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The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World (Perigee Book.) Paperback – September 7, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The underlying message of Guillebeau's book, based on his popular blog, is that "You don't have to live your life the way other people expect you to." Those who are open-minded, ready to challenge the status-quo, hard-working, and personally responsible can lead lives of rare authenticity through radical goal-setting, the author counsels, rewriting motivational standards in edgier prose: "The pathway to world domination, or whatever it is you want to do, begins with clearly understanding what you want to get out of life." Although directed at readers of all ages, his message is likely to appeal most to those without dependents. Although he believes that "competence is your security," many readers may feel a need for more of a safety net than that, such as a retirement plan. The ideas presented here are interesting, the advice grounded in logic and common sense, and, ironically, the outlook based in the same outside-the-box thinking that corporations are coming to adopt. The author challenges the status quo on college degrees, spending and saving, employment, collecting, and other issues, and coaches for success with a likeable, energetic voice. Peppered throughout with stories from his own life, Guillebeau's intriguing guide will motivate readers to listen to their impulses and realize their goals. (Sept.) (c)
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"Chris Guillebeau is the Indiana Jones of career experts. With his signature insight and humor, he tackles a critical question: How do we forge the life of our dreams in the face of overwhelming pressure to conform and avoid risks? In The Art of Non-Conformity, Chris adds a fresh perspective, drawn from his non-conforming adventures, to the lively debate. Those who follow Chris’s wildly popular blog will welcome these ideas in the more comprehensive book form—or give it as a gift to people who need it."
-Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project

"This is a direct, honest and truly scary book. I hope you have the guts to listen to what Chris has to say, and not become one of the monkeys he warns you about."
-Seth Godin, author of Linchpin

"The Art of Non-Conformity is like a lightning bolt to the head. Read it and your brain will spark and sizzle."
- Neil Pasricha, author of The Book of Awesome

"The conventional world order has blown up, much to the relief of students, cubicle dwellers, artists and activists who knew there was a better way. This brilliant book will wake you up and inspire you as it guides you to create a new life on your own terms, earn a great living and positively impact your corner of the world."
-Pamela Slim, author of Escape from Cubicle Nation

"Some people are content to report on others' success. Not Chris. He lives and breathes what others dare to dream, pushes the envelope of possibility, then shares his experiences, lessons, tools, ideas and strategies in a way that makes it all seem not just doable...but imperative. Go! Read this book now!"
- Jonathan Fields, author of Career Renegade

"Chris Guillebeau's delightfully rebellious book, The Art of Non- Conformity, teaches us how to live with gusto, on our own terms, and bring excitement into our lives. His encouraging and witty tone will inspire even the least courageous person to make bold steps. I love this book!"
-Barbara Sher, author of I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was

"Here's the way to find your own path, set your own rules and find your own purpose-and all with courage and grace, resilience and style."
-Michael Bungay Stanier, author of Do More Great Work

"Chris Guillebeau is an inspiration. Many people talk about living their dreams, and here's a young person who has actually done it- traveling around the world, giving back to the community, and getting paid to work on his own terms. The Art of Non-Conformity tackles the toughest problems associated with following your passion, and Chris supports the provided viewpoints with eye-opening statistics and anecdotes. He derives valuable life lessons from all of his experiences, and we have been privileged to go along for the ride."
-Alexandra Levit, author of New Job, New You

"Do not be surprised if you start noticing the guy next to you in the coffee shop or the woman seated across the aisle on your plane intently reading a battered copy of The Art of Non-Conformity. It's not just a book, after all, it's a beloved companion for those who know that life is an adventure worth exploring."
-Barbara J. Winter, author of Making a Living Without a Job

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Product Details

  • Series: Perigee Book.
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Perigee Books (September 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399536108
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399536106
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (322 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,085 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Chris Guillebeau is the New York Times bestselling author of The $100 Startup, The Happiness of Pursuit, and other books. Chris travels the world and writes for a small army of remarkable people at Follow his live updates from every country in the world at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

