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My Life as an Experiment [Kindle Edition]

A. J. Jacobs
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $9.73
You Save: $5.27 (35%)
Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc


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Book Description

One man. Ten extraordinary quests.

Bestselling author and human guinea pig A. J. Jacobs puts his life to the test and reports on the surprising and entertaining results. He goes undercover as a woman, lives by George Washington’s moral code, and impersonates a movie star. He practices "radical honesty," brushes his teeth with the world’s most rational toothpaste, and outsources every part of his life to India—including reading bedtime stories to his kids.

And in a new adventure, Jacobs undergoes scientific testing to determine how he can put his wife through these and other life-altering experiments—one of which involves public nudity.

Filled with humor and wisdom, My Life as an Experiment will immerse you in eye-opening situations and change the way you think about the big issues of our time—from love and work to national politics and breakfast cereal.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In these outrageous and thought-provoking vignettes, Jacobs uses his own life to explore a host of social and personal issues: he outsources every aspect of his life to a team in Bangalore, India; he practices Radical Honesty and attempts to speak nothing but the truth for a month; to understand fame, he poses as a celebrity at the Academy Awards; he submits to his wife's every whim. While the audiobook—which is wholly enjoyable—may have been significantly stronger if professionally narrated, Jacobs's reading is true to his text, and there's something undeniably appealing about listening to the author describe the bizarre situations into which he again and again chooses to place himself. A Simon & Schuster hardcover (Reviews, July 6). (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"The virtuoso of this self-as-guinea pig genre."

--Brad Tuttle, Time

Product Details

  • File Size: 1784 KB
  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (September 8, 2009)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002LZTI6Y
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #261,151 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
60 of 65 people found the following review helpful
In the familiar style that he perfected in "The Know It All" and "The Year of Living Biblically", Jacobs takes us through his life as a series of "experiments", from outsourcing to India such daily routines as reading bedtime stories to his young children to trying to live according to the 110 "Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour" that George Washington formulated for himself as a young man. In the chapter "The Truth About Nakedness" Jacobs shares with us the full range of emotions he experienced while posing nude for a photo shoot for Esquire Magazine (his employer) in order to induce Mary Louise Parker to similarly pose (the book includes only a photo of the writer).
And his effort to become a disciplined "unitasker" by (among other matters) reciting out loud (seemingly to himself) his shopping list while in the supermarket, and the reactions of bystanding shoppers, was among the many moments of droll humor in the book.
Perhaps my personal favorite of the Jacobs experiments was "The Rationality Project", his effort to identify as rationally as possible, the "right" toothpaste from among the 40 or so on the shelf. To do so, Jacobs explains the need to remove from the decision making process the "Halo effect", the "Availability Fallacy", "Confirmation Bias", the "Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy" and other of the "irrational biases and Darwinian anachronisms" that influence all of us in making the most mundane of our choices.
And once again it is his wife Julie who, in her long-suffering style, provides the necessary dose of reality to bring his over-the-top eccentricities back down to earth.
Fans of A. J. Jacobs will once again be amply rewarded.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A.J. Jacobs is the thinking person's Walter Mitty September 14, 2009
A.J. Jacobs is the thinking person's Walter Mitty. Except instead of physically demanding challenges --- with perhaps one exception --- he deals in the cerebral. The editor-at-large for Esquire, who lived the examined life in THE YEAR OF LIVING BIBLICALLY and read every entry in the Encyclopædia Britannica in THE KNOW-IT-ALL, collects several shorter but similarly thought-provoking pieces in THE GUINEA PIG DIARIES, where he seems too humble even to refer to himself in that regard.

Who among us hasn't wished to just dump all the minutia of everyday life into someone else's lap? Jacobs accomplishes this in his essay, "My Outsourced Life," starting off with little things, like shopping, and escalating to conducting arguments with his long-suffering wife, Julie, who deserves major props for putting up with all of these schemes. (By the way, she finally gets a measure of recompense as hubby caters to her every wish for a month in "Whipped.")

Some of Jacobs's experiments border on the dangerous, as when he resolves to spend a month being radically honest ("I Think You're Fat") or pretends to be a movie personality, crashing the Oscar Awards ("240 Minutes of Fame"). While published under the general category of humor, THE GUINEA PIG DIARIES could also be considered a philosophical treatise. In "The Rationality Project," Jacobs channels Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner of FREAKONOMICS fame when he deconstructs several behavioral theories to prove their irrationalities.

