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The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  5,107 ratings  ·  426 reviews
If you've ever thought, "There must be more to life than this," "The Art of Non-Conformity" is for you.

Based on Chris Guillebeau's popular online manifesto "A Brief Guide to World Domination," "The Art of Non-Conformity" defies common assumptions about life and work while arming you with the tools to live differently. You'll discover how to live on your own terms by explor
ebook, 170 pages
Published September 1st 2010 by Perigee Books
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The Big Tiny by Dee  WilliamsThe Know-It-All by A.J. JacobsJab, Jab, Jab,  Right Hook by Gary VaynerchukA Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald MillerThe Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau
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5th out of 34 books — 5 voters
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365th out of 583 books — 421 voters

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I like the cover design and title, but that's about it.

The author is awfully smug as he looks back at his unconventional choices. He quit high school. He noticed he could get passing grades in community college without really trying so signed up for as many classes as he could. Now he proclaims that most of college is busywork and he didn't learn much of anything (not surprising given his strategy). He quit a FedEx job when he couldn't get there in a snowstorm. And finally he became depressed af
Lewis Manalo
I don't want to dissuade anyone from reading this book because it can be very inspiring; however, as one reads further into the book, it becomes apparent that this is mostly just a handbook on how to be the author.

Most of the support from Guillebeau's assertions come from his own experience or the experiences of other bloggers. Furthermore, he often fails to cite sources for statistics. Though the book is peppered with quotes (often without citing sources) from the likes of Einstein and Thoreau
I wouldn't recommend this book for those who really want to lead an unconventional life. In fact, I think it's more for rather conventional people who want to live just *slightly* more unconventionally, but retaining most of the conveniences and privileges that they're already accustomed to. Perhaps the book could be helpful in that context, though.

I'm not a fan of Chris Guillebeau's work, in general. If one truly is a non-conformist, I feel that one wouldn't need to write books blatantly procla
I love the first sentence of chapter one, “The purpose of this book is to transform your thinking about life and work.”

I’m ready for a change, I’ve been busting at the seams for months with an excess of energy and looking for a way to direct it effectively. This is the kind of book that will immediately appeal to you or not. If you’re completely happy with your life and not ripe for change, you’ll probably find all sorts of objections to the author’s message and many things to criticize about th
While I thought this was an interesting book, it didn't provide many new insights or helpful tips for me. Perhaps the life Chris Guillebeau lived is simply not the same as the life I hope to lead. Since I'm not looking to travel for the sake of travel or start a business or live a "location independent" life, most of the things he talks about in his book didn't really help me too much. I am looking to lead a life of passion by working with non-profits on access to justice, and human/legal rights ...more
Christopher Bergeron
I bought this book for the library and it was promptly checked out by one of my heavy readers. She started to read the book and before she was even through the introduction she was writing quotes from the book on her hand.

She was kind enough to leave the book with me for a bit and I burned through the book in short order. I too found myself taking down quote after quote from the book (mine going into my notebook). It was a book that both described his journey and gave inspiration and practical a
Round-the-world travel aficionado and blogger Chris Guillebeau has written a book that condenses a lot of the ideas presented on his blog. Though I received a free copy of the book (Thank you, Chris), I have mixed feelings about it.

If you're familiar with Chris's website and message of unconventional living (live the life you want, not the one you feel you're supposed to, and don't be afraid to pursue it in unconventional ways), I'd skip the first chapter. It was a turn-off for me for 3 reasons:
This is the worst book of its kind that I've ever read. It would take an entire book to say just how bad this book is. A few of his pieces of advice include "succeed at self-employment by any means necessary," which basically means do whatever to whoever, but don't ever work for The Man because he's an evil soul-sucking creep. Uh, really? I paid money for you to tell me that? Another gem is to do like he did, drop out of high school, have a high IQ, cheat your way through a college degree, and a ...more
Sarah Hubbell
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
There are essentially two premises here 1) If you don't want a corporate career or work for other people, a college degree is mostly irrelevant (this is largely true). 2) If you can provide ongoing value for a "small army" of 1000 hardcore fans who'll keep buying everything you do/sell, you can make a living from it.

