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235 of 253 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Don't waste your time"
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")...
Published on September 3, 2010 by Etsuko Tsukagoshi

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428 of 502 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Really?
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...
Published on September 25, 2010 by G. Hoffman


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235 of 253 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Don't waste your time", September 3, 2010
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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455 of 512 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World, September 7, 2010
This review is from: The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World (Perigee Book.) (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. It is radical now for a young person to ask themselves questions about their values, their talents, their desires, their legacy. It is radical to live apart from a centralized social and economic structure that is designed to encourage conformity and consumption. It is radical to question and create. It is radical to explore and discover.

Guillebeau is correct. It is radical and it will be met with resistance.

At community college I meet adult students of all ages who often are in school as an effort to change their lives. Unlike university settings, many of these students have already experienced some of their life and have already experienced disappointments. They have children. They have jobs. They struggle.

And as a sociology professor I have more bad news. I have to tell them that it is not the truth that education and a degree are magic entry into the middle class. I have to tell them that they are competing with other workers who have head starts on them because of social class structures and that the data connecting "a good education" with "a good paying job" is spurious because young people from middle and upper-middle class families with economic and social connections already in place get educations and degrees too, and then rely upon their parent's business connections to find the good paying job. In other words, the conventional life that Guillebeau so eloquently describes is often an illusion, available only to the few and the game is rigged in favor of that few.

But I remind them that there is good news in sociology as well. The good news is that the world in which we live is of our own making collectively. Most of what we perceive to be set in stone is merely the sum total of decisions made by individuals who are accepting scripts about life that can be questioned. In the questioning there is power. There is power to resist, power to drop out, power to change, power to be something different. The answers do lie in the unconventional and the nonconformity.

This book will not make you rich in the conventional sense. It is not a "10-easy steps" to life satisfaction. It is an honest account of a life well lived with some excellent pointers on how to get started living such a life. But in the end we must all live our lives as we choose within the context of everyone else living their lives as they choose.

So I am grateful for this book as a teacher and as a fellow traveler. It is a primer that I think anyone who is considering the question "What do I do?" should read. It is a book that I will be recommending a lot, as I have Guillebeau's website since finding it last year. It is a book that has helped me in making some decisions about my own path. It is a book that is needed in this time and this place.

--Pattie Thomas, Ph.D.
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428 of 502 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Really?, September 25, 2010
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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.

There are many paths through life, and many ways to embrace non-conformity. The dreaded cubicle life can be one of soul-sucking boredom, or you can make a lot of friends, litter the office with desktop nerf dart cannons, all while working towards a common goal. Many paths to the same goal.

The worst part is the that book starts off so promising. The first couple of chapters are a brilliantly motivational introduction. Too bad the book never gets around to delivering.
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56 of 63 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your money on this one...., December 7, 2010
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This review is from: The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World (Perigee Book.) (Paperback)
Here's yet another book written to cash in on the "I hate my life and would change if only I knew what to do" craze. This book has been written at least 20 times already. Save your money; nothing new here. I started skimming about half-way through. Has anyone noticed that from psychologists to gurus to career advisers, the real money seems to be in telling people how to break out of "the mold" rather than in actually breaking out of the mold? Or is it just me?
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68 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and Empowering, September 2, 2010
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Chris Guillebeau rocked the online world with his manifesto, "A Brief Gude to World Domination." This book is both useful and thought-provoking, providing both personal anecdotes and helpful suggestions for anyone who's not satisfied living life in the way everyone says you need to.

The book is divided into three sections. Part 1, The Remarkable Life, delves into setting one's own terms for living. This includes fear management and finding ways to "fight authority" without falling into the traps of ineffective sign-holding or getting beat up and arrested for smashing windows and burning down buildings. Part 2, Reclaiming Work, gives various strategies for making one's way without being permanently stuck in a cubicle doing mind-numbing work that is useless and meaningless. Part 3, The Power of Convergence, discusses finding one's legacy work and letting go of things which no longer serve you, be they excessive e-mails, clutter in your home or tasks you don't want or need to be doing.

