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One man. Ten extraordinary quests.

Bestselling author and human guinea pig A. J. Jacobs puts his life to the test and reports on the surprising and entertaining results. He goes undercover as a woman, lives by George Washington’s moral code, and impersonates a movie star. He practices "radical honesty," brushes his teeth with the world’s most rational toothpaste, and outsources every part of his life to India—including reading bedtime stories to his kids.

And in a new adventure, Jacobs undergoes scientific testing to determine how he can put his wife through these and other life-altering experiments—one of which involves public nudity.

Filled with humor and wisdom, My Life as an Experiment will immerse you in eye-opening situations and change the way you think about the big issues of our time—from love and work to national politics and breakfast cereal.

Topics: New York City, Essays, Creative Nonfiction, Funny, Witty, Irreverent, Contemplative, George Washington, Honesty, Marriage, Happiness, Goals & Aspirations, and First Person Narration

Published: Simon & Schuster on Sep 8, 2009
ISBN: 9781439110140
List price: $11.99
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I don't buy very many books I haven't read, especially not in hardcover, but I felt safe investing in this one because I love A.J. Jacobs. Both The Know-it-All and The Year of Living Biblically were awesome books. I recommend them to people all the time. What I like best about his writing is the genuine intellectual curiosity he seems to have as he approaches his various experiments. He seems sincere to me. He's hysterically funny, and yet he doesn't resort to being snarky or cynical. This newest book didn't disappoint me. It's a collection of some of his shorter experiments, including a few older ones from before he was with Esquire. I especially loved his essay about outsourcing his life (all the chores he didn't want to do himself, both work-related and personal) to a company in Bangelor, and the month where he did everything his wife wanted him to. I liked seeing her rewarded for her patience. Many of his experiments, while fascinating, seem like they would make him a bit obnoxious to live with. I also thought his attempt to spend a month uni-tasking, only doing one thing at a time at all times, was interesting. I feel like I should try it myself and see if I can improve my fractured powers of attention.read more
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I loved reading about all the ridiculous things Jacobs tries out. His writing is so good that the reader can't help but laugh.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A.J. Jacobs engages in a series of little social experiments, including adopting a set of etiquette instructions favored by George Washington, attempting to follow a philosophy called "radical honesty" in which you're supposed to tell people exactly what you think of them at all times, and posing as a woman for an online dating service in an attempt to find a date for a female friend. Generally, Jacobs' writing is light, humorous, and fun, and while there may not exactly be lots of heavy-hitting insights here, he does try to find something useful and interesting to take away from each experiment.My only complaint is that for some reason, the chapters are not in chronological order, which leads to the bizarre effect of the author appearing to have a weirdly fluctuating number of children.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I don't buy very many books I haven't read, especially not in hardcover, but I felt safe investing in this one because I love A.J. Jacobs. Both The Know-it-All and The Year of Living Biblically were awesome books. I recommend them to people all the time. What I like best about his writing is the genuine intellectual curiosity he seems to have as he approaches his various experiments. He seems sincere to me. He's hysterically funny, and yet he doesn't resort to being snarky or cynical. This newest book didn't disappoint me. It's a collection of some of his shorter experiments, including a few older ones from before he was with Esquire. I especially loved his essay about outsourcing his life (all the chores he didn't want to do himself, both work-related and personal) to a company in Bangelor, and the month where he did everything his wife wanted him to. I liked seeing her rewarded for her patience. Many of his experiments, while fascinating, seem like they would make him a bit obnoxious to live with. I also thought his attempt to spend a month uni-tasking, only doing one thing at a time at all times, was interesting. I feel like I should try it myself and see if I can improve my fractured powers of attention.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I loved reading about all the ridiculous things Jacobs tries out. His writing is so good that the reader can't help but laugh.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A.J. Jacobs engages in a series of little social experiments, including adopting a set of etiquette instructions favored by George Washington, attempting to follow a philosophy called "radical honesty" in which you're supposed to tell people exactly what you think of them at all times, and posing as a woman for an online dating service in an attempt to find a date for a female friend. Generally, Jacobs' writing is light, humorous, and fun, and while there may not exactly be lots of heavy-hitting insights here, he does try to find something useful and interesting to take away from each experiment.My only complaint is that for some reason, the chapters are not in chronological order, which leads to the bizarre effect of the author appearing to have a weirdly fluctuating number of children.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I love A.J. Jacobs. He writes with humor, candor, and honesty and it genuinely is really fun to read. I laugh out loud several times whenever I read him and always feel like I'm learning something too. I want more!read more
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I've enjoyed all of this author's books. His experiments on himself are unique, but always enlightening, and I find his ability to portray all his failings and foibles with a positive spin make the stories he tells work.read more
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This book reminded me of the times when I'm at a conference and I see a colleague recycle a presentation I saw them give at another conference: I was annoyed that this book turns out to be a collection of previously-published magazine articles. Perhaps that's unfair, but that's how I felt. That being said, this was one of those books that delivered on the "laugh-out-loud" promise with more than one real-life guffaw. The bit on the man who doesn't lie is priceless. And, more seriously, the segment on George Washington's tenets for a decent and honorable life was amusing and strangely inspiring. I will probably find a copy of Washington's rules for future enjoyment.read more
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This is a great book for a gift or to read on the plane. It's funny, somewhat informative and finishes with an essay at the end by the author's long-suffering but not necessarily quiet or patient wife. It's better than The Know-It-All (which was pretty good) in which AJ attempts to read the Encyclopaedia Britannica. But its not as good as A Year of Living Biblically - dressed in a long robe with sandals and a wild beard he makes some serious points while making a total fool of himself and writing about it.

