shtick lit
n. A writing genre in which the author undertakes an odd or stuntlike project with the intention of writing about the experience. Also: schtick lit, shtik lit.

Example Citations:
Now, in his third book, he spends two years eating, exercising and researching his way to becoming "the healthiest man in the world."...

A.J. Jacobs remains the current heavyweight champion of shtick lit.
—Douglas Bell, "The king of shtick lit strikes again," The Globe and Mail, April 24, 2012

It's not a bad idea — surely the Middle East could benefit from some ingenuity — even if the book is a prime example of the sub-genre that's come to be known as "shtick lit."
—Eryn Loeb, "Time to Get Out of Your Apartment," The Jewish Daily Forward, November 17, 2010

Earliest Citation:
STEVE INSKEEP: I have in front of me a stack of books, which have this in common — many of them include in the title or subtitle the words My Year of or A Year of or "A Year Without Made in China," "Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously."...

STEVE ALMOND:...Part of the reason that this genre, which I'm going to call, kind of informally schtick lit, has propagated so many books is because a few of them had been very successful.
—Steve Inskeep and Steve Almond, "A Year for 'Year Of' Books," NPR, December 26, 2007

My definition hews closely to the just-so definition provided by the writer and academic Ben Yagoda in his book Memoir: A History: "[B]ooks perpetrated by people who undertook an unusual project with the express purpose of writing about it."

Here's an even earlier cite, although in this case the writer is talking about books that consist of a series of jokes or gags:

No offense, Dennis, babe, but don' think it's time standup comedians stopped hauling down big-bucks advances just for typing up their old routines? Jerry Seinfeld popularized this literary subgenre (let's call it shtick lit) with his 1993 bestseller Seinlanguage, a flimsy collection of bits.
—"Picks and Pans," People, April 1, 1996

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