So, I broke my generalized ban on nonfiction to read this one. The reasons were two-fold: (1) the basic topic as I understood it (how the modern world is changing our consumption of information, etc.) sounded interesting to me, and (2) I read and enjoy Cowen's blog and I usually take whatever opportunities I get to "pay" for the things on the internet that I really enjoy.
I wasn't disappointed at all, and I am even going to give this five stars (five! totally destroying my streak of four-star reviews--maybe I should make a policy regarding that as well). The primary reason is that this book really made me think. It made me think so much that I want to write a 20,000 character goodreads review. But I'm not going to, because I'm lazy and I'm afraid it would be too reminiscent of the livejournal I started in high school. (Does anybody remember livejournal I sure hope not.)
From other reviews (here and on Amazon) it seems like many people felt let down with the "focus on autism." I wasn't bothered by it because it felt to me like it wasn't so tangential and it really was at the heart of many of the ideas Cowen has about how the ways we consume information, entertainment, etc. are changing. Also, it was the part that really got me thinking.
I think that it is important to understand that this book isn't really about autism qua autism in a psychological or diagnostic sense, the idea is that certain "autistic" modes of thought are more a different cognitive profile than they are a disability and that, as with most everything in life, folks fall along a spectrum. Now, I was aware of the self-identifying "aspie" trend and subculture on the internet (I am aware of all internet trends) and had always blown it off as weird and typical internet subculturism. So, if you are similarly aware and were similarly uninterested in that, I suggest that you shouldn't let it get in the way of reading this. Like I said before, the book is, broadly, really about the different ways people consume and think and perceive.
So this book made me think about myself and the way that I think. It made me consider that maybe there is a connection between the things that I have trouble with and the things that come easy to me. It made me consider that maybe all of my quirks aren't just random eccentricities. Like, as is highly relevant here, there may be a reason that I have a generalized ban on nonfiction and that I give everything four stars. I'm not saying that Tyler Cowen gave me magical answers to all of my life's mysteries, but it's comforting to now have thought about them in a different way.