What a Difference a Year Makes

Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen: How One Girl Risked Her Marriage, Her Job and Her Sanity to Master the Art of Living

By Julie Powell

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Julie Powell is 30 years old, living in a rundown apartment in Queens, and working at a soul-sucking secretarial job that's going nowhere. She needs something to break the monotony of her life. So, she invents a deranged assignment: She will take her mother's dog-eared copy of Julia Child's 1961 classic, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and will cook all 524 recipes...in the span of just one year.

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Kingbird Highway: The Biggest Year in the Life of an Extreme Birder

By Kenn Kaufman

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"At sixteen, Kenn Kaufman dropped out of the high school where he was student council president and hit the road, hitching back and forth across America, from Alaska to Florida, Maine to Mexico. Maybe not all that unusual a thing to do in the seventies, but what Kenn was searching for was a little different: not sex, drugs, God, or even self, but birds. A report of a rare bird would send him hitching nonstop from Pacific to Atlantic and back again. When he was broke he would pick fruit or do odd jobs to earn the fifty dollars or so that would last him for weeks.

"His goal was to set a record - most North American species seen in a year - but along the way he began to realize that at this breakneck pace he was only looking, not seeing. What had been a game became a quest for a deeper understanding of the natural world. Kingbird Highway is a unique coming-of- age story, combining a lyrical celebration of nature with wild, and sometimes dangerous, adventures, starring a colorful cast of characters."

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My Freshman Year: What a Professor Learned by Becoming a Student

By Rebekah Nathan

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After more than fifteen years of teaching, Rebekah Nathan, a professor of anthropology at a large state university, realized that she no longer understood the behavior and attitudes of her students.... Nathan decided to put her wealth of experience in overseas ethnographic fieldwork to use closer to home and apply to her own university. Accepted on the strength of her high school transcript, she took a sabbatical and enrolled as a freshman for the academic year.

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Not Buying it: My Year Without Shopping

By Judith Levine

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"...a close look at our society's obsession with shopping and the cold turkey confession of a woman we can all identify with -- someone who can't live without French roast coffee andexpensive wool socks, but who has had enough of spending money for the sake of it. Without consumer goods and experiences, Levine and her partner Paul pursue their careers, nurture family relationships and try to keep their sanity and humour intact. Tracking their progress and lapses, she contemplates the meanings of need and desire, scarcity and security, consumerism and citizenship."

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One Year Off: Leaving It All Behind For a Round-the-World Journey With Our Children

By David Elliot Cohen

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"With three children under the age of nine, the youngest still in diapers, the Cohens decide to do something many dream of, but few actually undertake: sell the house, the cars, and the belongings and take off for a year-long journey around the world. Demonstrating great creativity and tremendous tenacity, David, Devi, and their children create the adventure of a lifetime -- an inspiration to anyone who dreams of leaving it all behind."

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Seasons on Harris: A Year in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides

By David Yeadon

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"The Outer Hebrides of Scotland epitomize the evocative beauty and remoteness of island life. The most dramatic of all the Hebrides is Harris, a tiny island formed from the oldest rocks on earth, a breathtaking landscape of soaring mountains, wild lunarlike moors, and vast Caribbean-hued beaches. This is where local crofters weave the legendary Harris Tweed-a hardy cloth reflecting the strength, durability, and integrity of the life there.

"In Seasons on Harris, David Yeadon, 'one of our best travel writers' (The Bloomsbury Review), captures, through elegant words and line drawings, life on Harris--the people, their folkways and humor, and their centuries-old Norse and Celtic traditions of crofting and fishing. Here Gaelic is still spoken in its purest form, music and poetry ceilidh evenings flourish in the local pubs, and Sabbath Sundays are observed with Calvinistic strictness. Yeadon's book makes us care deeply about these proud islanders, their folklore, their history, their challenges, and the imperiled future of their traditional island life and beloved tweed."

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Shelf Life: Romance, Mystery, Drama, and Other Page-Turning Adventures from a Year in a Bookstore

By Suzanne Strempek Shea

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"Two years ago, while recovering from radiation therapy, Shea heard from a friend who was looking for help at her bookstore. Shea volunteered, seeing it as nothing more than a way to get out of her pajamas and back into the world. But over next twelve months, from St. Patrick’s Day through Poetry Month, graduation/Father’s Day/summer reading/Christmas and back again to those shamrock displays, Shea lived and breathed books in a place she says sells 'ideas, stories, encouragement, answers, solace, validation, the basic ammunition for daily life.' Her work was briefly interrupted by an author tour that took her to other great bookstores. Descriptions of these and her memories of book-lined rooms reaching all the way back to childhood visits to the Bookmobile are scattered throughout this charming, humorous, and engrossing account of reading and rejuvenation."

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The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession

By Mark Obmascik

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Three birding fanatics compete with each other and themselves to see the most number of birds in and around the U.S. in one year. Where they go, what they do, and how much they spend are almost unbelievable. Talk about obsessed!

Also available on audio.

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The Caliph's House: A Year in Casablanca

By Tahir Shah

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"Tahir Shah shares a highly entertaining account of making an exotic dream come true when he and his family move from London to Casablanca where they buy Dar Khalifa, a crumbling ruin of a mansion that once belonged to the city's caliph or spiritual leader."

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The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World

By Eric Weiner

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"Part foreign affairs discourse, part humor, and part twisted self-help guide, this book takes the reader from America to Iceland to India in search of happiness, or, in the crabby author's case, moments of 'un-unhappiness.' The book uses a mixture of travel, psychology, science and humor to investigate not what happiness is, but where it is.--From publisher description."

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