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The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World

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If you've ever thought, "There must be more to life than this," "The Art of Non-Conformity" is for you. Based on Chris Guillebeau's popular online manifesto "A Brief Guide to World Domination," "The Art of Non-Conformity" defies common assumptions about life and work while arming you with the tools to live differently. You'll discover how to live on your own terms by explor If you've ever thought, "There must be more to life than this," "The Art of Non-Conformity" is for you. Based on Chris Guillebeau's popular online manifesto "A Brief Guide to World Domination," "The Art of Non-Conformity" defies common assumptions about life and work while arming you with the tools to live differently. You'll discover how to live on your own terms by exploring creative self-employment, radical goal-setting, contrarian travel, and embracing life as a constant adventure. Inspired and guided by Chris's own story and those of others who have pursued unconventional lives, you can devise your own plan for world domination-and make the world a better place at the same time.


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If you've ever thought, "There must be more to life than this," "The Art of Non-Conformity" is for you. Based on Chris Guillebeau's popular online manifesto "A Brief Guide to World Domination," "The Art of Non-Conformity" defies common assumptions about life and work while arming you with the tools to live differently. You'll discover how to live on your own terms by explor If you've ever thought, "There must be more to life than this," "The Art of Non-Conformity" is for you. Based on Chris Guillebeau's popular online manifesto "A Brief Guide to World Domination," "The Art of Non-Conformity" defies common assumptions about life and work while arming you with the tools to live differently. You'll discover how to live on your own terms by exploring creative self-employment, radical goal-setting, contrarian travel, and embracing life as a constant adventure. Inspired and guided by Chris's own story and those of others who have pursued unconventional lives, you can devise your own plan for world domination-and make the world a better place at the same time.

30 review for The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World

  1. 4 out of 5

    Valerie

    I like the cover design and title, but that's about it. The author is awfully smug as he looks back at his unconventional choices. He quit high school. He noticed he could get passing grades in community college without really trying so signed up for as many classes as he could. Now he proclaims that most of college is busywork and he didn't learn much of anything (not surprising given his strategy). He quit a FedEx job when he couldn't get there in a snowstorm. And finally he became depressed af I like the cover design and title, but that's about it. The author is awfully smug as he looks back at his unconventional choices. He quit high school. He noticed he could get passing grades in community college without really trying so signed up for as many classes as he could. Now he proclaims that most of college is busywork and he didn't learn much of anything (not surprising given his strategy). He quit a FedEx job when he couldn't get there in a snowstorm. And finally he became depressed after 9/11 (he mentions he was downtown a few days before but not sure why this is relevant) and so he moved to Africa. And somehow he turned out okay! Better than okay! So you will too! To me, this sounds like the process of growing up and is not too remarkable. He is very scornful of paths that did not work for him, especially all forms of traditional schooling. Anyone who disagrees with him is sleepwalking through life, content with the status quo, not living up to their potential. Okay, so his tone really rubbed me the wrong way from the start, but I tried to keep an open mind. I want to set my own rules, live the life I want, and change the world! That's the subtitle. But this wasn't a practical guide (let's start with - how do you figure out what you want?) or even inspiring (how hard is it to find incredible examples of people who chose the road less traveled and did remarkable things?). Halfway through I realized Chris is part of the Life Remix network and I probably heard about this book from one of the partner blogs (Zen Habits, The Happiness Project, Get Rich Slowly, etc). I used to have many of these added to my GoogleReader, but I have dropped them one by one over the years. Each writer is a self-declared expert in his/her field, but has no formal training. They tend to run out of material after a while, so repeat themselves a lot and endlessly self-promote. Chris outlines these self-promotion strategies in his chapter "The Power of Your Own Small Army" so I wonder if this is advice provided by LifeRemix or if they just pick it up from one another. It is annoying for regular readers. I've chosen to ignore it for the good writers (Gretchen Rubin at The Happiness Project), but have dropped the rest from my regular reading. But since I disagree, I'm sure I'm just another one of those sleepwalkers.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Eden

    I wouldn't recommend this book for those who really want to lead an unconventional life. In fact, I think it's more for rather conventional people who want to live just *slightly* more unconventionally, but retaining most of the conveniences and privileges that they're already accustomed to. Perhaps the book could be helpful in that context, though. I'm not a fan of Chris Guillebeau's work, in general. If one truly is a non-conformist, I feel that one wouldn't need to write books blatantly procla I wouldn't recommend this book for those who really want to lead an unconventional life. In fact, I think it's more for rather conventional people who want to live just *slightly* more unconventionally, but retaining most of the conveniences and privileges that they're already accustomed to. Perhaps the book could be helpful in that context, though. I'm not a fan of Chris Guillebeau's work, in general. If one truly is a non-conformist, I feel that one wouldn't need to write books blatantly proclaiming such. That aside, I find the book tackles potentially complex topics rather superficially. Also I find this book to largely consist of cheerleading and feel-good writing, lacking any real substance (because, of course, in leading a truly non-conventional life, you'd need to create that substance for yourself and not have it handed to you in bullet-point form). Instead of turning to self-help books such as this which oversimplify huge problems (especially those relating to the status quo), I think it's better to explore things on one's own, turning to better-researched books and more honest and revealing memoirs. There are so many of these around. Lastly, I truly dislike Guillebeau's language of 'world domination' - to want to dominate is to conform exactly to the dominant status quo of capitalism and imperialism. Domination IS the status quo. I think what's most insidious about this book is how it's more about *thinking* that what you're engaging in is nonconformity rather than really taking a stand against the toxic status quo and searching honestly for new ways to live and be (which is a long process with no guarantees).

