Email by Randy Malamud is both an entertaining look at how we communicate in the digital era as well as an ode to the lost art of letter writing. Much has been gained with the speed and convenience of e-mail but, as Malamud points out, much has been lost too. Firmly in the latter category is the fact that employees can be reached at all hours, with the result that the line between work and personal time has been blurred, to the detriment of workers.
There are myths to be debunked--e-mail is not carbon neutral--and hilarious anecdotes that many readers will find all too familiar. A chapter on passwords explores the dark side of cyber communications, including the risks posed by hackers, and accurately captures the bewildering complexity of computer-generated passwords that are not words at all. Malamud is well positioned to offer a refreshing angle on the topic of e-mail. As an English professor of a certain age, he was initially slow to adopt the technology and is decidedly old school in his views on e-mail composition. On the other hand, the author is cautiously optimistic that we can improve our relationship to technology by thoughtful and deliberate management. Importantly, he offers strategies to manage the ceaseless barrage of messages that can drain our time and energy.
Email is part of the elegant Object Lessons series of books that inspire readers to take a closer look at everyday items. It's a satisfying and informative book for anyone who has a love-hate relationship with their inbox and wants to improve their e-mail-writing skills. --Shahina Piyarali, writer and freelance reviewer