Thursday, July 19, 2012

Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection by A.J. Jacobs

Book Summary (from

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.

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

My Review

Who doesn’t want to be healthy? Specially now a days.  I first bought this book for my boyfriend...actually I pre-order it; we got it the second day after it came out. Why? We are big fans of Jacobs and it was my boyfriend who introduced me to his books. Last year I read The Year of Living Biblically and in March of this year I read The Know-it-All. I was really excited to read it and, since I loved the other two, I had big expectations. Boy, did the book deliver. 

Jacobs spends 2 full years working on himself, taking care of this skin, meals, exercising, getting healthy...and happy. To quote the book:

                "The key to making healthy decisions is to respect your future self. Honor him or her. Treat him or her like you would treat a friend or a loved one"

As in his other books (I still have to read the Guinea Pig Diaries, but the order has been placed, and with 82% off!!!!) he doesn’t only talks about the “experiment” itself, but also how it affects him, his family and in smaller doses, about family in general. In the first book of the “series”, The Know-it-All, we learn about him and his wife trying to conceive, how his father also tried to read the whole Encyclopedia Britannica, and so on.

In this book we meet his Grandfather, a remarkable 96 year old, with a lovely remark:
"You can retire, but you must find something you’re passionate about in your retirement. You need a reason to wake up in the morning"

Something else that I really enjoy about his books, is the familiarity of the whole thing, I feel like a friend of mine is just telling me what he/she did during the week-end. The writing is fluid and casual, like a conversation. And I have to say, I love Julie, his wife. She has the patience of a saint, and her comments always make me smile. She tried some of the stuff with Jacobs in this book. I cannot blame her for not trying anything on the biblical year; at the same time, I loved her "answer" to a lot of the restrictions during that year...but I'm changing books here. Sorry.

 What did I learn with this book? That I’m doing fine, not great but fine in my own quest to be healthy. I watch my portions, and have also controlled a little of my roommate and my boyfriend; I’m lucky to work in an environment that is not highly noisy;  I don’t wear as much sunscreen as is recommended, but the point I’ve been trying to carve in my friend’s brains was valid, it does make a difference to apply sunscreen in the morning; I love my Pilates class, even when it hurts the day after, “luckily” I cannot spend 8 hours sitting at the lab, since I have to move from one room to the other in order to finish my experiment. I could still be more active though.

And finally, my favorite of them all: Reading before going to sleep, might actually be helpful to sleep better! (As long as is a non-electronic book J)
Truth be told, I learnt about a ton of new tendencies, but the main point is that everything has to be done in moderation. From eating, to exercising, you cannot...should not exaggerate. 

Did I like this book? Oh yes! I think is my favorite book from Jacobs...we will see how it goes with the Guinea Pig Diaries. 


  1. What a timing!! I am tooo obsessed with health these days and this book will just be so good to read at this moment. :)

    1. Hey Alpa, well I hope you enjoy the book. It does push you to do some healthy, not extreme changes.