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lewis Manalo

    I don't want to dissuade anyone from reading this book because it can be very inspiring; however, as one reads further into the book, it becomes apparent that this is mostly just a handbook on how to be the author. Most of the support from Guillebeau's assertions come from his own experience or the experiences of other bloggers. Furthermore, he often fails to cite sources for statistics. Though the book is peppered with quotes (often without citing sources) from the likes of Einstein and Thoreau I don't want to dissuade anyone from reading this book because it can be very inspiring; however, as one reads further into the book, it becomes apparent that this is mostly just a handbook on how to be the author. Most of the support from Guillebeau's assertions come from his own experience or the experiences of other bloggers. Furthermore, he often fails to cite sources for statistics. Though the book is peppered with quotes (often without citing sources) from the likes of Einstein and Thoreau, how these non-bloggers practiced their art of non-conformity is not examined. The overall effect is that Guillebeau demonstrates how he achieved his own personal definition of success, and presumably, if you find him credible, and if you do things pretty much the way he does, you can achieve his definition of success as well. The book does convey a feeling of empowerment, but if people fail to read it with a critical eye, they may cause more trouble for themselves than good.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Akhila

    While I thought this was an interesting book, it didn't provide many new insights or helpful tips for me. Perhaps the life Chris Guillebeau lived is simply not the same as the life I hope to lead. Since I'm not looking to travel for the sake of travel or start a business or live a "location independent" life, most of the things he talks about in his book didn't really help me too much. I am looking to lead a life of passion by working with non-profits on access to justice, and human/legal rights While I thought this was an interesting book, it didn't provide many new insights or helpful tips for me. Perhaps the life Chris Guillebeau lived is simply not the same as the life I hope to lead. Since I'm not looking to travel for the sake of travel or start a business or live a "location independent" life, most of the things he talks about in his book didn't really help me too much. I am looking to lead a life of passion by working with non-profits on access to justice, and human/legal rights in the developing world. I'm just not one for self-help literature but even with that in mind, this book ends up being more about how to do exactly what the author does. It's more of a story of how he did it/achieved success and less about how you can do it. I didn't find a whole lot in here that was useful, in all honesty. It was very specific, tailored to his life. Plus, the book was not well organized - it was all over the place. Also, this is just me, but I would like to see more thought about international development from someone who lived and worked as an "aid worker" in Africa for 4 years, but there is little thought there. Certainly, his audience isn't interested in international development, but in my opinion, it surprised me that after working in West Africa for 4 years he completely switched tracks and didn't think of working in the int'l development and non-profit field. He talks about making the world a better place and giving back, but once again this starts to sound more like a self-absorbed tale than of one who truly understands the need to end poverty. Just my take... brand me as a "cynic" if you want but I just wish I could understand why he does what he does now.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    Such rubbish. Sloppy boilerplate, cliched idealist phrases with no practical or actionable advice. College is a bunch of hoops to jump through and academic advisors are gatekeepers that are trying to hold you in place for 4+ years?? No, Chris, college is were you go to engage in intellectual conversations, where you learn to think critically and originally. Kudos to you for skipping classes and 'lifehacking' your way through your degree. Perhaps your book would contain a well-structured and orig Such rubbish. Sloppy boilerplate, cliched idealist phrases with no practical or actionable advice. College is a bunch of hoops to jump through and academic advisors are gatekeepers that are trying to hold you in place for 4+ years?? No, Chris, college is were you go to engage in intellectual conversations, where you learn to think critically and originally. Kudos to you for skipping classes and 'lifehacking' your way through your degree. Perhaps your book would contain a well-structured and original thought had you spent your time going to class. So you want to live a life of non-conoformity? 1. quit your job. Ok, how do I support myself then? Guess that question was too hard for Chris to consider. Try writing a blog that makes money. First "recruit an army." Much can be done once you have an army. Ok Chris, no shit. How do you recruit your army, I'm not sure because Chris leaves this inconsequential step out. I could go on. This book epitomizes everything wrong with the self-help book industry - positive thinking, idealistic cliches, no practical examples or advice, super-egotistical feather flaunting. This book was not written to help others, it was written for the paycheck and to fund Chris' nonconformist life. Please do yourself a favor and stear clear.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lee

    I love the first sentence of chapter one, “The purpose of this book is to transform your thinking about life and work.” I’m ready for a change, I’ve been busting at the seams for months with an excess of energy and looking for a way to direct it effectively. This is the kind of book that will immediately appeal to you or not. If you’re completely happy with your life and not ripe for change, you’ll probably find all sorts of objections to the author’s message and many things to criticize about th I love the first sentence of chapter one, “The purpose of this book is to transform your thinking about life and work.” I’m ready for a change, I’ve been busting at the seams for months with an excess of energy and looking for a way to direct it effectively. This is the kind of book that will immediately appeal to you or not. If you’re completely happy with your life and not ripe for change, you’ll probably find all sorts of objections to the author’s message and many things to criticize about the book itself. I am going to focus on the positive and what spoke to me. The next passage that struck me was this one. “My motivation is to help people challenge authority and live unconventional, remarkable lives. The mission is to support a full-scale revolution with a simple underlying message: You don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to.” Oh boy, give me more! For the first forty odd years of my life I lived in fear. Fear was so much a part of every decision; I was completely unaware of the amount of power I’d given it. Fear of standing out, not being liked, not being normal, not being good enough? What a load of crap. I actually have had moments of fearlessness and adventure but sadly, many more moments of conformity. Looking back, I see my spirit aching to break out and succeeding for short periods, only to be sucked back into the morass of a conventional life. In the latter parts of the book, the author asks you to think about what kind of legacy you want to leave and to start living immediately with that vision in mind. I used to be the kind of person who wished for some divine inspiration to strike me about the purpose of my life. I used to wonder why I didn’t know what to do with myself. And what was wrong with me that I couldn’t figure it out? Recently, I asked myself a series of questions that led to the crafting of my own vision and purpose. I’ve stopped waiting for some mysterious inner or outside inspiration. Since that moment, my vision has been driving every purposeful and conscious action. I am more at peace and less anxious than I’ve ever been. I say, if you don’t know what to do, make it up and make it powerful! You will inspire yourself! There is a chapter about setting goals in order to create a flexible but purposeful environment for yourself. He provides a series of simple but useful questions to ask, which will help define what you might like to do. At the end of each chapter, there is a short, point-form summary of the main points. The writing is clear and formatted in bite sized chunks. This is very easy reading. It’s been many years since I travelled. Other experiences have been explored and become more dominant in my life but I cannot deny that travel altered my world view in a way that nothing else has. While being an armchair traveler is fun, the desire to fully experience the pleasure and discomfort of being outside my familiar world has been re-awakened and I’ll be adding a few destinations to my bucket list. Inspiring quotes are peppered throughout the book and one in the “Contrarian Adventures” chapter struck me particularly. “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer” – Anonymous. If anything I’ve written strikes a chord with you than you might want to pick up a copy of The Art of Non-Conformity. It’s not that scary.

