Sunday, January 10, 2010

Two reviews in one: Angry Fat Girls and Kindle Reader for iPhone

This is the busy time of the year for me, so I was going to wait to buy Frances's book until the time to read it wouldn't be stolen from the things I really should be doing. I didn't pre-order a copy and I didn't check my local bookstores on the release date to see if it was there.

Then I remembered that there is a Kindle Reader for the iPhone and went ahead and bought it anyway. Instant gratification. I mostly read it in bed when I should have been sleeping and finished it in two days.

This isn't going to be my typical review for two reasons. First, I can't be objective about a book written by a friend. Second, since I can't rifle through the physical book, it would be difficult for me to find and pull quotes from it -- one disadvantage of the Kindle reader. I think anyone who reads weight loss blogs (and if you don't, why are you here?) would enjoy this book. You may even be in it, since Frances pulled in comments from her various blogs and email conversations in addition to the fictionalized stories of the four other main characters.

It's a good book but it didn't get under my skin in the same way that Passing for Thin did. I think Pamela Peeke (eek!) was right -- Frances is the brand. Most readers picking up this book are probably looking for a sequel to PFT. I think she might have been better off staying more focused on herself and keeping narration first-person limited, instead of trying to create the illusion of omniscience. Some of the details used to fill out the other characters' away-from-Frances-lives (like Mimi's Wiccan ceremonies) seemed too fantastical. I also wondered why Lindsay flew into Cincinnati's airport when there is a perfectly good one in Cleveland, much closer to Kent State. Mostly, though, these stories distract a bit from Frances's, which is the one she knows the best and can tell the most powerfully.

I think, though, that anyone who is trying to lose weight will want to think about the questions this book asks: What is this weight really about? Besides thinness, what goals and dreams do I have? What is food giving me and what is it taking away?

As for the Kindle Reader, it was a great way to read a book in bed. I wondered what I was missing by not getting the "real" book -- were there photos? An "About the Author" section I was missing? If I still had my globetrotting job, I would definitely leave the heavy books at home and load up my iPhone with reading material instead. I don't think I'd buy a Kindle machine, because it's a costly one-trick pony -- but the Kindle Reader for the iPhone is a free app for a gadget I already had. The books are a little cheaper and you can have them in seconds. I also think about all of the books that I bought, read once, and set on the shelf. For those, the ebooks definitely would save my home and the environment a lot of clutter. Still, a physical book can be shared with a friend or donated to charity, and the Kindle book just sits on my iPhone until I decide to delete it. I think that the pricing on Kindle books needs to be adjusted down to account for this reality, and for all the money the publishers save on not printing, shipping, and ultimately remaindering physical books.

Unless the authors get a bigger royalty this way, and if so, Kindle away.

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for the review, Jen.

    It's possible that you're right but I'm not sure that I could have told a big enough story as an autobiography. It was important to find other people's breaking points, either to lose weight or to quit losing weight. It was important to examine more relationships with family, friends, colleagues, community, lovers and how they impact body size. If I'd stuck to my own story I'd have had a limited fund of experience & most of it would already be available on my blog.

    I wanted to drive home certain points and the collective experience did that, I think. The struggle with personal boundaries, identity, fulfillment, the zen of healthy eating correlate directly to body size. Five women work on those had more impact than me, who, in many respects, is a big baby to whine about my life when I have a book deal and so much tangible love.

    But the next book will be all about me-me-me again. :)

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  2. Interesting combo of reviews! I read books on Kindle all the time, either for convenience if I'm traveling or because I expect them to be one-shot reads and don't want to kill trees for one reading. On our campus, the iPhone is platform for 85% of e-book reading, so I'm clearly behind the times :)

    Angry Fat Girls was a good read and I actually liked it better than PFT. While Frances is the brand, having the wider weight loss blog community's experiences represented in the other women made the issues more generally accessible - at least for me. The weight loss questions you pointed out really resonated.

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  3. Thanks for the review! I've never tried the Kindle, but I would love to have one. And without an iPhone, I'm just behind on the whole world. . .

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  4. I'm waiting until I find a job before purchasing my copy of AFG, mainly because I know I will be consumed by reading the book and not looking for a job . . . so this could be good motivation . . .

    I'm not sure about the Kindle, there is something so great about holding a new book and cracking it open but I still haven't figured out how to capitalize while texting.

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"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07