The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment Hardcover – Sep 8 2009
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"Jacobs, the author of The Know-It-All (2004) and The Year of Living Biblically (2007), could be the funniest nonfiction writer this side of Bill Bryson.... The experiments themselves are fascinating and lead to genuinely surprising conclusions...and Jacobs's storytelling is lighthearted and frequently laugh-out-loud funny.... There aren't a lot of nonfiction books you want to read over and over, but this is certainly one of them."–Booklist (starred review)
"Whether he's posing as a celebrity, outsourcing his chores, or adhering strictly to the Bible, we love reading about the wacky lifestyle experiments of author A.J. Jacobs."–Entertainment Weekly
"Jacobs's third book . . . establishes his success as a humorist beyond doubt, and perhaps without peer."–Chicago Sun-Times
“We love reading about the lifestyle experiments of author A.J. Jacobs.”
About the Author
A.J. Jacobs is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Know-It-All and The Year of Living Biblically. He is the editor-at-large of Esquire magazine, a contributor to NPr, and a columnist for mental_floss magazine. He lives in New York City.See all Product Description
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In this book, Jacobs conducts a series of mini-experiments--ranging from outsourcing everything in his life to a company in India to posing nude to trying to live like George Washington. There are nine experiments in all (one for every chapter). One of my favorite experiments was Project Rationality, which involved trying to overcome all the biases, false assumptions, and warped memories with which our flawed brains make decisions. Just reading this made me realize that my life is a series of false assumptions and half-truths.
Although I found the books entertaining and highly readable, I was a bit disappointed. I suspect the reason is that these are mini experiments instead of immersive, year-long experiments like the ones he wrote about in his previous books. I ended up wanting more and felt like the book was over way too soon. Although it is a good introduction to Jacobs's writing style and isn't a bad read, I enjoyed The Know-It-All and The Year of Living Biblically much more. However, if the worst I can say about the book is that "I wanted more of it. It was too short," then that isn't so bad, is it? Just read it; you'll like it.
Excerpts from the chapter where Jacobs tries to experience fame by attending the Oscars as the actor Noah Taylor: Even more striking, though, is that Noah Taylor and I shared the same haircut and eyeglasses. For reasons I'm still puzzling out, in my mid-twenties I decided to let my hair grow down to my shoulders. This wasn't cool long hair, mind you. It was shapeless and stringy, like Ben Franklin or a meth addict. And the glasses? They were thick. black, and clunky. I suppose I was going for a retro intellectual vibe, something in the Allen Ginsberg area. What I got was Orville Redenbacher.
I found both the experiments and the writing to be highly entertaining. AJ Jacobs is a very funny guy, and his humor and self-deprecation both come through in this book. There were a few laugh-out-loud moments. I also enjoyed the tidbits of information included in his book, such as why a journalist should never cross the line and ask a 'real' celeb for a favor. It's always fun to get some inside information.
The only drawback for me was that at times the book seemed a little bit disjointed, such that events in the author's life were appearing out of order (though in fairness, I believe he cautioned the reader that this would happen at the beginning of the book). But for the most part, it was a light, funny read, and I'm glad I found this author. I plan to download other books by Jacobs when I need a break from more serious reading.
Lastly, I feel compelled to add that, to my knowledge, I am not related to AJ Jacobs, though I sure do wish I were. Thanksgiving would be just that much more fun.