Simon & Schuster
I have been a fan of AJ Jacobs since I read The Year of Living Biblically. I then read The Know-it-All, which was almost as good. So, you see, I had high hopes for The Guinea Pig Diaries . . .
Publisher’s Weekly describes The Guinea Pig Diaries as “experiments in living”. On a whole that sounds pretty interesting to me. And then I read the Table of Contents. “My Life as a Woman.” “I Think You’re Fat.” “What Would George Washington Do?” I was intrigued. I figured the book had to be a laugh riot.
I was immediately let down. The book opens with “My Life as a Beautiful Woman”. Which begins with a picture of Jacobs in woman’s clothing. Obviously I assumed that the “experiment” involved AJ Jacobs in drag. Unfortunately, it was much more demure than that. Jacobs basically ran his nanny’s web dating page on her behalf. So yed, he adopted the guise of being a woman but not in person. Where’s the fun in that?
There was no single essay or “experiment” that was bad. It was just mediocre. Most all of the essays had their moments where I was laughing aloud, but I can’t think of a single one that didn’t get boring at some point. I admit, I was moved by “Whipped” though. What girl doesn’t dream of having the man in her life cater to her every whim and wish. Of course, when I mentioned that chapter to my fiance, he scoffed at Jacobs and said the whole thing was “ridiculous”.
Another issue I had was the format of the book. It was very disjointed–there was little cohesiveness. Most of the “experiments” detailed in the book were from Jacobs’ work with Vanity Fair, meaning they were all stunts he pulled years ago for articles he was working on for the magazine. So it seemed to me like the idea of The Guinea Pig Diaries was a compilation of all the crazy, out-there stuff he did while at VF. Which could have been a great idea, but it just didn’t work for me.
I would recommend Jacobs as a wonderfully humerous author, although this isn’t the book where his talents are best displayed. If you haven’t read Jacobs, I would recommend reading either of his other two books as opposed to this one.