Year of the Bookwormz: 2011

52 weeks. 2 friends. 1 challenge.

Book #20: Fabookulous June 16, 2010

My Jesus Year: A Rabbi’s Son Wanders the Bible Belt in Search of His Own Faith by Benyamin Cohen

Book description:

One day a Georgia-born son of an Orthodox rabbi discovers that his enthusiasm for Judaism is flagging. He observes the Sabbath, he goes to synagogue, and he even flies to New York on weekends for a series of “speed dates” with nice, eligible Jewish girls. But, something is missing. Looking out of his window and across the street at one of the hundreds of churches in Atlanta, he asks, “What would it be like to be a Christian?”

So begins Benyamin Cohen’s hilarious journey that is My Jesus Year– part memoir, part spiritual quest, and part anthropologist’s mission. Among Cohen’s many adventures (and misadventures), he finds himself in some rather unlikely places: jumping into a mosh-pit at a Christian rock concert, seeing his face projected on the giant JumboTron of an African-American megachurch, visiting a potential convert with two young Mormon missionaries, attending a Christian “professional wrestling” match, and waking up early for a sunrise Easter service on top of Stone Mountain- a Confederate memorial and former base of operations for the KKK.

During his year-long exploration, Cohen sees the best and the worst of Christianity- from megachurches to storefront churches; from crass commercialization of religion to the simple, moving faith of the humble believer; from the profound to the profane to the just plain laughable. Throughout, he keeps an open heart and mind, a good sense of humor, and takes what he learns from Christianity to reflect on his own faith and relationship to God. By year’s end, to Cohen’s surprise, his search for universal answers and truths in the Bible Belt actually make him a better Jew.

How many times have you started reading a book with a preconceived idea of how you would like it? I certainly did so with this book. The premise sounds eerily similar to that of The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs, which to this day remains my all time favorite book. And because Jacobs offers a cover quote for My Jesus Year, it was easy to assume this memoir was going to be very similar.

But talk about being pleasantly surprised! Done from an anthropological perspective, Cohen does something I’ve talked about doing for years! I’ve often wondered and considered exploring different churches every weekend just to see how different people worship. My motives have never been to rethink my religion as I’m confident in my beliefs and where I am with them. But for pure interest sake, it has always appealed to me to visit neighborhood and local churches of different denominations. That is exactly what Cohen does for an entire year. (Well, sort of. He kind of leans toward the other extreme visiting a Christian wrestling match, a Christian rock concert, megachurches, as well as a monastery; so on and so forth…)

Born Jewish and the son of a Rabbi, Cohen’s quest is more profound in the sense that he is exploring his religion and seeking knowledge and thirsting for that closeness to God. In a rut with Judaism he dives into Christianity, in a new location every single weekend for one year. While still observing Sabbath on Saturday, Cohen went to Christian churches on Sundays as well. Again, for an entire year. That seems overwhelming to experience that much that often.

While reading laugh out loud funny (once I got past my predetermined judgments of how the book would read), this is one of the wittiest memoirs I’ve ever come across. The depth to his conclusions after visiting a new church or Christian body are astounding and surprising. Cohen writes with a sincerity that will appeal to every reader no matter your religion or lack thereof.

His humor is engaging, his story is intriguing and his memoir is both revealing and enjoyable. I’m happy to share this book (which I had purchased a few years ago) with over 30 swappers on the wish list on PaperBackSwap. This is a story that should be shared and I’m glad I finally picked it up to read.

5/5 stars!

Happy Reading,
Fabookulous

 

Gearing up for Book Blogger Appreciation Week

September 13-17th is National Book Blogger Appreciation Week and Year of the Bookwormz2010 is entered in the running for 2010 Best Eclectic and Best Written Book Blog!

We look to our readers, fellow book bloggers and favorite authors for suggestions and ideas. Many of our readers turn to us before loading up their library queue. What better time to appreciate your favorite book blogs than during the Book Blogger Appreciation Week coming this fall, especially if a book blog helped you discover some of your favorite reads!

We were asked to select 5 blog posts in each category that best represent our voice here at Year of the Bookwormz. This blog is not only unique in that we review ALL genres of books, but it’s jointly managed by both of us so the only way to fairly participate is to enter one category each. So thanks to our loyal fans, below are links to our most popular and/or most commented posts that we selected as entries. Thanks so much for making this blog a success and for all  your enthusiasm so far!

Entries for Best Written Category

1) Book #7: Fabookulous

2) Book #10: Fabookulous

3) Author Spotlight: Laura Bush

4) Book #17: Fabookulous

5) Book #20: Fabookulous

Entries for Most Eclectic Category

1) When World’s Collide: Sue Monk Kidd & Jenna Lamia

2) Book #26 LibraryLove

3) Book #24 LibraryLove

4) Author Spotlight: Garth Stein Author Event

5) Book #18 LibraryLove

As an added bonus, each blog entered in Book Blogger Appreciation Week is asked to select 1 work of fiction (wish we could pick 5!) as their favorite.

We selected Beth Hoffman’s best selling novel, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, as our 2010’s Best Fiction. Reviews of her novel here at YOTBWZ received the most blog hits and searches of all, AND she was kind enough to allow us to host a CeeCee Giveaway! Good luck Beth, we hope you win! we’ll also let you know closer to the time if voting is open to the public!

xo♥xo,

Year of the Bookwormz