The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment

  • Review
By – August 24, 2011

The lat­est book from Esquire edi­tor and writer A.J. Jacobs enter­tains from start to fin­ish. Jacobs, the author of two pre­vi­ous books, The Know It All and The Year of Liv­ing Bib­li­cal­ly, con­tin­ues his lov­able antics in par­tic­i­pa­to­ry jour­nal­ism by lit­er­al­ly becom­ing the guinea pig for his own projects, which explore sub­jects that oth­ers might not. He spends two months say­ing what­ev­er is on his mind, as a dis­ci­ple of a move­ment called Rad­i­cal Hon­esty; he pos­es nude for a pho­to shoot; he even attempts to live by George Washington’s 110 Rules of Civil­i­ty and Decent Behav­ior’ for a month.

In per­haps the most inter­est­ing part of the book, he stands in for Noah Tay­lor, his celebri­ty dop­pel­ganger, at the Acad­e­my Awards, and suc­cess­ful­ly fools thou­sands of scream­ing fans. Each chap­ter ends with a coda that sums up what Jacobs learned, and more often than not, the read­er learns with him. By fol­low­ing him as he becomes the sub­ject of his own exper­i­ments, we see that Jacobs is not afraid to be him­self. His tongue-in-cheek writ­ing style and breezy voice make the book an easy and enjoy­able read. At one point, Jacobs puts it per­fect­ly by end­ing a chap­ter with I’m only human.” Read­ing The Guinea Pig Diaries proves just how much that state­ment applies to everyone. 

Nick Her­ron is a recent grad­u­ate of UC Berke­ley. He lives and writes in New York City.

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