When I said that I wouldn’t be able to buy anything but food and toilet paper till #1 son graduates, those who know me might have wondered where I plan to get my books.

I still have Booksfree and Frugalreader, both sources of books costing less than $2 apiece, and I have some informal book swap partners as well. I figure I can sneak my week’s novels into the grocery bill by switching to generic tomato sauce and giving up the Schwan’s man. Nonetheless, I was pleased when Amazon offered to send me free books if I would review them.

The first book they have sent me is The Year of Living Biblically, by A.J. Jacobs. I liked the writer immediately, and even felt as though I might know him from somewhere. A bit of reading on the back cover showed that this was probably because I had read his previous book, The Know-It-All, about the time he read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica.

The Know-It-All really had no plot, and the information, since it was from the encyclopedia, was mostly stuff I already knew. The encyclopedia is not the place to go for exciting new developments. It is a book of things that you should already know. That’s why you go look stuff up there. So that first book, though it had some amusing parts about the reactions people had to Jacobs’s telling them these things, was not entirely enthralling.

The Year of Living Biblically is full of things I didn’t know before. I had no knowledge of the dancing of Hasidic men on the last night of Sukkot. And, while I know quite a bit about the rules in the Bible and how it feels to strive to follow them, my own experience is limited to eschewing gossip, unkind speech, materialism, oppression of the poor, etc. I never pay any attention to dietary laws, rules about clothing, or any of the parts about ritual uncleanness.

Jacobs spent a year trying to follow all the rules of the Bible, including the ones he thinks might better have been cordoned off in a chapter headed “And Now for Some Crazy Rules.” Being Jewish, he didn’t toss things out on the grounds that Jesus Christ was fulfillment of the Law, nor did he pick and choose on the basis of how times have changed or what larger truth God might have had in mind. If the Bible said to put tassels on your clothes, he put tassels on his clothes. He did this without benefit of faith, too, which has to be harder.

I’ll let you know how it comes out.

Today is normally the biggest day of the year, numbers-wise, at the store. I also have to run errands before going to the store, and have some computer work to finish before that. I assume that this is why I woke up at 4:00 a.m., so that I could complete all these tasks. I spent an hour trying to go back to sleep. Since I did not in fact get back to sleep, I now regret having wasted that time, when I could have been working. If I had been able to get back to sleep, I would have been pleased about it. It is now almost 5:30 (xanga thinks I live in a different time zone) and therefore time to get up anyway.Sigh.