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4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 10 February 2011
I'm not saying this is a bad book to read,nor am I saying it is a great book to read either,but it is quite obvious for people like myself,who read "The Four-Hour Work Week" first,that Chris has just regurgitated a lot what was already said in that book,and just shown us how he has applied a lot of those principles that he learned from reading that book to his own venture here,and at his blog.
That being said,he does promise that a certain percentage of the profit from the sales of this book goes to a charity in Africa,that helps to give the people clean drinking water,so if you find you didn't like this book,at least you have the knowledge of knowing you played a small part in helping there.
And you can always come here and write a review if you feel that bad about having bought it.
My verdict :
An OK read,but if you haven't read "The Four-Hour Work Week",grab that first and read this afterward,and I think you'll see what I mean here.All in all,this is a fine example of a guy trying to put what he learned from reading "The Four-Hour Work Week" into practice,in his own life.
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on 6 November 2011
I grew up in an era when "conformity" was a grey, grey word to colour parents, teachers and people with clerical jobs. (Oddly, manual workers were neither conformist nor non-conformist: they were "the workers" and as such outside cultural judgement.) Back then we knew what it was people were conforming to: marriage, children, job-for-life working for a bank or one of the nationalised industries or in government, washing the car on Sunday and middle-brow culture. It meant fitting in with what other people said they expected you to do and believe.

An updated version of this is roughly what Chris Guillebreau means by "conformity". I think he makes two mistakes. The first is that post-modern capitalist economies don't want you to conform, except to your employers' dress and IT codes. Expecting you to conform to anything else would mean setting standards and training people and generally making commitments, and post-modern capitalism needs to be able to dump it, outsource it, price it out of your salary range and generally melt it into air at any time with minimum disruption and expense. The second mistake is that conforming is not about product choice and how we make the rent, and many of the choices we make are constrained by the numbers. Most of us have to work 9-5 because most jobs are 9-5, not freelance. Most of us have to work at what we're good at rather than at what we love, because what we're good at pays and what we love doesn't. Following your bliss is viable if it so happens that your bliss pays enough, or you are prepared to live very cheap.

Indeed, the book's title should be "Live Cheap and You Need Never Go Into The Office". He's a web developer and seemingly one of the few who are good enough to find enough clients prepared to let him work off-site, which not many clients are prepared to do. He only needs some telephony to do his job - sometimes, I'm gathering, sat phones so he can dial in to a client conference call in the middle of Africa. (That strikes him as cool, but I think it's a little... disjointed.) He travels a lot - not in a Tyler Brule style. He's not going to Biarritz for dinner at Restaurant Phillipe, but to Azerbaijan, Syria, Turkey and other Poor Countries. His idea of fine dining at lunchtime is Chipolte and he's a vegetarian, which keeps the costs down. He's also prepared to sit around airports for a day waiting for connecting flights, delays and the like, on cut-price airlines. Going to poor countries makes your income last a lot longer, and provides months of comparing your material circumstances with Poor People, which makes you feel a lot better about yourself than a few weeks in Manhattan or Kensington.

If I said that books like this were actually commissioned by corporations and western governments to convince you that it's your fault you're a wage-slave tied to a soul-crushing commute and job, which given your skill-set you can only change for a different soul-crushing commute and job, you would mutter something about "Corporations and governments aren't that smart". He may not know it, but he's blaming the victim, the favourite tactic of the oppressor and his lackeys. If only we had the gumption to Do What We Love And Find Someone To Pay Us For Doing It, we would be happy and unafraid of being replaced by someone in Mumbai. Good thing Chris likes web development, which he can do from a rooftop cafe in Syria, and not Java enterprise systems, which would mean he would have to be on-site right up to the day they at-will terminated him.

I felt cheated, because a book with this title should be about more than working freelance, which is a way of life that takes a particular character and mind-set that most of don't have - which is why we don't do it. Non-conformity is about just a lot more than how you make your pay-cheque and where you go on vacation, and there are moments he addresses that stuff, but not for long enough.
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Chris Guillebeau writes the online manifesto "A Brief Guide to World Domination" and multiple other articles, he is an avid traveller and charity worker as well as free-thinker. This book details some examples and suggestions of how to achieve the life you want, rather than the life you are living.

A lot of his musings are based around age-old tenets like 'be less materialistic' and 'think outside the box' (I'm paraphrasing) and not all of us can live life like Chris, but nonetheless the message within this book should cause some rousing of dissent in even the most stoic of societal sleepwalkers. A couple of times, it's clear that he is pitching to us despite mentioning on several of his checklists about "not selling" to your "army" (readers, devotees) but then references his review score on Amazon.com more than once and plugs a couple of charities at the same time. It's not offensive, but feels a little hypocritical. I can see that part of this is serving his agenda, in the way he is trying to educate us to serve ours, but it probably should have been held out of this book!

