Changing your life for one year may sound like the ultimate boredom-buster, but the proliferation of books in this area has made me wonder if we all have rather low attention spans? What happens after the year, are changes maintained – or once the book deal is signed do these authors go back to all of their bad habits?
The self-help area is ripe for authors wishing to improve themselves. Robyn Okrant had a year of Living Oprah : my one-year experiment to walk the walk of the queen of talk, where she devoted a year of her life to following all of Oprah’s suggestions from her talk show, webpage and magazine. I gather the results were varied!
Kjerstin Gruys, who is apparently “a scholar, fashionista, and bride-to-be spends a year without mirrors and other reflective surfaces to get a better view of herself, her life, and what’s really important” in Mirror, mirror off the wall : how I learned to love my body by not looking at it for a year, and Lauren Kessley has been trying every concoction to stop the clock in Counterclockwise : My Year of Hypnosis, Hormones, Dark Chocolate, and Other Adventures in the World of Anti-Aging.
A.J Jacobs in his latest book Drop dead healthy : one man’s humble quest for bodily perfection is perhaps the most extreme. He had to consult a team of medical advisers, and subject himself to a gruelling regimen of exercises, a range of diets, and an array of practices to improve everything from his hearing, to his sleep, to his sex life; all the while testing the patience of his long-suffering wife.
John Kralik documented 365 thank yous. Over one year he wrote thank you notes for the small acts of kindness that came his way and Judith O’Reilly, in A year of doing good : one woman, one New Year’s resolution, 365 good deeds attempted to do one good deed each day. According to the publishers both authors experienced profound changes in their lives – but being of a rather cynical disposition I am curious to know if these changes remained permanent?
The area of sustainability is rife with year-long experiences, with the best known being Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, vegetable, miracle : our year of seasonal eating. John Lewis-Stempel detailed in his book The wild life : a year of living on wild food how nothing came from a shop or agriculture, and had to be either foraged or shot. When do these people have time to go to the movies of have a holiday I wonder?
On the rather extreme area of the spectrum is The perfect punter : a year of losing everything and trying to win it all back by Dave Farrar who does his best to become the worlds best gambler, a dubious honour I suspect.
And then there is The trout diaries : a year of fly-fishing in New Zealand by Derek Grzelewski, which I will not be showing to my husband in case he gets any ideas!
My personal favourite is a novel by Sue Townsend The woman who went to bed for a year. I might give that idea a go.