Don’t try this at home. Or do, and write a book about it.

As I was flying into New York City a couple of weeks ago, I thought about all the interesting experiments going on there at any given time.  Truly, the thought first occurred to me after seeing Julie and Julia –  all these quirky New Yorkers doing something for a year and then blogging or writing about it.  Although I didn’t spot any actual experimenters on the streets while I was there (that I know of at least), somehow I am still holding that strange impression of them.

It is fortunate for us that these people are willing to do the wacky things they do for two reasons: 1) we don’t have to do them; and 2) they make terrific reads.  My favorite author in this vein has to be A. J. Jacobs.  In The Year of Living Biblically, he grows his hair and beard, wears only white, and refuses to shake hands, all in the name of following every law in the Bible.  If you liked that one, try his most recent book, The Guinea Pig Diaries:  My Life as an Experiment

A couple of other options in this genre include:

Last on my list does not take place in New York, but should at least get me to stop judging New Yorkers.  The Urban Hermit: A Memoir recounts a year of living on $8 a week and 800 calories a day.  The author, Sam McDonald, now lives in Pittsburgh and teaches at the University of Pittsburgh. 



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4 responses to “Don’t try this at home. Or do, and write a book about it.

  1. The Urban Hermit sounds marvelous – wonder if we could convince Prof. McDonald to come over here and talk to us about it?


  2. Those all sound like a hoot! I am putting all of them on my internal reading list. And yes–let’s ask McDonald to come!

  3. Sarah

    Another good one to try is Recipes for Disaster. It’s a documentary about a family who goes on a year-long “oil diet,” reducing their use petroleum-based products (plastic, toothpaste) in the hopes of reducing their carbon footprint. It’s available in the Film & Audio Department.

  4. Sarah, that sounds awesome, thank you! All that “Frontier House” kind of programming sort of falls in the same oeuvre, too, come to think of it…


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