Unlike other books of its kind, the Art of Non-Conformity features both description and prescription, offering useful suggestions and examples to help pave the way without being preachy. It is refreshingly idealistic without smacking of fantasy. It has an international perspective, and draws on inspiration of many people doing some great work around the world.

As a former wage slave turned freelance writer, the Art of Non-Conformity gave me many things to ponder, and I've been reflecting on changes I need to make both in my daily activities and long-term vision. I was also left with a list of useful resources and interesting people to look up. An added bonus is some great information on what Guillebeau terms "travel hacking," which gave me some great ideas for an upcoming trip of mine.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected, but very good nonetheless, December 17, 2010
This review is from: The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World (Perigee Book.) (Paperback)
This book isn't about any radical sort of nonconformity in terms of metaphysical worldview, political orientation, or lifestyle. Instead, it's more about being self-employed, growing personally, appreciating the world's diversity, spending time in a fulfilling way, and making a social contribution. In other words, fairly standard stuff, although particularly applicable to people getting ready to make significant changes in their lives.

Doing all of these things surely requires personal qualities, but it also requires favorable circumstances such as good health, freedom from having to care for others who are highly dependent on you, ability to handle the physical rigors of travel, and having the opportunities associated with being based in a relatively affluent and secure country. On the one hand, I'm tempted to be critical of this book because the author has these favorable circumstances (in his early thirties, healthy, married but no kids, etc.), and I sometimes got the sense that, due to not having many adult years under his belt, he doesn't fully appreciate the extent to which others are held back by lacking one or more of these elements. On the other hand, I found that he's still able to offer a lot of useful insights and advice, some of which were new to me. The following is my summary of the key points I found most noteworthy:

(1) The central message of the book, which warrants repetition, is: "You don't have to live your life the way other people expect you to."

(2) Life planning is about designing the perfect day, as well as looking at the longer term. In other words, find a balance between structuring your time and allowing for spontaneity, and remember that both the journey and goals are comparably important. Related to this, "... we tend to overestimate what we can complete in a single day, and underestimate what we can complete over longer periods of time."

(3) To make life changes, you have to be open to new ideas, dissatisfied with the status quo, willing to question authority, willing to be unorthodox, able to ignore naysayers and gatekeepers, willing to take responsibility, willing to work hard for a long time (~10,000 hours), generally courageous, and accepting of unexpected consequences. And of course, if you want to escape your current situation, you need to first know where you want to escape to.

(4) Since we tend to regret more what we didn't do rather than did, when on the fence, it's better to do things rather than not. In other words, if you have a bad feeling about something, say no; if you're excited but slightly intimidated, say yes.

(5) We're often held back more by fears and insecurities rather than circumstances. Fear of change is one of the most common fears. Ways to transcend fear include having a bias towards action and mentally envisioning and coming to terms with the worst-case scenario. Moreover, remember that surviving major crises tends to make you stronger.

(6) Saving and investing for the future is fine, but shouldn't be used as an excuse for excessively deferring what you want to do now. Spend money on things you value, including experiences, and avoid other low-value spending. To increase savings, emphasize increasing income rather than cutting expenses. And even if you choose to work toward financial independence (savings equal to about 25 times annual expenses), don't plan to retire.

(7) The best security is your own competence, and self-directed learning is sometimes the most efficient path to expertise. Success often follows a pattern of exponential growth, but you have to get the process going by getting the initial elements in order. Related to this, measure the value of your work in output, not hours spent.

(8) The tension between helping yourself versus others is perhaps best resolved by finding a balance. "The price of greatness is responsibility," and leadership is about influence. At the same time, helping yourself develops capabilities which can be used to help others.

(9) Drawing on Joseph Campbell, perhaps most people are seeking the experience of being alive rather than a meaning for their lives. Either way, think about what you can offer the world that no one else can, and don't apologize for pursuing big ideas and dreams. That means that, while good work is fine, great work is revolutionary. In order to undertake a major project, on the scale of creating a legacy, recognize that you'll also have to give up some things. To free up time for the things that matter, eliminate unnecessary obligations, activities, and even people from your life.

