I'm probably Jacobs' biggest fan. I have all of this books and have read, I think, all of his articles. With nearly every other author, I am loth to paid extra money for hardback and will simply wait until the book comes out in paperback. With Jacobs, however, I will immediately pre-order through Amazon as soon as I hear that he's about to publish a new book.
However, I think I've turned a corner with Jacobs and am starting to tire of his approach.
This book, while it was interesting and a page-turner, is something I would never read again.
Basically, Jacobs tries to be as healthy as possible for two years, trying out various philosophies and strictures of the health movement.
Although this "I did something kooky for a while and now I'm writing a popular book about it"-approach worked with the Bible thing, the George Washington thing, the cognitive biases thing, etc., it doesn't work so well with this material.
In short, I guess I was disappointed with this book and am starting to run out of patience with Jacobs. I accuse him of not treating his material fairly (at least here) and not taking his material seriously.
This project should have taken him 5 years, but instead he rushed through it in just two. Unlike Jacob's previous outings, you get the feeling on nearly every page that his real goal was to write and sell a book, not seriously explore the different philosophies, which is what really interests the reader.
Specifically, a lot of the health, diet, and wellness approaches required more than a friggin' afternoon to really take on board! I'm sure that the proponents of these various approaches -- almost to a man -- are probably frustrated with the book and feel that Jacobs sold them short. Like I'm so sure you can try a Macrobiotic diet for 3 days and start drawing conclusions about it.
One exercise philosophy that's looked at, for example, is the "Paleo" workout: basically imitating the exercises that cavemen would have engaged in.
Interesting. But Jacobs works out with them for about two hours and never sees them again. I'm sure that those guys, not to mention the other proponents, would say that you didn't give us a fair chance. Our approach takes weeks -- sometimes months -- before it starts bearing fruit in your life.
And then there are directly conflicting philosophies; Jacobs cannot possibly do justice to them both. One holds than men should retain their "essence;" another, than men should spill their "essence" as often as possible. You try out one for a few days and think you've made a fair (or even an informative) go of things?
Since Jacobs is rushing through hundreds of different philosophies and approaches in about two years, you get the feeling that he never really gives anything a fair chance to improve his health. At least with the Bible thing, you got the feeling he was seriously interested in dispassionately investigating to what extent it was possible to live as literally as possible by the Bible. And when the project was done, we learned something: 1) No; it isn't: at some point, you have to make judgment calls; and 2) Rituals influence your mind.
But with the wellness thing, you get the feeling he's simply not serious about investigating anything, so the book ends up being unsatisfying.
I never thought I'd use that word to describe a Jacobs book, but there you go.