I'm always reading something, usually multiple books at a time.
[I won a free ARC copy of this book in a Goodreads "First Reads" Giveaway.]
Anna Krestler is 37 years old and unemployed. Being unemployed is bad enough, but being unemployed in the New York metro (Williamsburg, Brooklyn) area presents extra challenges. It doesn't help matters that her roommate, Brie, works multiple unpaid internships that are supposed to position her for much-coveted paid positions. This isn't the life Anna thought she'd have when she was in the Slavic studies PhD program at Columbia University. But stalling out on writing her dissertation had led to an invitation not to return, so she ultimately "only managed to slink out of Columbia with a master's." Her next move had been to take a stultifying desk job at a law firm whose name "made people say 'Oh! They hadn't heard of it, just felt as if they should have." The steady though unsubstantial paycheck from this job ends with a layoff.
While Anna's friend Leslie administers free life-coaching sessions to help Anna find her new, true path, Anna obsesses over the internet. Her Gmail account houses her collection of spam, that she selects and saves like a junk-mail curator. She spends hours of every day refreshing her favorite
webpages in multiple tabs, checking and rechecking her email account, and trying to find direction in her life via Craigslist. It is through a Craigslist ad that she meets Taj, an indie filmmaker who invites her to join his crew and assist him in creating films based on people's dreams (as in aspirations--not what they do when they're in REM sleep). Anna's involvement with the film projects fills her with a new sense of purpose and confidence, but her savings continue to dwindle without any sign that she'll be compensated financially.
Note to Self features a fresh narrative voice and appeals to me based on my own experiences as an ex-academic who also has "art" and "film" backgrounds and has lived in Brooklyn. I often found myself nodding in recognition over certain "internet" behaviors of Anna's, like when she wonders if she might have a form of Google-tourettes because of her random searches. Hoping for a definite, well-defined relationship has her musing that "it's vague" is a more apt descriptor than Facebook's "it's complicated." Anna goes on a journey (both literal and metaphoric) that of course doesn't quite lead where she hopes or expects it will, but helps nudge her in a new direction.