(10) If you do succeed in a big way, after you've basked in the glory of your achievement for a while, move on and find ways to build on it. Consider thinking of every day as the first day of the rest of your life.

(11) The bottom line: don't "go to your grave with your song still in you."
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72 of 86 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I wanted to LOVE this book, November 25, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World (Perigee Book.) (Paperback)
I really did. Based upon the other reviews and the synopsis, it seemed right up my alley.

But it's been done before, and done better. This book was long on "You can do it" with equal parts of "Look at all the great stuff I've done" but way too short on specifics to be useful to anyone.

The 1 star is for the positive attitude and spirit. But that's not enough to make the book worth it. Even reading the blog this book is based on contains more useful information.

And what is with the Kindle version costing 10 bucks but the book version costing like $7? Stupid - I know that's not the author's fault but unfair pricing is a legitimate reason to negatively review a product.

I feel bad giving a book a one-star review - I never thought I would do such a thing. If I dislike a book I usually just don't review it and put it out of my mind. But in this case I feel it is my civic duty to warn people what they're getting when they buy it. My suggestion: Save your money or buy "4 Hour Work Week" by Tim Ferris.
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42 of 49 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars wear your hip boots, December 9, 2012
This review is from: The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World (Perigee Book.) (Paperback)
I was always interested in travel and alternative ways to live life which is why I started to follow Chris G'S blog awhile back. However,many people I know live a truly unconventional life. There is nothing about him that appears unconventional or truly non-conformist. Does having a goal of traveling to all the countries in the world sound non-conformist? Who the hell cares? Is this supposed to be some enlightened path of living or just a narcissistic vision of personal grandeur which has no intrinsic value? I believe it to be the later.

What I see in his writings of books and blog are nothing more than pure unadulterated horse manure! From what I see in his informational products he is nothing more than a cheap hack. He reads someone else's material and rewrites and repackages it as something original. Just keep putting out more crap and sooner or later something will stick to the wall. This is pop culture garbage at its worst.

One of the atrocities of the internet is the fact that anyone can achieve so-called leadership/guru/know-it-all status fairly quickly without any authenticity or life experiences. His audience is geared for the younger generation who are lost and trying to find themselves and find where they fit into society, or just lazy kids who don't want to work for a living. The problem I see is that he comes to them as their pied piper, leading them down a nefarious path with visions of grandeur if they do things his way.

This self-appointed guru is playing the old confidence game of giving his pricey advice through the sale of his products on the internet. Its been done for ages. You name the niche, and there is always the seller who supposedly has all the answers.

The con-man out in front making a fortune selling tons of "how to get rich," "how to live on your terms","how to live a non-comformist lifestyle", "how to".....I think you get the point. Then, some of the followers/army/tribe break away from the pack and become more self-appointed gurus themselves regurgitating the same old "how-to" information to sell to another generation, army, tribe, bla, bla bla, to the blind followers.

It becomes a never-ending daisy chain of petty con-men and blind sheep following their anointed ONE regurgitating the same info over and over again. Is it really any surprise that most people see a cheap rehash of Tim Ferris here? Other than the style and use of words there is really little difference.

The problem is you buy it because you Honestly want to find out how you can live a happy, constructive life on your own terms.

Once I saw where his blog was going I opted out immediately. His "products" are being bought by the gullible followers who need a "leader" in their life. He even has a monthly membership site for frequent flyers. Why would anyone pay for this advice when all you have to do is search by yourself on the internet? And I believe most people on his site probably spend a lot of time on the internet anyway. If you really feel you need assistance with frequent flyer programs, just go to "thepointsguy.com. His site is much more valuable and concise, and besides that its free.