I look forward to his next book, guaranteed humour with a definite analytical edge.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Since I really enjoyed AJ Jacobs' previous books, The Know-It-All and The Year of Living Biblically, I was really looking forward to The Guinea Pig Diaries. Unfortunately it didn't live up to all of my expectations. Unlike the previous books, this is a compilation of shorter experiences and experiments Jacobs has undertaken over the years. I missed the depth Jacobs reached in his other books, which took a year or more. That said, I still enjoyed The Guinea Pig Diaries, whose chapters ranged from the cringe inducing (his experiment with Radical Honesty), to the thought provoking (a piece on nude photos) and all the way to the humorous (his month doing everything his wife asked). If you haven't read his other books yet, I'd recommend those first. If you have, check this out from the library but don't spend your hard earned cash.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Jacobs has a way with words which make the most jejune situations hilarious. In this series of personal essays, he recounts his many life experiences, including outsourcing his personal chores, telling the truth and nothing but the truth and posing naked. The situations themselves, although uncommon, are not extraordinary. His background and research information, including theories and readings, are what make these adventures vivid and interesting - it is more than a mere thrill, it is a plight for discovery and learning. The added humor makes it that much more palatable.A fun, vivacious, curious look at life.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Loved it - laugh out loud funny, a rarity. Jacobs imparts knowledge heavily leavened with humor. I loved every chapter from outsourcing to George Washington's 100 tenets for a successful life. It seems that Jacobs will stop at nothing in the pursuit of experiential knowledge and we are all the better for it.read more
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i guess he thought this was funny. some of it was interesting but a lot was reallyyyyyy boring.read more
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Can't get enough of this author. Smart, funny and someone that I enjoy spending time with. Not sure if I am more fond of him or his wife Julie, but I look forward to the next book.read more
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So, I’m totally going to admit this. The only reason I even knew about The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment is because it’s scheduled to become a pilot entitled My Life as an Experiment starring Paget Brewster (whom I’ve decided to support in every endeavor considering she got kicked out of hit show for no discernible reason). After hearing about the pilot, I decided to read The Guinea Pig Diaries to see if I should be going into the show with the thought that it’s going to get cancelled early, just to avoid surprise down the road. Well, I read it, and I’m still iffy on the whole “maybe it’s going to get cancelled if it does, indeed, get picked up” thing. I was laughing out loud throughout the first couple of experiments that the author chose to do, especially the one about him posing as a woman online. He then proceeds to do more outlandish experiments like being radically honest (I’m sure many marriages would crumble if married couples did this) and spending a whole month doing everything his wife wants him to do (ditto). At first, this was all very funny. But then it started to wear a bit on the thin side. With the exception of the one where he’s basically whipped, I didn’t find the last half of the book as entertaining as the first half. I found experiments 7 and 8 particularly boring. All in all, I think that most of The Guinea Pig Diaries was pretty funny and most of the experiments were all wonderfully wacky. Still, Jacob's wife is definitely a saint for putting up with everything she says or does being fodder for his books. That would severely piss me off. Oh, and I think the chance of My Life as an Experiment being a pretty good show are 50-50. The book is sometimes hilarious, but the show is being produced by Jack Black who is painfully unfunny. So, I guess we’ll see.read more
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What would life be like if you were able to outsource all your correspondence? If you only told the truth at ALL times? This book made me smile. I really, really enjoyed reading about his experiments. For a man to find out what it is like being a woman on a dating website was REALLY eye-opening. The radical honesty experiment was eye-opening to me. I didn't realize how many little fibs I tell throughout the day, just in social interactions. Hmmmm.read more
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This book made me laugh out loud which is something that few books do, so kudos! Mr. Jacobs does a great job of taking interesting ideas and then exploring them in all sorts of directions. The fun thing about that is his curiosity discovers both things that most of us never consider. And he also discovers that some things are the way they are because they make sense - no need for tweaking. Can't wait to see where his meandering mind will take him next!read more
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Jacobs' schtick is to pursue short 'projects', just to see what happens, and then write about it. Read the entire encyclopedia Britannica in a year? Absolutely! Live life according to the bible for a year? Bring it on! These were the themes of Jacobs' first two books, and they were interesting and well written. This third book, however, is the one where the ideas appear to be changing scale - now, instead of large scale magum opus projects, the projects are smaller - living according to George Washington's rules, obeying his wife for a month, adopting radical honesty - but none of these last more than a month or so, and none of them capture the imagination like his first two works. Entertaining, yes, but ultimately pointless. Well written, but, like Jacobs' 'projects', it lacks substance and leaves little lingering impression.read more
