Reading is one of the few hobbies I could continue after my hip pain became an issue. I’ve always been an avid reader, but now the activity is about more than just the joy of reading. I pick up the book, and if it’s good (or simply entertaining) my pain is the farthest thing from my mind. Few hobbies do that for me, and reading is definitely the only one I can do regardless of my pain or where I am, and it barely costs a thing
This week I opened So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson and was immediately hooked. You may be familiar with Ronson, a Welsh reporter whose most popular works include The Men Who Stare at Goats and The Psychopath Test. I feel as if the title is fairly telling of the book’s subject matter, but I’ll give a brief synopsis anyway. So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed describes the somewhat new trend of individuals using social media as a platform to ruthlessly, and anonymously, criticize others. Ronson interviews people whose careers and sometimes lives have been destroyed by public shaming, and goes into the science and psychology behind why humans find these behaviors acceptable and, even at times, deserved.
Ronson holds true to his “gonzo journalism” style in this book, using his own emotions and experiences to recount each narrative rather than acting as a traditional journalist might and providing a nothing more than the facts. His work on this heavy topic is informative, yet somehow light and a fun read. I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I have a proclivity towards trying to understand the human brain as a way to gain insight into human behavior, but I think that even if I wasn’t a psych nerd I would still love this work. (I mean, let’s face it, this is a New York Times bestseller…everyone who has read it can’t possibly be like me in that way).
The only downside to SYBPS was that I blew through it. Have you ever counted down the pages as you got near the end of a great piece of writing, dreading its conclusion? That’s what happened here. My only consolation is that Ronson has quite a few books under his belt in addition to a blog and a follow-worthy Twitter account, and has a Ted Talk (that’s not it…he’s kind of everywhere…I’m a bit embarrassed I hadn’t heard of him before this year). I’m wondering right now if I should test the waters with one of my other Kindle sample books, or go ahead and buy everything this man has ever written.
Whether you’re inclined to pick up this book or not, I hope that reading does for you what it does for me. You don’t have to have chronic pain to want to push aside life’s problems for a little bit each day; I’m pretty sure that’s something every person wants. I’m not always immersed in what I’m reading, thinking throughout the day about how I can’t wait to get home and dive back into my book, but reading will always provide an opportunity to escape whatever is plaguing me (and it makes me look really smart to read while I’m waiting for my to-go order instead of playing Candy Crush on my phone).
Book suggestions are always appreciated! If you have any feel free to Tweet them @annedoussan or comment below.