Jen’s Library – The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment

The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment
by A.J. Jacobs

I’ve read a few of this guy’s books, and he’s usually pretty entertaining. He always has a gimmick, like trying to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica in The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World, or trying to live by all of the rules in the Bible in The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible. Both of those books are very funny reading, and surprisingly educational as they’re filled with a lot of random facts he learns along the way. In this book, he shares some of his other, shorter-lived experiments, that weren’t big enough to become books on their own. He does this stuff because he’s a writer for a magazine, and doing weird things like this makes for good stories. I think he’s nuts, but it sure is fun to read.

Over the course of this guy’s life, he’s tried on a whole lot of roles and written about the experiences. Like when he outsourced as much of his life as possible to India, having his assistants overseas deal with birthday cards and presents, emails to his boss, and reading stories to his kids over the phone. Or when he tried “radical honesty” for a while, which is where you not only refuse to tell lies, but you also remove your mental filter and just say what’s on your mind. Like telling the waitress you can’t help but look at her lovely cleavage, or telling the man beside you on the bus that he smells funny. Oh, and the time he went to the Oscars impersonating an actor whom he resembled, and mostly got away with it. Most of the stuff he does will make you glad he’s not your neighbor, but also glad that someone tried all this insanity and lived to tell about it.

It’s broken up into chapters, one per experiment, so it’s an easy book to put down and pick back up again. I liked The Year of Living Biblically best out of everything of his I’ve read so far, so if you’re looking to try this writer out, I’d tell you to start there.

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