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A.J. Jacobs has created his own little niche market: conducting experiments in his life and then writing about them. The first of these books, The Know-It-All, chronicled his experience reading every single page of the Encyclopedia Britannica from cover to cover. He followed that up with The Year of Living Biblically, in which he spent a year trying to follow every rule in the Bible as literally as possible. I loved both of these books, so when I heard that Jacobs had a new book last year, I was thrilled. He has a very funny, accessible writing style but manages to convey a lot of information in an entertaining way. He kind of reminds me of Bill Bryson in that way; you manage to learn while laughing.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.read more
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You know who Jacobs is. You’ve probably heard about him, even if you didn’t read his book. He’s the guy who read all the Encyclopedia Britannica, A to Z. He followed that up in his second book by attempting to live by the precepts of the Bible. I will never forget the chapter where he decides to take up stoning the sinners.This new book also falls into the genre of what I call Challenge Books.I like these. The woman who visited a different church each Sunday for a year. The couple who traveled around the world and tried different foods every where they stopped. In The Guinea Pig Diaries, Jacobs tries nine small personal challenges. These are challenges we might have contemplated, but would actually be difficult to take on for a lengthy period of time. And the results are funny, so funny that I should caution you not to read this at home on a Saturday while your spouse is there (as I did) as you will drive your loved one insane reading the really funny parts aloud to him.read more
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This was a very short stunt book, but a satisfying one at least. The third in the author's library, except the Guinea Pig Diaries is a collection of small lifestyle experiments which Jacobs has conducted for other articles in magazines in the past. Overall, the book was entertaining but not necessarily authoritative in any way. It seemed the resulting commentary on said lifestyle experiments were comedic in nature and not really contributing much to serious social issues.Still, it was a great book for a book club, because there were a dozen themes to be brought up. His chapter on trying to unitask, vs. multitask, was curious and made me think about how I work. The chapter on doing everything is wife told him to do for a whole month was also interesting because it made me rethink how our household chores are divided up. My favorite chapter was about the 110 life rules George Washington tried to live by, but I'm a sucker for presidential trivia like that, plus I like lists. Personalized lists about how someone should live says something about the person who created the list. To read a list such as this from George Washington certianly makes me want to take on another George Washington biography.read more
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This is the third book from A.J. Jacobs. Unlike the previous two ([The Know-it-all] and [The Year of Living Biblically]) this book was essentially a collection of smaller experiments. Really, every book Jacobs writes is about some type of social experiment. And really, every book he writes is very funny. While I enjoyed this book, some experiments (and thereby short stories or chapters) stood above the rest. For instance, his month of absolute honesty I found really enjoyable, while his month of being an attractive female nanny (you'll have to read it to understand) isn't as good. Still, I found something at least good enough to bring a smile in all stories, with most actually getting at least a few laughs. I haven't read [Year of Living Biblically] yet, but my wife insists that's the best, with this being the worst - still, if this is the worst, I recommend reading them all.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A.J. Jacobs has created his own little niche market: conducting experiments in his life and then writing about them. The first of these books, The Know-It-All, chronicled his experience reading every single page of the Encyclopedia Britannica from cover to cover. He followed that up with The Year of Living Biblically, in which he spent a year trying to follow every rule in the Bible as literally as possible. He has a very funny, accessible writing style managing to convey a lot of information in an entertaining way.My favorite story was about how he outsourced everything in his life to a company in India -- even arguing with his wife!read more
