Monday, December 14, 2009

Book Review: We Feel Fine

We Feel Fine: An Almanac of Human Emotion

by Sep Kamvar and Jonathan Harris
New York: Scribner, 2009

I came to own this book a bit differently than most of the books that find their way to my reading pile. A while back, I received a request in my email inbox asking if I would be willing to give this book permission to use a photo and quote from my blog. I honestly had no clue what the whole thing was about. I agreed and signed a release form. I heard from them a couple more times - the last email saying my photo and quote hadn't made the cut but they would still send me a book for being willing to participate! Well, OK, I very rarely turn down a free book!

"We Feel Fine" is a collection of quotes and photos from blogs from all over the English world. All of these quotes were garnered from sentences that began "I feel." As the writers state, "Drawing from a database of more than 12 million human feelings collected over 3 years from personal blogs on the Internet, 'We Feel Fine' presents a comprehensive contemporary portrait of the world's emotional landscape, exploring the ups and downs of everyday life in all its color, chaos, and candor." The book is arranged as a coffee table book. One can simply pick it up, open to a page and view the photos and quotes. The authors have created different sections based on gender, specific emotions, locations, weather and topics. For those interested in more detail, the authors have provided statistical analysis of the data they have mined as well as the computer code that they used to obtain the data.

I really enjoyed the time I spent flipping through and reading this book. I didn't know what to expect and it was a pleasant surprise. I especially liked this "life sentence" that they included toward the end of the book, summing up "major emotional themes as we age.": "We start simple (11-14), but soon fill up with angst (15-18) and feelings of confinement (19-22), until we leave those behind to go conquer the world (23-26), before gradually trading ambition for balance (27-30), developing an appreciation for our bodies (31-35) and our children (31-35), and evolving a sense of connectedness (36-40), for which we feel grateful (36-40), then happy (41-49), calm (41-49), and finally blessed (50+)."

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