A.J. Jacobs on Why Reading Books Can Save Your Life

Jacobs1[Our thanks to human lab rat A.J. Jacobs, author of Drop Dead Healthy, for this exclusive guest post.]

In my new book Drop Dead Healthy, I try to become the healthiest person alive. In doing so, I examine hundreds of activities to determine if they are healthy.

Is meditation healthy? Yes. Petting dogs? Yes, because it lowers the blood pressure. Sitting? Definitely not. Going to a noisy restaurant? No. Taking naps? Thank God yes.

One of the few activities I didn’t discuss: Reading. Is reading healthy? Or will it slowly murder you?

No doubt I’m a bit biased, but I’ve come to the conclusion that overall, books are, in fact, good for your health.

Before I get to the science, let’s take a look at history. In 1912, Teddy Roosevelt was giving a speech in Milwaukee, when a protestor shot him point-blank in the chest. TR only suffered a flesh wound. Why? The bullet was slowed by his reading glasses case and the manuscript of the speech itself. So there you go. Reading material can save lives.

Leave a Comment

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this blog until approved.

Comments (9)

Well, I have heard we adult Americans do not get enough rest, this is why I read in a horizontal position. This way I feed my brain and rest my body at the same time. Next time, I will try to tap my foot too.

Love your books, So glad I found your blog.

Posted by: sari | Thursday April 12, 2012 at 12:59 PM

The thing you're forgetting is that if you're sufficiently engrossed in a book, you will forget about food and several kinds of hunger and thirst. It happened to Bastian Baltasar Bux and can happen to all of us.

Posted by: stygyan | Thursday April 12, 2012 at 1:43 PM

I'm about halfway through your book; informative, and so entertaining. Is your wife really that snarky? Not an insult -- it's my favorite expression of humor. Also read My Year of Living Biblically. Keep writing! Btw, you've already persuaded me to dust off the treadmill and get back on -- two days in a row now, almost a record!

Posted by: Abbe | Thursday April 12, 2012 at 6:52 PM

I know lots of people who tap their feet or jiggle their leg. Maybe it's good for them, but it's really irritating if you're sitting next to them and the floor or seat is vibrating...

Posted by: Laura | Friday April 13, 2012 at 9:35 AM

As a lifelong leg jiggler I can attest to two things: it will annoy a large number of non-jigglers and sadly it won't be enough on its own to keep you at peak fitness levels.

Posted by: Noelle | Friday April 13, 2012 at 8:16 PM

Hilarious AND true. Can't get much better than that.

Posted by: Chris | Saturday April 14, 2012 at 8:34 AM

Love your books and this one is on my list, too!!

Posted by: Terri | Sunday April 15, 2012 at 9:24 AM

También leer mi Biblia año que vivimos. Sigue escribiendo! Por cierto, ya me has convencido para desempolvar la cinta de correr y volver a - dos días seguidos ahora, casi un récord!!

Posted by: abercrombie españa | Friday April 20, 2012 at 12:44 AM

Good article! The spirit of sharing is really impressive, and I want to share this article to my friends!

Posted by: Herve Leger Dress | Tuesday May 29, 2012 at 2:21 AM

Lists + Reviews

Best Books Literature + Fiction Nonfiction Kids + Young Adult Mystery, Thriller + Suspense Science Fiction + Fantasy Comics + Graphic Novels Romance Eating + Drinking


Interviews Guest Essays Celebrity Picks

News + Features

News Features Awards


Omnivoracious, The Amazon Book Review

Feeds Facebook Twitter YouTube