Friday, February 26, 2010

Immersion Memoirs, Stunt Memoirs, and Schtick Lit

Immersion memoir? Stunt memoir? Schtick lit? This nonfiction genre goes by many names and has been extremely popular for the last few years. Books from this genre offer ample amounts of both insight and humor while following a basic pattern.

For a specified amount of time, often one year, the author decides to:

  1. Act according to a set of guidelines or within specific limitations.
  2. Repeat or accomplish a specific task.

If you are a fan of the genre or looking for a place to start, check out one of these books. Click on titles to view and reserve these books in the catalog.

No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries He Makes about Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process
by Colin Beavan

Beavan’s witty, thought-provoking chronicle of a year spent trying to have a minimal impact on the environment.

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A Year Without "Made in China": One Family's True Life Adventure in the Global Economy
by Sarah Bongiorno

Bongiorno recounts her often comic misadventures trying to buy items ranging from sunglasses to a DVD player.

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Give It Up: My Year of Learning to Live Better With Less
by Mary Carlomagno

Carlomagno shares what she learned after picking twelve of her favorite things including shopping, alcohol, and television, and giving up each of them for one month.

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The Year of Living Like Jesus: My Journey of Discovering What Jesus Would Really Do
by Ed Dobson

Evangelical pastor Dobson’s thoughtful reflection on a year spent not just following, but literally living like Jesus.

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The Year of Yes: A Memoir
by Maria Dahvana Headley

Headley’s snappy story of a year in which she said yes to everyone who asked her out, meeting her future husband in the process.

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Do-Over!: In Which A Forty-Eight-Year-Old Father Of Three Returns To Kindergarten, Summer Camp, the Prom, and Other Embarrassments
by Robin Hemley

Hemly’s humorous but wise retelling of what happened when he decided to take ten of the lowest moments of his childhood and relive them again, attempting to get things right the second time around.

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The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment
by A. J. Jacobs

A humorous collection of experiments in living in which Jacobs, among other things, outsources most of his life to Bangalore, India and lives according to George Washington’s 110 rules of civility.

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The Know-it-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World
by A. J. Jacobs

Jacobs' humorous memoir of a year in which he read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica, becoming aware of all the things the book could and could not teach him.

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The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible
by A. J. Jacobs

Jacobs' funny, thought-provoking memoir of a year in which he attempted to follow all 800+ rules in the Hebrew Bible.

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Animal, Vegetable, Miracle : A Year of Food Life
by Barbara Kingsolver

Part memoir, part journalism, and part cookbook, Kingsolver’s widely popular book details a year in which her family ate only food that was produced locally.

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Not Buying It: My Year without Shopping
by Judith Levine.

Levine’s memoir of a year in which she bought only necessities is a witty, reflective meditation on consumerism and the difference between needing and wanting.

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Helping Me Help Myself: One Skeptic, Twelve Self-Help Programs, One Whirlwind Year of Improvement
by Beth Lisik

Lisik chose twelve things she wanted to change about herself, found a guru for each thing she wanted to change, and spent a month devoted each of them. She relates her experince in this funny, insightful book.

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Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally
by Alyssa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon

Released just one week before Kingsolver’s similarly-themed book, Plenty is a quirky, engaging retelling of a year spent eating only locally produced foods.

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The Urban Hermit
by Sam McDonald

Facing enormous debt and a rapidly expanding waste line, McDonald decided to limit himself to spending $8 per week and eating 800 calories per day. He shares his experiment in this funny, uplifting book.

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Eat this Book: A Year of Gorging and Glory on the Competitive Eating Circuit
by Ryan Nerz

Nerz tells the tale of his year spent immersed in the world of competitive eating, profiling many of the sport's stars along the way.

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Living Oprah: My One-Year Experiment to Walk the Walk of the Queen of Talk
by Robyn Okrant

In this thoughtful book, Orkant shares a year of following every piece of advice dispensed through Oprah’s show, magazine, and website.

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Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen: How One Girl Risked Her Marriage, Her Job and Her Sanity to Master the Art of Living
by Julie Powell

Powel’s chronicle of year in which she cooked every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Made into a movie with the same title.

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A Devil to Play: One Man's Year-Long Quest to Master the Orchestra's Most Difficult Instrument
by Jasper Rees

Rees weaves accounts of the history and current uses of the French horn into his account of trying, within one year, to learn the instrument well enough to perform a Mozart concerto.

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The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University
by Kevin Roose

As a 19-year-old college sophomore, Roose spent an eye-opening semester "abroad" at Liberty University that resulted in this thoughtful, respectful documentation of fundamentalist Christian culture from a secular perspective.

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Reading the OED: One man, One Year, 21,730 Pages
by Ammon Shea

Shea’s year-long quest resulted in this witty and personal celebration of the English language that is part memoir and part lexicon of some our oddest words.

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Friends Like These: My Worldwide Quest to Find my Best Childhood Friends, Knock on Their Doors, and Ask Them to Come Out and Play
by Danny Wallace

Nearing 30, Wallace set off on a quest to find and reconnect with his best childhood friends before his impending birthday.

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Yes Man
by Danny Wallace

The basis for a movie with the same title, this book is Wallace’s witty, entertaining account of a year in which he said “yes” to absolutely everything.

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1 comment:

Jessica Green said...

I have been trying to read more non-fiction books, and thought stunt memoirs would be a smooth transition. I was right and so far I've finished "Yes Man" and "A Year Without 'Made in China'". Yes Man had more filler than I would have liked (anecdotal stories taking up pages, unnecessary details, etc), but the message was strong and it was humorous along the way. I really enjoyed "A Year Without...", which really got me thinking about our world as a whole, rather than what is right in front of me.

Thanks for these suggestions!