Keep in mind that finding and keeping 1000 hardcore fans is incredibly hard and not easily reproducible! It requires more sustained determination than most people can muster.

Rob Warner
As someone who's adhered to rules for most of my life with a fervor rivaling Felix Unger's, I find someone who flouts the rules fascinating. While I find many of Guillebeau's choices too far out there, too impractical, or ridiculously absurd, my own choices haven't exactly dropped me in Xanadu. I guess I'm in the self-examination phase of life, and I appreciate the questions and challenges that this book brings.

The crux of the book, as I read it, is to do everything on purpose, because you choos
I liked this book and I agree with many of the author's principles, but as a dedicated student I have to object to his classification of advanced education as being easily replicated by independent efforts. I am a firm believer that you get out what you put in -- if Chris Guillebeau had put more effort into connecting with his college teachers and colleagues instead of speeding through as quickly as possible, I think he would have found it very rewarding.

There are definitely people who learn bet
The subtitle of this book is “set your own rules, live the life you want and change the world.” So, you may be surprised to learn that such a all-encompassing subject is covered in just 227 pages. Guillebeau has never really had a “proper” job, he has worked quite a few jobs that sound pretty terrible, volunteered in Africa for four years, and then become an entrepreneur. He spends quite a lot of time convincing the reader about the advantages of becoming an entrepreneur, talking about his own t ...more
Chung Chin
It is a good jolt for people who have chosen to live routinely and accepted status quo as the norm. Not that living routinely or accepting status quo is anything bad, but if you have been living routinely and accepting status quo as a compromise and you are not happy about it, then there is definitely something wrong. This book offers you some inspiration and motivate you to live your life, not the way people expect you to, but the way you would want it to.

One of the more repeated phrases in the
James Biskey
Chris is a guy who lived a conventional life, then realized he wanted to live differently and made it happen. In this book, he questions many assumptions we unconsciously hold about education, credibility, and influence, and gives workable alternatives that have worked for him in his own life. The chapter that spoke to me the most was his suggestion for a low-cost alternative to graduate school that includes rigorous independent study, global travel, work experience, networking opportunities and ...more
I was quite torn about this book. I was delighted when it turned up, and jumped into it for inspiration, as I am in the process of setting out to build my own online business - I too wish to live an unconventional life and work for myself while spending a large portion of my life travelling. I liked much of the book, I admire Chris' principles and I really admire everything that he has achieved in his life so far. Having finished reading it, I am in the process of working back through it and wri ...more
I read this book because Chris is a Portland blogger whose blog I've read in the past. Also, some bloggers I met are huge fans of his, bordering on acolytes.

I've read enough books that are similar and didn't find anything new here. The book seemed to lack a sense of rigor, as if the author was just talking off the top of his head. Interestingly, the people that are most inspired by Guillebeau are the ones that have started their own blogs with valueless drivel, thinking they deserve credit just
I was attracted to this book by the title. I have always considered myself a non conformist so I was sure this would appeal to me. I was very disappointed with this book. Guillebeau has more or less wrote a book about himself and his quest to visit every country in the world and then to appear on Oprah. He describes at great length how lessons of life are more important than school but continually mentions his masters degree and failed attempt at getting a doctorate. I think he dropped out of hi ...more
Hmmm. This book could have been fantastic. Sadly, it was closer to mediocre. There is a lot of good information in it, and I am taking the message to heart. But it was not presented well, and so I can’t really recommend it to others. The author does have a website, however, which might be better (I haven’t checked it out yet).

