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The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  6,361 ratings  ·  967 reviews
For his first book, The Know-It-All, A. J. Jacobs read the entire Encyclopædia Britannica from cover to cover in a quest to learn everything in the world. In The Year of Living Biblically, he followed every single rule of the Bible -- from the Ten Commandments right on down to stoning adulterers.

Now comes a collection of his most hilarious and thought-provoking experiments
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Hardcover, 236 pages
Published September 8th 2009 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2009)
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Petra X
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 writin ...more
K
Okay, I don't want to oversell this book or anything. It didn't quite live up to its predecessor, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible As Literally As Possible. But life with A.J. Jacobs is always fun, at least if you're a reader and not his long-suffering wife Julie (who does get hers in the end, happily).

With his trademark earnestness, A. J. Jacobs throws himself into a variety of life experiments, occasionally shocking or annoying unwitting bystanders. He
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♥Xeni♥
Sep 07, 2011 ♥Xeni♥ rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to ♥Xeni♥ by: kim
I finished this book in record time. It was very easy to read, had a good pace (sometime too good of a pace... more details in some areas, please!) and was amusing while also being educational.

I think I will try implementing some of Jacobs' ideas into my own life. Perhaps not to the extent that he decided to, but there are quite a lot of Washington's Rules which are still applicable! That, and finding a very rational toothpaste is something I've been trying to do for years. Okay, so perhaps I al
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Michelle
I was planning on reading The Year of Living Biblically by the same author, but The Guinea Pig Diaries by A.J. Jacobs was here and the other hasn't come in the mail yet.

However, I'm glad I read this first because I LOVED it! I think we should all read it. It chronicles the author's life as he (1) pretends to be a woman on a dating Web site, (2) outsources his personal life to assistants in India (including a book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKSXdD... ), (3) tries Radical Honesty, (4
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Lena
Esquire editor A. J. Jacobs is a practitioner of the stunt memoir. In Guinea Pig, he moves away from the year-long Bible and Britannica experiments he became known for to a series of month-long explorations on different topics.

Among his experiments in this book are impersonating his ultra-hot nanny in an online dating service, living according to George Washington's detailed list of personal rules, posing naked for Esquire at the request of Mary-Louise Parker, outsourcing much of his life to vir
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Abby
aj jacobs is the man. yeah yeah yeah he's kind of a tool, he recycles his jokes, whatever. anyone willing to spend a month checking his email with the TV, phone, and radio off is a hero in my book (see the chapter on unitasking).
i must say i liked this one significantly less that his other two. the problem laid in the fact that each experiment is only devoted a short essay rather than a whole book. don't get me wrong, i doubt i would enjoy an entire book about what it was like posing naked for
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Jennifer
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 ...more
Ben Babcock
I first heard of A.J. Jacobs when he appeared on The Colbert Report in 2009. He talked, among other things, about the year he spent “living Biblically”. This intrigued me, so I decided to read the book he was pushing at the time. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, because I didn’t know what types of experiments Jacobs had performed. But the book is short, and his writing, if sometimes overbearing, is usually entertaining too. The Guinea Pig Diaries is genuinely interesting and enjoyable.

This is
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Kim
Sep 07, 2011 Kim rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kim by: Melki
The third of A.J. Jacobs life-experiment books, unlike the others which focused on one idea only, this book encompasses a variety of different experiments A.J. makes with his life.

Firstly I enjoyed this one a lot more than The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible As Literally As Possible. There was a lot more humour in this one and it flowed much better. His last book just felt overly long whereas here each experiment is only fairly short. I also like the codas a
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Clarice
Had me laughing in hysterics by page 8, okay, so I'll give it 5 stars since it's hilarious and witty, but it's really more like a 4.5 for me, it's all just superficial, nothing really DEEP. But a fun read is what I needed and I got it. I would recommend it to anyone. Wait, it's really weird that this ex-library copy had it in the jr non-fiction, there's nothing jr about this book. Some of the stuff he talks about is definitely for adults only.
Manny Lopez
Quick, light, and funny. The chapter on radical honesty is worth the price of the book. That and living by Georege Washington's moral code were my favorite chapters. Each experiment brought up interesting points and some even made me question things I do without thinking (Crest toothpaste, Grapefruit juice when I'm sick, multitasking) Perfect read for a summer roadtrip.
Benjamin Thomas
AJ Jacobs is a funny fellow. He takes basic ideas and concepts and wonders about what it would be like to live his life that way. Ideas such as, “What would it be like to try to live up to the stature and rules of George Washington?” or “What would it be like to outsource the major pain-in-the-butt tasks of my life the way American corporations do?” or “What would it be like to be a famous actor and walk the red carpet at the Oscars?” or “What would it be like to be a beautiful single female?” B ...more
Susy Flory
I love AJ Jacobs, and enjoyed this book, but at times it rehashed stories from The Know-It-All. Probably my favorite story is the time he was forced to pose naked for Esquire so he could understand what women go through when they pose for cheesecake pictures. The photographer, named Nigel, kept telling him to "Sook in yer goot!"