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I loved A.J. Jacob's first novel, [The Know-it-All: One Man's Humble Quest to become the Smartest Person in the World], where he reads the entire Encyclopedia Britannica in one year. I found it hilarious and would read it again. I liked, but not loved [The Year of Living Biblically], which chronicled his attempts to follow all the rules of the Bible. Therefore I had high hopes for his newest novel, and sadly it fell way short.In [The Guinea Pig Diaries], Jacob's keeps to his M.O. of "experience journalism". He pretends to be his female nanny and tries online dating, single-tasking as a statement against multi-tasking, posing naked for a magazine, etc. And they were still pretty funny. But what really got my goat was that at least two of the stories I've read before (the Radical Honesty and Outsourcing his Life stories). Online, for free. I read them probably a year ago as archives on Esquire Magazine's website (Jacob's is a writer for them and had written about these experiments for them as one of his regular columns). I admit it, I felt gyped even though I only borrowed this book, not bought it. Nowhere on the front and back cover does it say that parts of this book are republished material (I'm not sure about the flaps though), and I kept thinking about how if I had purchased this book, I would have immediately returned it for a refund because I felt this a cop-out from writing, and living, whole new material.If you haven't read any of his work, then I'd recommend this book. Jacobs is truly a funny writer with good insights, and I really enjoyed the story where he follows all of his wife's orders for a whole month. However, I just felt as a fan who has been following his work, using at least two old stories - out of nine - was lazy.read more
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A.J. Jacobs has written another funny book about experiences he puts himself (and his amazing wife, Julie) through. This time, he presents a series of nine short experiements he conducted, ranging from total honesty to on-line dating on behalf of his nanny; from posing naked to being a model husband. Mr. Jacobs has a keen sense of observation and self-awareness. He also delves into his chosen subjects to create a context and explore the meaning of some of what he's experiencing.He's a great writer, witty and whimsical. Great read. I'm looking forward to the next one!read more
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I’ve read both of A.J. Jacobs’ previous books and loved them both. He strikes the perfect balance between sarcastic/self-deprecating humor and an earnest desire to learn about things completely unfamiliar to him.“The Year of Living Biblically”, while hysterically funny, really affected me (as I think it did him). It was a very genuine effort to try walking in other people’s shoes – people who had very deeply held beliefs that he did not share…at least at the beginning of the experiment. However, he treated the subject of religion with great respect – and ended the process as a “reverent agnostic”. He seems to take all of his experiments seriously…and at the end of each summarizes what he’s learned from them.“My Life as an Experiment” was different in that it detailed several month long experiments instead of one year-long one. I still enjoyed it a great deal, laughing out loud several times. Like during “The Rationality Project”:“Probably 90 percent of our life decisions are powered by the twin engines of inertia and laziness. Psychologists call it the Mere Exposure Effect. The basic idea is, I like Crest because I am accustomed to Crest. That’s not good enough. I need a fully rational toothpaste. I need, first, to expand my dental hygiene horizons. I go to the drugstore and buy a sample platter of forty tubes of toothpaste. (The cashier doesn’t even bat an eye; I guess when your customers buy bungee cords and vats of K-Y Jelly in preparation for a Friday night, this isn’t a big deal.”But beyond the humor, I took ideas from this book. For instance, he points out that “we are all predisposed to notice and remember all the bad stuff…because the frustrating episodes are more emotionally charged and we remember them better.” He starts commenting on the positive things out loud – the better to change one’s negative perception. I like that – I’m going to start trying that.I hope, hope, hope this third book of Jacobs’ is far from the last – they are in themselves, a very positive experience. (Unless one is sitting on a plane next to a stranger, trying unsuccessfully to laugh hysterically without disturbing others. I've tried that experiment while reading one of his books. It doesn’t work.)read more
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Having loved "The Year of Living Biblically" by the same author, I had to buy this book. And although it is funny, it's definitely not as good as that book.This book is actually a collection of essays involving different experiments, like what would George Washington do or outsourcing your life to India. And while there are some genuinely funny parts and I found myself laughing out loud more than once, this book feels like A.J. Jacobs lite. There's just not as much meat to this book.Some of the ideas ran their course in this book, but some really could have used more exploration (perhaps a book of their own) - particularly outsourcing his life to India, which I found to be the funniest part of the entire book. Still, it's a good book if you like Jacobs' early work, and it tides me over while I wait for (hopefully) another book devoted to a wacky experiment.read more
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In this book, AJ describes 9 different experiments that he did to write about either for Esquire or for this book. I enjoyed the chapters on outsourcing his life to India, and radical honesty. My very favorite was when he spent a month doing everything his wife told him to. I want my husband to read that chapter. I would also love to be able to outsource parts of my life. The book is well-written, funny, and thought provoking. The rationality project and acting like George Washington were quite interesting as were his attempts to unitask.I highly recommend this book - and I especially highly recommend the last chapter to my husband.read more
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I liked this book a lot. I wish I was creative and brave enough to come up with and do some of the crazy things that A.J. Jacobs put himself through. I like to see the life lessons he learns by doing each one. He has a funny way of recounting some pretty outrageous stunts.read more