  7. 4 out of 5

    David

    This is the worst book of its kind that I've ever read. It would take an entire book to say just how bad this book is. A few of his pieces of advice include "succeed at self-employment by any means necessary," which basically means do whatever to whoever, but don't ever work for The Man because he's an evil soul-sucking creep. Uh, really? I paid money for you to tell me that? Another gem is to do like he did, drop out of high school, have a high IQ, cheat your way through a college degree, and a This is the worst book of its kind that I've ever read. It would take an entire book to say just how bad this book is. A few of his pieces of advice include "succeed at self-employment by any means necessary," which basically means do whatever to whoever, but don't ever work for The Man because he's an evil soul-sucking creep. Uh, really? I paid money for you to tell me that? Another gem is to do like he did, drop out of high school, have a high IQ, cheat your way through a college degree, and avoid graduate school, unless you can get over on that scam too. He says college is worthless because he never got anything out of it. The way he did college, I'm not surprised. Most of us go there to learn stuff, rather than get over until we've got our sheep skin on the wall. Maybe I'm a little idealistic there--but that's why I went. And lastly, he tells us he's an authority on self employment, and how to juggle several projects at once. His credentials? Well, once he almost lost 20K of sales because one of his suppliers went out of business. 20K? Chump change for most businesses, and this guy thinks that because he fixed his 20 K problem, this makes him some kind of guru. Don't waste your time on this book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Bergeron

    I bought this book for the library and it was promptly checked out by one of my heavy readers. She started to read the book and before she was even through the introduction she was writing quotes from the book on her hand. She was kind enough to leave the book with me for a bit and I burned through the book in short order. I too found myself taking down quote after quote from the book (mine going into my notebook). It was a book that both described his journey and gave inspiration and practical a I bought this book for the library and it was promptly checked out by one of my heavy readers. She started to read the book and before she was even through the introduction she was writing quotes from the book on her hand. She was kind enough to leave the book with me for a bit and I burned through the book in short order. I too found myself taking down quote after quote from the book (mine going into my notebook). It was a book that both described his journey and gave inspiration and practical advice on blazing your own trail.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ziba