246 of 264 people found the following review helpful By Etsuko Tsukagoshi on September 3, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
The previous reviewers have done great job summarizing the contents, and I'd simply like to add that one of the key messages of this book is "Don't waste your precious time for doing something you don't love or enjoy". He values his time - "4,440 minutes to fill with things you like to do every week" (from Chapter 9: Radical Exclusion and the Quest for Abundance"). Naturally, he doesn't want to waste your time either, if this book is not for you. On page 7, he has a list of characteristics he wants his readers to have, which I recite here:

1.You Must Be Open to New Ideas
2.You Must Be Dissatisfied with Status Quo
3.You Must Be Willing to Take Personal Responsibility
4.You Must Be Willing to Work Hard

If you read these four points and think "I am not that person", then this book probably isn't for you. For the rest of us, it's a must read. I am a mother of two young children, have my own business and plan to relocate the entire family within a year so our kids can have the experience of growing up in a culture so different from the United States. I encounter lots of questions or sometimes objections when I tell others about my goal, such as "What about your husband's job?" "Why would you leave this (wonderful/comfortable) life here in the U.S.?" "Isn't it risky?" "Aren't you worried?" At times I do think that I might be "crazy" for wanting this, but reading his book gave me a renewed sense of commitment towards my goal. Lastly, it's an enjoyable read as his writing style is very personal, yet direct. He doesn't sugar-code the truth but he also backs up the truth with his own experience and examples. If you have read this review this far, I highly recommend you give it a try.
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466 of 523 people found the following review helpful By Pattie Thomas on September 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
I should start with a disclosure. I have a PhD in Sociology and I teach at a community college. These two facts color my reading of Chris Guillebeau's The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World in a way that other readers might not share. (They also have to do with why I was selected as one the people to receive this book free of charge from the author.)

I spend my days reading about and studying the gatekeepers and vampires that Guillebeau discusses and I am aware of even more devious and negative forces than he identifies. As a sociologist, however, one of the things that pleases me most about the book is the acknowledgment that other people exist. Far too many books in this genre forget the context in which one has to live an unconventional life. Guillebeau does not. He not only understands the need for dealing with those who would pressure a person to conform, but the need for a social structure to succeed (a "Small Army" he calls it) and the understanding of how one's actions affect the lives of others ("world domination"). We do not live our lives in a vacuum and Guillebeau's approach meets this context head on.

The thing that saddens me most about the book is that Guillebeau is not really that unconventional. Much of his advice and approach can be found in basic common sense and old fashioned understandings of how human beings should value their life, their time and other people. Most of what I read in this book I've heard before in other places. (Of course, I've lead a fairly unconventional life up to now and I share an influence in Barbara Sher, most notably her classic book, Wishcraft).

This saddens me because in our society this has become radical.
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451 of 527 people found the following review helpful By G. Hoffman on September 25, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have a hard time believing I read the same book as the rest of the reviewers.

The first problem I have with this book is that it's not three books. I suspect that if the book were split into three, the result would be much better. An autobiography of the author could be interesting. A book on how to travel well and on the cheap would be useful. A book on the art and virtue of non-conformity could be good. Instead, we get one book that fails at all three.

To me, the author came off as self-congratulatory if not condescending, and offered very little that is new or even interesting. The assumption is that if you're not living the way he is, you're doing something wrong. His chapter on building your "small army" could just have easily been titled "how to put people in categories so you can mooch off of them."

I'm a huge fan of bucking trends and approaching life with a non-conformist view. All assumptions should be challenged. All authority should be questioned. There are many paths to many different goals. However, that's not what this book is about, and there is very little here for someone that doesn't want to make money by taking advantage of a "small army".

The author advocates life-long learning (yay!) but thinks universities are pointless. (boo!) His main argument seems to be that since he was able to pass tests without learning anything, then the system is useless. Really? While it's true that the formal education system isn't for everyone, there are many thousands of people that have managed to take full advantage of the opportunities it presents. College isn't for everyone, and you have to try to use the system, not get around it, if you want to get anything out of it.
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