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I don't buy very many books I haven't read, especially not in hardcover, but I felt safe investing in this one because I love A.J. Jacobs. Both The Know-it-All and The Year of Living Biblically were awesome books. I recommend them to people all the time. What I like best about his writing is the genuine intellectual curiosity he seems to have as he approaches his various experiments. He seems sincere to me. He's hysterically funny, and yet he doesn't resort to being snarky or cynical. This newest book didn't disappoint me. It's a collection of some of his shorter experiments, including a few older ones from before he was with Esquire. I especially loved his essay about outsourcing his life (all the chores he didn't want to do himself, both work-related and personal) to a company in Bangelor, and the month where he did everything his wife wanted him to. I liked seeing her rewarded for her patience. Many of his experiments, while fascinating, seem like they would make him a bit obnoxious to live with. I also thought his attempt to spend a month uni-tasking, only doing one thing at a time at all times, was interesting. I feel like I should try it myself and see if I can improve my fractured powers of attention.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I loved reading about all the ridiculous things Jacobs tries out. His writing is so good that the reader can't help but laugh.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A.J. Jacobs engages in a series of little social experiments, including adopting a set of etiquette instructions favored by George Washington, attempting to follow a philosophy called "radical honesty" in which you're supposed to tell people exactly what you think of them at all times, and posing as a woman for an online dating service in an attempt to find a date for a female friend. Generally, Jacobs' writing is light, humorous, and fun, and while there may not exactly be lots of heavy-hitting insights here, he does try to find something useful and interesting to take away from each experiment.My only complaint is that for some reason, the chapters are not in chronological order, which leads to the bizarre effect of the author appearing to have a weirdly fluctuating number of children.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I don't buy very many books I haven't read, especially not in hardcover, but I felt safe investing in this one because I love A.J. Jacobs. Both The Know-it-All and The Year of Living Biblically were awesome books. I recommend them to people all the time. What I like best about his writing is the genuine intellectual curiosity he seems to have as he approaches his various experiments. He seems sincere to me. He's hysterically funny, and yet he doesn't resort to being snarky or cynical. This newest book didn't disappoint me. It's a collection of some of his shorter experiments, including a few older ones from before he was with Esquire. I especially loved his essay about outsourcing his life (all the chores he didn't want to do himself, both work-related and personal) to a company in Bangelor, and the month where he did everything his wife wanted him to. I liked seeing her rewarded for her patience. Many of his experiments, while fascinating, seem like they would make him a bit obnoxious to live with. I also thought his attempt to spend a month uni-tasking, only doing one thing at a time at all times, was interesting. I feel like I should try it myself and see if I can improve my fractured powers of attention.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I loved reading about all the ridiculous things Jacobs tries out. His writing is so good that the reader can't help but laugh.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A.J. Jacobs engages in a series of little social experiments, including adopting a set of etiquette instructions favored by George Washington, attempting to follow a philosophy called "radical honesty" in which you're supposed to tell people exactly what you think of them at all times, and posing as a woman for an online dating service in an attempt to find a date for a female friend. Generally, Jacobs' writing is light, humorous, and fun, and while there may not exactly be lots of heavy-hitting insights here, he does try to find something useful and interesting to take away from each experiment.My only complaint is that for some reason, the chapters are not in chronological order, which leads to the bizarre effect of the author appearing to have a weirdly fluctuating number of children.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I love A.J. Jacobs. He writes with humor, candor, and honesty and it genuinely is really fun to read. I laugh out loud several times whenever I read him and always feel like I'm learning something too. I want more!
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I've enjoyed all of this author's books. His experiments on himself are unique, but always enlightening, and I find his ability to portray all his failings and foibles with a positive spin make the stories he tells work.
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This book reminded me of the times when I'm at a conference and I see a colleague recycle a presentation I saw them give at another conference: I was annoyed that this book turns out to be a collection of previously-published magazine articles. Perhaps that's unfair, but that's how I felt. That being said, this was one of those books that delivered on the "laugh-out-loud" promise with more than one real-life guffaw. The bit on the man who doesn't lie is priceless. And, more seriously, the segment on George Washington's tenets for a decent and honorable life was amusing and strangely inspiring. I will probably find a copy of Washington's rules for future enjoyment.
