Book Review: So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

(5/5 stars) This is an exploration of shame as a punishment, as a fundamental human impulse, as a force for good and bad. Ronson goes into a little bit of the history of how shame has been used in the past, but focuses especially on how shame functions in our internet-based society today.  To wit, he explores several contemporary case studies in shaming.

This book functions in some ways as a collection of essays rather than a structured exploration of ideas. As such, there are points where he pursues aspects of shame that seem to be a digression from the core theme, for example the parts about Radical Truth and humiliation paraphilia.  Those parts don’t make the book less interesting, but readers should be warned: you probably won’t come away with any strong conclusions about what can be done about internet lynch mobs. 

In sum, this book is funny and thought-provoking. I highly recommend it.

A Review of Two Books About Google

I recently chose two audiobooks from one of my local public libraries and they just happen to both be about Google.  Kinda. They are Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan and The Circle by Dave Eggers.

It was a coincidence that they turned out to hinge on common themes and elements, but it was a very interesting contrast in perspective.  Mr. Penumbra’s takes a rather positive view of technology and data and how it can help us solve mysteries and enjoy life more deeply.  The Circle, however, takes a far warier view of our connected, internet society and the threat it poses to individual freedom and liberty.

I would recommend them both for different reasons.  The first book is a fun, light-hearted mystery/adventure with lots of literary color.  The second book is basically a horror story in the tradition of 1984 and A Brave New World.

Five More Book Reviews

Quick book reviews for:
– American Craftsmen by Tom Doyle
– Jade City by Fonda Lee
– Feminist Fight Club: An Office Survival Manual for a Sexist Workplace
– Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics: A 10% Happier How-to Book
– Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking