Living By the Books | AJ Jacobs on Writing Methods
The James Altucher ShowMay 03, 202401:07:4161.97 MB

Living By the Books | AJ Jacobs on Writing Methods

Dive deep into the fascinating world of puzzles, creativity, and the future with James and AJ Jacobs in a riveting conversation that unpacks the power of thinking outside the box for shaping bestsellers and envisioning a transformative tomorrow.

A Note from James:

 AJ Jacobs, who has an upcoming book, "The Year of Living Constitutionally", he's a fascinating writer. He basically, instead of just doing research on a topic "Oh, I'm going to do research on the Constitution, I'm going to do research on living healthy, I'm going to do research on the Bible," instead of just researching something and writing a book, which I consider to be boring, he has a completely different way of exploring a topic, and it turns out,and not by accident, it turns out that this is the formula for writing a bestselling, millions-of-copies kind of book.

And it's an interesting way to live life. And what I mean is, A. J. really lives what he's writing about. So when he wrote his, one of his early books, The Year of Living Biblically, he lived for a year, literally word by word, as the Bible would suggest he lives. For instance, I'll let A. J. describes and we talk about it in this episode, but in "The Year of Living Constitutionally", which is about to come out he lives the life of someone.

Around 1790, living the constitution word for word applying to be a pirate with the Congress. Something which was an article, one of the constitution, if you didn't happen to know. And meanwhile, other books he's had are like, "My Life is An Experiment", where everything was an experiment.

For instance, he outsourced arguments with his wife to an outsourcing agency in India. So this turns out to be not only a fascinating way to live a very curious and adventurous life. But again, as I said earlier, it turns out to be a great formula for writing a bestselling book, the kind of formula AI can't really compete with I will add. 

First, I want to hear about AJ's method, the AJ method of living a life of experience and using that to create stories, adventures, and of course, bestselling books. And he's a very funny guy, so how he incorporates Humor into that. And then next week, we're going to do a whole episode, fascinating episode, the year of living constitutionally, because there's so many issues about the constitution.

I didn't know about it. And so many, so much information about the constitution. I didn't even know about it. I used to think I've read it, but it turns out I hadn't. So first off though, the AJ method on writing his own unique brand style of bestseller and living a life of adventure.

Episode Description:

In this episode of the James Altucher Show, James engages in a fascinating conversation with AJ Jacobs, an esteemed author known for his unique approach to writing and life. Jacobs discusses his upcoming book 'The Puzzler', delves into his method of immersing himself in his subjects, and shares insights from the Year of Living Constitutionally. Jacobs, known for his adventurous lifestyle and humor, describes past projects including outsourcing arguments with his wife to India and living according to the Bible. The episode also covers his visit to a long-termism conference, discussing potential future challenges and the impact of AI. Additionally, AJ and James ponder over the significance of incorporating puzzles into daily life and explore the concept of improving forecasting abilities through understanding probabilities.


Episode Summary:

00:00 Exploring AJ Jacobs' Unique Approach to Writing and Living

02:47 AJ Jacobs: A Deep Dive into His Life and Works

03:31 The Fascinating World of Puzzles with AJ Jacobs

03:56 AJ's Hermit Life and the Creative Process

04:47 Solving the World's Most Baffling Puzzles

17:07 The Art of Creativity and Intelligence in Puzzle Solving

27:24 Exploring Long-Termism and Future Challenges

31:57 The Unheard Stories of Nuclear Near Misses

32:19 Exploring the Shadows of the Cold War

33:05 The Petrov Day: A Reminder of Nuclear Threat

34:29 Unaccounted Nuclear Weapons: A Lingering Threat

34:48 Envisioning a Utopian Future Amidst Doom

35:42 The Evolution of Technology vs. Environmental Challenges

36:54 The AI Dilemma: Potential and Perils

37:50 AI's Unintended Consequences: From Paperclips to Pandemics

41:19 The YouTube Algorithm: A Case Study in AI's Impact

48:32 Addressing the Threat of Authoritarianism

52:58 The Importance of Science and Statistics in Society

58:15 Rethinking Education: A Focus on Practical Knowledge

01:01:34 Long Termism: A New Perspective on Humanity's Future


  • What do YOU think of the show? Head to and fill out a short survey that will help us better tailor the podcast to our audience!
  • Are you interested in getting direct answers from James about your question on a podcast? Go to and send in your questions to be answered on the air!



Thank you so much for listening! If you like this episode, please rate, review, and subscribe to “The James Altucher Show” wherever you get your podcasts: 

Follow me on social media:

outsourcing arguments,research,adventurous life,puzzles,humor,humor,statistics education,world's largest family reunion,voynich manuscript,scientific method,forecasting,creativity,creativity,warm and calculating,technological change,the year of living constitutionally,super forecasters,outsourcing,book,ai dangers,the year of living biblically,living biblically,episode,aj jacobs,societal issues.,mathematics,pirate,technological advancements,exploration,sakata reddit puzzle,authoritarianism,writing,best selling,zodiac killer code,outsourcing business ideas,probability,history teaching perspectives,long-termism,drop dead healthy,chess,the puzzler,podcast,constitution,puzzles as creativity enhancement,cryptographic puzzles,problem solving,misinformation,