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This is a great book for a gift or to read on the plane. It's funny, somewhat informative and finishes with an essay at the end by the author's long-suffering but not necessarily quiet or patient wife. It's better than The Know-It-All (which was pretty good) in which AJ attempts to read the Encyclopaedia Britannica. But its not as good as A Year of Living Biblically - dressed in a long robe with sandals and a wild beard he makes some serious points while making a total fool of himself and writing about it.

I look forward to his next book, guaranteed humour with a definite analytical edge.
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Since I really enjoyed AJ Jacobs' previous books, The Know-It-All and The Year of Living Biblically, I was really looking forward to The Guinea Pig Diaries. Unfortunately it didn't live up to all of my expectations. Unlike the previous books, this is a compilation of shorter experiences and experiments Jacobs has undertaken over the years. I missed the depth Jacobs reached in his other books, which took a year or more. That said, I still enjoyed The Guinea Pig Diaries, whose chapters ranged from the cringe inducing (his experiment with Radical Honesty), to the thought provoking (a piece on nude photos) and all the way to the humorous (his month doing everything his wife asked). If you haven't read his other books yet, I'd recommend those first. If you have, check this out from the library but don't spend your hard earned cash.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Jacobs has a way with words which make the most jejune situations hilarious. In this series of personal essays, he recounts his many life experiences, including outsourcing his personal chores, telling the truth and nothing but the truth and posing naked. The situations themselves, although uncommon, are not extraordinary. His background and research information, including theories and readings, are what make these adventures vivid and interesting - it is more than a mere thrill, it is a plight for discovery and learning. The added humor makes it that much more palatable.A fun, vivacious, curious look at life.
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Loved it - laugh out loud funny, a rarity. Jacobs imparts knowledge heavily leavened with humor. I loved every chapter from outsourcing to George Washington's 100 tenets for a successful life. It seems that Jacobs will stop at nothing in the pursuit of experiential knowledge and we are all the better for it.
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i guess he thought this was funny. some of it was interesting but a lot was reallyyyyyy boring.
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Can't get enough of this author. Smart, funny and someone that I enjoy spending time with. Not sure if I am more fond of him or his wife Julie, but I look forward to the next book.
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So, I’m totally going to admit this. The only reason I even knew about The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment is because it’s scheduled to become a pilot entitled My Life as an Experiment starring Paget Brewster (whom I’ve decided to support in every endeavor considering she got kicked out of hit show for no discernible reason). After hearing about the pilot, I decided to read The Guinea Pig Diaries to see if I should be going into the show with the thought that it’s going to get cancelled early, just to avoid surprise down the road. Well, I read it, and I’m still iffy on the whole “maybe it’s going to get cancelled if it does, indeed, get picked up” thing. I was laughing out loud throughout the first couple of experiments that the author chose to do, especially the one about him posing as a woman online. He then proceeds to do more outlandish experiments like being radically honest (I’m sure many marriages would crumble if married couples did this) and spending a whole month doing everything his wife wants him to do (ditto). At first, this was all very funny. But then it started to wear a bit on the thin side. With the exception of the one where he’s basically whipped, I didn’t find the last half of the book as entertaining as the first half. I found experiments 7 and 8 particularly boring. All in all, I think that most of The Guinea Pig Diaries was pretty funny and most of the experiments were all wonderfully wacky. Still, Jacob's wife is definitely a saint for putting up with everything she says or does being fodder for his books. That would severely piss me off. Oh, and I think the chance of My Life as an Experiment being a pretty good show are 50-50. The book is sometimes hilarious, but the show is being produced by Jack Black who is painfully unfunny. So, I guess we’ll see.
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What would life be like if you were able to outsource all your correspondence? If you only told the truth at ALL times? This book made me smile. I really, really enjoyed reading about his experiments. For a man to find out what it is like being a woman on a dating website was REALLY eye-opening. The radical honesty experiment was eye-opening to me. I didn't realize how many little fibs I tell throughout the day, just in social interactions. Hmmmm.
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This book made me laugh out loud which is something that few books do, so kudos! Mr. Jacobs does a great job of taking interesting ideas and then exploring them in all sorts of directions. The fun thing about that is his curiosity discovers both things that most of us never consider. And he also discovers that some things are the way they are because they make sense - no need for tweaking. Can't wait to see where his meandering mind will take him next!
