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Who knew there was a name for this?

But of course, this is publishing, and all trends are affixed with catchy names. The latest is “gimmick lit” — those non-fiction books where the author does something transformative and writes about it. Think A.J. Jacobs’ THE KNOW-IT-ALL, Norah Vincent’s SELF-MADE MAN or Julie Powell’s JULIE & JULIA. So why are these books becoming so popular, asks the Boston Herald’s Lauren Beckham Falcone?

“Anything with a twist or a hook works,” said Jenny Bent, literary agent with Trident Media Group in Manhattan. “I think there is an appeal to the reader when a writer has some sort of vision to go out and get it done. You can compare these books to adventure narratives that were once so popular. We always want a view into other people’s lives, especially if the story provides insight.”

And even if it sounds overly trendy, the writers in question aren’t too worried. “On the one hand, it’s a good book, so I’m not too worried how it’s categorized,” said Maria Headley, author of THE YEAR OF YES. “On some level it helps, you know, in terms of ‘if you liked this book, then you might like this other one.’ And I really think people like the fish-out-of-water stories, which is generally what these books are.”

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