In recent years, I have started reading more non-fiction, and I like "slice of life" stuff, so I thought I would pick up a few "stunt"/immersion journalism books. This is where someone sets themselves a goal for a certain period (got No Impact Man at the library today) or goes and lives the way someone else does for a period (like Barbara Ehrenreich in Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch). Anyone have recommendations? Green or food-related recommendations particularly welcome!
I'd recommend Sudhir Vankatesh's _Gang Leader for a day_. It's an ethnography/memoir about research he started doing for his dissertation in sociology on a gang in Chicago. But, it's written in a completely non-academic way. I've recommended it to friends and family as well as assigned it in classes and everyone always loves it and has lots they want to say after!
Thanks! I may have heard him interviewed on the local NPR station when he was doing that research. I seem to remember something like that.
Food-related - Julie and Julia by Julie Powell is probably one of the more well-known examples. It was adapted from her blog about cooking all 524 recipes in The Art of Mastering French Cooking in one year. I struggled through it a little, but it was readable. I think the transformation from blog to book wasn't done well. It's one of the rare times that I liked the movie more than the book, but mostly because of the part of the movie that portrayed Julia Child's life.
DH liked The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs, about living by the precepts set out in the Bible, but he didn't love it. I've read parts of it, but haven't read it cover-to-cover yet. I'm kind of lukewarm on what I've read too, which is why I haven't read more.
No glowing recommendations, sorry, but I found that they are both interesting from the point of view of observing one person's commitment (obsession) to a project.
Yeah. He got tons of press. Including several NPR interviews.
Depending on your tolerance for academic language, I can recommend others.
ollyoxenfree - I also like the Julia Childs parts of the movie! Hadn't read the blog or book when I saw it.
parsley - I tolerate academic language OK , but since I often have to pick apart complex documents for my job, I like to read good storytelling (with something to learn) in my free time. For example, I have really enjoyed all the Jon Krakauer books I've read.
An old, but fascinating example is John Howard Griffith's "Black Like Me", published in 1961. He was a white Texan who dyed his skin and travelled around passing as a Black man. It's a slightly cringeworthy premise these days, but he had good intentions and he writes very well about the racism he encountered, the brief friendships he formed with Black families, and so on. Very, very interesting stuff.
I saw this at the library and flipped through it, but I really disliked it - probably because I'm a Christian and it was clear the author had no idea about Christianity, and was doing it in a very publicity-stuntish, offending-people-is-good-publicity way. He was either ignorant of, or deliberately ignored for the sake of polemics, the distinction between living (as far as possible, which isn't very far in today's society) like an ancient Hebrew - ie, following the ceremonial and civil laws - and living as, say, a first-century Gentile Christian, to the likes of whom Paul wrote a number of the epistles. So it just came across as a mishmash - taking all the rules he found funniest, most offensive or most interesting to follow, and following them out of context. It was offensive, but not in a thought-provoking philosophical way - just a "Wow, this guy doesn't have Clue 1" way.
At least, that's the impression I got, but I didn't peruse the entire thing, so - you know.
Anyhoo. I must admit to a fondness for "stunt" journalism myself, like the Little Brown Dress site and No Impact Man. I'll be interested to hear more suggestions! Incidentally, the "Julie" parts of "Julie and Julia" kind of annoyed me, but Meryl Streep more than made up for it. I haven't read the book, but I read a fair chunk of the blog, and she's an OK writer... not amazing enough to make me hunt up the book, though. And didn't she write another book after that about having an affair and leaving her husband? Put me off a bit.
I liked "Enrique's Journey". by Sonia Nazario.
In this astonishing true story, award-winning journalist Sonia Nazario recounts the unforgettable odyssey of a Honduran boy who braves unimaginable hardship and peril to reach his mother in the United States.
This book was amazing. I will never think about the immigration debate the same way again.
food is a v. large subject. is it cooking, growing, slow foods...?
when i think of food my 'hero' comes to mind - Michael Pollan (dd and my fav) esp. 'the botany of desire' - both the book and documentary was GREAT. anything by him too is good. enough food for thought i'd say.
presently i am reading The guinea pig diaries : my life as an experiment / A.J. Jacobs. a series of essays. light read. i am reading it. its more about his own experience.
i have more but i cant think of any.
Culinary reactions : the everyday chemistry of cooking / Simon Quellen Field. - this also is on my reading list.
I'm assuming you've already read "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver, but if not, it seems like it would fit the bill...
Thanks for the recommendation of No Impact Man, smokering. I read it, but feel I need to re-read it and think about it some more. Lots of food for thought in there!
I actually have not read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, but someone mentioned it to me the other day. Going on the list! Drop Dead Healthy sounds good, too.
Thanks for all the suggestions!!
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is a great book!
Another one along the same lines and fits the stunt journalism category fairly well is The 100-mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating by Alisa Smith and J.B.Mackinnon.