A.J. Jacobs

Everyone has a story-topper friend. You say you’re visiting your great aunt who lives near Mt. St. Helens; they casually mention an acquaintance who flew over the volcano when it exploded. A.J. Jacobs is that friend. You try to be mindful of a Sunday sermon for just one day; Jacobs hews to the Old Testament for 12 months in The Year of Living Biblically. Or, in The Know-It-All, he reads the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica. His latest stunt book, The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment (Simon & Schuster, $25), collects his short-form antics from magazine land. (“I posed nude for Esquire because Mary-Louise Parker told me to.”) As these episodes amass, Jacobs can seem a little overly-self indulgent to the point of obnoxiousness; and the reader particularly feels for his long-suffering wife, Julie, who supplies a few tart, insightful comments in her husband’s book. What’s next for Jacobs? He’s eating—and writing about—the healthiest diet in the world. Here’s hoping that he doesn’t make his wife do all the cooking for him. LAURA ONSTOT

Tue., Sept. 15, 7 p.m., 2009

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