Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Bryant Park Blog Q&A with A.J. Jacobs

He read the Encyclopedia Britannica in its entirety, spent a year following every rule in the Bible, and then turned his life into a self improvement experiment. Take a peak into the mind of Esquire's Editor at Large A.J. Jacobs before he visits the Reading Room this afternoon. Judging from his hysterical answers, A.J.'s Word for Word chat with Ben Mezrich should be quite entertaining.

What was your inspiration for this book?
For My Life as an Experiment? It was a way to learn about the most fascinating topics in the world by immersing myself in them.

Where do you do your best writing?
I’m writing my current book on my treadmill. It’s about health.

Did you have an “a-ha!” moment that made you want to be a writer?
Not really. I did have an a-ha moment that made me nervous about my career choice. When I read the Encyclopedia Britannica for my first book (The Know-It-All), I was stunned by the number of writers who committed suicide. I knew about Hemingway, Plath and Woolf. But there are dozens, even hundreds, of others. It’s not a profession filled with happy-go-lucky types.

Which author do you wish had been your 7th grade English teacher?
My seventh grade self would probably want Cheryl Tiegs, author of non-fiction classic The Way to Natural Beauty. But my current self would opt for Bill Bryson.

Before and After The Year of Living Biblically
What is your secret talent?
I can hand coo.

What is your favorite book?
Probably the Encyclopedia Britannica. If I had to choose one volume of the Britannica? Probably the A volume. They frontload a lot of the good stuff.

Who reads your first draft?
My wife Julie.

Do you read your books after they’ve been published? 
Not so much.

Do you prefer writing on a computer or longhand?
On a computer. Though I’m old school and have to print out the manuscript to read it.

What book are you currently reading? 
The Ask by Sam Lipsyte. He’s a brilliant novelist – and also a parent at the same school my kid goes to. I couldn’t resist that combination.

What word or punctuation mark are you most guilty of overusing? 
I’m trying to restore honor and respect to the exclamation point! It shouldn’t be dismissed!

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
A teacher.


Word for Word Author
Wednesdays, 12:30pm – 1:45pm
May 25 – August 24
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