In Jacobs's own words: "My goot? Nigel taps his stomach.

Ah, he's talking about my problematic belly. I sook in some air.

Nigel begins snapping photos. The Frisbee-sized li
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Alicia
I think I liked this book even more than "Living Biblically" because it was lots of little experiments instead of one long year of craziness. I think my favorite is the radical honesty. I think I practice this unintentionally sometimes and I totally believe in honesty when asked a question. I don't think I'll go as far as this guy does where he says that you should have no FILTER between what you think and what you say.

As Eric D. Snider says, just because something happens, doesn't mean you hav
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Kelly Hager
I cannot tell you just how much I love him. He's so incredibly funny and this was just as good as his other two (The Know-It-All, about reading the entire encyclopedia for fun, and The Year of Living Biblically, where he spent a year following all Biblical commands).

In this one, he does several little social experiments--he outsources his life to India, for example. (His "assistants" order Christmas presents, talk to his wife and relatives for him and once read a story to his son.)

My favorite i
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Turi
A.J. Jacobs's two previous books, The Year of Living Biblically One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible and The Know-It-All One Man's Humble Quest To Become The Smartest Person In The World fall into a category I really like - the "guy-takes-a-year-off-to-do-something" (it's usually a male, for some reason. Women must be too smart to do this stuff.) Whether it's making no trash, trying to qualify for the Olympics, or tracing Odysseus's voyage, I find this stuff fascin ...more
Kristel
I don't say this to say that this is a bad book, because it's not, but this is my least favourite of AJ Jacobs' books. A lot of the experiments in this book are interesting, but they don't collectively or individually hold a candle to any of his other books. Some people are good at essays, some people are better at long form: I think Jacobs might be the latter. (That said, I'm not sure most of the ideas in here would make for full-length books, even if he had taken on the experiments for longer ...more
Michelle
Life must surely never be boring in the Jacobs household. The author chronicles various month-long experiments he has undertaken to gain greater understanding of a given topic or philosophy of life. Since he's the guy who spent a year reading the Encyclopedia Britannica and another year living biblically in as literal a sense as he could manage this installment should be no surprise.

His style is as informative, thoughtful, and humorous as in his previous works. Since these experiments are so mu
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KDNH
AJ Jacobs still reigns as my favorite author. This book is full of month long experiments, similar to his experimental Year of Living Biblically, which is still unmatched as my favorite book.

There are a variety of experiments in this book, my favorite one being the month he outsourced his life to a team in India. Brilliant. And funny. Although I've never read something AJ wrote that I didn't laugh out loud. And frequently call someone to say "This is hilarious, let me read you this part"

He is c
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Liza Gilbert
Never let it be said that I don't love the work of A.J. Jacobs.

What I will say is that Jacobs, who does neuroses like Microsoft does updates, works better on a grand scale. A collection of vignettes simply highlights the obsessive compulsive side and leaves much of the self-deprecating humor behind.

When Jacobs has a large-scale project to work on, he more frequently finds the odd corners that need to be explored; in a collection of stories, he doesn't really have the motivation to find them.

Also
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Alec
A.J. Jacob's compilation of essays published as The Guinea Pig Diaries is a funny, disruptive (ask my wife), and entertaining read. Each essay represents a period of time (usually a month) where the author takes on the challenge of living his life in a different paradigm. That change may be to be radically honest (complete and total honesty, no filter), outsourcing his life, or unitasking rather than multi-tasking. Each essay is about 20 pages long and written in a free-flowing narrative style t ...more
Carrie
A.J. Jacobs has one of the best jobs in the world. An editor at Esquire magazine, the man writes and edits essays on pop culture and social experiments. This book is a collection of articles (with follow-up notes) written over the course of a year for Esquire. He spends about a month on each, trying out various approaches to life. These approaches include living in accordance with George Washington's code of conduct (don't touch your genitals in front of people), outsourcing his life to India (a ...more
Ainsley
The Guinea Pig Diaries is like a beach read for the NPR set. It's an occasionally laugh-out-loud, thoughtful collection of AJ Jacobs' experiment-turned-essays, some of which I had previously read elsewhere.