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Jacobs' schtick is to pursue short 'projects', just to see what happens, and then write about it. Read the entire encyclopedia Britannica in a year? Absolutely! Live life according to the bible for a year? Bring it on! These were the themes of Jacobs' first two books, and they were interesting and well written. This third book, however, is the one where the ideas appear to be changing scale - now, instead of large scale magum opus projects, the projects are smaller - living according to George Washington's rules, obeying his wife for a month, adopting radical honesty - but none of these last more than a month or so, and none of them capture the imagination like his first two works. Entertaining, yes, but ultimately pointless. Well written, but, like Jacobs' 'projects', it lacks substance and leaves little lingering impression.
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A.J. Jacobs has created his own little niche market: conducting experiments in his life and then writing about them. The first of these books, The Know-It-All, chronicled his experience reading every single page of the Encyclopedia Britannica from cover to cover. He followed that up with The Year of Living Biblically, in which he spent a year trying to follow every rule in the Bible as literally as possible. I loved both of these books, so when I heard that Jacobs had a new book last year, I was thrilled. He has a very funny, accessible writing style but manages to convey a lot of information in an entertaining way. He kind of reminds me of Bill Bryson in that way; you manage to learn while laughing.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.
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You know who Jacobs is. You’ve probably heard about him, even if you didn’t read his book. He’s the guy who read all the Encyclopedia Britannica, A to Z. He followed that up in his second book by attempting to live by the precepts of the Bible. I will never forget the chapter where he decides to take up stoning the sinners.This new book also falls into the genre of what I call Challenge Books.I like these. The woman who visited a different church each Sunday for a year. The couple who traveled around the world and tried different foods every where they stopped. In The Guinea Pig Diaries, Jacobs tries nine small personal challenges. These are challenges we might have contemplated, but would actually be difficult to take on for a lengthy period of time. And the results are funny, so funny that I should caution you not to read this at home on a Saturday while your spouse is there (as I did) as you will drive your loved one insane reading the really funny parts aloud to him.
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This was a very short stunt book, but a satisfying one at least. The third in the author's library, except the Guinea Pig Diaries is a collection of small lifestyle experiments which Jacobs has conducted for other articles in magazines in the past. Overall, the book was entertaining but not necessarily authoritative in any way. It seemed the resulting commentary on said lifestyle experiments were comedic in nature and not really contributing much to serious social issues.Still, it was a great book for a book club, because there were a dozen themes to be brought up. His chapter on trying to unitask, vs. multitask, was curious and made me think about how I work. The chapter on doing everything is wife told him to do for a whole month was also interesting because it made me rethink how our household chores are divided up. My favorite chapter was about the 110 life rules George Washington tried to live by, but I'm a sucker for presidential trivia like that, plus I like lists. Personalized lists about how someone should live says something about the person who created the list. To read a list such as this from George Washington certianly makes me want to take on another George Washington biography.
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This is the third book from A.J. Jacobs. Unlike the previous two ([The Know-it-all] and [The Year of Living Biblically]) this book was essentially a collection of smaller experiments. Really, every book Jacobs writes is about some type of social experiment. And really, every book he writes is very funny. While I enjoyed this book, some experiments (and thereby short stories or chapters) stood above the rest. For instance, his month of absolute honesty I found really enjoyable, while his month of being an attractive female nanny (you'll have to read it to understand) isn't as good. Still, I found something at least good enough to bring a smile in all stories, with most actually getting at least a few laughs. I haven't read [Year of Living Biblically] yet, but my wife insists that's the best, with this being the worst - still, if this is the worst, I recommend reading them all.
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A.J. Jacobs has created his own little niche market: conducting experiments in his life and then writing about them. The first of these books, The Know-It-All, chronicled his experience reading every single page of the Encyclopedia Britannica from cover to cover. He followed that up with The Year of Living Biblically, in which he spent a year trying to follow every rule in the Bible as literally as possible. He has a very funny, accessible writing style managing to convey a lot of information in an entertaining way.My favorite story was about how he outsourced everything in his life to a company in India -- even arguing with his wife!
