College students live for summer vacation—at least the ones I know—and once finals finish up and warm weather rolls around, these budding academics can read whatever they want. Don’t get me wrong; I love reading about rhetorical analysis and composition theory as much as the next Writing and Rhetoric major—OK, maybe more—but it’s nice to treat the noggin to some fun reading. Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs has been on my reading list since it was published in April, but I knew between my Honors project and graduation preparation I wouldn’t get around to it until the summer.
From Amazon.com: “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.
“The task was epic. He consulted an army of experts— sleep consultants and sex clinicians, nutritionists and dermatologists. He subjected himself to dozens of different workouts—from Strollercize classes to Finger Fitness sessions, from bouldering with cavemen to a treadmill desk. And he took in a cartload of diets: raw foods, veganism, high protein, calorie restriction, extreme chewing, and dozens more. He bought gadgets and helmets, earphones and juicers. He poked and he pinched. He counted and he measured.
“The story of his transformation is not only brilliantly entertaining, but it just may be the healthiest book ever written. It will make you laugh until your sides split and endorphins flood your bloodstream. It will alter the contours of your brain, imprinting you with better habits of hygiene and diet. It will move you emotionally and get you moving physically in surprising ways. And it will give you occasion to reflect on the body’s many mysteries and the ultimate pursuit of health: a well-lived life.”
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 4/10/2012
Overall, Drop Dead Healthy was an easy and entertaining read, great for a fitness and healthy living fiend (like me!). Not only did Jacobs employ a conversational tone, which helped him relay information in a lighthearted away, but he also let his voice and personality take center stage—there were several lines that had me laughing aloud!
In recent years, the demand and desire for healthy living has increased, and Jacobs becomes completely immersed in this trend. As a journalist and writer, I was happy to see that he conducted extensive legwork—he referenced reputable books, interviewed appropriate individuals, and cited relevant studies. There is so much data out there—and some studies and schools of thought contradict each other—and Jacobs did an excellent job of summarizing each side (when needed) and applying the information to common daily routines.
However, I would’ve liked Jacobs to delve further into his daily eats and sweat sessions. Even though he included a “monthly checkup” at the end of each chapter, it would’ve been nice to see an itemized daily meal plan and workout schedule. Also, as a buddy triathlete, I wanted to read more about Jacobs’ training, finishing times, and overall experience. Yes, the book can only be so long, but I think these would’ve been worthwhile inclusions. If you’re into working out, eating nutritiously, and living a healthy lifestyle, you will enjoy this book. This memoir doesn’t attempt to share groundbreaking information—it’s all about Jacobs’ journey.