One Whole Year: Annualist Titles to Motivate, Enlighten or Entertain

Written by Sarah Hamfeldt, Reference Librarian at Central Library

julie&juliaCould you go a whole year following the Bible literally, cooking Julia Child’s recipes, or not shopping? That’s just what authors A. J. Jacobs (The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible), Julie Powell (Julie and Julia: 365 days, 524 recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen) and Judith Levine (Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping) did.

They are part of the trend in books that the BBC calls annualism, “a journalistic work where protagonist endures ordeal, usually for year, then writes book about it.”

Some of them may seem like stunts, like Robyn Okrant’s self-help title Living Oprah: My One-Year Experiment to Walk the Walk of the Queen of Talk, but others take a deep look at global issues, such as Rory Stewart’s The Prince of the Marshes: And Other Occupational Hazards of a Year in Iraq. Discover more of these year-long journeys on JMRL Reads: A Wiki for Sharing Information about Books for Readers of All Ages.

Here are a few more books based on the idea of annualism that you can check out from the Greene County Library:

A Dog Year: Twelve Months, Four Dogs, and Me by Jon Katz – The author describes how his world–and that of his two other canine companions–was transformed by the arrival of Devon, a high-strung border collie, and how the individual members of the household adapted to one another.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver – Follows the author’s family’s efforts to live on locally- and home-grown foods, an endeavor through which they learned lighthearted truths about food production and the connection between health and diet.

Next Man Up: A Year Behind the Lines in Today’s NFL by John Feinstein – A behind-the-scenes tour of the ups and downs of an NFL season focuses on the Baltimore Ravens and reveals the lesser-known aspects of the professional league, from the dangerous conditions under which athletes are expected to train to the unrelenting pressures faced by coaches and players.

The Year of Yes: A Memoir by Maria Dahvana Headley – A playwright describes how, discouraged by her terrible luck with romance and dating and searching for love, she decided to eliminate her own personal likes and dislikes from the equation and accept every person who asked her out for an entire year, including a millionaire who lived with his mother, a gay actor, and a divorced man with kids whom she ended up marrying.

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