The Circle by Dave Eggers

The Circle is the exhilarating new novel from Dave Eggers, best-selling author of A Hologram for the King, a finalist for the National Book Award. When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in the world—even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.

“A vivid, roaring dissent to the companies that have coaxed us to disgorge every thought and action onto the Web . . . Carries the potential to change how the world views its addicted, compliant thrall to all things digital. If you work in Silicon Valley, or just care about what goes on there, you need to pay attention.” —Dennis K. Berman, The Wall Street Journal

“Fascinating . . . Eggers appears to run on pure adrenaline, and has as many ideas pouring out of him as the entrepreneurs pitching their inventions in The Circle . . . [A] novel of ideas . . . about the social construction and deconstruction of privacy, and about the increasing corporate ownership of privacy, and about the effects such ownership may have on the nature of Western democracy . . . Like Melville’s Pequod and Stephen King’s Overlook Hotel, the Circle is a combination of physical container, financial system, spiritual state, and dramatis personae, intended to represent America, or at least a powerful segment of it . . . The Circlers’ social etiquette is as finely calibrated as anything in Jane Austen . . . Eggers treats his material with admirable inventiveness and gusto . . . the language ripples and morphs . . . It’s an entertainment, but a challenging one.”

Join or login to comment.

  • A former member
    A former member

    I had a great time discussing the book with everyone! What a lively group!

    1 · April 16, 2014

  • Jane

    I enjoyed it as a biting but disturbing satire on our all-too-wired world and much breezier than Eggers' other books, which I find rambling and tangential at times.

    April 15, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I really enjoyed it. Your discussion gave me much to think about on the book and i enjoyed meeting you,.

    1 · April 15, 2014

  • Christine

    Also nice to see new faces!! Jody, jolana, Jeff, Jane-welcome! Hope to see you again.. And Mary nice to see you here!

    1 · April 15, 2014

  • Christine

    What a lively discussion! And what a great turn out! All agreed it was a fast read, those who had read Eggers before felt this was not like his other books... A bit disappointing.. Some loved it...some hated it.. Some were in the middle and no one agreed on whether this was plausible or not.... We found Mae naive... Felt the author was heavy handed with his message...extremely exaggerated - those who had worked at start ups felt Eggers description captured what happens at start ups pretty accurately. The book that Eggers was said to have plagiarized- even though his book came out before hers is... The boys king by Kate losse. Thanks everyone!!!!!

    1 · April 15, 2014

  • Kathy

    I am so disappointed to miss this discussion, but I'm feeling under the weather. Gotta stay healthy to take care of my new grand-twins born March 22! See you all next month.

    April 14, 2014

    • Christine

      We missed you! And congrats on the grand babies!!!

      1 · April 15, 2014

    • Shea

      Sorry you couldn't make it last night, and congratulations on the new addition to the family Kathy!

      1 · April 15, 2014

  • Lisa S.

    Not his best book

    1 · April 15, 2014

  • Susan G.

    A very provocative book. Sorry to miss the sure to be lively discussion.

    April 14, 2014

  • Clay W.

    Have to work late today -- hope to make it to another session before too long.

    April 14, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I agree with both Lisa and Shea's point. I was so disturbed by the issues raised -- on the other hand, after a while, it almost started to seem hilarious. Where are those nasty hackers when you really need them!

    April 13, 2014

  • Lisa

    I am really disliking this book because of how heavy handed the author is with his point. I was expecting a more creative hand from Eggers. I am going to try to slog through the second half of the book :(

    2 · April 11, 2014

    • Shea

      Yes! The phrase "ham-handed" kept coming to mind as I was reading. The issues that the book deals with made it worth finishing, for me at least.

      2 · April 11, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    One issue of the book is about cults, but I think another fascinating issue is about what technology can do, how it leads to unintended side effects such as more superficial "relationships", monitoring of everything, and constraints on our republic (we're a republic, not a pure democracy).

    1 · April 10, 2014

  • Andy

    The expression “going clear” pops up several times. It brings to mind Lawrence Wright’s well-regarded study of the Church of Scientology, “Going Clear.” It might be fun to compare Sci and The Circle.

    April 3, 2014

    • Christine

      Very interesting. I don't know much about Scientology... Ill do some research. I have read eckhart tolles power of now - and he says similar to going clear...

      April 10, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    I also noticed the Scientology similarities -- but on another subject, young people do not "know" history (most of China's youth were born after Tiananmen Square), Japanese textbooks still make out Japan as the big victim in WWII, etc. I watched, The Last Enemy years ago on PBS and while much of the plot was a tad tiresome, the major theme made my blood run cold -- esp. how MOST people buy into it………
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_Enemy_(TV_series)
    The scariest part is that chip!

    April 7, 2014

  • Kathy

    Interesting observations, Andy. This should make for a fascinating discussion.

    April 3, 2014

  • Andy

    The Circle seems to avoid or bulldoze any and all constraints on its ‘mission.’ It might be interesting to discuss whether this could happen in the real world.

    April 3, 2014

  • Andy

    Imho, the real persons in Ken Auletta's "Googled: The End of the World As We Know It" (2010) are more interesting, and the writing, a lot better.

    1 · March 30, 2014

  • Shea

    I'm only about 60 pages in, but I like the writing and story so far. I also like how the company, as one reviewer put it, is "like the unholy lovechild of Google and Facebook."

    2 · March 20, 2014

  • Kathy

    I'm about 1/2 way done also. The book MOVES, and I like that a lot. Very disturbing, though. My daughter and her "circle" are all in this age group, and I can actually picture how this could happen. Can't wait to see where this goes...fascinating.

    March 19, 2014

  • Christine

    I'm about 45% into the book... And although an easy read... I'm not sure how I feel about this... Is this a cult? What is with the crazy circle?! And how is Mae so clueless or at least not freaked out about this? This book is bother me - :) any thoughts so far?

    March 18, 2014

  • Andy

    Members may be interested in George Packer's 2/17/14 article on how Amazon's presence is making it more difficult for authors who are not independently wealthy to undertake long and difficult (i.e. valuable) writing projects. http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2014/02/17/140217fa_fact_packer

    3 · February 18, 2014

17 went

People in this
Meetup are also in:

Imagine having a community behind you

Get started Learn more
Rafaël

We just grab a coffee and speak French. Some people have been coming every week for months... it creates a kind of warmth to the group.

Rafaël, started French Conversation Group

Sign up

Meetup members, Log in

By clicking "Sign up" or "Sign up using Facebook", you confirm that you accept our Terms of Service & Privacy Policy