Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Boy Kings: A Journey Into the Heart of the Social Network by Katherine Losse

"What I was seeing was that social websites were playing upon the biggest open and unsolved wound in our society: the need to be known, the need to be loved....we yearn to be understood and loved for who we really are." --Katherine Losse
Ah, Facebook. Do you feel worse about yourself after looking at Facebook? Or maybe I am just friends with lots of people who take awesome vacations, eat super delicious food, and raise articulate, cute, and developmentally advanced children? Oh yah, and their husbands bring them breakfast in bed. Ah, maybe that's why I don't look at Facebook that often. I did buy some excellent locally made cheese at the Farmer's Market, so my life in the cheese department is going quite well this week. If you stop by, I'll share some with you!! It's a goat and cow cheese.

Onto the book. Losse was employee #51 at Facebook, and this book shows us her gradual disillusionment with the whole endeavor. She gives us a glimpse inside the Facebook culture which is kinda interesting. However, overall this book was not even so-so for me. It was hum-drum, and I can't recommend it to you at all.

I think Losse is onto something though. Being "connected" online is not the same as connecting in person. I'm more interested in what is going on in my friends' hearts than their vacation itineraries and dinner menus. As for the kid reports, one friend was much more honest in person when she said about her newborn: "Sometimes I wish he was still inside of me...that was easier" than what is posted and reported on Facebook. And then I held her baby which, because I passed on the opportunity earlier, had friends taking pictures of me holding the kid...which were then posted on Facebook...

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Growing a Farmer: How I Learned to Live Off the Land by Kurt Timmermeister

As recently as last month, I would sometimes think that I would like to live on a farm. I thought it would be neat to own some goats, have several dogs running around, and own a dairy cow.

After reading this book, I've decided that I can enjoy thinking about farming without actually living and working on one.

I learned from this book that farming is A LOT of work.

Timmermeister buys some farmland on an island near Seattle while still working a full-time restaurant job. He eventually transitions to working the farm full-time. He writes about his struggle to make the farm self-sustaining and even slightly profitable. He does that now by making cheeses and hosting weekly dinners at the farm that feature food all grown and raised on the farm.

Each chapter covers a bit of farm life like Vegetables, Bees, Cows, Pigs, The Slaughter, and Butchering. This book is really informative, but written memoir-like so it's quite readable.

One story about a young ewe almost had me in tears, as it perfectly illustrated Timmermeister's point that nature can be very cruel.

Timmermeister's deep respect for the land and animals clearly comes across, especially in his chapter about The Slaughter which I thought I might skip, but I actually read the entire chapter and appreciated how humanely and reverently his animals are treated.

I liked this book. It had me thinking about starting up my Community Supported Agriculture subscription again this spring.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

I like books where random characters end up being connected in some way. This is one of those books.

The chapters jumped around to different characters at different times in their lives. So I did notice that once I finished a chapter, it took a little bit of time for me to muster up the energy to start another chapter because I knew that I would have to spend some time figuring out who this was and where and when things were taking place, and if they were connected somehow.

I was tempted to quit a couple of times, but Kjersti recommended this book to me, and I trust her! I can think of some of you out there that might like this book...and funny enough, all of your names are Emily (there's three of you reading this I think!!). 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

A couple of weeks ago, a co-worker walked up to me and said, "Have you read the other Gillian Flynn books?" We had talked about Gone Girl and both really liked it, but I did not know that Flynn had written other books. My co-worker urged me to read them so that we could talk about them.

So, Mia, now we can talk about Sharp Objects. And I just checked out Dark Places today.

Camille is a Chicago reporter who is sent back to her small hometown in Missouri to cover two murders. Camille is a troubled lady, but we don't know why until she is back at home living with her mom and moving around town trying to get information about the murders.

Suspenseful and creepy, but the ending was a bit flat. Still, it was a fun read.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Tender Bar: A Memoir by J.R. Moehringer

This is a memoir about a boy growing up without a father and the community he finds at the local bar.

J.R.'s dad leaves early on in J.R.'s life. His dad is a radio DJ, so J.R. spends hours listening to his dad's voice, but never actually sees him in real life. He longs for a father, and finds the male companionship and guidance he needs in the guys who hang out at the local bar.

My favorite part of this book is when J.R. gets a job as a teenager at a bookstore, and two of his co-workers load him up on books that he needs to read.

This is a complex, multi-layered story that is funny, sad, and inspiring. If you have a father, ever wanted a father, wanted something else from your father that you didn't get.....or if you ever lacked confidence....or ever wished for more community, then you'll find something in this book.

Just for fun.

Funny, but it would be a dating red flag for me if someone was not up-to-date on his library account.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Early Bird: A Memoir of Premature Retirement by Rodney Rothman

At age 28, Rodney lost his job, so he decides to retire early to Florida. He moves into a retirement community and attends organized activities like shuffleboard and bingo. He sits around with ladies who gossip at the poolside. He takes some piano lessons. He makes some friends.

At the end of the book, he writes: "...when I speak about the book, people want to know how living with older people 'changed' me. Everyone is obsessed with redemption stories I suppose. I often make something up, but the truth is I wasn't so changed by the experience." His not really changing is apparent in the book. The book is filled with some funny stories about the people he meets, but other than that, the experience doesn't really seem to affect him at all. He doesn't include any reflections on how he wants to spend his life, or what he learns about growing older.

This is an okay book, but doesn't have the punch that I thought it might have.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Darlings by Cristina Alger

I didn't really like this book, so I don't want to spend time coming up with a summary for you all. Sorry.

Okay, I'll sum it up in one sentence: A very wealthy family gets embroiled in a financial scandal that calls into question their own loyalties to each other.

My verdict? Pretentious, lacking any kind of heart, and empty.

Monday, February 4, 2013

31 Dates in 31 Days by Tamara Duricka Johnson

This is the most exhausting book I've read so far in 2013. Doesn't the title just make you a bit faint, anxious, and uncomfortable? Or am I projecting all of my first date anxiety onto you?

After yet another break-up with a boyfriend, the author decided to think about dating in a new way. Previously, she had allowed herself to get too invested too quickly with a man. So, she decided to go out on 30 dates with 30 different guys in 30 days. From these 30 guys, she would choose which one she would ask out on a second date. Thus, 31 dates in 31 days.

By the way, all of the guys knew that they were a part of her "project." There were also rules: no physical intimacy, the date had to last at least 31 minutes, and there was a budget of $31.

Each chapter describes a date that she went on. For me, the dates and guys started to run together.

I can appreciate her new approach to dating. Instead of going out on a date and starting to mentally plan her wedding, she slows down and focuses on each guy. She wanted to know what made each guy unique and to appreciate each guy for who he was. She also wanted to stay focused on the present, be herself, and just have a fun time getting to know someone.

But 31 dates in 31 days? Oh man, I was so tired just reading about it all.