≡ Menu

Monday Tally: The Shallows Return, the Problem With Memoirs

monday-tag-150px Monday Tally is a weekly link round-up of some of my favorite posts discovered over the week. If you have suggestions for Monday Tally, please e-mail sophisticated [dot] dorkiness [at] gmail [dot] com. Enjoy!

Thinking About Reading

Jackie (Farm Lane Books) made a bold statement last week: “If I had to choose between only reading debut novels for the rest of my life, or eliminating them completely, I would choose the former.” Hop on over to her post about loving debut authors and join the discussion — it’s a good one.

Holly Root from Waxman Literary Agency wrote a long post about what ARCs are and some of the ways people who get galleys can use them for good. Whether or not you agree with all her points, it’s an in formative and thoughtful post.

Thinking About the World

I came across the book Little Princes by Conor Grennan, about an orphanage in war-torn Nepal, and his organization Next Generation Nepal. It looks fascinating.

TED, an organization that publishes free talks from leading thinkers, has introduced TED Books — digital editions of less than 20,000 words about some of the big ideas these speakers cover.

Thinking About Thinking

Mitali Perkins, author of Bamboo People, wrote a post about what life in “the shallows” — an idea from Nicholas Carr’s book The Shallows — does for the imagination and a writer’s brain. I like her idea of taking one day a week away from screens, but I’m not sure if I could manage that myself!

I hadn’t spent much time thinking about commercials that cut out famous dead people then insert them in new commercials, but NPR Monkey See’s Linda Holmes had a nice post about the idea that I found intriguing.

Thinking About Memoirs

Lists of books! The New York Public Library put together a list of memoirs and autobiographies of women struggling with depression and other metal disorders. I’m not sure how many of these I’d want to read, but many look very good.

On the other hand, not everyone actually needs to write a memoir, as Neil Genzlinger points out in his New York Times story, “The Problem With Memoirs.” The pieces is a bit snarky, but also correct. I like this particular paragraph:

Maybe that’s a good rule of thumb: If you didn’t feel you were discovering something as you wrote your memoir, don’t publish it. Instead hit the delete key, and then go congratulate yourself for having lived a perfectly good, undistinguished life. There’s no shame in that.

In response to the whole Tiger Mother conversation, The Awl published a post about Why Minnesota Mothers Are Doing Good. Since I’m the product of a Minnesota Mom, I liked this post, especially the small jokes about Minnesota Nice.

Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein has gotten a number of reviews in the last week, some good, and some less enthusiastic. Some of my favorites were: Amy at Amy Reads | Rhapsody in Books | The Star Tribune | The New York Times |

Books for My TBR

National Book Critics Circle announced their finalists for the 2010 book awards. As with every major award that’s been announced in the last two months, there are a few books on the list I’d love to read:

  • The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee
  • Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet by Jennifer Homans

The list also features Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick (which I just finished and loved) and The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, which I just reviewed.

And then there are all the other books I found this week that I want to read once the TBR Dare is finally over!

  • Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon because of this review by Ash (English Major’s Junk Food).
  • Alone Together by Sherry Turkle, which is another book about the impact of technology on social structures, because of this review by Jonah Lehrer in the NY Times Book Review.
  • The Fates Will Find Their Way by Hannah Pittard because of a bunch of great reviews recently. I can’t point to one specifically. 

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Sara (wordyevidenceofthefact) February 1, 2011, 7:58 am

    TED Books! What a great idea for all us TED lovers. What an unfortunate choice for “cover” design, though. Those things are not lovely. No, not lovely at all. I know they’re digital editions, but they could have tried a little harder with the graphics department.

    • Kim February 2, 2011, 10:30 am

      Sara: I think TED Books is a great idea, although i’m not sure if Kindle singles will work on my nook or not. I’ll be investigating. And yes on the cover designs, they’re pretty sad.

  • rhapsodyinbooks February 1, 2011, 8:32 am

    I love the NYT article on memoirs. It really captures why I don’t like them!

    Sounds like you guys have some great reading weather coming your way!

    • Kim February 2, 2011, 10:31 am

      rhapsodyinbooks: I did too. I like some memoirs, but only if there is more to the story than, “This is a story about me!” Some people do have very interesting personal stories, but not everything.

      One recent memoir I thought did this well was Lonely by Emily White — her experience was the backbone of the book, but it was well supported with research and interviews with other people, too.

  • Trisha February 1, 2011, 4:45 pm

    You always post the most interesting stuff. Off to read…

    • Kim February 2, 2011, 10:32 am

      Trisha: Thanks! I follow a lot of interesting blogs and people on Twitter, which is where I find a lot of these.

  • Ash February 1, 2011, 5:19 pm

    Thanks for linking to my review of Maps and Legends– it’s a super book!

    • Kim February 2, 2011, 10:32 am

      Ash: It sounds great. I have it on my “List of Books to Find After the TBR Dare is Over,” which is getting longer by the day.

  • Teresa February 1, 2011, 6:34 pm

    Regarding The Shallows and Mitali Perkins’ response: I’ve gotten concerned about my own ability to concentrate because I spend to much time online. As a new year’s resolution, I committed to spending at least 6-8 hours offline every Saturday, I just check my e-mail, blog, etc., as I have my morning coffee, and then I’m off until the evening. (For now, I’m using Freedom, an app that cuts off Internet access for a specified amount of time, just to keep me from cheating and taking a quick peek at e-mail, etc.) It’s amazing how much I get done in that time.

    • Kim February 2, 2011, 10:34 am

      Teresa: I’ve been a little worried about that myself, so I’ve been making smaller changes to my routine — getting away from my computer while I read, turning off the computer earlier in the evening, and trying to spend some nights totally disconnected. I haven’t done anything as big as you, but it’s a very tempting idea!

  • Aths February 2, 2011, 6:37 pm

    I’m reading Little Princes now and am really enjoying it. It’s beautiful!

    That NYT article on memoirs was certainly fun to read!

    • Kim February 3, 2011, 5:34 pm

      Aths: I’m glad it’s good — I’m really looking forward to that book!

  • Lisa February 4, 2011, 9:22 pm

    The memoir thing was a bit snarky but you’re right, he did make a valid point. I lead a life growing up that was very much 1960’s sitcom so I don’t suppose it would make much of a memoir. It would, however, make a terrific background for a work of fiction–maybe someday!

    • Kim February 5, 2011, 4:55 pm

      Lisa: It was a little on the snarky side, but sometimes you have to be that way to make a point. I’ve always figured my life was just too darn normal to ever be a good memoir, but I enjoying reading certain types from other people.