The “My Year As…” Book

August 9, 2008 | 4 books mentioned 1

Rex Sorgatz (who runs the excellent Fimoculous) has noted a trend in the accessible non-fiction category: the “My Year As…” book. The author spends an entire year reading the OED or gorging on the competitive eating circuit, all to provide a window into a subculture, give the author an opportunity to poke a little fun at him or herself, and ultimately provide fodder for a book. Were I to trace the genesis of its trend, I would speculate that it’s the offspring of Morgan Sperlock’s gluttonous and popular experiment Super Size Me and the proliferation and popularity of reality television, wherein a regular Joe endures a contrived concept and the world watches. Sorgatz has compiled a list of these books, which at 22 strong, inclines this observer to think that the “year” may be nearing its end for this type of book.

This trend, of course, replaced an earlier trend, “biographies of things,” which had “changed the world,” according to the assertions of the authors and publishers, perhaps achieving its apotheosis with Mark Kurlansky’s Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World. This trend was succinctly dismissed by Richard Adams in the Gaurdian, writing

In a sense, yes, all these things have changed the world, but only in a general sense that everything that exists changes the world.

created and edits The Millions. He is co-editor of the collection of essays The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books, called "funny, poignant, relentlessly thought-provoking" by The Atlantic. He and his family live in New Jersey. If you'd like to correspond, please don't hesitate to email.

One comment:

  1. wouldn't it be more accurate to say the "my year as" trend started with hunter s. thompson and the whole gonzo journalism approach?

    "my year with a biker gang," "my year on the campaign trail," etc? or is there something fundamentally different i am overlooking? (besides reading the OED being a lot more boring than biking with the hell's angels for a year?)

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