Title: The Circle
Author: Dave Eggers
Narrator: Dion Graham
Genre: Fiction; Dystopian
Audio: 13.6 hours
Publisher: Random House Audio
Source: Personal Collection
Book Rating: 1/5
Audio Rating: 2/5
When Mae gets a job at The Circle (think Google on an even bigger scale) she thinks her dreams have come true. But she soon finds that meeting The Circle’s expectations are harder than she anticipated. Constant internet contact, hyper-socialization, and an inability to escape any of it leave Mae at a crossroads. Will she accept the new age and help “close The Circle” or will she fight back?
Unless Dave Eggers is your hero, you can skip this book. It’s about ten times longer than it needs to me. It barely has a plot. It makes it’s point and then makes it again and again and again and again. I wish I’d put it down when I was two hours in like I almost did.
I thought this would be the book for me – a somewhat-dystopian book about social media – but it clearly wasn’t. This was my first Dave Eggers book and I certainly haven’t been convinced that I should go back and read any of his others. I think I’ll stick with McSweeny’s.
I thought it was an odd choice to have a male narrator for this one. The main character is female. The book is in third person but it is told from her perspective only.
So far I am having a lazy Sunday morning watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse with the toddler (and maybe dozing off) while Ben sleeps in. I’ve got a cup of tea and my computer and I may even try to get a little blogging in for the week. It’s nice to have a kid who is a little more independent now. He’s feeding himself a bowl of cereal as I type.
This week, however, was not so lazy. I once again had a Monday morning surprise when Evan had a fever and I ended up working from home as best I could for two days. Then he ended up home again on Thursday (with Ben) and we discovered his croupy cold had turned into an ear infection. This kid cannot catch a break. But we’re feeling better now and heading to the park in few hours to meet some friends.
I put down Maisie Dobbs this week for a bit both because I am missing 20 minutes of the audio so I need to get my hands on a print copy and because I couldn’t wait to start listening to Cress. I am once again immersed in Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles world and couldn’t be happier. I am still getting nowhere in print and doubt I will be doing any better until at least mid-march when my certification exam is over. I know this is just a little reading slump but it’s disheartening all the same.
I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday. I am trying to psych myself up for a four mile run at some point today. At least I can finally see the sun again.
In January, I read 4 books: one print and three audio. But this is somewhat misleading as I finished two books on January 1 that I had been reading for awhile. So this was really a pretty awful reading month for me. Life felt extra busy and I’m not convinced there has been a single day that my entire family was healthy since Thanksgiving. So my reading has suffered.
The books I finished in January:
I’ve kept up with blogging at least.
Now, at some point I will theoretically need to read more to have something to blog about. But we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. I have enough content for two reviews a week for a little while still. I’ve stuck with my new blogging plan pretty well (although I keep forgetting about the health posts on Fridays).
I also shared four Wordless Wednesday posts:
and mentioned my new photography toys.
I wrote about my 2014 goals; becoming a runner again and accepting myself and the positive changes I’ve made, even if I’m not to my goal yet. I went for 11 runs in January, two yoga classes (falling a little shy of my goal there), and two dance classes. Despite the germs invading our home, I finally feel like I’m getting somewhere with running and I am looking forward to my first 8k later this month.
Evan is 20 months old now. He’s speaking in phrases and telling me what he thinks of the world. It’s amazing. I wrote about the bittersweet end of our breastfeeding relationship (which I am very much regretting after this winter’s germ invasion) earlier this month.
PS – Sorry for the lack of pictures on this post. I am having some technical difficulties with my new photo organization. I will try to have it figured out for next month.
Title: The Dangerous Animals Club
Author: Stephen Tobolowsky
Narrator: Stephen Tobolowsky
Audio: 11.6 hours
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Source: Personal Collection
Book Rating: 4/5
Audio Rating: 5/5
Actor Stephen Tobolowsky shares stories from his childhood, his marriage, and his career.
We started listening to this one on a family road trip. Whenever E was asleep, Ben and I would put it on. E didn’t actually sleep as much as I expected him to, so we each had to finish it on our own. But we were both enjoying it so much that there was doubt that we would.
Stephen Tobolowsky, as he explains it, is that guy you recognize but you’re from where (the store down the street? the laundromat?). You recognize him from television and films. But he’s a solid character actor – not one to stand out or be memorable. But he is in practically everything, from Groundhog Day to Glee. And he has amassed some wonderful stories which he tells masterfully.
