I haven’t done a book review in a while, but truthfully, it’s been a while since there was a book I truly connected with. Rather than try to write about every single book I read (as I was trying to do for a while there), I’ve decided to only share the best books I read every month if I can.
The best book I read in January was, without a doubt, The Circle by Dave Eggers. If you haven’t heard of or read anything by Eggers, I now feel confident that you’re missing out. This is only the second book of his that I’ve read — I read A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius last year — but Eggers has now joined my list of authors I vow to read every work of. Other works by him include What is the What, A Hologram for the King, and Zeitoun. He is also the founder of the literary journal McSweeney’s.
The Circle resonated deeply with me, especially recently as I’ve watched in horror how political discourse is evolving and changing (not always in a good way) in the digital age.
It is the story of Mae Holland, a young woman starting out at The Circle, the leading company in all things digital. They are obsessed with sharing everything, and I mean, everything. We see Mae struggling to transition into this life of “no secrets,” but then fully embracing this company’s values, even when she loses all sense of privacy and intimacy.
The end result is horrifying, especially considering it doesn’t seem that far off from the truth.
There is no doubt that our culture loves a good dystopian novel. Penguin has recently been printing more copies of George Orwell’s 1984, and while correlation shouldn’t be equated with causation, too many aspects of the Trump administration have been called “Orwellian” to ignore the fact that people are concerned.
Eggers weaves our social media culture of liking and disliking with the struggles we are facing with our government officials. It is a modern parable, truly Orwellian in nature, with a lesson too important to ignore.
Apart from validation, apart from unlimited knowledge, we should be seeking instead to gain some of our humanity back. We need to focus on a redevelopment of human empathy and rebuild a culture of giving, away from our technology. We need to have the courage to step away from our devices and foster meaningful communication — productive discourse — if we truly want to make a difference.
That is how we will restore true human connection.
My Rating: ★★★★★
PS: I will definitely be going to see this movie when it comes out.