A. J. Jacobs - Biography
Arnold Stephen Jacobs, Jr., commonly called A.J. Jacobs (born March 20, 1968, New York City) is an American journalist and author.
Jacobs was born in New York City to Jewish parents Arnold Jacobs Sr., a lawyer, and Ellen Kheel. He has one sister, Beryl Jacobs. Jacobs attended the Dalton School and studied philosophy at Brown University. He is married to Julie Schoenberg and has three sons: Jasper Kheel Jacobs (born March 11, 2004) and twins Zane and Lucas Jacobs (born August 24, 2006). He is the editor at large for Esquire and previously worked for the Antioch Daily Ledger and Entertainment Weekly.
Jacobs is a first cousin to the legal scholar Cass Sunstein.
Jacobs 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. The genre is often called "stunt books" or "stunt journalism".
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.
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).
In another experiment Jacobs wrote an article for Esquire called "I Think You're Fat" (2007), 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). In 2007, Paramount Pictures announced it was developing a film version of The Year of Living Biblically, with director Julian Farino attached and Jay Reiss adapting the screenplay, though as of 2010, no further announcements have been made.
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 also 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.
Jacobs is currently working on The Healthiest Human Being in the World.
- Official website
- In depth Video interview with AJ Jacobs
- "Encyclopedia Man", NPR. February 2004.
- "'The Know-It-All': A Little Learning Is a Dangerous Thing", New York Times. October 2004
- "I Am Not A Jackass", New York Times. February 2005
- "Esquire wikis article on Wikipedia", NEWS.COM. September 2005.