    For anyone and everyone; though not for the conformists. Actually yeah, even for the conformists. A person can change, right? Full of great travel hack tips and insights into Chris's adventures. I learned a lot and am therefor picking up his next book - The $100 Start-Up - as soon as I finish typing this review.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    Round-the-world travel aficionado and blogger Chris Guillebeau has written a book that condenses a lot of the ideas presented on his blog. Though I received a free copy of the book (Thank you, Chris), I have mixed feelings about it. If you're familiar with Chris's website and message of unconventional living (live the life you want, not the one you feel you're supposed to, and don't be afraid to pursue it in unconventional ways), I'd skip the first chapter. It was a turn-off for me for 3 reasons: Round-the-world travel aficionado and blogger Chris Guillebeau has written a book that condenses a lot of the ideas presented on his blog. Though I received a free copy of the book (Thank you, Chris), I have mixed feelings about it. If you're familiar with Chris's website and message of unconventional living (live the life you want, not the one you feel you're supposed to, and don't be afraid to pursue it in unconventional ways), I'd skip the first chapter. It was a turn-off for me for 3 reasons: 1. The parables he used didn't quite fit the situations he applied them to in my opinion, so they got on my nerves. 2. He wrote that he "doesn't want to waste anyone's time" which immediately made me think, "Get on with it!" The moment you say you don't want to waste my time, you're wasting my time by not delivering your ideas directly. A more detailed table of contents would accomplish the same task. 3. In line with that, he aggressively discourages people not open to the idea of unconventional living from reading the book. I understand niche marketing, the idea of velvet ropes to encourage your "right people" (those into your idea) to stay while encouraging those who aren't to move on to something they are into. However, I don't think that applies to books. Not in the same way it does to websites at any rate. The book itself is the red velvet rope, its cover will either lure people in or turn them away. There's no need to turn anyone away with your words. If you really want to spread an idea, you don't discourage anyone from coming into contact with it. They may disagree in the end or give you a bad review, but how else can you plant seeds of ideas or raise ideas for discussion? There's a saying I see most every day: "Books invite all, they constrain none." I believe in that strongly, so his first chapter irked me. Am I simply the wrong audience then? I don't think so since I've been following his blog for quite some time with interest. The college versus blogging chapter also killed me even though I agree with a number of things he said. It's true that a college education isn't necessary to perform a lot of jobs, but having a degree will make it easier to get most jobs and tends to yield larger paychecks over your lifetime. So unless you're sure you're going to be self-employed your whole life, keep that in mind. Also remember that Chris has those pieces of paper if he ever needs them. More importantly, college is about learning critical thinking. You can learn a lot on your own but it's also very useful to get feedback. The alternative graduate year he proposes is just general knowledge, more like what you'd get in high school or frosh/soph years college. I'm all for lifelong learning, but his suggested program is in no way a grad program. Grad school is for learning specialized knowledge. Go to iTunes U and look through the free course offerings there or read up on your topic of interest with books from the library. Another benefit of college is networking. If you expect career help, research that aspect before picking a school. I received fellowships from my undergrad school which helped me pay for grad school (where I met a network of people I worked with after graduation). A lot of it is using the resources available. Chris describes his college experience as an 80% waste of his time. Like most things, I believe that what you get out of something is related to what you put into it. Maybe he took the wrong classes or didn't go to a challenging enough school or just wasn't into it. You don't have to have a degree to succeed, but be aware that not having one can present you with a lot more hoops to traverse in traditional work realms. If you're great at networking, rock on, you can probably talk your way into the opportunities you want. Just don't be that person who is insecure because you didn't go to college. I know too many lovely, smart people who have hangups because of that. My favorite chapter was number 9: Radical Exclusion and the Quest for Abundance. The most useful thing I took from the book is the idea of a to-not-do list, a way to minimize time sucks that are unhelpful or even toxic to you. He also talks some about his travel hacking in the book which I enjoyed. I wanted to know more about his relationship with his wife though. I understand wanting to preserve her privacy, his too, but it seems a missed opportunity to talk about unconventional relationships and pursuing dreams when you have a partner who is not involved in them. From the blog, it doesn't seem like she travels with him to most of the countries he visits, so how does one maintain a relationship when one's dream keeps you apart? What happens when ten to twenty thousand dollars a year goes to fulfilling one partner's goal without the participation of the other? How does one maintain balance and equity in the relationship? I suspect I will get the most practical use out of the resources that didn't actually make it into the book. I'm looking forward to checking those out. Thanks again for giving me the opportunity to read your provocative book, Chris.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rosie Nguyễn

    I didn't pay attention to Chris's books before as I read some of his blog posts and I didn't think they were good enough. But I was surprised to see myself like this book of him. Choosing the life you want, being an autodidact, traveling around the world and similar ideas to live life to the fullest. Perhaps I'm living the same lifestyle, enjoying its high moments and bearing the critics. So I find the empathy. Chris, not a hat tip, but a handshake.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    The subtitle of this book is “set your own rules, live the life you want and change the world.” So, you may be surprised to learn that such a all-encompassing subject is covered in just 227 pages. Guillebeau has never really had a “proper” job, he has worked quite a few jobs that sound pretty terrible, volunteered in Africa for four years, and then become an entrepreneur. He spends quite a lot of time convincing the reader about the advantages of becoming an entrepreneur, talking about his own t The subtitle of this book is “set your own rules, live the life you want and change the world.” So, you may be surprised to learn that such a all-encompassing subject is covered in just 227 pages. Guillebeau has never really had a “proper” job, he has worked quite a few jobs that sound pretty terrible, volunteered in Africa for four years, and then become an entrepreneur. He spends quite a lot of time convincing the reader about the advantages of becoming an entrepreneur, talking about his own travels and shooting down any paltry excuses he has heard as to why this lifestyle cannot be lived. I agree with Guillebeau on many things. He raises excellent points about the value of money and how much of it you might really need. He makes several short and snappy lists to focus your thinking on your goal and how to get it. He grumbles about how much time many people spend on “busywork” or filling in the time they must be at their desks with pointless tasks. He does not place a huge value on college. He puts focus on experiences rather than things. Personally, I gave up a very cushy job with a high salary and excellent prospects to move to another country and bum around a bit, spending very little money, running a small and fulfilling business and generally waiting around to see what life will throw at me next. I like my life. My bible in this lovely comfortable lifestyle has been Tim Ferriss' “Four Hour Work Week” which I found quite a lot more useful than this one. He covers a lot of the same stuff but with lots more practical advice and a lot less showing off about how many countries he has visited. He points out that “by itself, money has no value,” well-put and completely true. I disagree with him on savings and security, there is no way I would have given up my job if I did not have some investments to make me feel safe. But then, not everyone is lucky enough to have been in my position before they have the realisation that sitting in an office, moving numbers around on a computer, with many people whom you would not choose to spend time with, is an insane way to spend such a large portion of your life. I read this as a sort of refresher on the philosophy in general, looking for a few new ideas, and to generally re-focus. It has done this for me, and I was able to skirt over quite a bit of it, because I have already got there on my own. I find the tone a little patronising, with the assumption that the reader has never had any of these ideas themselves, let alone has acted on any of it. I think he is right on many issues, though, and if you have ever wondered if there's a little more to life than the nine-to-five then I recommend that you give this a read and then go away and have a very long think. click here to read the rest of my reviews

