Category Archives: Biography

The Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick

Ahh… Facebook. That time-sucking DELIGHTFUL waste of my life. How I loathe love you! The_Facbook_Effect_cover

I admit, I check my account at LEAST a dozen times a day. I love it. Add Instagram and you had me at hello. If anyone was destined to read The Facebook Effect, it was definitely me.

Unfortunately, instead of leaving me inspired to start my own mega-successful superbusiness online badassery, I just felt… bored.

The whole thing read like a 400 page news article. Would you like to read a 400 page news article? Didn’t think so. I had hoped that the book would be injected with the kind of witty, silly, intellectual humor that seems to be the heart of the site. Nope. It was dry, bland, and strictly black and white.While it was informative, you can only read SO MANY pages of college grads sitting on the floor typing fervently at their computers before your eyes glaze over.

And even after reading TFE, I don’t feel like I know who Mark Zuckerburg is as a person anymore than I did previous to the book.

But really, I can only thank everyone who was involved with the creation of Facebook, because seriously… do any of you remember what you used to do with all that spare time?? I sure don’t. But my advice is skip the Facebook book and just go straight to the site. That’s all you really need to know.

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The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddahartha Mukherjee

emperorofallmaladies1Unfortunately many of us have been touched by cancer, directly or indirectly. A couple months ago we got the news that my boyfriend’s mother may have a pretty serious form of immune/bone marrow cancer called multiple myeloma. *Cue frantic research*

The Emperor of All Maladies is described by Mukherjee as a “biography” of cancer. He treats the insidious disease almost as if it’s a sentient and prolific monster. The expansive novel takes us back several thousand years and wipes away the notion that cancer is a modern affliction. Mummies have been found with painful lumps in their shriveled arms. Ancient skeletons were exhumed and discovered to be riddled with tiny holes–caused by a skin cancer taking root.

By no means is it caused solely by our new lifestyle (although I’m sure fast food, cigarettes, and tanning beds aren’t helping…) Mukherjee explains that many of the diseases that would’ve once killed us a few hundred years ago have been wiped out–thus opening the doors for cells to mutate with advanced age and cancer to form.

“Cancer is built into our genomes: the genes that unmoor normal cell division are not foreign to our bodies, but rather mutated, distorted versions of the very genes that perform vital cellular functions. And cancer is imprinted in our society: as we extend our life span as a species, we inevitably unleash malignant growth (mutations in cancer genes accumulate with aging; cancer is thus intrinsically related to age). If we seek immortality, then so, too, in a rather perverse sense, does the cancer cell.”

This is a very interesting and informative read. It can get a little scientifically dense at times, but as someone with very little previous knowledge on the subject, I found it fairly easy to follow. Mukherjee incorporates personal experiences as an oncology doctor, early experiments, the history of many surgical procedures, and the evolution of chemotherapy. It’s kind of daunting to realize that in the 1940’s doctors were charging at the front line of cancer medicine–sure it would be obliterated at any moment–only to remember now it’s 70 years later and there is still no universal cure to be found.

But that’s not to say there haven’t been any major advancements. In the 1950’s, while doctors puffed on cigarettes during lung cancer operations, they were learning that their own smelly habit was causing the black tributaries of tar and malignant cells. Too bad the knowledge hasn’t stopped everyone nowadays…

I highly recommend this book, to anyone more interested in learning about the disease. It was at once terrifying and enlightening. Don’t expect to find a cure in it’s pages, but you will find hope.

4 stars of 5


The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe by J. Randy Taraborelli

One of pop cultures greatest icons, even more than fifty years after her death, Marilyn Monroe remains relevant in today’s media. Almost anywhere you look you’ll see t-shirts, posters, artwork, and quotes made famous by the devastatingly beautiful lady in white. The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe is a biography that pulls from many never before utilized sources including letters to and from her mother and half-sister, the Kennedys, and the lone friends and aquaintences still living.

Each of the many chapters details a small segment of her life, dividing things like her tumultous childhood and later, her dramatic romances, into tiny managable bites.

I’d always known that the starlet was troubled from start to finish, but I never realized the magnitude of what she went through. Not only were drugs SO free-flowing back then, but her childhood would’ve been enough to screw anyone up for life. It seems as though because of her upbringing and later stardom, the people she turned to for help or love ended up being the ones that betrayed her the most.

Not that she was just some sort of helpless victim, mind you. She could be calculating and sometimes ruthless, with the bounds of another’s marriage not meaning much to her. Suffice it to say, she pissed off plenty of wives back in the day.

But despite all that, you can’t help but feel sorry for her because in the end she was just looking for the same thing the rest of us are–love and peace. Unfortunately, almost all of her relationships were misguided and because of health concerns she was never able to have children. Add in the hereditary mental illness and you’ve got a recipe for distaster.

A glamourous disaster, but a disaster nonetheless.

TSLOMM was an interesting read, but like many biographies, it had tendency to get stale around the edges. Monroe’s life, while scandelous at the time, is actually pretty PG-13 compared to the antics of today’s celebrities. I learned a lot, for sure, but I felt it was missing that Oh no, she didn’t! factor I was expecting.

But, really… Poor Norma Jean…

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(You can watch her infamous serenade to JFK on his birthday here…)