July 12th, 2011

kjpugs Book Review: The Guinea Pig Diaries

I know, I know. I don’t do a lot of book reviews. Or, um… any. Bookworm Wife, I am not.

Back in 2006 when I worked in New York City, I had about three hours of commuting time per day. Which many people would find miserable. However, I happily spent my entire bus ride (and sometimes my short trip on the 7) reading each day. Great books. Classics. Trendy books. Some favorites were I Am Charlotte Simmons and A Million Little Pieces. A non-favorite was some science-fiction romance I bought by accident. Once robots were introduced I put it down. And there was lots of Jodi Picoult…

Remember that time I drove 3 hours to meet Jodi? Cause I do.

Jodi is pretty much my favorite author ever. And I realize I need to break out of that safety box. Pretty much all I’ve read since that summer in NYC was Jodi. And I started one of hers recently that I just didn’t like. (I’m sorry, Jodi. It was Mercy. I promise I tried. I love the rest of them!) This led to me not reading much. So on a recent trip to Half Price Books for B, I wasn’t very optimistic while browsing on my own.

Behold! The humor section! I love Jen Lancaster but the only one they had, I had already read. (Mental note: get more of her books.) So I just sort of looked through for something I recognized. And then I saw The Year of Living Biblically, by A.J. Jacobs. I had seen it on Mental Floss, and loved the price, so decided to pick it up. I also purchased another by him, The Guinea Pig Diaries. I don’t know why, but I decided to read that one first.

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I am so glad I did! This was a delightful, easy read that I couldn’t put down. A.J. talks about his ADD tendencies (which is why his experiences with the Bible and the Encylopedia in past books worked out well) and I must agree- as an easily distracted reader, the varied chapters kept my attention with ease. Each chapter focuses on a challenge A.J. presented to himself, like outsourcing his life to India, following the Radical Honesty movement, and forgoing multi-tasking for uni-tasking. It makes my attempt at Lipsticktember look like child’s play.

While B and I sat in the living room, reading our books, I’m pretty sure he was jealous based off of my spontaneous chuckles. And I haven’t been able to get some of the points of this book out of my brain, in a more poignant way. A.J., along the way, finds some benefits to thinking rationally, posing nude, and always telling the truth (to name a few.) While it might not be great to live your life like that for more than a month, you can take something away from each chapter. Little nugget lessons. I love that.

My favorite chapter was What Would George Washington Do? A.J. spends a month living by George Washington’s “110 Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation.” This could have been a whole book for me. I loved learning about the original G-Dub through A.J.’s humor-laced lens. I wanted to know more about Dean Malissa, the Washington impersonator interpreter (sorry.) I wanted to go back to Washington’s times and risk the bad dentures for the ‘civility and decent behaviour.’

The only bad thing? A.J. seriously lost me with his borderline flirty comparison of Obama and Washington. It struck me as cloying and extremely biased. I actually put the book down for a second and gagged. Although I realize he wasn’t writing a textbook, I guess I just find politics to be a tricky subject. We all know I’m not a huge fan of the 44th president. But being a fan of his is fine. I just don’t like reading a non-political book with passages so one-sided and passionate about a politician that you question if they didn’t use that as foreplay post-publication.

But that’s just my pet peeve. A.J.’s a lib, and I still love him. The rest of the book more than made up for it.

I would recommend this book to anyone! It’s a fun summer read. You can easily split it up by chapter. It’s light, whimsical, and well-written. I’m currently working on The Year of Living Biblically… let’s hope I don’t overdose on A.J. Jacobs like I did on Jodi!

9 comments to kjpugs Book Review: The Guinea Pig Diaries

  • I may have to try this after my next book I have lined up. When I work weekends I have extra time to read there. I will recommend Tina Fey’s book if you just want to read some nonsense random fun…I cried laughing at the breast feeding chapter and I don’t have kids! Book reviews are great! Thanks.

  • I loooooove Jen Lancaster. If you like Jen you might like David Sedaris, same tongue in cheek, sassy, sarcastic tone.

  • Hannah

    So jealous. I am SO jealous that you get to read, cha know, for fun. I’ve been wanting to read the Year in the life of Jesus book for a while and so this one looks good, too. (Although, let it be known that I haven’t really liked a president for about 80 years, so I don’t like presidential turned god-worship in a book either.)

  • Twinner

    I just started a new book called Lone Survivor… which is about war and it’s kind of awesome. I need to force myself to read more. I used to do it all the time and lately, it gets the back burner. I miss it!!

  • I so hard HEART Jodi Picoult! And I Am Charlotte Simmons. We are besties.

  • Quinn

    Have you read the new Jodi Picoult? The one about the fight for frozen sperm? It is certainly one of her bests!!! That is the only book I have read in awhile as Saige makes it impossible! I am looking forward to reading the new Jennifer Wiener which I think came out yesterday!

  • Amy

    I have heard so many great things about AJ Jacobs. I will definitely have to pick up some of his books now!

    PS Thanks for the shout-out. I am actually posting a review today since I haven’t posted one in AGES. :)

  • Oooh, I’m going to have to check AJ Jacobs out! It seems like we have similar taste in authors – I love Picoult and Jen Lancaster, too!

  • I LOVED the AJ Jacobs book when I read it while I still worked at B&N! So, so funny and the chapter you mentioned about Washington was one of my favorites too!

    Also, sidebar: Jodi Piccoult is WAY younger than I expected her to be!

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