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jacob

    There are essentially two premises here 1) If you don't want a corporate career or work for other people, a college degree is mostly irrelevant (this is largely true). 2) If you can provide ongoing value for a "small army" of 1000 hardcore fans who'll keep buying everything you do/sell, you can make a living from it. Keep in mind that finding and keeping 1000 hardcore fans is incredibly hard and not easily reproducible! It requires more sustained determination than most people can muster. Anyway, There are essentially two premises here 1) If you don't want a corporate career or work for other people, a college degree is mostly irrelevant (this is largely true). 2) If you can provide ongoing value for a "small army" of 1000 hardcore fans who'll keep buying everything you do/sell, you can make a living from it. Keep in mind that finding and keeping 1000 hardcore fans is incredibly hard and not easily reproducible! It requires more sustained determination than most people can muster. Anyway, I'm not completely sure exactly how non-conformist these two ideas actually are. It's called "being self-employed". I suspect a lot of the popularity/excitement has to do with the author's goal is flying to all the countries in the world. If the plan had been to, say, reject a traditional career and continue selling coffee beans to a small army instead, it might not have sounded so "remarkable". In that sense, the title has the problem of promising more than the content. This is nothing new though (*cough* 4 hour work week *cough*). What you'll get here is essentially Chris's autobiography + the ideas above + some travel tips + some ideas about leaving a legacy---something that will obviously be easier as a writer than as an entrepreneur selling coffee beans on ebay---written in an inspirational way that will appeal to people who dream of flying to distant destinations.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    Even at half-way through this one, I can tell that the author is spending more time doting on himself than providing useful advice to the reader. I think part of the problem is that he doesn't have a very specific audience in mind. He includes a tangent about he dropped out of high school, took 40 college credits for a couple of semesters by over enrolling at multiple community colleges, and graduated early. That feels like a representative example of his attempt at bravado, while not providing Even at half-way through this one, I can tell that the author is spending more time doting on himself than providing useful advice to the reader. I think part of the problem is that he doesn't have a very specific audience in mind. He includes a tangent about he dropped out of high school, took 40 college credits for a couple of semesters by over enrolling at multiple community colleges, and graduated early. That feels like a representative example of his attempt at bravado, while not providing anything particularly useful to the reader. His writing tone can be a useful kick in the pants to do something other than just go to work and watch TV, and he does provide some good, alternative ideas on how to live a more interesting life, but too much of the good stuff is buried among filler and what comes off as bragging.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Zora

    I'm sure many people will find this book inspiring, however I was not one of them. I really wanted to like the book but I found the author's concepts naive and cliched and I would consider him a person of weak character. He lost me when he quit his Fed Ex job because of a storm. Seriously, is giving one or two week's notice really that horrible? To me, the author comes across as selfish, which is pretty much in line with his entire philosophy of doing whatever you want, whenever and wherever you I'm sure many people will find this book inspiring, however I was not one of them. I really wanted to like the book but I found the author's concepts naive and cliched and I would consider him a person of weak character. He lost me when he quit his Fed Ex job because of a storm. Seriously, is giving one or two week's notice really that horrible? To me, the author comes across as selfish, which is pretty much in line with his entire philosophy of doing whatever you want, whenever and wherever you want. I feel like he strongly promotes volunteer and charity work because it makes him feel good about himself. I don't find his lifestyle particularly non-conforming. I travel the world and work from various locations on beaches too. And many in my business cohort do the same. I get that he has broken out of the 9 to 5 job/prison state of mind, but honestly, it's really not that unusual these days. His business prowess is embarrassing. He once fixed a $20,000 problem. That's pocket change for many companies. I've fixed multi-million dollar problems but yet I feel like I still have much to learn when it comes to business. He lost me for good in Chapter 8 when he listed one of his principles as "Time is not money". Ephemeral nonsense and beyond naive. He can twist that saying around to mean whatever he wants, but at the end of the day, conformist or non-conformist, it doesn't make it correct. "Change the World"...? I'm really not sure why that was included as part of the title. More cliché... But in saying all that, this book might be useful for people that are determined to give up their day job and travel the world, even if only for a designated period of time, that need an extra boost of inspiration to make it happen. However, having already traveled the world, I will say that I have found the novelty of traveling and visiting exotic places and cultures does wear off. Having a home and roots is actually really nice. But I totally understand the need to see and experience the world.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Hubbell

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A self described writer, traveller, and fighter of the status quo, the book serves as a how-to guide for living out Guillebeau’s own life goals. Perhaps that’s the book’s only shortcoming – he veers off into self-indulgent tangents that will not apply to most readers. He justifies these tangents by explaining they all fall under the “non-conformity” umbrella, however broad a category that might be. While he acknowledges that worldwide travel, for instance, will not interest every reader, it does A self described writer, traveller, and fighter of the status quo, the book serves as a how-to guide for living out Guillebeau’s own life goals. Perhaps that’s the book’s only shortcoming – he veers off into self-indulgent tangents that will not apply to most readers. He justifies these tangents by explaining they all fall under the “non-conformity” umbrella, however broad a category that might be. While he acknowledges that worldwide travel, for instance, will not interest every reader, it doesn’t refrain him from spending an entire chapter writing about how it’s possible to travel to every country on the planet. Rambles of globe-trotting aside, The Art of Non-Conformity is a must-read for entrepreneurs, business owners, college students, and anyone willing to give unconventional living a chance. Littered with famous quotations and personal anecdotes, the book covers everything from living remarkably to reclaiming work, but in an exceptionally tangible and relevant way. Whereas many business or psychology writers speak in terms of broad generalizations, Guillebeau gives practical steps to begin living the life you want, and while this is not a self help book, it will certainly help you to wake up.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    I read this book because Chris is a Portland blogger whose blog I've read in the past. Also, some bloggers I met are huge fans of his, bordering on acolytes. I've read enough books that are similar and didn't find anything new here. The book seemed to lack a sense of rigor, as if the author was just talking off the top of his head. Interestingly, the people that are most inspired by Guillebeau are the ones that have started their own blogs with valueless drivel, thinking they deserve credit just I read this book because Chris is a Portland blogger whose blog I've read in the past. Also, some bloggers I met are huge fans of his, bordering on acolytes. I've read enough books that are similar and didn't find anything new here. The book seemed to lack a sense of rigor, as if the author was just talking off the top of his head. Interestingly, the people that are most inspired by Guillebeau are the ones that have started their own blogs with valueless drivel, thinking they deserve credit just for showing up. While the underlying message is something that I agree with, (the need to challenge yourself and focus on what's important) unless this is the first book you've read on the topic, there isn't much here. Guillebeau's racking up Frequent Flyer Mile method is probably his most important contribution, and if you are interested in this, you'd be better off buying one of his guides online.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Loren

