"Immersive journalism" is a rather popular trope these days, and GQ editor A.J. Jacobs is one of its most entertaining adherents, performing a public service with his quest for knowledge in his latest book, The Guinea Pig Diaries, which he presents at Vroman's Bookstore. Subtitled My Life as an Experiment, it's a chronicle of "radical lifestyle experiments" on himself (previous books saw Jacobs explicitly follow all the Bible's commandments and read the Encyclopaedia Britannica from back to front) that involves adhering to George Washington's 110 Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation, marinating himself in the Radical Honesty movement and posing nude with the plucky and ever-vexing Mary-Louise Parker. His experiments, alternately Herculean and banal, are emblematic of how difficult it is in this modern age to find enlightenment; "know thyself" regularly brushes up against the cold, rocky bottom of daily life.
Thu., Sept. 17, 7 p.m., 2009