Title: Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection
Author: A.J. Jacobs
Genre: Non-fiction, memoir
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Audio, 2012
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Review copy from the publisher for Audiobook Jukebox‘s reviewer program
Audiobook reader: A.J. Jacobs
Audiobook length: 10 hours, 10 minutes
First line: For the last few months, I’ve been assembling a list of things I need to do to improve my health.
Goodreads blurb: From the bestselling author of The Year of Living Biblically and The Know-It-All comes the true and truly hilarious story of one person’s quest to become the healthiest man in the world. Hospitalized with a freak case of tropical pneumonia, goaded by his wife telling him, “I don’t want to be a widow at forty-five,” and ashamed of a middle-aged body best described as “a python that swallowed a goat,” A.J. Jacobs felt compelled to change his ways and get healthy. And he didn’t want only to lose weight, or finish a triathlon, or lower his cholesterol. His ambitions were far greater: maximal health from head to toe.
In two of his previous books, Jacobs tackled the mind and spirit legs of the mind-spirit-body triangle. In The Know-It-All, he tried to become the smartest man in the world by reading the entire Encyclopedia Brittanica. He tried to follow all the laws and tenets of the Bible – even the obscure, Old Testament ones – for an entire year in The Year of Living Biblically. He now tackles the body in Drop Dead Healthy.
His two-year project involved making over his diet and exercise habits, and focusing on each part and system of the body separately in order to the have the healthiest feet, brain, stomach, ears, nose, etc. He compiles a list that includes not only current and mainstream health advice, but also the strange and wacky theories that abound in the world of health.
He chronicles everything he learns and does, from trying the Cave Man Workout and Laughter Yoga, to visiting proponents of extreme calorie restriction, from wearing ear phones all the time to protect his ears from noise pollution, to squatting rather than sitting while using the bathroom. He wrote much of the book on a computer desk that he rigged up on his treadmill, walking as he typed. He spent a lot of time following the health tenets on his list, and even tried to impose some of them on his family. I have to say that, after reading his books, I think his wife is extremely tolerant.
Like with his previous books, in which he deals with the birth of his first child and learning to be a father, there are major things going on in his non-writing life: members of his extended family are dealing with aging and serious health issues. These situations take the book from the level of humorous memoir to a deeper look at the reasons we want to be healthy, and the way we react when our health is outside our control. His writing is witty and insightful, and this was a thoroughly engaging read.
I enjoyed A.J. Jacobs’ three previous books (The Know-It All, The Guinea Pig Diaries, and The Year of Living Biblically), but now I wish I had listened to them on audio rather than reading them in print. A.J. Jacobs may not have a smooth, sexy delivery like some male audio narrators I enjoy, but he has the perfect humorous sensibility for reading his own work. The jokes are personal, and his delivery reflects that.