    Guillebeau is quick to tell you his expectations for his readers; that you be open-minded and willing to challenge authority, that sort of thing. But you have to read 40 pages in before he adds what he thinks is an unlikely group to even lay their hands on his book, the poor, as if to say that simply being an American omits you from that category. He writes "I realize that there are plenty of people out there who are not able to travel or make the same choices I can. Having lived in the poorest Guillebeau is quick to tell you his expectations for his readers; that you be open-minded and willing to challenge authority, that sort of thing. But you have to read 40 pages in before he adds what he thinks is an unlikely group to even lay their hands on his book, the poor, as if to say that simply being an American omits you from that category. He writes "I realize that there are plenty of people out there who are not able to travel or make the same choices I can. Having lived in the poorest countries in the world for four years, I know many of them personally. Most of the people I interact with now, however, as well as most readers of this book, don't fit into that category...... they 'wish' they could do something but feel unable... They have chosen to prioritize other things above their stated desire." 150 million people live in poverty in America according to the last census. And what I mean by poverty, I mean unfit shelter, not enough food, too little or no income. I guess none of them read? The problem lies not in our inability to be individuals and refuse to conform, the issue of our generation is in the growing economic apartheid that has taken root in our nation. Guillebeau doesn't honestly want you to become more open-minded and willing to challenge authority because the result of such action may inevitably lead you into a progression of your analytical thinking that you will never be able to ignore again. "The greatest enemies of mankind are the same as they have been for at least two millennia: Wealth and poverty, followed by abrahamic religion. Some say government, and to a certain extent I agree, but what gives the government power over the masses? Corruption and power through wealthy influence, and abrahamic religion to buy our minds." Chad P. Morrison

  19. 4 out of 5

    Zora

    This book is an odd mishmash of New Age thinking, autobiography, classic quotes, and mediocre writing. (In the style of the author that last phrase would be "and as I think about it, it seems to me, the writing in this book is what some would call not that great." ) I think this would be particularly good for people in their 20s who still think they can change the world. (this would require changing human nature, and that is simply not going to happen.) Another problem is this: I suspect you eith This book is an odd mishmash of New Age thinking, autobiography, classic quotes, and mediocre writing. (In the style of the author that last phrase would be "and as I think about it, it seems to me, the writing in this book is what some would call not that great." ) I think this would be particularly good for people in their 20s who still think they can change the world. (this would require changing human nature, and that is simply not going to happen.) Another problem is this: I suspect you either are a nonconformist by nature, and possibly by genetics, or you are not. And if you are not one, you are doomed to lead either a life of quiet desperation or life so boring that if you told me about it I would feel some quiet desperation. A how-to book on how to change your very nature really won't work. If you are marching to the beat of your own drummer, you probably don't read a lot of self-help books. Self-help by its very nature requires cultlike credulity. Cultists aren't iconoclasts. Ergo. However, that's not a problem with this book so much as a problem with the concept of books on this topic. This isn't what I had hoped for, though at least it's not one of those entrepreneurial books that suggests lying clickbait or exploitation of third world workers is the route to wealth which equals happiness. He seems a nice enough young man. Though I can guarantee that if he had taken his community college writing courses more seriously, he would write better than this.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rob Warner

    As someone who's adhered to rules for most of my life with a fervor rivaling Felix Unger's, I find someone who flouts the rules fascinating. While I find many of Guillebeau's choices too far out there, too impractical, or ridiculously absurd, my own choices haven't exactly dropped me in Xanadu. I guess I'm in the self-examination phase of life, and I appreciate the questions and challenges that this book brings. The crux of the book, as I read it, is to do everything on purpose, because you choos As someone who's adhered to rules for most of my life with a fervor rivaling Felix Unger's, I find someone who flouts the rules fascinating. While I find many of Guillebeau's choices too far out there, too impractical, or ridiculously absurd, my own choices haven't exactly dropped me in Xanadu. I guess I'm in the self-examination phase of life, and I appreciate the questions and challenges that this book brings. The crux of the book, as I read it, is to do everything on purpose, because you choose to and it brings you happiness, not just because you believe it's what comes next in the sequence of life. That's not as selfish as it sounds--helping others brings happiness, for example, and Guillebeau has spent years helping impoverished folks in Africa. The book isn't about pursuit of self-gratification; it's about choosing your own rules for life and not just settling on the paths dreams that others have outlined for centuries. Sage advice, and I'll probably reread it soon.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lain

