted to core city status. Special cities which have not been promoted may still retain its autonomy, and are called special cities at enforcement (施行時特例市, Shikōji Tokurei shi). As a special case, within 5 years of the abolishment of the category of special cities, i.e. before April 1, 2020, special cities with a population under 200,000 may also apply to be promoted to core city status.The special cities are not the same as the special wards of Tokyo. They are also different from special cities (特別市, tokubetsu-shi) that were legally established in the Local Autonomy Law between 1947 and 1956, but never implemented. They would have been prefecture-independent cities (in an analogous way, special wards are city-independent wards). They were the legal successors to the 1922 "six major cities" (roku daitoshi; only five were left in 1947 as Tokyo City had been abolished in the war) and precursors to the 1956 designated major cites which have expanded autonomy, but not full independence from prefectures.

The Guinea Pig Diaries

The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life As An Experiment is a book by A. J. Jacobs, an editor at Esquire magazine, published in 2009. On a mission to improve aspects of his life A. J. Jacobs becomes a human guinea pig, putting himself through a series of extreme lifestyle experiments.

In the book, Jacobs attempts to change the way he thought, talked, and looked. He immerses himself in his experiments and each comes with a conclusion about the lessons he has learned. Some of the experiments Jacobs participates in include:

What Would George Washington Do:Jacobs decides to follow in the footsteps of George Washington. He obeys the Founding Father’s “110 Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation.”

The Unitasker:After realizing all the distractions in his life, he pledges to quit multitasking. By unplugging his laptop, putting away his cell phone, tying himself to his desk he attempts to rewire his brain to be the most focused person alive.

I Think You’re Fat:Jacobs becomes a temporary convert to the Radical Honesty movement, which teaches you that you should never lie: you should completely remove the filter between your brain and your mouth and say whatever is on your mind.

240 Minutes of Fame:After noticing their very similar appearance, Jacobs assumes the identity of actor Noah Taylor and crashes the Academy Awards.

My Outsourced Life:Jacobs hires a team in India to take care of everything in his life from phone calls to arguments with his wife to reading bedtime stories to his son.

The Rationality Project:Jacobs attempts to eliminate every irrational bias to change the way he makes decisions by using the insights of behavioral economics.

My Life as a Beautiful Woman:Jacobs assumes the identity of his children's nanny and ventures into online dating to get a better understanding of dating from a woman's point of view.

The Truth about Nakedness:Esquire magazine asked Mary-Louise Parker to pose nude. She agreed to it only if the editor, who happened to be Jacobs, also posed nude.

Whipped (a.k.a. the perfect spouse):Since his wife, Julie, has put up with all of his crazy ideas, Jacobs vows to spend a month agreeing to obey her every command.

The Know-It-All

The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World is a book by Esquire editor A. J. Jacobs, published in 2004.

It recounts his experience of reading the entire Encyclopædia Britannica; all 32 volumes of the 2002 edition, extending to over 33,000 pages with some 44 million words. He set out on this endeavour to become the "smartest person in the world". The book is organized alphabetically in encyclopedia format and recounts both interesting facts from the encyclopedia and the author's experiences.

It was a New York Times Best Seller.

The Year of Living Biblically

The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to follow the Bible as Literally as Possible is a book by A. J. Jacobs, an editor at Esquire magazine, published in 2007. The book describes a year that the author said he spent trying to follow all the rules and guidelines he could find in the Bible, which turned out to be more than 700.

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