The book started with stories from his childhood and those mostly featuring animals (the title story is about a tarantula- and scorpion-catching club he was in as a boy in Texas). The stories then move on to his schooling, his relationships, and his career. He has had an interesting life so far and his tales are well-crafted. If you just want to listen to some good storytelling, this one is for you.
Tobolowsky reads this one himself, as he should. You’ll recognize his voice, even if you don’t recognize his name. He’s a born storyteller.
I’m writing this on the fly from my phone, having forgotten to write anything earlier, so bear with me.
I finally finished – thank god – Dave Egger’s The Circle. I think you can tell how I felt about it from that sentence. I am cleansing my palate with some Maisie Dobbs (Elegy for Eddie) while I await Cress’s publication on Tuesday.
In print, I read nothing this week. I spent the last half of the week at a conference and/or socializing. And I don’t see the reading time increasing anytime soon. I am sitting for the Labor and Employment Law Board Certification in 6 weeks and I need to actually start studying, so I think my reading time might be spent reading about unions, overtime, and discrimination instead. Riveting stuff.
I’m a bit behind on my 8k training, but I’m doing alright. I think my schedule and health may actually allow me to run this week. What a winter this has been.
I hope you all have a lovely Sunday.
Title: Beyond Snapshots: How to Take That Fancy Camera Off “Auto” and Photograph Like a Pro
Author: Rachel Devine; Peeta Mazey
Genre: Photography; Nonfiction
Pages: 240 pages
Publisher: Amphoto Books
This is a how-to for photography, offering tips from beginning to end and everything in between. It is written by two photographers and filled with their own photos.
Part One: Getting Off Auto
I have a basic understanding of the relationship between ISO, shutter speed, and aperture, but reinforcement of the ideas is extremely helpful and hearing different photographers describe it a little differently helps me gain a better understanding. This was my first lesson in light metering. The photoshop section was helpful even before I had photoshop as it talks about what kind of fixes you might want to make post-processing. I think this is a good beginner’s lesson in shooting in manual.
Part Two: Life as a Photo Op
I liked this part less. I thought the tips for certain subject matters and situation were helpful but this section went on too long. I grew bored by the end and only finished to finish. Perhaps it’s a book that isn’t meant to be read cover to cover and that was my mistake.
I got out the camera while Evan was playing one night and this is what happened. I kind of adore the train picture.
Title: Fun Home
Author: Alison Bechdel
Genre: Graphic memoir
Publisher: Mariner Books
Source: Personal Collection
When Alison Bechdel is in college, two very big things happen to her. She comes out and her father dies. To her, these are not unrelated. In this graphic novel (well…memoir), she explains why.
I am once again faced with the challenge of reviewing a memoir without passing judgment on the author’s life. But, in some ways, Fun Home is only half-memoir, as her father’s story is just as important to her exploration of their relationship. And because she uses a less common medium – the graphic memoir – to tell her story, it makes it a little easier.
At its heart, this is a story about a father and a daughter with a very complicated relationship. But it’s really so much more.
One thing graphic novels/memoirs have going for them is the ability to use visual cues and themes. For example, the repeat image of Bechdel’s father crossing the road seconds before his death made a very powerful, very effective, and very quick reminder of what prompted her story. Ben, who studied this in class and is the reason I read it in the first time, tells me there are all sorts of visual themes, like her pants and the use of photographs.
Another thing that made this book interesting were the literary motifs. Each section of the book uses a book – like Ulysses or The Great Gatsby – to help tell the story. This makes it extra enjoyable for Great Books readers.
I assume a lot of you have read this (it seems to be popular in college/grad school courses these days). What did you think?
So we were finally all pretty much healthy this week. We all went to work/daycare as planned (with the exception of one hour I spent in the Walgreen’s Health Clinic). I got back to exercise but not to reading. I fit in 4 runs this week to make up for missing the entire week before. I also went to a yoga class and tried a new ballet studio. I did a good job with calories and I’m down about a pound again this week.
But like I said, I didn’t get back to reading. I blame Netflix as The West Wing and Doctor Who are currently grabbing all of the attention and time I could be reading. But this has been a busy month and a little television is nice. I am dying to finish my audiobook (The Circle – Dave Eggers) because it’s really not very good. I’m hoping I have time to squeeze in a Maisie Dobbs book before Cress comes out on the 4th.
We are heading to the park in a bit to enjoy the fact that it is not 40 degrees out today. Then I am hoping to tackle some toy organization. Have a lovely Sunday, everyone.