The book takes quite a while to get going. The entire first chapter felt like filler. I think much of the information could have been shared in two or three pages, not 19.
I wish I could afford to buy a copy of this book for everyone I know...and a year of therapy to go with it for those who aren't ready for the messages. Mad love to Leah & Mark Tioxon for gifting it to me at the graduation from their intern program.
Ten years ago, at 16 years old, I discovered I wanted to travel more than anything in the world. Throughout the years I considered a trip to Ireland; I tried to raise money to travel with a group to visit Morocco; I looked into staying with a host family in Japan; and I mapped out an entire backpacking route through England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Despite all of that, there is nary a stamp in my passport. (I've been to Mexico and several Caribbean countries, but this was before passports ...more
Guillebeau is quick to tell you his expectations for his readers; that you be open-minded and willing to challenge authority, that sort of thing. But you have to read 40 pages in before he adds what he thinks is an unlikely group to even lay their hands on his book, the poor, as if to say that simply being an American omits you from that category. He writes "I realize that there are plenty of people out there who are not able to travel or make the same choices I can. Having lived in the poorest ...more
Chris Guillebeau offers advice that I will surely incorporate into my life. At times, however, he made it seem as if the only way to live a meaningful life was to accomplish extraordinary goals. Perhaps he has not completely convinced me to live his version of a life of non-conformity. For cannot average goals also provide meaning for an individual that is truly dedicated? I think the take-home message of this book is to not feel obligated to accomplish miraculous feats for the sake of recogniti ...more
The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World is like is like an energizing shot in the arm for those of us who’ve become complacent yet “dissatisfied with the status quo”—primarily college, 9-5’s, debt accumulation, and waiting to retire before enjoying life. For a quick overview, check out the hilarious list in chapter one titled, “11 Ways To Be Unremarkably Average.” You probably won’t be surprised to discover that you may identify with more than ...more
"Have you ever heard that it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission? This is completely true, but there's even more good news: there are very few things you need to ask forgiveness or permission for." -p. 18

I follow Chris's blog and get a lot of inspiration from it. This book is basically the blog distilled and put into an exhortation/how-to manual. It's an engaging, quick read, and increased my desire to break out of my ordinary life and be my own boss. In fact, it's taking me way longer t
Because this book is short and a fast read, I recommend it if you have a free afternoon. If you already read Chris' blog, you are unlikely to learn anything new. His message can be boiled down to this: don't follow the rules in life; find your own alternative way of doing things and lead a remarkable life.

It's a great message, but it's unfortunate that the entire book is made up of his own personal experiences and those of others who are very similar to him. I feel I have a clear understanding n
Oh yeah! I really liked this book because it helps the reader identify areas where we are being reinforced to conform to processes, even broken processes. For instance, as children we are encouraged to dress "normal" and not stand out. By the time we are adults, we don't want to stand out for the fear we will be made fun of, fired from the job, etc.

He uses the example that Gary Hamel wrote about the study of the monkey's that many business leaders are writing about (I've come across it in about
Guillebeau himself clearly states that this book isn't for everyone. If you're someone unwilling to take risks or chances then it's certainly not worth your time.

But, if you're someone who feels that your life is lacking and you're searching for ways to find more fulfillment, less "constraint", more autonomy, then it's a good book to read.

Guillebeau gives the reader the basic foundation of how you can possibly start making those things happen in your life. He describes ways to become an entrapr
It was fine as such things go. And there are a few points -- about decluttering your life and such -- that make it worthwhile. But it is very much part of the 37Signals/Seth Godin/Get Rich Slowly/4-hour work week/Lifehacker/GTD milieu and so if you are familiar with that type of thing, you won't find much of value here and if you aren't then you probably won't be interested in it the first place.

The one thing I find odd is that there's this elision of the working class. It's like, your part of t
Even at half-way through this one, I can tell that the author is spending more time doting on himself than providing useful advice to the reader. I think part of the problem is that he doesn't have a very specific audience in mind. He includes a tangent about he dropped out of high school, took 40 college credits for a couple of semesters by over enrolling at multiple community colleges, and graduated early. That feels like a representative example of his attempt at bravado, while not providing ...more
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Chris Guillebeau is the New York Times bestselling author of The $100 Startup and other books. During a lifetime of self-employment, he visited every country in the world (193 in total) before his 35th birthday. Every summer in Portland, Oregon he hosts the World Domination Summit, a gathering of creative, remarkable people. Connect with Chris on Twitter, on his blog, or at your choice of worldwid ...more
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The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life 279 Days to Overnight Success: An Unconventional Journey to Full-Time Writing A Brief Guide to World Domination The Tower

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