If you think my comments are too cynical, perhaps they are, but I think most of the "followers" need to become more aware. The ones spending the most money on stuff like this are the ones that can least afford it. There is plenty of material out there you can purchase for a lot less money,or free. It may even be pre-internet but is still relevant and always will be. Don't think you have to follow your own generational demographic. You may be quite surprised. It will most likely be more informative and better written too, without all the fluff and self-adulation.

Chris G wants to get rich off the weak and vulnerable and will look for any way possible to make money off his "followers". "Monetization" is probably written on his bathroom mirror. Always question someone's motives, especially when you're being sold to. After all, someone has to pay for his trips to all the countries of the world, and that person is you!

One other point. When looking at positive reviews and blog comments, a large percentage of those are from people who are joint venture partners or are getting exposure through links to their own websites. This gives them more exposure to sell a product or service of their own and will increase their subscriber list.They also make affiliate sales by promoting this drivel, so of course no one would give a bad review if they are sharing subscribers. Sadly,that's why you can't get an objective opinion or feedback from them.

This is why a reportedly 90-95% of info on the internet can't be trusted.

Always check things out thoroughly from various sources before giving it credence.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Expected too much, February 20, 2011
This review is from: The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World (Perigee Book.) (Paperback)
I agree with another reviewer that the book's title promises more than the book delivers. It's about Chris and his life, but isn't a good guidebook for those who want to find their own way. On the plus side, this book would be better received by young people, who need to ask themselves the questions Chris mentions in his early chapters: what do you want from life, what do you have to offer, and do you want to live according to society's expectations or your own? Those who have read other books on the subject, or who have more life experience, will have heard most of the messages before. I found it annoying that Chris stated (or implied) several times that those who live a conventional life are "asleep", living lives of quiet desperation, and that people who follow his example are "awake" and alive. I find this condescending, and I'd like to point out that trying to be different from everyone else is functionally equivalent to trying to be the same as everyone else; you're letting other people determine your life. As a scientist, I also differ with Chris on the value of a college and graduate education, because my experience has been different than that of a liberal arts major. He states that his master's thesis, if published, would have been read by few people. Leaving aside the issue of doing good work for its own sake, one never knows how one's work inspires further insights. My graduate publications have been cited hundreds of times, and I consider my contributions to science to be part of the "legacy" that Chris sees as such a desireable thing. I also note his total neglect of the value of domestic travel and volunteering. The US is a huge country, and there are many opportunities for unique experiences and there are plenty of people who lack clean water, nutrition, and health care who would benefit from the efforts of enthusiastic volunteers or nonprofit-founders. Similarly, I would expect a book with this title to at least give examples of other "non-conformist" ways of life that don't involve blogging and foreign travel: living off the grid, growing one's food, homeschooling children, joining a contemplative community. There are many lives that are rich in deep, subtle experiences; one doesn't have to look outward for more countries to consume or more legacies to create. To reiterate, this is a book about Chris and his life, not a guidebook for authenticity. (Full disclosure: I went to college and graduate school, worked for a corporation, left that to be a housewife, volunteer, and language teacher, went back to school in a different area, and have traveled a lot, but only to 11 countries.)
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54 of 65 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars there are no new thoughts in this book!, December 8, 2010
This review is from: The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World (Perigee Book.) (Paperback)
Chris Guillebeau is certainly very good at marketing himself and creating the impression that his thoughts are "revolutionary". I haven't found anything in this book that was new to me. Most of Guillebeau's conclusions are obvious to anybody who spends a bit of time thinking about their life and their work - and almost every idea has been dealt with in a more creative way in other books that have been published long ago. It may be that this book is more revolutionary for people living/working in the US than for people living in Europe. I work for an organization where almost everybody works part time, and where it is absolutely no problem to take a few months off to go a a trip. So in my view it's ridiculous to describe someone as a kind of hero just because he quit his job to cycle across the US.

This book doesn't really get you thinking. Instead, Guillebeau establishes himself as a kind of role model, which may be helpful for people who want to copy him - but not for people who want to find their own way.

If you want a much more creative approach, have a look at John Williams' "Screw Work Let's Play". This book may be little known, but it is really good!
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