Whilst not all of his suggestions will be applicable to your personal situation, it is easy enough to see where he is coming from and do the fine-tuning yourself. A well written book with multiple inspiring quotes from famous visionaries amongst the block text and not heavy in the slightest. Recommended for those trying to extricate themselves from a rut.
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on 6 August 2011
I wanted to like this book but struggled through it. If you've read blog posts and other such writings on the subject then you're probably not the target audience for this book. It feels like an absolute beginners guide and rather unfocussed. After finishing, I felt I hadn't read anything new here.
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on 23 January 2015
I came across this book at exactly the right time, for I have been in a year-long tug-of-war with myself about breaking free from paid employment in order to pursue the life that I really want to live. I have been in paid employment for decades, so it's a big wrench, but it has been encouraging and reassuring to read this book - it can be done! In response to some of the other reviews, Guillebeau is not offering up a vision of life-long leisure, rather the opposite in fact. It is quite clear that self-employment, combined with the pursuit of life ambitions, is a great deal of hard work - but he does it all on his own terms. This is the point. In fact, he states that he has no intention of retiring.
My only quibble with the book is that Guillebeau's path to freedom has an undercurrent of obsession about it: there seems to be a fondness for ticking things off, measuring time and outputs, and an open admiration for those who do likewise. I read a quote recently: "To be successful, you need an obsession", so perhaps he has a point. Certainly, for anyone who is seriously considering changing the way they live, the book has a lot to offer.
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on 15 January 2011
Don't get me wrong, I really like Chris Guillebeau. I just don't think there's much in the book. I mean, it might be good for absolute beginners to the world of life-hacking/entrepreneurship/living-the-way-you-really-want but if you've read Chris's blog or anything else on the topic, this book feels quite... "light". It felt like a free e-book, if you know what I mean.

On the other hand, it's really encouraging, and you get to know more about Chris's story. So I wouldn't say you shouldn't buy it at all. I just feel it's not practical!

Find your mission/passion and go for it. That's definitely it, but there are some techniques/advice/tutorials out there (blogs are great and free) that can help you much more!
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on 20 May 2012
I quite liked this book. It shared new ideas and thoughts often lacking in this genre. I found the idea of positive rather than no work enlightening, particularly the level of work and various projects discussed. I did find some of the areas on helping others a tad preachy but I appreciate that when it's a good cause it's easy to be passionate. The books marks his experiences and it certainly delivers some interesting and inspiring tales from his life.

Where I found it lacking was that the books feels quite short. I would have loved to see some more case studies in there and considering the price which is just tipping in to the higher category for kindle books I would have expected something slightly fuller. My main issue was that its poorly edited. The books is full of typos and misspells, far more so than another book I think I've read.

It's worth a read but definitely has issues in there that are hoped are learned from for the second book.
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on 13 April 2012
Chris Guillebeau is one of those people who travels,works and makes the world a better place.This inspiring book is full of practical and philosophical ideas to do the same by creating the template for your own life.It covers travel,setting up mutliple freelance businesses from wherever you are and basing all of this on your core values.There are ideas to discover these then turn them into goals to set your course.If you think outside the box,then this is for you!
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on 20 February 2011
This is the perfect read for anyone who suspects there's more to life than the daily grind of joyless conformity.

Being self-employed, I was inspired and encouraged by Chris Guillebeau's take on 'creative self-employment', in particular using the internet. Though I don't share his passion for travel, I can relate to his quest for the freedom to live a life of creativity, flexibility and fun. His advice is less about becoming wealthy enough to travel the world and more about engineering the lifestyle you love doing work you enjoy. (I'm all for that!) Aside from the work/career/employment advice, there are also some strategies for general life-imporvement (I loved the To Stop Doing list) and tips on how to handle the 'play-it safers, the creatures of the commonplace and the slaves of the ordinary'.

The Art of Non-Conformity is an enjoyable blend of anecdotes, insights, how-to advice and soul-searching questions. There is also an altruistic thread throughout the whole book, exploring what we have to offer the world, in terms of our talents, service and legacy - a healthy and refreshing balance to the pursuit of the our ideal lives.

Inspiring insights, encouraging stories and provocative questions- a fab read. Really enjoyed it.
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on 26 February 2015
If I could give it more stars I would, It might just have been the 'right time and in the right place' whatever it was, it has already made a positive impact. It's a no nonsense, to the point book, written well by an amazing person.
Enjoy Reading
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