The Guinea Pig Diaries

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Today's book was suggested by Kara, one of my dear readers who endlessly indulges my need for constant whimsy by calling me dear writer while I call her dear reader. The first time I saw her after starting my blog I really dramatically said, "Hello dear reader," and she responded with, "Hello dear writer." I have no words to describe how much it amuses me to be called dear writer (I've even been tempted to demand that everyone call me "dear writer" from now on.) Since then we have dispensed with first names altogether, and we (well mostly me) try to find as many opportunities as we can to work "dear reader" and "dear writer" into the conversation as possible.

Would you like a drink dear reader?
Yes I would dear writer.
Here you go dear reader.
Thank you dear writer.
You're welcome dear reader.

Today's book, " Having already read the Encyclopedia Britannica from cover-to-cover (The Know-It-All) and spent a year living by every rule in the Bible (The Year of Living Biblically), Jacobs, a kind of latter-day George Plimpton, tests our patience and our funny bones once again with his smart-aleck, off-the-wall and uproarious experiments in living. No cross-dresser he, Jacobs lives a vicarious life as a beautiful woman, the experiment growing out of his role in persuading his son's nanny, Michelle—a stunning beauty—to participate in an online dating service. He signs her up for the site, creates a profile for her, sifts through her suitors and co-writes her e-mails. Pretending to be Michelle, he learns not only the regret of rejection (having to let some guys down), but he also predictably discovers that there's a lot of deceit, boasting and creepiness in Internet dating. In another experiment, Jacobs outsources everything in his life to a company in India, from his research for articles to a complaint letter to American Airlines. This experiment worked so well that he continues to use this company every few weeks to make car rental reservations or to do research for him."

I have read all of A.J. Jacobs's books, including one that I read for the blog, so I was looking forward to reading today's book. And it didn't disappoint. In fact, I think it's my favorite of all of his books. I highly recommend this book - it's going on my list of favorite books I've read this year.

Shallow thoughts:

  • Reading the passage where Jacobs is discussing the woman in India he has outsourced his errands to made me want to outsource my life as well, "She's the single most upbeat person I've ever encountered. Whatever soul-deadening chore I give her, she says, "That would indeed be interesting" or "Thank you for bestowing this important task." I have a feeling that if I asked her to count the number of semi-colons in the Senate energy bill, she would be grateful for such a fascinating project." - I know some people find it annoying to run across people who are that cheerful, but I just can't get enough of people who are so pleasant they put the members of The Brady Bunch to shame. Of course they make the rest of us look like the whiny slackers that we are, but I can live with that.

  • And later, Jacobs decides to try out a method called Radical Honesty, in which we, "toss out the filters between our brains and our mouths. If you think it, you say it." - Oh isn't that cute how the founder of that movement has decided that everyone in the world has a filter between their brains and their mouths (or in my case, between my brain and the keyboard.) In my case I need to find a movement that will teach me how to form some sort of filter, because at present I have two forms of communication 1. complete silence or 2. I tell people everything there is to know about me.

  • But I think my favorite part of the book was when Jacobs attempts to follow George Washington's rules of life (all 110 of them) including, "While you are talking, point not with your finger at him of whom you discourse, nor approach too near him to whom you talk, especially to his face." - This is a good rule, which I believe needs to be expanded in order to fit certain members of my family (who shall remain nameless) who not only point, but who point with their middle fingers. Now sure this method is endlessly amusing to the under seven crowd, but past that point it can be a little disconcerting. And then we might need to add an additional amendment for certain people (Mom): No poking people while trying to make a point. When I was a child she would talk about me to people, while I was standing right there feeling mortified, and say things like, "And she likes to be really stubborn," as she poked me a few times and followed it up with, "Don't ya. Don't ya. Come on, admit it."

And now dear readers, I'm sure after reading today's blog entry you really want to read today's book. Don't ya. Come on, admit it.