Sunday, January 18, 2009

Book Reviews for Mini Book Expo

I got both the following books from Mini Book Expo for bloggers (a great place to get review copies and ARCs especially for Canadian bloggers) and for a variety of reasons, the reviews are way overdue…eek!

After the Fires by Ursula Pflug

Book summary: The stories in After the Fires light the dark places where reality burns away to reveal something fantastical. In these stories Ursula Pflug’s worlds unfold like waking dreams where what was forgotten is remembered. Her narrators accept these shadow worlds as their truth and the reader is seduced into following along to see what has been refashioned and lies waiting to be discovered among the ashes that remain after the fires.

My reaction: These stories are bizarre and experimental – something I like quite a lot usually. And I did like these stories – the apocalyptic “Memory Lapse at the Waterfront” with its unreliable narrator and epistolary format and the dream-like horror of “A Dog’s Life” were standouts – but they were easier to digest spaced out over the course of a month. Not for conservative readers who prefer their stories to have an actual storyline, but definitely worth a read for those willing to stretch their literary boundaries.

For more thoughts on this title, please see the publisher's website: tightrope books.

Click: What Millions of People are Doing Online and Why It Matters by Bill Tancer

Book summary: What time of year do teenage girls search for prom dresses online? How does the quick adoption of technology affect business success (and how is that related to corn farmers in Iowa)? How do time and money affect the gender of visitors to online dating sites? And how is the Internet itself affecting the way we experience the world? In Click, Bill Tancer takes us behind the scenes into the massive database of online intelligence to reveal the naked truth about how we use the Web, navigate to sites, and search for information--and what all of that says about who we are.

My reaction: I was intrigued by the premise of this book and reading about Tancer’s findings held my interest for the most part. I just wish that the tonality hadn’t been so “hard sell” – the book comes off as a big advertisement for his company, constantly reminding us how great it is and how useful his online data analysis is for businesses (which it no doubt is, but still…).

Some interesting facts:

- Tancer discovered that with Web 2.0 sites (including blogs) 90% of traffic is made up of lurkers. Only 1% is active participants. (Delurk yourself lurker!)

- The rule of “150” says that most people have a limit of 150 meaningful social contacts. Tila Tequila has over 1.5 million if her number of MySpace friends is any indication.

- People have many “how to” and “why” questions that they try to answer through search engines. Number 1? “How to tie a tie”.

Tancer also talks about how the results of surveys of people’s fears are very different than what they type into search engines. And he says “As I wade through the sixteen hundred different “fear of” queries, I’m struck by just how individual our fears are.” No kidding. Someone actually got to my blog with the search keywords “fear of potato eyes.” I had no idea I shared this phobia with others. But apparently I do.

For more info about the book and fun with online stats, please see Bill Tancer's website: Click.

Both books are available now.


Alea said...

Oh man, I love stats, Click does sound interesting!

Beth Kephart said...

And what do lurkers do?

jessi said...

Click does sound really good; I might have to check that one out. After reading everything else currently occupying my TBR pile, of course... :)

Lisa said...

Click sounds fascinating! (Although the hard sell tone would put me off.)

Beth, lurkers read but never post. I've posted on various forums for a long time and it is always unsettling to have some 'stranger' pipe up with comments or advice, when you have never seen them on the site before.

Ladytink_534 said...

Click seems like an intertesting read! I wish some of my lurkers would un-lurk themselves lol. I don't bite and I'd love for them just to say hi!!!

avisannschild said...

Lenore, I'm so glad to hear I'm not the only one with "overdue" Mini Book Expo reviews!

Click does sound interesting, although the fact that he's selling his own company would likely put me off.

Kathleen said...

I finally read this book (got it from library) and posted my review in which I linked to your review.

Melissa said...

I just posted a review of this and linked to yours, too.

Kyle Winward said...

I just finished listening to the audiobook version of "Click". Very insightful data (pun intended) and I found a Book Brief video summary by Bill Tancer. Given NPR's recent piece about Facebook and "The Rule of 150", Tancer's book was especially fascinating.