AJ Jacobs' The Year of Living Biblically was one of my first, and still favorite, experiences with immersion/stunt journalism. The Guinea Pig Diaries is a different type of book; here, AJ plays with multiple ideas rather than diving deeply into one. But the results are funny and sometimes tho
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Kathleen
I really like A. J. Jacobs's style of immersing himself in a project to write about it completely, so a book where he tackles a number of these experiments is wonderful. Exploring ideas from Radical Honesty, to overseas outsourcing, to Washingtonian civility, Jacobs gives his unique perspective to aspects of modern, and not-so-modern, life. Clearly, the best chapter in the book is when he experiments with being an ideal husband. His wife deserved this in ways that people who have not read The Ye ...more
Laura
I'm glad I became familiar with Mr. Jacob's work through mental floss, and not through Esquire, if these essays are any indication. In Mental Floss, he had brief moments, enough for me to catch glimpses of his writing style (charmingly self-effacing, clever with words and switches in writing style), enough to get me interested in reading his previous two books, in which he had enough space to explore his topics. These essays, collected from previous material with added codas that give a much nee ...more
Brian
I've read Mr Jacobs two previous books. They are definitely enjoyable... basically mind candy with a few vitamins tucked in. What I mean by that is he always includes some interesting nuggets of information, like in this book, I loved the appendix that described George Washington's personal rules of behavior. However, there isn't much depth to be had.

I was disappointed in his attempt at leading a rational lifestyle, which was one of the reasons I bought this book. I think the best chapter was th
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Lada
I had asked the Goodreads ether: " I'd like to read something life-affirming and fun. Maybe something like a Bill Bryson travel book or something else that makes one delight in the strangeness and wonderfulness of people and life." Kind strangers gave me recommendations, including this one. The writing is witty throughout, and some of the experiments are interesting.
Celeste
I love The Know-It All, but since his first book I've been disappointed with Jacobs. Maybe I'm just tired of the shenanigans, but I also think he's much less likeable in this collection of essays. The only section I really enjoyed was the one where he plays servant to his wife. Still, it's the last chapter of the book and it feels purposefully placed so the reader will somehow forgive all the abuse Jacobs dishes out to his wife throughout the book. Overall, the book feels contrived and formulaic ...more
Lee Anne
I almost didn't want to read this. I fear that A.J. Jacobs has gone to the well one too many times, his schtick has become predictable. I don't want him to become the Gregory Maguire of non-fiction/humor writing, with each subsequent release a less skilled twist on his original premise. But these essays (previously published in Esquire, at least some of them) still have laugh-out-loud funny moments, and some of the ideas are "cute" (how's that for damning with faint praise). Actually, if you've ...more
Monica Fastenau
In The Guinea Pig Diaries, A.J. Jacobs describes several “experiments” he has done with his life, generally in terms of his own behavior. Each experiment lasts (usually) about a month, and some are more formal than others. He experiments with portraying a beautiful woman on a dating site (on behalf of his babysitter), following George Washington’s rules of conduct, practicing Radical Honesty, and attending the Academy Awards as a look-alike stand in for a movie star. My favorite experiments in t ...more
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A.J. Jacobs is a New York Times bestselling author, Esquire editor and human guinea pig.

Among Jacobs’ life experiments:
--The Know-It-All. The bestselling memoir of the year he spent reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica in a quest to become the smartest person in the world.
--The Year of Living Biblically. The bestseller about his life as the ultimate biblical man. He followed every rule of th
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More about A.J. Jacobs...
The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection Fractured Fairy Tales Esquire Presents: What It Feels Like

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“Plus, in one of his e-mails, the guy said he didn't like pancakes. What kind of asshole doesn't like pancakes? ” 49 likes
“Why should we always try to be true to our natural selves? What if our natural selves are assholes? Stalin was true to himself” 2 likes
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