What I Meant To Read This Year ...But Didn't

You know that annoying little thing called life that always seems to take up all your time? 
Yes, that!

That's what has gotten in between me and my first true love: Reading. 

I am ashamed to say this year wasn't one for the books. (see what I did just then? :) 

So here is a book round up of the books that should have been. 

2014, please spare me the drama that your friend 2013 served me up, (with sides of huge life changes and second helpings of trials and tribulations) and let me get some reading done, mmkay?? 

First off, I actually started this book and put it down at some point. I really think it has potential. It usually takes me a while to get into historical fiction but once I do, I am always glad I stuck with it! 
I have a feeling I'll love this book because I LOVED "The Doctor and The Diva" 

A gripping novel set in Belle Époque Paris and inspired by the real-life model for Degas’s Little Dancer Aged Fourteen and a notorious criminal trial of the era. Set at a moment of profound artistic, cultural, and societal change, The Painted Girls is ultimately a tale of two remarkable girls rendered uniquely vulnerable to the darker impulses of ''civilized society.'' In the end, each will come to realize that her individual salvation, if not survival, lies with the other.

I started this one too and never finished it. I swear I am not a quitter! I just couldn't seem to get anything done this year!  This book is on all the "Best of 2013 Lists" so I know it's gotta be a must read! 

Imagine your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret - something so terrible it would destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others too.

And here are a couple on the "best of list" that I should have seen earlier but because I've been living in a cave, I haven't even heard of!  But they are definitely on my to read list now! 

The dramatic and redemptive memoir of a woman whose curiosity led her to the world’s most beautiful and remote places, its most imperiled and perilous countries, and then into fifteen months of harrowing captivity—an exquisitely written story of courage, resilience, and grace.

Marketing professor Jonah Berger has spent the last decade answering the question "What makes things so popular?" He's studied why New York Times articles make the paper's own Most E-mailed List, why products get word of mouth, and how social influence shapes everything from the cars we buy to the clothes we wear to the names we give our children. In this book, Berger reveals the secret science behind word-of-mouth and social transmission. Discover how six basic principles drive all sorts of things to become contagious, from consumer products and policy initiatives to workplace rumors and YouTube videos.

What books are out there that you didn't get your hands on in 2013?
There's still time! (Barely!)

Book Review: The Circle

I read a book! 
*raises hands in the air and jumps around in celebration.

Synopsis: When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in the world—even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.

Now here's the part that sucks. I finally read a book but I didn't love it. I hate when I don't love books. 

I think the premise of the book and the message it was sending was essential and meaningful. But the actual story line reminded me of that one over zealous nerdy kid who was always trying way too hard to impress people in high school. If he would just chill, he'd be cool but he was always trying to shove his intellect down your throat.

I really liked the main character Mae. She's shy at first, unsure of this brilliant world of "The Circle" that she has suddenly become a part of when she gets a job in costumer service. I thought of the Circle as a glorified Google. If Google and Facebook had a baby and that baby took steroids and was the smartest, richest person in the world, it would be "The Circle." That's how I saw it in my head anyway. 

And then as Mae's job and responsibilities at The Circle grow, she turns into a completely different person, which I usually like in books but this was just too much. 

I felt like the author was just using the characters as glorified or exaggerated examples of a far larger point.  

The book was a huge metaphor for the extremes social media has gone to make the world a less personal and private place. 

You can totally tell this book is written by a man. I am always reminded why I don't like reading about a female protagonist written by a male author. The differences are just so incredibly noticeable! I didn't know Mae's hair color, her style, anything. There were hardly any observations of the other characters either. At least there weren't enough to feed my mental pictures, anyway. (Another obvious male author M.O.? The only sex scene that got any detail happened in a bathroom stall where to two people couldn't see each other's faces or talk out loud. That has male fantasy written all over it, if you ask me). Plus there was a weird sexual tension between Mae and her best friend Annie that went unexplained. Males are so predictable. 

Here's a great excerpt that drives home the point of the book, which was basically to remind the world that social media is overbearing and that a company in charge of it could ultimately drive people to whatever they wanted, based on their growing need to always feel connected and in-the-know.

But the book does pose an interesting question. Would we be able to handle knowing EVERYTHING? Sure, you follow your grandmother and old high school teachers on Facebook. But what would happen if there was a live feed of their living room on your home page? 

The premise of "The Circle" is that the company believes that if everyone is transparent, then there are no secrets. If you are always seen, you are always being held accountable. They think politicians will be more honest, that crime will plummet and bad deeds essentially go away. But what about common privacy? What about the man struggling with a disease who doesn't want his weaknesses to be seen? What about the woman with sad family secrets that are better left buried? 

Mae gets washed up in the glory of The Circle and begins to see things the way the head honchos want her to. Her transition from an outsider to a person who literally becomes surrounded by everything social, technical and digital is a great contrast. Ultimately, I think Mae become a machine and it ruins her relationships. 

I am normally a novel reader. I wouldn't call this a novel by any means. Think Animal Farm and 1984. It's a satire. It's an opinion of someone who thinks that Facebook is a bit ridiculous and wants to show what would happen if we keep being "over sharers." I just felt like it was a bit over done. 


I am moving on to a new book! 
I am a huge Wally Lamb fan (She's Come Undown is a huge favorite) and his new book, We Are Water has me hooked!

And after that: 

It's also an upcoming movie starring Kate Winslet! 

What are you reading?