Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A book for the reading pile: Look at Me

I thought it only fitting to celebrate my Bestest Best's birthday today by posting about a book I loved...she is one of a sadly dwindling population of voracious book readers in a society of text-based communication and Twitter, where you get 140 characters to tell your story.

Look at Me is truly a modern classic. Written in 2001, on the cusp of the explosion of MySpace, facebook, Twitter, and blogging, it's a cautionary tale about the duality of the American life: what we want people to see and what goes on behind the facade.

The book begins following a traumatic automobile accident in which Charlotte, an aging model, has smashed every bone in her face. Surgery and 80 titanium screws later, she is repaired, but looks so unlike herself even her sister and agent don't recognize her. We follow Charlotte thorough her recovery and attempts to salvage an already waning modeling career.

The book also allows us to peek inside the mind of a partially-deranged history professor that has written study upon study linking the invention of glass windows and reflective surfaces (i.e. mirrors) to the conception of self-image and self-awareness...and how damaging that has been for society.

The book even postulates a society where there are websites for "Ordinary People" and "Extraordinary People," where online readers can learn about the intricacies and minutia of other people's lives. Voyeuristic and interactive. Sound familiar?

Read Look at Me. It explores the unfair advantage that beauty has in our society and how we've let it take the reigns of our morals and values, all while keeping the ride exciting and fast-paced. It will have you thinking about it for days after you finish the last page.

P.S. Happiest Birthday to Bestest Best!

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