Some of the pieces seem to contradict each other. The book leads off with Jacobs masquerading as a beautiful woman as he attempts to play an online Cyrano for the family's lovely nanny.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars funny, not as good as his other two books September 30, 2009
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As another reviewer pointed out, many of the essays in this collection have already been published, so if you are a die-hard A.J. Jacobs follower you might already have seen them. That being said, I hadn't read them and was, for the most part, very happy with discovering them for the first time. I love Mr. Jacobs writing style, witty, a bit self-depricating yet letting a little intelligence shine through as well. One of my favorite things about all of his 'experiments' is that he comes away from the experience having learned something, not just a little factual tidbit but some sort of life lesson he shares with the reader, about himself or thoughts on life in general. My one complaint with this collection is that a couple of the essays have a book-reportish quality to them, in that too many articles/other sources are quoted and the material seems to just parrot back what others have already said. Still definitely worth checking out though I would recommend reading his other two, full-length books to get a true appreciation of this author!
** on a Kindle note, the pictures are not at all clear so that was disappointing but certainly not a deal breaker
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pick & Choose Chapters, Laugh-Out-Loud Funny March 20, 2010
By Kalynne
I hadn't read anything by AJ Jacobs before, although my stepmom gave me his "Year of Living Biblically" and it's been sitting on my bookshelf for 3 months waiting for me to get to it. Got to this one first for some reason. Guess this is a "summary" book of all his prior life experiments. He's pretty funny, and has some good ideas, and one assumes his wife must be just as crazy as he is to put up with him through it all. I must admit I skipped the Rationality and George Washington chapters; I started reading them and they just didn't seem that interesting; plus my library due date was rapidly approaching and I had to pick and choose. I liked the parts I did read, even laughed out loud at many of them. Have to admit the Outsourcing issue seemed like it was just as much work to explain everything to them and have them do it than if he just did it himself, but it was kitchy enough to hold my attention. I really liked the Radical Honesty chapter, wish I could really do that in my everyday life and just get away from the games, especially with family and coworkers. And guess what - liked it good enough to start reading Year of Living Biblically, it has migrated from my bookshelf to my nightstand for bedtime reading. If they make a movie out of Jacob's books, I think Steve Carrell should play him, it fits.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars ... of tea for reading but many people would likely enjoy
Not my cup of tea for reading but many people would likely enjoy it
Published 10 days ago by David C. Langley
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm Officially a fan
As a person who likes to do experiments on himself, this book really appealed to me. My wife, however, is not quite as lenient as Julie Jacobs. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Chris Pascale
3.0 out of 5 stars It's all right.
I'm beginning to wonder if the author is getting too geeked by the attention he receives and isn't focusing on his work. Read more
Published 6 months ago by TruxtonSpangler
4.0 out of 5 stars “One Man’s Humble Quest to Improve Himself” humorous, but, at times,...
Having read another of A.J. Jacobs’ books (The Know-It-All), I knew what I was in for when I decided to read this one, which is really a compilation of (almost) anecdotes about the... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Julee Rudolf
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book...Recommended to friends and family
I liked this book...Jacobs really knows how to write to be both understood and funny. I would read more by this author
Published 9 months ago by Jessica
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny Prophet
Funny, prophetic, informative (author does significant research) and did I say funny. Jacobs writes smoothly as if a brother in the room telling good stories.
Published 9 months ago by H. Ellis
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, fun insights
After enjoying Jacobs' last three books I had to read this one. I wasn't disappointed. While not as funny as The Know-It-All it definitely has its moments of hilarity and perhaps... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Brad Teare
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
I love the author and the way he looks at things and explains them...a very easy humorous read. The seller shipped very quickly and the book was in Great condition for a used book. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Deborah A Palmer
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, somewhat humorous
The premise of the book is funnier than the actual reality of it. Somewhere in the book the author mentions he is a relative of Cass Sunstein and therein lies the rub; there just... Read more
Published 11 months ago by T..S. O'Neil
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!
I love A. J. Jacobs' writing and this book was a delight. Each chapter describes a different attempt to "perfect" himself. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Linda A. Lemond
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More About the Author

A.J. Jacobs is the editor of What It Feels Like and the author of The Two Kings: Jesus and Elvis and America Off-Line. He is the senior editor of Esquire and has written for The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, Glamour, New York magazine, New York Observer, and other publications.


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