    I liked this book and I agree with many of the author's principles, but as a dedicated student I have to object to his classification of advanced education as being easily replicated by independent efforts. I am a firm believer that you get out what you put in -- if Chris Guillebeau had put more effort into connecting with his college teachers and colleagues instead of speeding through as quickly as possible, I think he would have found it very rewarding. There are definitely people who learn bet I liked this book and I agree with many of the author's principles, but as a dedicated student I have to object to his classification of advanced education as being easily replicated by independent efforts. I am a firm believer that you get out what you put in -- if Chris Guillebeau had put more effort into connecting with his college teachers and colleagues instead of speeding through as quickly as possible, I think he would have found it very rewarding. There are definitely people who learn better outside the traditional learning institutions, but there are plenty of people who had great success at becoming iconoclasts, independent thinkers, and entrepreneurs by working through traditional education paths. All the same, there was a lot of food for thought. I learned many things and will investigate many of Chris's other resources.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Aims

    While this book does present inevitable challenges to someone living below the poverty line with a certain amount of debt (practically everyone), it still was a very informative and very beneficial read. I may not be as freewheeling as Chris currently is, but thanks to the advice from his book, i feel very positive about the fact that there is every possibility I will get there, and much sooner than I thought I would.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    Hmmm. This book could have been fantastic. Sadly, it was closer to mediocre. There is a lot of good information in it, and I am taking the message to heart. But it was not presented well, and so I can’t really recommend it to others. The author does have a website, however, which might be better (I haven’t checked it out yet). The book takes quite a while to get going. The entire first chapter felt like filler. I think much of the information could have been shared in two or three pages, not 19. Hmmm. This book could have been fantastic. Sadly, it was closer to mediocre. There is a lot of good information in it, and I am taking the message to heart. But it was not presented well, and so I can’t really recommend it to others. The author does have a website, however, which might be better (I haven’t checked it out yet). The book takes quite a while to get going. The entire first chapter felt like filler. I think much of the information could have been shared in two or three pages, not 19. In that intro, the author attempt to protect his ideas from criticism by saying that he abides by four principles, and if you don’t, that’s fine, but then this book is not for you. Those principles are: 1. You must be open to new ideas 2. You must be dissatisfied with the status quo 3. You must be willing to take personal responsibility 4. You must be willing to work hard I am absolutely on board with 1, 2 and 4 as they are. And I’m on board with what I hope is the concept behind number 3. However. I find, based purely on my own experience, that “personal responsibility” is often the code privileged people use to blame other people for not doing what they do. I think the concept of taking control makes sense – I’m not a fatalist, and I don’t think people are just stuck wherever they are – but I’m also not so naïve as to think that a white dude living in the U.S.A. might have a bit of an easier time taking ‘personal responsibility’ than others. But let’s move past that. As I said in the beginning, there is a lot of good stuff in here, but the way it is presented isn’t the best. Also, the author fills the book with anecdotes to illustrate his points (good) and little relevant quotes (also usually good). However, you might recall if you read my review of “Start with Why,” I’m quite aware of the gender and race of the examples authors choose to use. In this book, there were by my count 88 quotes and anecdotes; 73 were men and 13 were women. And most were white. It’s hard to view someone as a harbinger of non-conformity when so much of what he finds inspirational comes from such a homogenous group. Is that entirely fair? Probably not. Especially because, as I’ve said a couple of times, there is a lot in here that is useful. It’s just not a good book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Heidi The Reader

    Chris Guillebeau challenges readers to make their life how they want it, starting now. I didn't agree with everything in The Art of Non-Conformity but I thought that the underlying message was good. For example, Guillebeau has a fairly dismissive attitude about formal education. He admits that if you want to be a doctor or other highly trained professional then you're going to have to hit the books. Otherwise, he doesn't see much benefit from it. I can see both sides of that argument. I believe t Chris Guillebeau challenges readers to make their life how they want it, starting now. I didn't agree with everything in The Art of Non-Conformity but I thought that the underlying message was good. For example, Guillebeau has a fairly dismissive attitude about formal education. He admits that if you want to be a doctor or other highly trained professional then you're going to have to hit the books. Otherwise, he doesn't see much benefit from it. I can see both sides of that argument. I believe that education in any form is a requirement for a fulfilling life. Whether you do this through traditional pathways or non-traditional, just learn about things that spark your interest as much as you can for as long as you can. I think that Guillebeau has that same belief system, but it's hard to perceive it through his complete disregard for college or university educational programs. As for his life goal to visit every country in the world before the age of 35, which he completed since he wrote this book, I think that's incredible. I don't have the same goal, but I can appreciate the passion and planning that went into his achievement of it. Readers could learn a lot from this goal setting mindset, but again, everybody has to pick their own road. Guillebeau describes his personal path with gusto and pride, no apologies, and a lot of repetition. If you don't have a lot of patience for reading between the lines and self promotion, then you may want to try another book. If you enjoyed The Art of Non-Conformity, I'd suggest reading Creativity: The Perfect Crime by Philippe Petit or The Art of Exceptional Living by Jim Rohn.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Evermore

    First few chapters are nothing short of incredible. As a proud non-conformist myself, I loved the 'call to arms' the author gave. I even prematurely rated the book 4 stars. Then I came to the part of the book where he decides that higher learning is a waste of time and everyone should blog instead. He repeated frequently his dismay that his thesis was only read by three people, whereas his online manifesto was read by a hundred thousand, as if somehow that 1) makes his time and effort more well s First few chapters are nothing short of incredible. As a proud non-conformist myself, I loved the 'call to arms' the author gave. I even prematurely rated the book 4 stars. Then I came to the part of the book where he decides that higher learning is a waste of time and everyone should blog instead. He repeated frequently his dismay that his thesis was only read by three people, whereas his online manifesto was read by a hundred thousand, as if somehow that 1) makes his time and effort more well spent and his contribution greater, regardless of actual content or real impact, 2) having the praise of others is the purpose of higher education, and 3) external reward is the only desirable result of learning. Any serious student who listens to the author describe how he went about his schooling would have banged their head on a brick wall as he then whined about how little good his schooling did him. I've got news for you, dear: like life, you get out of learning equal parts of what you put into it, and I'm not talking about the number of credit hours you take. After that, the book has a few interesting tidbits, but nothing you can't learn anywhere online. I'm glad I borrowed the audiobook from the library. I almost had a coronary when I saw the thing was $71 retail. My advice? Borrow the book or audio from the library, listen with keen interest to the first few chapters, skip the clueless rants about education, and meander through the rest if you care to. DON'T spend your hard-earned money on this thing.

