March 22, 2010

Blogs to Books


Last week Alan and I watched No Impact Man: The Documentary which premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival; I am reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin for a review on Story Circle Reviews; and I suggested the book A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg to my friend Susan as a resource for the food literature class she is designing.

What do the three have in common? Each began with a blog and developed into a book.

The blend of books and blogs has been most recently popularized by the wonderfully entertaining film Julie & Julia. I assume that by now most of you have either read the book or seen the incredible Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci as the film couple, but here's the background:
It all started when a young woman named Julie Powell, just surviving her working life in NY city, decided to cook her way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. If young Julie’s project occurred in the decades just following the release of Child’s 1961 classic there probably would be no movie -- but over 40 years after the book’s publication, Julie Powell blogged about her experience. The blog found an online audience. Agents and publishers took note. The blog became a book. The movie is based on the book (simply titled Julie & Julia) about the blog as well as on Child’s posthumously published My Life in France, where it really all started.

And because of Julie’s experiment there is a renewed interest in beef bourguignon and the real Julia. Although Mastering the Art of French Cooking has sold over a million copies, the sale of the book has generally been slow and steady with an annual run of about 25,000 copies. Its publisher, Knopf, reports that it is now "a national bestseller for the first time,” with multiple reprintings since the movie publicity began. Last year’s sale of the book exceeded a quarter of a million copies!

Of course, most blogs never receive the attention that Julie Powell’s did. Some blogs – like ours -- have few readers other than a small group of the writer’s family and friends.

But I am intrigued with this phenomena – of blogs to books, of so-called Stunt Memoirs (memoirs written by a person who has taken on a project or challenge for a specified time, usually a year), and the whole book-loving book-reviewing blogger community. I'll be writing about all of that over the next few months.
Please join me. Do you have any favorite blogs or blog-turned-books?


  1. I read about a book (Stunt Memoir) in which a woman decided not to buy anything other than essentials for a year-- making/salvaging/making due for the rest. I keep thinking of it in relation to your blog, but, as you may be able to tell, I forgot the title!

  2. I can't find the book but this group (and blog) are related:

    "The small San Francisco cooperative that calls themselves "The Compact", who pledged not to buy anything new (almost) for an entire year has followed their mantra for 356 days. The only new products allowed by The Compact are food and bare necessities for health and safety -- things like toilet paper, brake fluid & underwear -- in their effort to go without buying anything new; everything else comes from TreeHugger faves like FreeCycle, Craigslist, thrift stores and even dumpsters, and their idea is making big waves.