The Year of Living Virtuously Weekends Off by Teresa Jordan
Best for: Those who enjoy very short essays about life in the mid-west US.
In a nutshell: Author Jordan uses a (very loose) framing of virtues and vices to tell stories about her life and the lives of others.
Worth quoting: “I respect people who keep their promises — when those promises are honorable.”
Why I chose it: I thought it was going to be more in line with, say, an A. J. Jacobs book. It was not.
I purchased this book long ago, and brought it with me when I moved to the UK. As part of my giant bookshelf purge, I decided I need to start reading the books on my shelves before buying more, and this one seemed like a good place to start. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite what I was hoping, and ultimately wasn’t for me, but might be perfect for others.
I thought (especially given the sub-title of ‘weekends off’) that this would be the author’s attempt to live her life according to certain virtues and vices and see what it meant to her day-to-day. Instead, Jordan researched ideas of virtues and vice (drawing heavily from Benjamin Franklin) and writes an essay about a past experience in her life that she thinks illustrates that concept. Sometimes the connection is strong and obvious, sometimes it is subtle, and sometimes it is a bit of a stretch. Much of it focuses on her life growing up on a ranch, which is a life I cannot relate to. So in that respect it was an interesting reading challenge for me.
As I flipped through the book after finishing reading it, I noticed that nearly everything I underlined was a quote from someone else that Jordan included. I think there is a skill there, in bringing in other thoughts and weaving them into one’s own work, but also if I’m reading someone’s thoughts I want to read their thoughts, if that makes any sense.
The writing is good, and the storytelling is at times interesting, but the conceit doesn’t fully hold for me.
Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it: