For those who wonder what it would be like to be an astronaut, a farmer, or to live a year as a man (when you’re a woman) …
I am always intrigued with people who commit themselves for a whole year, to follow through with a specific goal or principle in mind. I’m a fairly committed person, but I don’t like to officially commit, if you know what I mean. I like “a year in the life of” books, because it really is quite an adventure the author embarks on. Plus, I can experience their triumphs and pit-falls without interrupting my own comfortable routines. These accounts of resolutions in action, made bare for all to read, are often funny and revealing in their empathy.
While reading and perusing through these “year in the life of” books, I’ve come to see that certain themes stand out. Thus, I’ve categorized the following titles into five themes: learning to do without, learning to live with, living purposely with a code or principle, living in another place, and a year in a profession. That being said, many of these titles could fit into more than one category.
Learning to do without: Bucking the trend; brave souls, these pioneers!
Year of No Sugar: a memoir by Eve O. Schaub
Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping by Judith Levine
A Year Unplugged: A Family’s Life Without Technology by Sharael Kolberg
Learning to live with: Whether it be an introspective journey, an unwelcome condition, or a new addition…
A Year by the Sea: Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman by Joan Anderson
The Madwoman in the Volvo: my year of raging hormones by Sandra Tsing Loh
The Puppy Diaries: raising a dog named Scout by Jill Abramson
Living purposely with a code (or principle): Walking the talk…Implementing a new lifestyle for self-improvement, as social experiment, a principle strongly believed in or “why not? This should be interesting…”
The Tao of Martha: My year of LIVING or why I’m never getting all that glitter off of the dog by Jen Lancaster
Helping Me Help Myself: One Sceptic, Ten Self-Help Gurus, and a Year on the Brink of the Comfort Zone by Beth Lisick
The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible by A.J. Jacobs
Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally
by Alisa Smith, J.B. MacKinnon
Sweater Quest: My Year of Knitting Dangerously by Adrienne Martini
Living in another place: Hmm, if I took a year off from work, where would I go?
The Caliph’s House: A Year in Casablanca by Tahir Shah
Voluntary Madness: My Year Lost and Found in the Loony Bin
by Norah Vincent
One Year Off: leaving it all behind for a round-the -world journey with our children by David Elliot Cohen
A Year in a Profession: If you were ever curious about life in another profession, these may be for you.
The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician’s First Year by Matt McCarthy
Little Fish: A Memoir from a Different Kind of Year by Ramsay Beyer (A graphic novel about the transformation of an 18-year-old girl from a small-town teenager into an independent city-dwelling college student.)
The Nurses: A Year of Secrets, Drama, and Miracles with the Heroes of the Hospital by Alexandra Robbins
Cutting Hill: A Chronicle of a Family Farm by Alan Pistorious
Reading Challenge/Literary Pursuits: Just because I am a librarian and just so you know, we don’t get to read all day behind the desk!
Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading by Nina Sankovitch
Howards End Is on the Landing: A Year of Reading from Home by Susan Hill
The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books (and two not-so-great ones) Saved My Life by Andy Miller
Of course, this begs the question,
What would you do for a year?
Please comment and let us know!
We Love Memoirs Day is the creation of two authors, Victoria Twead and Alan Parks, who have both written memoirs. It was their desire to bring authors and readers together that led to the creation of the observance and a Facebook group of the same name two years ago, and the 2600-strong Facebook community calls itself “the friendliest group on Facebook.”
With the popularity of page-to-screen adaptations like Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, Susanna Kaysen’s Girl, Interrupted, Julie Powell’s Julie and Julia and Piper Kerman’s Orange is the New Black, it would seem that people do indeed love memoirs, and it’s not hard to see why: memoirs offer a blend of characteristics from many genres. A good memoir provides the narrative and insights of fiction and the facts and documentary details of non-fiction. Books like I am Malala by Malala Yousafzi gives a first-hand account of the terror wrought by the Taliban. Amy Poehler’s Yes Please and Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me offer first person narratives of life behind the scenes in television, and Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly gives foodies a glimpse at life in the kitchen. Historical events like the 1979 Iranian Revolution come to life through the lens of Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel memoir Persepolis.
Nevins currently has quite a few new memoirs available, in areas from sports to pop culture, so there’s something for everyone!
Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father, by Alysia Abbott
Abbott chronicles her unconventional childhood, being raised by her single gay father in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district.
The Rose Hotel: A Memoir of Secrets, Loss, and Love from Iran to America, by Rahimeh Andalibian
Andalibian recounts her family’s move from Iran to California following the 1979 revolution and the two crimes that plagued the family.
Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own, by Kate Bolick
An exploration of changing attitudes towards marriage and a celebration of the lives of women who have chosen to remain single.
A Lucky Life Interrupted: A Memoir of Hope, by Tom Brokaw
The longtime news anchor reflects on his diagnosis with multiple myeloma, his career, and his family.
No Excuses: Growing Up Deaf and Achieving My Super Bowl Dreams, by Derrick Coleman Jr.
Coleman is the first legally deaf offensive player in the NFL. In this memoir he recounts the hard work that led him to a spot on the Super Bowl-winning Seattle Seahawks.
You Can’t Make This Up: Miracles, Memories, and the Perfect Marriage of Sports and Television, by Al Michaels
Emmy Award-winning sports announcer Al Michaels recounts his career in this memoir that spans over forty years in the business.
The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, by Issa Rae
Rae has found a following with her Web series “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl,” and here she shares her humor and insight through candid stories about her self-described awkwardness.