DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
Dec 24 2018

One Year, 15 Lives: Books About Life-Changing Personal Decisions

by Scot L

Who doesn’t love a good stunt memoir? You know: Books in which an author recounts his or her decision to do (or not do) this or that thing and then document the results of said decision. As someone who regularly undertakes large personal projects that inevitably fall far short of completion, I relate and admire those individuals who decide to do a thing, then do that thing, and are then (finally!) possessed of the energy and organizational skills to relate their findings to the world. Anyway! We have assembled a list of 15 such titles for you to peruse. Click here for the entire list, or click on the title or cover of each suggested book to be taken to its record in our catalog.

So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading by Sara Nelson

Sara Nelson set out to chronicle a year’s worth of reading, to explore how the world of books and words intermingled with the “real” world. Fifty-two weeks, fifty-two books …  and it all fell apart the first week. That’s when she discovered that books chose her as much as she chose them, and the rewards and frustrations they brought were nothing she could plan for.

Three Among the Wolves: A Couple and Their Dog Live a Year With Wolves in the Wild by Helen Thayer

Helen and Bill Thayer, accompanied by their part-wolf, mostly Husky dog, Charlie, set out on foot to live among wild wolf packs, first in the Canadian Yukon and then in the Arctic. They discover the complexities of wolf family structure and view the intricacies of the hunt firsthand, as well as the wolves’ finely honed survival skills and engaging playfulness.

Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell

This is the story of Julie Powell’s attempt to revitalize her marriage, restore her ambition, and save her soul by cooking all 524 recipes in volume one of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking – in a mere 365 days.

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

In this book, Barbara Kingsolver and her family embark on a rural, locally sourced adventure. For one year, their diet will consist solely of  food that was raised in their own neighborhood or that they have grown themselves.

A Year Without “Made In China”: One Family’s True Life Adventure in the Global Economy by Sara Bongiorni

Sara Bongiorni fills this book with engaging stories and anecdotes of her family’s yearlong attempt to outrun China’s reach – by boycotting Chinese-made products – and does a remarkable job of taking a decidedly big-picture issue (the effects of globalism) and breaking it down to a personal level.

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

The author of The Know-It-All follows up his bestselling account of reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica with another improbable adventure – a year spent living, as literally as possible, by the rules of the Bible.

The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin

In the vein of Julie and Julia, this book describes Gretchen Rubin’s year-long attempt to discover what leads to true contentment. Drawing at once on cutting-edge science, classical philosophy, and real-world applicability, Rubin has written an engaging chronicle of personal transformation.

Working in the Shadows: A Year of Doing the Jobs (Most) Americans Won’t Do by Gabriel Thompson

What is it like to do the back-breaking work of immigrants? To find out, Gabriel Thompson spent a year working alongside Latino immigrants, who initially thought he was either crazy or an undercover immigration agent. Thompson shines a bright light on the underside of the American economy, exposing harsh working conditions, union busting, and lax government enforcement – while telling the stories of workers, undocumented immigrants, and desperate U.S. citizens forced to live with chronic pain in the pursuit of $8 an hour.

My Year With Eleanor: A Memoir by Noelle Hancock

In this book, Noelle Hancock recounts the results of her decision to heed the advice of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and do one thing a day that scares her in the year before her 30th birthday.

MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend by Rachel Bertsche

Newly arrived in Chicago and friendless, author Rachel Bertsche  settles upon a plan: She’ll go on 52 friend-dates, one per week for a year, in hopes of meeting her new Best Friend Forever.

Our Black Year: One Family’s Quest to Buy Black in America’s Racially Divided Economy by Maggie Anderson

On January 1, 2009, Maggie and John Anderson embarked on a year-long public pledge to “buy black.” The Andersons combed Chicago in search of supermarkets, dry cleaners, gas stations, pharmacies, and clothing stores owned by African-Americans, and this is the story of what they learned.

Mirror, Mirror Off the Wall: How I Learned to Love My Body By Not Looking At It for a Year Kjerstin Gruys

When Kjerstin Gruys became engaged, she was thrilled – until it came time to shop for a wedding dress. Faced with a new set of impossible beauty standards, she found herself struggling to maintain a positive self-image. She then decided to embark on a bold plan, vowing to give up mirrors and other reflective surfaces, relying instead on her friends to help her gauge her appearance and her outlook on life.

Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste by Bianka Bosker

In this book, Bianka Bosker quits her job as an executive in the tech industry and gives herself one year to become a master sommelier. Her quest takes her inside underground tasting groups, exclusive New York City restaurants, California mass-market wine factories, and even a neuroscientist’s fMRI machine as she attempts to answer the most nagging question of all: what’s the big deal about wine?

All Day: A Year of Love and Survival Teaching Incarcerated Kids at Rikers Island by Liza Jessie Peterson

This book recounts a year in poet and actress Liza Jessie Peterson’s classroom at Island Academy, the high school for inmates detained at New York City’s Rikers Island.

The Year of Less by Cait Flanders

This book documents the twelve months during which author Cait Flanders bought only consumables: groceries, toiletries, fuel for her car. She trashed 70 percent of her belongings, learned how to fix things rather than throw them away, researched the zero waste movement, and completed a television ban – learning at every stage that the less she consumed, the more fulfilled she felt.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: