Tag Archives: The Narcissism of Small Differences

Book Club Reflection: The Narcissism of Small Differences by Michael Zadoorian

8 Sep

My book club met via Zoom again to discuss our latest pick, The Narcissism of Small Differences by Michael Zadoorian. I’ve been finishing books closer to the meeting date lately so I had very clear memories of this one and was excited to discuss.

Unfortunately, I was not in the overwhelming majority of people who liked the book. We were rather split. Some enjoyed it, others didn’t. Most of us did enjoy that it was local and set in an area we knew or were familiar with. Unfortunately, many found the characters unlikeable and we don’t think they were supposed to be. Most of the characters couldn’t see beyond their own problems. Malcolm seemed to be the only exception to this. Readers found the characters whiney. However, they were ‘different like everyone else’ and in that sense, I found them pretty realistic. Many liked the side characters more than Joe and Ana. Chick and Adrianne were favorites. Some readers felt the anti-Christian comments made in reference to Karen and Woman Lyfe were uncalled for.

A lot of our discussions focused on Joe and Ana’s relationship. We tried to decide if we thought it was a good and healthy relationship and a lot of people felt it had a lot of flaws. Some said they’d get sick of Joe not working. He didn’t seem to have much a life outside the little work he did and going to the bar. (Personally, I wondered how much the opinions would have changed had Ana been the one not working, but that’s just me.) A lot of things they did as a couple seemed to have dropped off and disappeared as their friends found other interests or moved away.

Another major question was if Ana was really so wrong about kissing Bruce and if her actions deserved the reaction Joe had. Personally, I felt that the bigger issue was not telling Joe about their kiss and a few people agreed with me. Another reader pointed out that she had started to be intimate with Bruce when she hadn’t been with Joe in so long. And even more ‘weird’ was that she was intimate with Joe after returning from Grand Rapids. It was iffy and some of us felt it was more justified than others.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Sign Up for Monthly Newsletters 

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Processing…
Success! You’re on the list.
Aside

WWW Wednesday, 2-September-2020

2 Sep

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I was a bit better about reading Running with a Police Escort by Jill Grunenwald this week. I had a bit more time in the mornings and would sit down to read a few pages. It’s helping me stay motivated for triathlon despite this rough season. I’m remembering that I do love to just run and that races will happen again, someday.
I dedicated a lot of my listening time this week to The Tory by T.J. London. I’m enjoying the story a lot and I’m over halfway through it, though I may have to take a break to get through a book club pick (see my Next list). I’m confident I’ll finish it quickly when I return to it. I should have more car-time coming up where audiobooks will be welcome.
On hold with Joy, Inc. by Richard Sheridan until I finish other audiobooks. I’m sure I’ll return to it soon, though!
I was finally able to start The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides and I’m loving it! I forgot how much I adored Eugenides writing. I think I’ll finish this one within a week. I keep making time to read so I can keep hearing more.

Recently finished: I finally wrapped up In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner and posted my review on Monday. This book was hard to read only because it was very dark and haunting. I cried at the end upon realizing how much of it was Ratner’s memories. Knowing that these horrible things happened to her made it difficult for me to view the book as just a story. I gave it Three out of Five Stars.

I posted my review of The Narcissism of Small Differences by Michael Zadoorian on Thursday of last week. My book club met Monday to talk about it so expect a summary of that discussion next week. I gave the book Four out of Five Stars.

Reading next: I’ve got another book club pick on my horizon that I need to get started on soon. This time, it’s In the Distance by Hernán Díaz. No idea what to expect and I’m excited to get started.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Sign Up for Monthly Newsletter 

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Processing…
Success! You’re on the list.

WWW Wednesday, 26-August-2020

26 Aug

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I’m so close to finishing In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner. I’m confident I’ll wrap it up this week. It will feel good to finally finish it. The subject is really dark and I think anything else will feel like a warm breeze by comparison.
I tried to be better about reading Running with a Police Escort by Jill Grunenwald but I can’t say that was a success. Work has been tough lately and at the end of the day, I have no desire to look at a screen anymore. I have a feeling this will linger a bit.
I’ve gotten myself into two audiobooks. I started listening to The Tory by T.J. London but had some issues with the ARC file and stopped. Luckily, the PR rep I was working with was able to help me resolve my issues so I’m back to listening to this as my primary audiobook. It’s done with multiple narrators and I’m excited to explore the variety of characters involved. It’s still early days and this one is quite long so expect this to be on the list for a while.
To entertain myself on a long run while the audio problems were ongoing, I started listening to Joy, Inc. by Richard Sheridan. I don’t listen to business books often but it’s always enjoyable to find one that speaks to me. I’d love to be able to help build a culture like the one Sheridan has achieved. I’m not sure if it’s completely possible in my current role, but it’s given me a lot of ideas for any managing I might get to do in the future. This one is on pause while I finish The Tory but I’m looking forward to returning to it.

Recently finished: I was able to wrap up The Narcissism of Small Differences by Michael Zadoorian and posted a review of it on Monday. It’s fun to read a book set in your hometown and know all the references to locations and companies. There was a business mogul referred to by a fictionalized name and I was laughing to myself because I was so easily able to figure out who the real-life person was. I gave the book Four out of Five stars and I’m looking forward to my book club discussion of it.

Reading Next: I’m eager to start The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides since the book is staring at me from my bedside table. I really should be able to start it this week. I don’t want to put it off any longer!


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

 

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Processing…
Success! You’re on the list.

Book Review: The Narcissism of Small Differences by Michael Zadoorian (4/5)

24 Aug

I’m surprised I hadn’t heard of Zadoorian before we read another of his books about a year ago. He’s a Detroit-based author and his books have been well received. With our book club selections limited to those available on the Hoopla platform, our previous selections went out the window and our leader chose this book for our August meeting.

Cover image via Amazon

The Narcissism of Small Differences by Michael Zadoorian

Other books by Zadoorian reviewed on this blog:

Beautiful Music (and Book Club Reflection)

Summary from Amazon:

Joe Keen and Ana Urbanek have been a couple for a long time, with all the requisite lulls and temptations, yet they remain unmarried and without children, contrary to their Midwestern values (and parents’ wishes). Now on the cusp of forty, they are both working at jobs that they’re not even sure they believe in anymore, but with significantly varying returns. Ana is successful, Joe is floundering–both in limbo, caught somewhere between mainstream and alternative culture, sincerity and irony, achievement and arrested development.

Set against the backdrop of bottomed-out 2009 Detroit, a once-great American city now in transition, part decaying and part striving to be reborn, The Narcissism of Small Differences is the story of an aging creative class, doomed to ask the questions: Is it possible to outgrow irony? Does not having children make you one? Is there even such a thing as selling out anymore?

Parts of this book felt so real that it hurt. Living in Metro Detroit like Joe and Anna, I felt the setting very intimately. I also felt the workplace setting Ana inhabited and the stresses of a job that she didn’t love. I also related to Joe and his desire to make a living from his creative endeavors. I’d love to be able to do that but I feel I’m more accurately caught between Joe and Ana, being Ana while wishing to be Joe. This book was only hard to read because it felt so real and captured the hardships of modern living so vividly. It was well written and had me pulling up the file whenever I had a chance.

Joe and Ana were very realistic. I could see how they’d get caught in their ways from their 20s, finding that 15 years later, they hadn’t made a transition that most of their peers had and wondering if it was too late. Is there an expiration on getting married and having kids? Should there be? I just hit 30 myself and I can see a lot of my peers struggling with this and trying to decide if/how/when to make these same decisions. Ana’s coworkers are well-drawn as well. I loved Adrian and wondered if I could be friends with her. I think we’ve all known a Bruce in our work history. I’m thinking of a man from my first job and it helped Bruce come to life having that reference point.

Ana was my favorite and I really related to her. Maybe it’s a same-gender bias, but I felt her story more than I did Joe’s. I hated that people assumed she was having a relationship with a coworker because they spent time together. I’m someone who tends to have more male friends than female and I hate when that assumption is made about me. I work hard, like Ana, and the frustrations she had from people who seemed hell-bent on making work a nightmare rang true to me, too. Zadoorian captured the corporate world very well in his story.

Michael Zadoorian
Image via Amazon

I enjoyed Ana’s work life and her experiences with Woman Lyfe. They were just so corporately horrible that it was fun to read. I’m sure most working people have had an experience with a coworker or client who was difficult, but not to the extent of these women. Also, I loved that the horribly-privileged-white-woman character was actually named Karen. It was a bit cliche, but also so perfect.

Ana’s secret-keeping from Joe really bothered me. I’ll avoid saying what that secret was to avoid spoilers, but let’s just say there’s a big secret. I was frustrated that she wasn’t open and honest with him and then even more frustrated when Adriane told her to keep the secret from Joe. I’m a big advocate for not lying in a relationship about anything or keeping any secrets. It tends to become a bigger issue like happened with Ana and Joe. I think they’re very lucky their relationship was saved.

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Patrick Lawlor. I think he was a good choice for this book. His voice for Ana wasn’t my favorite, it seemed a little too diminutive, but not enough that it took away from the book. He did great reading the big moments of the book and dramatizing the things that were dramatic.

The question I asked of this book is if Ana and Joe needed to grow up. They’re adults by merit of their age, but some of their tendencies are more often associated with someone in their early 20s. If they need to grow up, what are things grown-ups do? Does Joe need a real job, does Ana need to lie about her age and act younger to get ahead at work, and do they need to get married? In the end, I think the answer was ‘no.’ These two are perfectly functional and making a life together in their own way. If they decided to make changes, it was because they wanted to, not because anyone was making them do it. They were happy with the life they’d built and didn’t need anyone telling them what to change about it to make it ‘better.’

Writer’s Takeaway: This book was a great description of contemporary romance. Today, relationships aren’t as linear as they once were. There’s no pre-defined time to date before getting married and the stigma around cohabitation has lessened. But this does bring with it problems of defining what a relationship looks like and where it’s going. Zadoorian captured this is such a real way and I really appreciated a book depicting an experience I see a lot of my peers going through.

A great book that swept me away, though in the world I live in now. Four out of Five Stars

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

 

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Processing…
Success! You’re on the list.

WWW Wednesday, 19-August-2020

19 Aug

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I’m forcing myself to read a chapter of In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner each night and I think it’s helping. I’m a bit more engrossed in the story now and it may have been a lack of attention that was keeping me from enjoying this before. I’m optimistic that I can finish it this week.
I’ve been bad about reading my ebook so Running with a Police Escort by Jill Grunenwald has been neglected. I’ll try to find time to read it this week but I’ve failed to fulfill that promise before.
I’m enjoying but not enthralled with The Narcissism of Small Differences by Michael Zadoorian. It feels very true to life which is almost a bad thing in this case because it captures the struggles of everyday life really well. This should be finished next week.

Recently finished: Nothing. This slump is really getting to me. Yikes.

Reading Next: I changed my mind a bit about my next audiobook. I think I have time for a for-fun book before I start my next book club read. I was gifted a review copy of The Tory by T.J. London on audio. I used to be in a writers group with London so I’m excited to read her book and get some more insight into the characters I heard her talk about for so long.
I picked up my copy of The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides from my library. This is pushing me to keep reading Ratner!


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

 

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Processing…
Success! You’re on the list.

WWW Wednesday, 12-August-2020

12 Aug

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I haven’t made much progress with In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner. I’m still not gripped and am really struggling to dedicate time to reading it. At this point, I think I’ll just have to push through.
I went over a week without touching Running with a Police Escort by Jill Grunenwald just because I’d been so busy. It’s got a great tone and I enjoy Grunenwald’s writing, but I’m just lacking time to read it. I miss my lunches where I’d read ebooks. That’s the only thing I miss about office life.
I started a new audiobook, The Narcissism of Small Differences by Michael Zadoorian. This was a book club pick and it takes place in my hometown of Detroit, which is always fun to read about.

Recently finished: I was able to wrap up Old Baggage by Lissa Evans just in time for my book club meeting. Nothing like finishing a book on Sunday for a Monday meeting! I liked it more than I thought I would when I started it, but it still didn’t grip me very much. I gave it Three out of Five Stars and posted a review yesterday.

I also reviewed Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray on Monday. I adored this book and I can’t wait to continue with the series and listen to book four. I might push it up my TBR because I’m looking forward to it so much. Five out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I’ll probably need another audiobook before anything else. I’m going to go in a completely different direction than my recent reads and go with Joy, Inc. by Richard Sheridan. It’s a business book and the business featured is about 30 minutes from my new house. I heard Sheridan speak at a recent HR conferences and I’m interested to hear his full story.
I’ll optimistically think I need a physical book soon as well. I’ve requested The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides from my library. I might bail on this because it’s a possible next read for me and my reading buddy. But I’ve suggested it twice and she hasn’t picked it, so I figure I might as well get to it myself.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.