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Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

15 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

Fans of AJ Jacobs, a long-time writer for Esquire, will recal

Fans of AJ Jacobs, a long-time writer for Esquire, will recall that improve his mind he read the Encyclopedia Britannica from Aardvark to Zygote and then wrote "The Know-It-All", to improve his spirit he wrote "The Year of Living Biblically" and n...
Fans of AJ Jacobs, a long-time writer for Esquire, will recall that improve his mind he read the Encyclopedia Britannica from Aardvark to Zygote and then wrote "The Know-It-All", to improve his spirit he wrote "The Year of Living Biblically" and now, in his humble quest to achieve bodily perfection, he has written "Drop Dead Healthy". This third of his "humble quest" series is a lot more amusing than the stieg Larsson trilogy (and moreover, it doesn't contain all those confusing Swedish names).
Drop Dead Healthy takes us through two years of Mr.Jacobs life during which he experiments with the pros and cons of a myriad of health fads, from the top of his head to the soles of his feet. He goes "caveman" by running through Central Park with members of the Paleo movement and sharing their diet of nuts and berries (but passes on the crushed insects, notwithstanding their high protein value). He consults with experts of all stripes and takes to heart a study in the journal Neuro Report showing that volunteers could hold their hands in freezing water longer if they uttered expletives. He reads books like "Slow Death by Rubber Duck" which argue that such toys are made from endocrine disrupting plastics "that will cause my boys to grow breasts the size of Katy Perry's when they're twelve". And in an attempt to combat the "Crimes of Excessive Sedentary Behavior" and expend extra calories while at work he bypasses the webpage advertisements for a $400 treadmill desks by jury-rigging his own, with his laptop teetering atop four cardboard boxes that rest on an end table, and he dares to include a photo of it.
Once again the writer's wife Julie is there to serve as both a lightning rod and a reality check to his over-the-top excesses, but this time his three sons are also there to bear witness to his eccentricities. One of many memorable moments occurs when Mr. Jacobs surprises his family with an attachment to the household toilet seat that requires a third world squatting pose, which he had read is healthier than than the conventional sitting position.
All of this is not for naught. After two years of following his regimen and despite some quirky detours, Mr. Jacobs has lost 16 pounds, gone down two belt sizes and more than halved his body fat percentage. His physician congratulates him that his lipid panel numbers "are so good they'll give you a heart attack".
Amidst the insightful humor and seriously valuable health tips, the book has some poignant and bittersweet aspects as well. We appreciate the writer's attentive visits to his 94 year-old grandfather and we come to know his self-described "eccentric Aunt Marti" who, despite her over-the-top preoccupation with living her life by following all things healthy, passes away at a relatively early age. There is a lot of wisdom among the book's wit, all of which makes for a most enjoyable read and a perfect gift for Mother's Day, Father's Day, National Secretary's Day (April 25), Arbor Day (April 27) or any other occasion one can think of.

posted by harpospeaks on April 10, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

5 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

Interesting, but could have done with more info and less ramble

Good premise, and an easy read. Slightly depressing though and I didn't learn as much as I wanted to. Frequently I wanted to know where he got a factoid from, but except for the bug sections, there's no info on that and no endnotes. Often the writing was disjointed, ...
Good premise, and an easy read. Slightly depressing though and I didn't learn as much as I wanted to. Frequently I wanted to know where he got a factoid from, but except for the bug sections, there's no info on that and no endnotes. Often the writing was disjointed, makung me wonder if I was missing pages. Lots of abrupt ends! And I could have done without tge constant references to his last book. I guess being agnostic ups your credibility, since he mentions it in almost every chapter? Got tired of that - please talk about health, not religion.

Basically, if you read this, do it for the random mildly amusing stories, not the health information. And don't expect too much.

posted by Pyrusj on April 19, 2012

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  • Posted May 21, 2012

    Worth reading

    Good example of how you can go too far in anything. We all know what's healthy we just need to do it and ignore the latest health fad.

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  • Posted May 18, 2012

    Challenges you to think about your own health

    I'm half way through reading the book and AJ has challenged me not believe everything I hear or see about what to do for my health. Everything in moderation. Some of the extreme approaches to health are probably more stressful to the mind than the body. I am glad he took on this task for himself and shared his honest experiences- the good, the bad and the ugly.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 14, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    A nice light read

    I have not finished reading this book yet. I am only 1/3 of the way into it. Partly because I have a busy schedule, and partly because this book does not hold my interest. It is entertaining enough to read snippets of it when I find myself waiting for others to arrive or meetings to start. But it does not cause me to want to read it instead of watching tv or as I fall asleep in bed. In fact, I have since become far more interested in another book and have switched to it. I will eventually finish this book, but I am in no hurry to do so. I recommend it as a free library checkout book rather than a must have buy it book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2012

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    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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