Book Review: The Guinea Pig Diaries

The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment

AJ Jacobs

Simon & Schuster

256 pages

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.

Other Reviews:

Ms Bookish

The Book Lady’s Blog

Books and Movies

Nose in a Book

Devourer of Books

I borrowed this book from my local library.

3 Responses

  1. I’m sorry you didn’t really like this one. I actually felt about The Year of Living Biblically the way you felt about this one, that it was sort of amusing, but also kind of flat and not that funny. For me his tone in this one harkened back more to The Know It All, which I appreciated.

  2. I love books like this, so I’m sure I’d enjoy this one.

  3. So funny that we both reviewed this book on almost the same day. I was disappointed in this one too … maybe not as much as you. I thought his previous books were so much better. It kind of felt like it was thrown together a little bit.

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