5 member(s) found this review helpful.
AJ Jacobs still reigns as my favorite author. This book is full of month long experiments, similar to his experimental Year of Living Biblically, which is still unmatched as my favorite book.
There are a variety of experiments in this book, my favorite one being the month he outsourced his life to a team in India. Brilliant. And funny. Although I've never read something AJ wrote that I didn't laugh out loud. And frequently call someone to say "This is hilarious, let me read you this part"
He is creative with his ideas and his attempts, he is an excellent writer and he makes you chuckle. And the whole time you are learning something. For example, how many of George Washington's 110 Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation can you name? And who knew that the founder of a movement called Radical Honesty lives in Stanley, Virginia? Just over the mountain from where I went to high school. And he has been married 5 times. Guess he is TOO honest, no?
I definitely recommend this book! Light hearted and a quick read!
1 member(s) found this review helpful.
A.J. Jacobs has created his own little niche market: conducting experiments in his life and then writing about them. The first of these books, The Know-It-All, chronicled his experience reading every single page of the Encyclopedia Britannica from cover to cover. He followed that up with The Year of Living Biblically, in which he spent a year trying to follow every rule in the Bible as literally as possible. I loved both of these books, so when I heard that Jacobs had a new book last year, I was thrilled. He has a very funny, accessible writing style but manages to convey a lot of information in an entertaining way. He kind of reminds me of Bill Bryson in that way; you manage to learn while laughing.
In this book, Jacobs conducts a series of mini-experimentsâ€”ranging from outsourcing everything in his life to a company in India to posing nude to trying to live like George Washington. There are nine experiments in all (one for every chapter). One of my favorite experiments was Project Rationality, which involved trying to overcome all the biases, false assumptions, and warped memories with which our flawed brains make decisions. Just reading this made me realize that my life is a series of false assumptions and half-truths.
Although I found the books entertaining and highly readable, I was a bit disappointed. I suspect the reason is that these are mini experiments instead of immersive, year-long experiments like the ones he wrote about in his previous books. I ended up wanting more and felt like the book was over way too soon. Although it is a good introduction to Jacobs's writing style and isn't a bad read, I enjoyed The Know-It-All and The Year of Living Biblically much more. However, if the worst I can say about the book is that "I wanted more of it. It was too short," then that isn't so bad, is it? Just read it; you'll like it.
Excerpts from the chapter where Jacobs tries to experience fame by attending the Oscars as the actor Noah Taylor: Even more striking, though, is that Noah Taylor and I shared the same haircut and eyeglasses. For reasons I'm still puzzling out, in my mid-twenties I decided to let my hair grow down to my shoulders. This wasn't cool long hair, mind you. It was shapeless and stringy, like Ben Franklin or a meth addict. And the glasses? They were thick. black, and clunky. I suppose I was going for a retro intellectual vibe, something in the Allen Ginsberg area. What I got was Orville Redenbacher.