Saturday, September 17, 2011

Book club

This month, my book club* read The Guinea Pig Diaries by A. J. Jacobs. Jacobs, who is known for his immersion journalism, does a series of life experiments and reports about them in this book. They range from outsourcing his life to India (they're making a movie out of it) to radical honesty to living by George Washington's 110 laws of civility. The book has been on the best seller list and even the critics liked it.

Here are what some "real people" (my club) thought about it.
  • Everyone thought it was an easy, enjoyable read.
  • Some thought that it was evident that the author's day job (writer and editor at Esquire magazine) was writing for men. Others did not get that impression.
  • Some were pleased that the book was not as gimmicky as they thought it was going to be, but that Jacobs also thought about how he was changed by the experiments.
  • We liked the fact that Jacobs did a coda at the end of each chapter to discuss what resulted from that particular experiment in the months following it.
  • Everyone thought his wife was a saint for putting up with him. He doesn't tell her ahead of time what goofy (my word) thing he is trying to do.
  • We thought that the experiments provided interesting jumping-off points for discussions. 
  • Two of our jumping-off points were whether or not we have standards today for what is considered good or great things in culture, and whether or not the message of "be happy with yourself" is hindering people in a quest to better themselves.
  • We also discussed how they award ribbons at the local fair, but we were a bit off topic at that point 

*A brief background of the club members. We are all women, but we vary in ages and political and religious beliefs. Some members are married and some are not. Some have children and some do not. Some have grandchildren.  Some are working full time, some are working part time, and others are retired. And the important thing is that we all enjoy discussing the books we read which if you are going to believe TV sitcoms, doesn't always happen.
This bowl used to be a lot fuller.
Disclaimer: This is my interpretation of what we discussed. Other members may have different ideas because they didn't get up as often as I did to get more M&Ms.

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