The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment review
Mood: busy
Posted on 2011-12-13 13:36:00
Tags: reviews books
Words: 385

The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an ExperimentThe Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment by A.J. Jacobs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked this book up at Half-Price Books and was pleasantly surprised. The hook is that the author spends one month (and one chapter) trying out a bunch of different ways of living. The list of things he tries includes strictly unitasking, outsourcing as much of his life as possible, living very rationally (to the extent of trying 40 different toothpastes to find which is best, although if you include the time spent deciding I'm not sure this is actually rational. But I digress!), emulating George Washington, and being his wife's devoted servant (which seems fair after all she has to put up with :-) ).

I was hesitant about the book because I was afraid it would be excessively gimmicky. The author mostly avoids this (although there is one chapter where he describes posing nude, which doesn't really fit with the rest of the book), and he gives a good background as to why he thinks this experiment will be valuable, as well as ending each chapter with how he hopes to take the lessons he learned and apply them to his life after the month is over.

During one chapter he tries "radical honesty", which includes a similar discussion as Lying, the Kindle Single I read a while back. He comes to the conclusion that it works great for your own flaws and mistakes but he has a harder time calling out other people's (a.k.a. being a jerk) which makes sense to me. The author also interprets "radical honesty" to mean you basically speak every thought aloud, which seems to be taking the concept a bit far.

Things I'd like to work on:
- I try to multitask a lot even though I'm not very good at it. His unitasking chapter convinced me to try to cut down on this and stay focused on whatever I'm doing.
- George Washington was very civil and proper. I guess I could do that more?

The author has a couple of similar books - one is "The Year of Living Biblically" and one is "The Know-It-All" (a year spent reading the encyclopedia). After having read this book I'm eager to give these a shot!

(paper book, available for borrowing)

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Comment from quijax:

I've started art modeling again to pay for my discretionary spending. Unfortunately, there's a bit of a lead time and I'm not scheduled to start until February. I'm curious if he tried to make a career of it or just did it once for the shits and giggles.

Comment from gregstoll:


He just did it once - as part of an article he was writing for Esquire (I believe it was Sexiest Woman Alive or something) he asked someone to pose nude, and she agreed if he would also pose nude. He ended up feeling somewhat objectified...but I'd imagine posing nude for a magazine shoot is different than posing for an art class!

(this was the only chapter that didn't involve him doing something different for a whole month. It was short and kinda weird...)

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