I am always seeking out books in which people undertake challenging quests and tell about their journeys. These books are usually very amusing and you usually learn quite a bit along the way. (One author–A.J. Jacobs–seems to be building his career on these types of books!) In these books, you’ll follow along on quests to: live for a year following the Bible literally, read the entire Encyclopedia of Britannica, say yes to everyone who asks you on a date, go without buying anything from China, and raise your kid without TV. >Sounds interesting, doesn’t it?
- The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible As Literally As Possible by A.J. Jacobs
- The Know It All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World by A.J. Jacobs
- The Year of Yes by Maria Dahvana Headley
- A Year Without “Made in China”: One Family’s True Life Adventure in the Global Economy by Sara Bongiorni
- The Big Turnoff: Confessions of a TV-addicted Mom Trying To Raise A TV-Free Kid by Ellen Currey-Wilson
Here is a bit more information about each of the books recommended above…
The title pretty much says it all! The author spends a year trying to literally follow all rules and laws given in the Bible — starting with the Old Testament and then ending with the New Testament. Along the way, he has many hilarious adventures and also some eye-opening spiritual experiences. Although the author definitely approaches his quest in a humorous way, he can’t help but be touched by the experience and this translates over to the reader. This is one of my favorite types of books — books where you end up learning a lot but in an accessible and enjoyable way. There are some laugh-out-loud moments but also some real thought-provoking ones as well.
Written by the same author as The Year of Living Biblically, this book chronicles A.J. Jacobs’ attempt to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica from cover to cover. The quest turns out to be more difficult and enlightening than the author ever anticipated, and it is a hoot to go along on his journey. Just as with his other book, you end up learning a lot but without having to work too hard (my favorite way to learn)! One of my favorite parts was when he tries out to be on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” Besides reading more about everything than anyone should, the book also documents the author’s personal growth in his life and marriage. A fun and informative read!
The Year of Yes chronicles the author’s decision to say “yes” to every man who asks her on a date for one year. This decision is precipitated by her lack of luck in the romance department. She tells herself she obviously isn’t picking the right man on her own so why not just say “yes” to everyone who asks her on a date and see what happens. And did I mention that she lives in New York City? So you can imagine that she “yeses” quite a wide variety of men. There are some real comic moments in the book and moments when you really wonder about the wisdom of her decision. Does her quest work? Does she find love? You’ll have to read to find out!
Could you imagine going for an entire year without buying anything that was made in China? That is what the author and her family decide to do. This book chronicles their struggles … from buying children’s shoes to getting toner for the printer. It was also interesting to hear about the lengths she went to to stay true to her quest. I defy anyone to read this book without becoming aware of just how many of the products you use everyday come from China. I found myself picking up just about everything I wore or used after reading this book to see where it was made. Although the book has some commentary about the global economy and the impact of so many of our consumer goods being made in China, it is more of a personal story about one family’s experiences.
For much of my childhood, we didn’t have a TV and I think it affected me in many ways. Aside from having huge holes in my pop culture knowledge when it comes to TV shows, I also think it influenced why I am such an avid reader. The issue of television was a big one for me when I had my own son so this book was of particular interest. This is a really well-written book about one mother’s quest to keep her son from watching TV and the difficulties of doing this in our TV-focused society. I very much related to her struggles in her quest and as a mother, and it raises many interesting questions about TV and children. I think this is a must read for any parent!