#Hashtags: 08.16.2013


#Hashtags is a weekly segment that features an amalgamation of news, statistics and imperceptibly opinionated thoughts.


Welcome back to another edition of the segment that lets me ramble on about whatever the heck I feel like talking about at any given moment.  This week I decided to ditch much of the Man Booker talk in favor of rehasing an argument I was involved in over my book reviewing methods.  You’re welcome.  Enjoy.

Also on the table are a look at what I’m reading right now, what I’m hoping to read next, and what reviews are coming next week.  No seriously, I promise, these ones really are coming next week.  You can trust me this time.



Book Report

I found myself in a verbal altercation this week with someone who dislikes my book reviewing methods.  What I thought was going to be an interesting discussion about book we had both read quickly turned into a conversation about their displeasure with ME as a reviewer.  The main sticking point seemed to be the “fact” that I don’t spend enough time talking about the surface level plot of the things that I review.  Their argument was that people don’t read book reviews to get a sense for the tone or the underlying messages the story is trying to convey, but rather they do so to figure out if the story itself will appeal them before they spend their money on it.

Fine.  Whatever.  I’m not having this argument again here where they can’t really defend their side, but here’s how I look at it:  first and foremost I write book reviews with myself in mind.  Maybe that’s wrong, but that said, it’s perfectly fine if someone only wants to read something for the surface details, I have no objections, but I like to at least attempt to go a little bit deeper.  I don’t have delusions of grandeur.  I don’t consider myself to be an amazing reviewer.  Most days I’m lucky if I can pass as an adequate one.  I’ll be the first to admit that there are giant gaps in my literary knowledge.  All that said, if you want to know what the story is about, read the fucking book.  Do you really need me to spoil that experience for you?  I’m sure you can find others willing to eagerly take that position, but spending my free time writing a cliff notes version of something I just read doesn’t interest me at all.

[rant off] Am I in the wrong here?



The Infatuations by Javier Marias

With all four books of Richard House’s The Kills done and dusted it’s time to turn my attention away from The Man Booker Prize race for a few days.  What better way to do that then with the new book from Javier Marias?

Honestly though, I’m not quite sure what to make of this one so far.  After about the first 60 pages or so it started to feel like pedaling backwards on a bicycle.  You know, unless you’re 6 and you just slammed on the breaks and scraped your face as you hit the pavement, you’re still moving forward, but you’re not picking up any steam.  He’s sure taking his time, and pausing A LOT to discuss the ways in which we behave as human beings.  But what’s weird about it is that he’s having his characters have these discussions, and they feel rather awkward and fake.  This isn’t really the book that I was expecting going in, but I’m determined to stick with it until the end.  Here’s a piece on the difference between men and women when it comes to matters of the heart:

[…] a lot of us women tend to be optimistic and conceited in a way, more profoundly so than many men, who, in the field of love, remain conceited only briefly and forget to be so after a while: we think men will change their mind or their beliefs, that they will gradually discover that they can’t do without us, that we will be the exception in their lives or the visitors who end up staying, that they will eventually grow tired of those other invisible women whose existence we begin to doubt or whom we prefer to think do not exist, the more we see of the men and the more we love them despite ourselves; that we will be the chosen ones if only we have the necessary staying power to remain by their side, uncomplaining and uninsistent. When we don’t arouse immediate passion, we believe that loyalty and our mere persistent presence will finally be rewarded and prove stronger and more durable than any momentary rapture or caprice. In such cases, we know that we will be hard-pressed to feel flattered even if our fondest hopes come true, but if they do, we will feel inwardly triumphant. There is, however, no certainty of this for as long as the struggle continues, and even the most justifiably confident of women, even those who, up until then, have been universally courted, can be badly let down by those men who refuse to surrender and issue them with arrogant warnings.


Here’s a look at what I’m hoping to read very soon.

The_LuminariesThe Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

THE LUMINARIES is an intricately crafted feat of storytelling, a mystery that reveals the ways our interconnected lives reshape our destinies. <– That’s the jacket copy…and it sucks.  However set in 1866 at the height of the New Zealand gold rush (something I know little about) this 800 page brick has found itself longlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize, so I’m game to read it.  Oh, and it features at least one hooker did I mention that?  Hooker + Booker.  Ms. Catton is off to good start already…

A_Breath_Of_LifeA Breath of Life by Clarice Lispector
Translated from the Portuguese by Johnny Lorenz

…and if I can make it through The Luminaries in a timely manner, what patiently waits for me next is this posthumous translation about a woman and her relationship with her God-like creator, a fictional male author.  If the creator dies dies, does the woman die as well?  Lispector would not live long enough to see this one published.


My Struggle: Book Two by Karl Ove Knausgaard is scheduled for Monday.  Count on it, though I readily agree I’ve given you little reason to trust anything I say when it comes to publishing this one.

Dreamland: A Self-Help Manual for a Frightened Nation by Andri Snaer Magnason is scheduled for Tuesday and it includes with some really great pictures of Iceland that I stole from the internet.

The Kill by Richard House is scheduled for Wednesday.  In in, I discuss the extreme amount of faith that House puts in his audience with this seemingly unconnected volume of his 4-book epic The Kills.

The Hit by Richard House is schedule for Thursday.  This one finds me comparing the The Kills author to 80s era Don DeLillo.  Trust me, you’ll don’t want to miss this one and you’ll totally want to weigh in and jump on the chance to tell me why I’m wrong.

It’s gonna be a busy week!


The top 10 pages that got the most unique hits on the Era this past week are…drum roll please:


Statistics can be revealing.

10. Installing CyangenMod 9 On Your HP TouchPad
09. #Hashtags: 08.09.2013
08. This Is How You Lose Her By Junot Diaz
07. A Conversation With Lauren Parsekian and Molly Thompson
06. nook Simple Touch Reader How To: Use Shelves
05. Forbrydelsen Vs. The Killing: Week One
04. A Closer Look At The Female Characters In Cutting For Stone
03. [Home Page]
02. 5 Mildly Annoying Things About The New Nook Simple Touch Reader
01. Installing Apps From Unknown Sources On The Nook HD+

#Hashtags makes the list for the second week in a row AND surprise, surprise the piece I wrote on tweaking the Nook HD+ continues to dominate the charts for a fifth straight week.


QuestionSo what do you think?  Book reports or book reviews?  Which do YOU prefer?

About Aaron Westerman

Aaron Westerman is the Manager of Web Architecture for a national human services organization. When he's not busy tearing sites apart and rebuilding them, he spends his ever shrinking free time trying to keep up with his twins, reading works of translated literature, and watching far too many Oscar nominated movies.