Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment” as Want to Read:
The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  7,949 Ratings  ·  1,078 Reviews
For his first book, "The Know-It-All," A. J. Jacobs read the entire "Encyclopaedia 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 expe ...more
Hardcover, Large Print, 365 pages
Published December 1st 2009 by Thorndike Press (first published 2009)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Guinea Pig Diaries, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Guinea Pig Diaries

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Petra Eggs
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
Feb 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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: ), (3) tries Radical Honesty, (4
May 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
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
Sep 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had read another book by this author: "Drop Dead Healthy", and I thoroughly enjoyed it. So when I read a positive review by my GR friend Thomas Edmund, I decided to check it out. This guy cracks me up and when an author can provoke laughing out loud, he gets 4 stars regardless of the subject matter. This book is really funny but interesting at the same time. Jacobs has an unquenchable curiosity and the willingness and energy to pursue an idea to its ultimate end. For example, in the chapter on ...more
Sep 18, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Feb 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite
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
Sep 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Andreea Ursu-Listeveanu
A very interesting book about a man who experiments all kinds of situations that are not really in accordance with his lifestyle. For example, he outsources his daily tasks to a team in Bangalore and he goes til the point when he asks his agents to fight with his wife for him. Then, he tries to be extremely honest and obviously he offends people. Another experiment is the unitasking - as a way of eliminating multi tasking from his life. The last experiment and the one I liked best is the one whe ...more
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
Jun 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Honestly, I think this is Jacobs's weakest book, not on par with the others he's done. Some of his experiments were interesting and shed light on various struggles or situations, others seemed like he was just reaching for a new project to keep himself busy. And, sad though it is to say this of someone who is an editor, but this could really have used a heavier editorial hand. He mentions Project Rationality about 3 times before we get to the chapter in the book that actually details what that p ...more
Aug 01, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Poached from Christy. Good audiobook for walking the dog.
Benjamin Thomas
Jan 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, non-fiction
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
Jan 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Nov 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kelly Hager
May 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Susy Flory
Oct 20, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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.

Oct 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
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
Mar 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2012
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
Nov 23, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Brainiac: Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs
  • I Shudder and Other Reactions to Life, Death, and New Jersey
  • Don't Eat This Book
  • Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity
  • My Nest Isn't Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space: The Amazing Adventures of an Ordinary Woman
  • The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University
  • My Jesus Year: A Rabbi's Son Wanders the Bible Belt in Search of His Own Faith
  • Join Me
  • Will Storr vs. The Supernatural: One Man's Search for the Truth About Ghosts
  • Why You Shouldn't Eat Your Boogers and Other Useless or Gross Information About Your Body
  • American Shaolin: Flying Kicks, Buddhist Monks, and the Legend of Iron Crotch: An Odyssey in the New China
  • Mental Floss: Cocktail Party Cheat Sheets
  • Notes from the Underwire: Adventures from My Awkward and Lovely Life
  • Stick to Drawing Comics, Monkey Brain!
  • Proofs & Theories: Essays on Poetry
  • Not a Happy Camper: A Memoir
  • My Pet Virus: The True Story of a Rebel Without a Cure
  • No Biking in the House Without a Helmet
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
More about A.J. Jacobs...

Share This Book

“Plus, in one of his e-mails, the guy said he didn't like pancakes. What kind of asshole doesn't like pancakes? ” 45 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” 3 likes
More quotes…