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I loved A.J. Jacob's first novel, [The Know-it-All: One Man's Humble Quest to become the Smartest Person in the World], where he reads the entire Encyclopedia Britannica in one year. I found it hilarious and would read it again. I liked, but not loved [The Year of Living Biblically], which chronicled his attempts to follow all the rules of the Bible. Therefore I had high hopes for his newest novel, and sadly it fell way short.In [The Guinea Pig Diaries], Jacob's keeps to his M.O. of "experience journalism". He pretends to be his female nanny and tries online dating, single-tasking as a statement against multi-tasking, posing naked for a magazine, etc. And they were still pretty funny. But what really got my goat was that at least two of the stories I've read before (the Radical Honesty and Outsourcing his Life stories). Online, for free. I read them probably a year ago as archives on Esquire Magazine's website (Jacob's is a writer for them and had written about these experiments for them as one of his regular columns). I admit it, I felt gyped even though I only borrowed this book, not bought it. Nowhere on the front and back cover does it say that parts of this book are republished material (I'm not sure about the flaps though), and I kept thinking about how if I had purchased this book, I would have immediately returned it for a refund because I felt this a cop-out from writing, and living, whole new material.If you haven't read any of his work, then I'd recommend this book. Jacobs is truly a funny writer with good insights, and I really enjoyed the story where he follows all of his wife's orders for a whole month. However, I just felt as a fan who has been following his work, using at least two old stories - out of nine - was lazy.
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A.J. Jacobs has written another funny book about experiences he puts himself (and his amazing wife, Julie) through. This time, he presents a series of nine short experiements he conducted, ranging from total honesty to on-line dating on behalf of his nanny; from posing naked to being a model husband. Mr. Jacobs has a keen sense of observation and self-awareness. He also delves into his chosen subjects to create a context and explore the meaning of some of what he's experiencing.He's a great writer, witty and whimsical. Great read. I'm looking forward to the next one!
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I’ve read both of A.J. Jacobs’ previous books and loved them both. He strikes the perfect balance between sarcastic/self-deprecating humor and an earnest desire to learn about things completely unfamiliar to him.“The Year of Living Biblically”, while hysterically funny, really affected me (as I think it did him). It was a very genuine effort to try walking in other people’s shoes – people who had very deeply held beliefs that he did not share…at least at the beginning of the experiment. However, he treated the subject of religion with great respect – and ended the process as a “reverent agnostic”. He seems to take all of his experiments seriously…and at the end of each summarizes what he’s learned from them.“My Life as an Experiment” was different in that it detailed several month long experiments instead of one year-long one. I still enjoyed it a great deal, laughing out loud several times. Like during “The Rationality Project”:“Probably 90 percent of our life decisions are powered by the twin engines of inertia and laziness. Psychologists call it the Mere Exposure Effect. The basic idea is, I like Crest because I am accustomed to Crest. That’s not good enough. I need a fully rational toothpaste. I need, first, to expand my dental hygiene horizons. I go to the drugstore and buy a sample platter of forty tubes of toothpaste. (The cashier doesn’t even bat an eye; I guess when your customers buy bungee cords and vats of K-Y Jelly in preparation for a Friday night, this isn’t a big deal.”But beyond the humor, I took ideas from this book. For instance, he points out that “we are all predisposed to notice and remember all the bad stuff…because the frustrating episodes are more emotionally charged and we remember them better.” He starts commenting on the positive things out loud – the better to change one’s negative perception. I like that – I’m going to start trying that.I hope, hope, hope this third book of Jacobs’ is far from the last – they are in themselves, a very positive experience. (Unless one is sitting on a plane next to a stranger, trying unsuccessfully to laugh hysterically without disturbing others. I've tried that experiment while reading one of his books. It doesn’t work.)
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Having loved "The Year of Living Biblically" by the same author, I had to buy this book. And although it is funny, it's definitely not as good as that book.This book is actually a collection of essays involving different experiments, like what would George Washington do or outsourcing your life to India. And while there are some genuinely funny parts and I found myself laughing out loud more than once, this book feels like A.J. Jacobs lite. There's just not as much meat to this book.Some of the ideas ran their course in this book, but some really could have used more exploration (perhaps a book of their own) - particularly outsourcing his life to India, which I found to be the funniest part of the entire book. Still, it's a good book if you like Jacobs' early work, and it tides me over while I wait for (hopefully) another book devoted to a wacky experiment.
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In this book, AJ describes 9 different experiments that he did to write about either for Esquire or for this book. I enjoyed the chapters on outsourcing his life to India, and radical honesty. My very favorite was when he spent a month doing everything his wife told him to. I want my husband to read that chapter. I would also love to be able to outsource parts of my life. The book is well-written, funny, and thought provoking. The rationality project and acting like George Washington were quite interesting as were his attempts to unitask.I highly recommend this book - and I especially highly recommend the last chapter to my husband.
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I liked this book a lot. I wish I was creative and brave enough to come up with and do some of the crazy things that A.J. Jacobs put himself through. I like to see the life lessons he learns by doing each one. He has a funny way of recounting some pretty outrageous stunts.
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