  26. 4 out of 5

    James Biskey

    Chris is a guy who lived a conventional life, then realized he wanted to live differently and made it happen. In this book, he questions many assumptions we unconsciously hold about education, credibility, and influence, and gives workable alternatives that have worked for him in his own life. The chapter that spoke to me the most was his suggestion for a low-cost alternative to graduate school that includes rigorous independent study, global travel, work experience, networking opportunities and Chris is a guy who lived a conventional life, then realized he wanted to live differently and made it happen. In this book, he questions many assumptions we unconsciously hold about education, credibility, and influence, and gives workable alternatives that have worked for him in his own life. The chapter that spoke to me the most was his suggestion for a low-cost alternative to graduate school that includes rigorous independent study, global travel, work experience, networking opportunities and blogging as a way to document it all to build credibility. Some might think his approach is too radical, but I support it and I've seen people use his methods to present themselves as experts in their field and enhance their career. As I've grown, I've realized a formal education does not always guarantee aptitude. To the contrary, I find myself most impressed by people who are driven, focused and resourceful enough to educate themselves and correctly apply it to their careers and lives. Chris' book has many useful ideas for someone who wants to do that.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Chung Chin

    It is a good jolt for people who have chosen to live routinely and accepted status quo as the norm. Not that living routinely or accepting status quo is anything bad, but if you have been living routinely and accepting status quo as a compromise and you are not happy about it, then there is definitely something wrong. This book offers you some inspiration and motivate you to live your life, not the way people expect you to, but the way you would want it to. One of the more repeated phrases in the It is a good jolt for people who have chosen to live routinely and accepted status quo as the norm. Not that living routinely or accepting status quo is anything bad, but if you have been living routinely and accepting status quo as a compromise and you are not happy about it, then there is definitely something wrong. This book offers you some inspiration and motivate you to live your life, not the way people expect you to, but the way you would want it to. One of the more repeated phrases in the book; You don't have to live your life the way other people expect you to. I do not know Chris personally, but I have read his blog time to time. The materials in this book does seems to match what he is doing with his life (updated in his blog), and therefore, I consider him as a person who walk his talk. What to expect if you read this book; - Some ideas on how to get closer to your "perfect" day - Motivation to embrace more of life - Inspiration to consider your purposes here on Earth, apart from living a good life for yourself - Good personal stories that you might relate to

  28. 5 out of 5

    Joanne

    I was quite torn about this book. I was delighted when it turned up, and jumped into it for inspiration, as I am in the process of setting out to build my own online business - I too wish to live an unconventional life and work for myself while spending a large portion of my life travelling. I liked much of the book, I admire Chris' principles and I really admire everything that he has achieved in his life so far. Having finished reading it, I am in the process of working back through it and wri I was quite torn about this book. I was delighted when it turned up, and jumped into it for inspiration, as I am in the process of setting out to build my own online business - I too wish to live an unconventional life and work for myself while spending a large portion of my life travelling. I liked much of the book, I admire Chris' principles and I really admire everything that he has achieved in his life so far. Having finished reading it, I am in the process of working back through it and writing out the inspirational quotes, of which there are plenty. And yet, I also felt it was a little lacking in places - lots of inspirational quotes and a really good underlying message, but not enough substance somehow - it was a little too general and some things niggled with me. And as others have mentioned I did feel it was a little smug & self-centred. But I'm still glad that I read it and have found lots in it to inspire me.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Pam

    I was attracted to this book by the title. I have always considered myself a non conformist so I was sure this would appeal to me. I was very disappointed with this book. Guillebeau has more or less wrote a book about himself and his quest to visit every country in the world and then to appear on Oprah. He describes at great length how lessons of life are more important than school but continually mentions his masters degree and failed attempt at getting a doctorate. I think he dropped out of hi I was attracted to this book by the title. I have always considered myself a non conformist so I was sure this would appeal to me. I was very disappointed with this book. Guillebeau has more or less wrote a book about himself and his quest to visit every country in the world and then to appear on Oprah. He describes at great length how lessons of life are more important than school but continually mentions his masters degree and failed attempt at getting a doctorate. I think he dropped out of high school and then went to a junior college and on to several colleges at the same time so he could finish his masters in a few years, and then he wonders why he didn't like college. I would not recommend this book to anyone.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    This is easily the worst book I have ever read. I as so excited to read this book. But the further I got into the book, the more I was disappointed. I trust the author was genuine in his ideas of how become successful,but the overwhelming theme of "just do nice things, and nice things will happen" is just not realistic for everyone. And his complete lack of respect for higher education was a bit disturbing. Some people work all their lives to get to college, and his advice is as good as "who car This is easily the worst book I have ever read. I as so excited to read this book. But the further I got into the book, the more I was disappointed. I trust the author was genuine in his ideas of how become successful,but the overwhelming theme of "just do nice things, and nice things will happen" is just not realistic for everyone. And his complete lack of respect for higher education was a bit disturbing. Some people work all their lives to get to college, and his advice is as good as "who care about college, just run off to another country and it will be ok"

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