A Year in the Life

Calendar with flowers and a cup of tea on a desk

I love the movie "Julie and Julia." It’s got it all. Cooking. Whimsy. Streep. And the “year in the life” trope that I am the ultimate sucker for. I think it’s the promise of redemption. I know that at the start of the year, our character will be struggling in some way. A catalyst will lead them to commit to a wild notion of doing something for a year. There will be ups and downs, successes and failures. Then, by the end of the year, I will get a satisfying conclusion with a changed-for-the-better character. I get so inspired; I want to do something quirky for a year! And then write about it! Admittedly, I’ve yet to make it past ideation, but I come back to this notion time and time again. There’s something comforting about self-improvement that’s broken into twelve tidy chunks. It's a structure that will contain very little surprises, but I love it nonetheless, perhaps due to its predictability.

This love probably also speaks to my chameleon nature that comes from moving around so much when I was growing up – reading about or watching people immerse themselves for a year is so familiar, and all the dreadful leaving and goodbyes and change happens off screen, where I don’t have to think about it! I would always think about reinventing myself with each move, and these people have done it. They embraced a new challenge, worked to improve something or tried to enact change for a better world. Me – not so much; I stayed the same nerdy, book-loving goofball regardless of what state we lived in, but I’m not too mad about that. And I’ve got plenty of years ahead of me to take up mini crochet, turn it into a metaphor for my relationships, write about it and then have Meryl Streep star in the movie based on it.  

Further Reading and Watching

"Julie and Julia"

Either the book or the movie on this one, guys. It’s so charming and sweet, and anything about food gets bonus points from me. This was one of my first introductions to this type of genre, and I fell hard for sweet Julie Powell working her way through Julia Child’s cookbook.

"The Year of Living Biblically"

Hysterical. And so informative. Really, you can’t go wrong with anything from A.J. Jacobs. His wit and humor melds with research and experience for a truly enjoyable read about various religious traditions and how they are interpreted in modern times.

"The Happiness Project"

I like the heart and whimsy of “The Happiness Project.” I don’t think there’s anyone among us hoping to be unhappy (if you’re out there, this book might not be for you), but it can be quite tricky to find happiness. I like Rubin’s approach in trying to pinpoint ways to make us happy.

"Nickel and Dimed"

I had to read this for a class in college, and it honestly blew my mind. It has enthralling writing from Barbara Ehrenreich, but what really got me was the subject matter. Add in the fact that this was written twenty-two years ago, and it scares me to think about how most people have to try to get by. In this economy?

"Moonwalking with Einstein"

This one is on my TBR pile, but it seems right up my alley. A person spending a year doing quirky, niche things to try to improve his memory? Oh yeah. Sign me up. I’m sure he does very intense scientific things, but it’s the promise of the United States Memory Championship from the blurb that has me checking Anythink Wright Farms’ shelves.

"The Wire"

When I think of things I enjoy, the word gritty rarely applies, but I feel like I need to check this one out. The show has all the acclaim of the critical variety, and it’s based on a book about a reporter spending a year researching a homicide team in Baltimore.

What do you think? Do you have any suggestions for more “year in the life” themed books and TV shows? Please let me know!