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Front Royal Women's Resource Center and Nan Hathaway co-sponsor donations to Samuels Public Library that are by or about women.

Nan Hathaway, Book Donation Sponsor & Coordinator, chooses our books each year. Thank You Nan! 

We highlight one of these books each month. Our Book Reviews and Commentaries are provided by JoEllen McNeal. Thank you JoEllen!

The Empathy Diaries, a Memoir

By Sherry Turkle


The way we live now is an experiment in which we are the human subjects – treated as objects by the technology we have created….We are treated as objects when we are swept up as data to be bought and sold on an international market.  Or when our attention is manipulated by our devices, not just to keep us glued to them but to determine what we read, what images we get to see, and what programs get to see us….When we are treated as objects , we are encouraged to objectify one another and, of course, ourselves.                        –Sherry Turkle



For decades, Sherry Turkle has shown how we remake ourselves in the mirror of our machines.  Here, she illuminates our present search for authentic connection in a time of unchartered challenges.  As a woman and a humanist at MIT, Turkle has spent her career composing an intimate insight into our digital world.  Now, marked by compassion, humility and insight, we have her own intimate memoir.

In this vivid and poignant narrative, Turkle ties together her coming-of-age and path- breaking research on technology, empathy, and ethics.  Growing up in postwar Brooklyn, Turkle searched for clues to her identity in a house filled with mysteries.  She mastered the codes that governed her mother’s secretive life.  She learned to never ask about her absent scientist father – and never use his name, her birth name.  Before empathy became a way to find connection, it was her strategy for survival.

Turkle’s intellect and curiosity brought her to worlds on the threshold of change.  She learned friendship at a Harvard-Radcilffe on the cusp of coeducation during the antiwar movement, she mourned the loss of her mother in Paris as students returned from the 1968 barricades, and she followed her ambition while fighting for her place as a woman at MIT.  There, Turkle found turbulent love and chronicled the wonders of the new computer culture, even as she warned of its threat to our most essential human connections.  The Empathy Diaries captures all this in rich detail – and offers a master class in finding meaning through a life’s work.

Sherry Turkle’s memoir is a page-turner.   The reader may become so pulled in by the finely drawn characters and the story of her early life that it takes a while to realize that this is also a story about empathy. Her encounters with two of the most important men in her life - her scientifically driven father and her brilliant and renowned first husband – led her to discover that empathy is not just an interesting research subject or a feminine virtue, but what it became for her, a strategy for survival.  From her varied life experiences, she shows us how empathy for another human being is a lifesaving necessity and potentially, a key to our survival as a species (Carol Gilligan, author).  As artificial intelligence becomes more and more life-like, we are being seduced into believing that machines care for us and have our best interests at heart when all they really are, are sophisticated lines of code.  We all need to heed Turkle’s advice to remember that as convenient and efficient as technology is, it doesn’t care about our feelings or for us, only another human being can do that.


Sherry Turkle is the Abby Rockefeller Mauze Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT and the founding director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self.  A licensed clinical psychologist, she is the author of six books, including Alone Together and the New York Times bestseller Reclaiming Conversation, as well as the editor of three collections.  A MS. Magazine Woman of the Year, TED speaker, and featured media commentator, she is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Rockefeller Humanities Fellowship and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The Empathy Diaries, a Memoir By Sherry Turkle
2022 April Book Commentary