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

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  9,396 ratings  ·  655 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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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  9,396 ratings  ·  655 reviews

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Mar 24, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2011
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
Feb 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Lewis Manalo
Sep 15, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Jan 05, 2015 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Nobody
Such rubbish. Sloppy boilerplate, cliched idealist phrases with no practical or actionable advice. College is a bunch of hoops to jump through and academic advisors are gatekeepers that are trying to hold you in place for 4+ years?? No, Chris, college is were you go to engage in intellectual conversations, where you learn to think critically and originally. Kudos to you for skipping classes and 'lifehacking' your way through your degree. Perhaps your book would contain a well-structured and orig ...more
Oct 24, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
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
Jan 05, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: business
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
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
Feb 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
For anyone and everyone; though not for the conformists. Actually yeah, even for the conformists. A person can change, right?

Full of great travel hack tips and insights into Chris's adventures. I learned a lot and am therefor picking up his next book - The $100 Start-Up - as soon as I finish typing this review.
Dec 18, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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:
Rosie Nguyễn
Feb 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
I didn't pay attention to Chris's books before as I read some of his blog posts and I didn't think they were good enough.

But I was surprised to see myself like this book of him. Choosing the life you want, being an autodidact, traveling around the world and similar ideas to live life to the fullest. Perhaps I'm living the same lifestyle, enjoying its high moments and bearing the critics. So I find the empathy.

Chris, not a hat tip, but a handshake.
May 17, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Jul 24, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.

Sep 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Sep 08, 2015 rated it did not like it
I'm sure many people will find this book inspiring, however I was not one of them. I really wanted to like the book but I found the author's concepts naive and cliched and I would consider him a person of weak character. He lost me when he quit his Fed Ex job because of a storm. Seriously, is giving one or two week's notice really that horrible? To me, the author comes across as selfish, which is pretty much in line with his entire philosophy of doing whatever you want, whenever and wherever you ...more
Sarah Hubbell
Jan 13, 2011 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 31, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Feb 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 30, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: game-theory
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
Oct 28, 2016 rated it it was ok
This book is an odd mishmash of New Age thinking, autobiography, classic quotes, and mediocre writing. (In the style of the author that last phrase would be "and as I think about it, it seems to me, the writing in this book is what some would call not that great." ) I think this would be particularly good for people in their 20s who still think they can change the world. (this would require changing human nature, and that is simply not going to happen.)

Another problem is this: I suspect you eith
Rob Warner
May 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While this book does present inevitable challenges to someone living below the poverty line with a certain amount of debt (practically everyone), it still was a very informative and very beneficial read. I may not be as freewheeling as Chris currently is, but thanks to the advice from his book, i feel very positive about the fact that there is every possibility I will get there, and much sooner than I thought I would.
Nathan Rose
Jan 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
"If everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you?"

This rhetorical question appears near the start of the book, as a way of introducing the overall philosophy it espouses - to think for yourself, rather than follow the herd.

Adults ask this question to young children to prevent them from succumbing to peer pressure - yet, as "The Art of Non-Conformity" points out, most adults are not very good at noticing their own herd-like behaviour. This is especially true when it comes to life's biggest and m
Jan 29, 2015 rated it it was ok
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.
Heidi The Reader
Chris Guillebeau challenges readers to make their life how they want it, starting now.

I didn't agree with everything in The Art of Non-Conformity but I thought that the underlying message was good. For example, Guillebeau has a fairly dismissive attitude about formal education. He admits that if you want to be a doctor or other highly trained professional then you're going to have to hit the books. Otherwise, he doesn't see much benefit from it. I can see both sides of that argument. I believe t
Jessica Evermore
Sep 05, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: change
First few chapters are nothing short of incredible. As a proud non-conformist myself, I loved the 'call to arms' the author gave. I even prematurely rated the book 4 stars.

Then I came to the part of the book where he decides that higher learning is a waste of time and everyone should blog instead. He repeated frequently his dismay that his thesis was only read by three people, whereas his online manifesto was read by a hundred thousand, as if somehow that 1) makes his time and effort more well s
Jan 19, 2011 rated it liked it
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
James Biskey
Mar 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Chung Chin
Jan 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
May 12, 2013 rated it liked it
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
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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. Chris also hosts Side Hustle School, a popular podcast that is downloaded ...more

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