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    Dad often likes to make this Geordie-themed joke about the Nintendo Wii, so might be especially pleased to see the Metrocentre using it!

    This post was added to my scrapbook on on 18th April 2014.
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    Am I going to die this year?

    Am I going to die this year?

    Filed on Friday, 18th April 2014.

    Death isn’t the cheeriest of topics for a Weekend Read, but the mathematical puzzle posed by Brian Skinner on the NPR blog is genuinely intriguing, and has lovely illustrations to boot. I won’t spoil your reading experience by revealing the dangling question Skinner ends on – I’ll simply observe that I’ve no idea what the answer might be.

    Posted on 18th April 2014. You can view all my previous selections here, or comment here.
     

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    Today, I was given a Betty’s gift-bag as a prize in a work-related competition, and had to submit a selfie showing me and the prize to prove that I’d received it! Unfortunately, Wendy is on call tonight, so I didn’t have her stylistic advice and supervision… I hope it’s turned out okay!

    This post was added to my scrapbook on on 16th April 2014.
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    16th April 2014

    Fakebook is an autobiographical story by Dave Cicirelli, a young man who decided to divorce his Facebook updates from reality. He falsely announced via a Facebook status update that he was quitting his job and going travelling. Most of his Facebook friends believed him, and a few close friends were co-opted into posting supportive comments and messages to increase the believability of his tale. The cover calls this an “elaborate hoax”, but I find that description difficult: there’s nothing particularly elaborate about writing fake Facebook status updates, or posting (badly) Photoshopped photographs.

    From this exercise, Cicirelli attempts to make observations about the nature of friendship, life in the digital world, and so on. Unfortunately, his observations are such self-evident truths that they needn’t be demonstrated through this sort of means. Is it necessary to write a book about fooling your friends for six months to realise that friendships change, develop and sometimes disintegrate as lives take different courses?

    For me, the whole book just fell flat. For some people, no doubt, the fictional adventures of “Fake Dave” are rip-roaringly hilarious. I’m sure that there’s a segment of the market somewhere that finds the idea of pretending to unravel toilet paper around a horse and cart on an Amish farm hilarious. I suspect Mr Cicirelli himself is in this market segment. I’m afraid I’m not, and so I found the ever-growing succession of such fictional idiocy a drag. I struggled to get through this book.

    Other reviewers have expressed concerns about the ethics of the deception involved in this project. I’m not overly concerned by that. Nobody is under any obligation to share the truth on Facebook, and I suspect that most events reported on Facebook are fictionalised to some extent to show their author in a better light. This is nothing more than an extension of that idea.

    About a third of the way into the book, there is a delicious moment, however. Mr Cicirelli goes on a date with a girl four years his junior. He explains his online exploits to her, and she gives him short shrift, essentially dismissing the project as deceptive and pointless. In response, Mr Cicirelli calls her immature. He might have done rather better to listen to her.

    Fakebook is available now from amazon.co.uk in paperback. I am grateful to Sourcebooks for providing a free review copy of this book.

    There's a book review every other Wednesday on sjhoward.co.uk. If you want to follow them, subscribe to the book review RSS feed or get the fortnightly review delivered automatically to your Kindle.

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    Until a couple of weeks ago, this was a furniture store near our house… it’s now awaiting the arrival of a shiny new M&S, due to open in November.

    This post was added to my scrapbook on on 14th April 2014.
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    This is Wendy’s photo and Wendy’s title, after she found me fast asleep in the living room this afternoon… It’s been a busy few weeks!

    This post was added to my scrapbook on on 13th April 2014.
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    Wendy and I enjoyed Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake at the Theatre Royal tonight… The theatre was packed by the time it started!

    This post was added to my scrapbook on on 12th April 2014.
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    In the last row of the balcony! Never even been to level 3 before tonight! The Shostakovich piano concerto was incredible, especially the second movement!

    This post was added to my scrapbook on on 11th April 2014.
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    The vitamin myth

    The vitamin myth

    Filed on Friday, 11th April 2014.

    I take a multivitamin on a daily basis. I do this despite knowing that the evidence shows that it’s unlikely to do me any good, though I’m healthily sceptical of the evidence that suggests it’s actively harmful (I think that this effect might reasonably be explained by confounders). I suppose my own behaviour is more of a habit than anything.

    With that in mind, I was delighted to come across an article discussing this very topic in The Atlantic, written by none other than Professor Paul Offit, a well-respected paediatrician. In fact, as it turns out, the article is an extract from his book. In the extract, he gives a little of the history of the vitamin supplement history, and sets out the research evidence on the topic. But, more than that, he tells a truly engaging story, and leads one through it almost by hand. It’s a really great read!

    Posted on 11th April 2014. You can view all my previous selections here, or comment here.
     

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    This is Halo, the new sculpture at the centre of the new(ish) Trinity Square in Gateshead. It was designed by Steve Newby, and apparently represents the town’s industrial heritage and the cycle of regeneration. I’m not sure quite what aspect of Gateshead is represented by the wonkiness, though.

    This post was added to my scrapbook on on 10th April 2014.
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    I've been writing here since May 2003, and waffle on about all sorts of stuff. See this page for more about me, or follow me on twitter. Enjoy browsing, commenting, and getting involved!




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