Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Guinea Pig Diaries: My life as an experiment by A.J. Jacobs

Book Summary (from the book)

One man. Nine extraordinary quests. Bestselling author and human guinea pig A.J. Jacobs puts his life to the test and reports back on the surprising and entertaining results, Learn what it's like to go undercover as a woman. And impersonate a movie star. And say whatever is on your mind (as in, no filter, ever). And outsource every part of your life to India -including reading your kids bedtime stories. Plus several other life-altering experiments- one of which involves public nudity.

Filled with humor and wisdom, The Guinea Pig Diaries will change the way you think everything -from love to work, from national politics to breakfast cereal.

My Review

If you have been following me for a while, you already know I'm a Jacobs fan. So far I have enjoyed all of his books. They are non-fiction light entertainment with a little bit of reflections here and there. Having read The Know-it-All, The Year of Living Biblically and most recently Drop Dead Healthy, it just seemed natural to read this one. Plus there was an article on complaining about a certain section and that sparked my curiosity. Plus I wanted a light non-fiction book for the Read-a-Thon

In the book, as it was mentioned on the summary, Jacobs attempts different tasks, all of them presented in small chapters with a conclusion at the end of each one of them. Already in the introduction I found a very important piece of advice: 

       You have to be interested on the topic. That's the rule number one. If you aren't passionate, it shows.

It seems pretty simple doesn't it? But how often do we embark in a task that we just have to do. That's what makes it harder. I think that's why I enjoy his books so much, because he is always interested on what he is doing, and it shows.
I have to say, I didn't learn as much with this book as I did with the others, but I think is mostly because this is not about learning new things about a subject, but learning how someone reacts when in different positions or situations. Learning that maybe being 100% honest is not necessarily as good as it sounds; or learning that maybe you shouldn't' t listen to someone's advice just because they are older (Jacobs took anti-balding advice from his mother, that was a funny passage).

And something he never fails to give me is funny similes:

         First impressions are like South American dictators: overly powerful and unreliable.

I would say ANY dictator is like that, but I have to admit the comparison is just perfect to the point of make me smile just to think about it.
Now, as for the Jezebel article...I really enjoy that website, but sometimes I think they overreact. I agree that maybe the phrasing of the sentence is not the best: 

         Maybe that's why women do more housework. They're better at it. They were born with the tidiness gene.

But technically he is not wrong at saying that we are better suited to organize stuff, and that's just because the woman brain's connections between hemispheres. Which is also why we are better at expressing emotions. Also, we see colors better since our eyes recognize differences in hue the same time, he is not saying that a man cannot cook or clean up, or at least I didn't read it that way. For someone to be better at something it implies that someone else is good, but not as much.

Anyway, for certainly entertaining me and giving exactly what I was expecting from it, this book gets 5 mushrooms!

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