For his first book, The Know-It-All, A. J. Jacobs read the entire Encyclop?
edia 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 yet. In his role as human guinea pig, Jacobs fearlessly takes on a series of life-altering challenges that provides readers with equal parts insight and humor. (And which drives A.J.'s patient wife, Julie, to the brink of insanity.)
Among the many adventures:
- He outsources his life. A.J. hires a team of people in Bangalore, India, to take care of everything in his life from answering his e-mails to arguing with his spouse.
- He spends a month practicing Radical Honesty -- a movement that encourages us to remove the filters between our brains and mouths. (To give you an idea of what happened, the name of the chapter is "I Think You're Fat.")
- He goes to the Academy Awards disguised as a movie star to understand the strange and warping effects of fame.
- He commits himself to ultimate rationality, using cutting-edge science to make the best decisions possible. It changes the way he makes choices big and small, from what to buy at the grocery store to how to talk to his kids. And his revelations will change how you make decisions, too.
- He attempts to follow George Washington's rules of life, uncovering surprising truths about leadership and politics in the twenty-first century. He also spends a lot of time bowing and doffing his hat.
- And then there's the month when he followed his wife's every whim -- foot massages, Kate Hudson movies, and all. Depending on your point of view, it's either the best or worst idea in the history of American marriage.
A mix of Bill Bryson, George Plimpton, and Malcolm Gladwell, A.J. explores the big issues of our time -- happiness, dating, morality, marriage -- by immersing himself in eye-opening situations. You'll be entertained by these stories -- some of which are new, some of which had their start in Esquire magazine. But you'll also learn to look at life in new ways.
The Guinea Pig Diaries is a book packed with both laughs and enlightenment -- and that's a promise we can make with Radical Honesty.
Having already read the Encyclopedia Britannica from cover-to-cover (The Know-It-All) and spent a year living by every rule in the Bible (The Year of Living Biblically), Jacobs, a kind of latter-day George Plimpton, tests our patience and our funny bones once again with his smart-aleck, off-the-wall and uproarious experiments in living. No cross-dresser he, Jacobs lives a vicarious life as a beautiful woman, the experiment growing out of his role in persuading his son's nanny, Michelle--a stunning beauty--to participate in an online dating service. He signs her up for the site, creates a profile for her, sifts through her suitors and co-writes her e-mails. Pretending to be Michelle, he learns not only the regret of rejection (having to let some guys down), but he also predictably discovers that there's a lot of deceit, boasting and creepiness in Internet dating. In another experiment, Jacobs outsources everything in his life to a company in India, from his research for articles to a complaint letter to American Airlines. This experiment worked so well that he continues to use this company every few weeks to make car rental reservations or to do research for him. Although a coda of reflection follows the tale of each experiment, they provide no clarity or wisdom about his experiences. Everybody plays the fool sometimes, and with this book, Jacobs seems to have made a career out of it. (Sept.)
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Simon & Schuster
September 07, 2009
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