This is a real gem. Julia Sweeney manages to be extremeley funny while talking about her own journey of spiritual and religious discovery. She conveys more insights and fundamental truths in just over two hours than most of the other "popular" atheist/agnostic tomes out there that are many times longer. Unlike many of those other books, she is able to do it without being depressing, disrespectful, or taking herself too seriously. I have listened to it twice already and will likely listen again.
If the subject matter and approach of this book looks interesting to you, then I encourage you to get it. You will not be disappointed!
Wow - just finished The Martian! I feel like I've been to Mars. Out of the hundreds of audio books I have listened to, this is absolutely in my Top 10. Even Top 5. The whole book just resonated with me. Every day I could not wait to see what new calamity and solution our hero would come up with. But it was done so realistically that it could have been non-fiction. And Andy Weir gave the main character such a snarky sense of humor that it was laugh-out-loud funny in many places.
I think this book will be especially wonderful if you are interested in science and engineering, but I don't think it is mandatory. As others have stated, just being able to enjoy MacGyver is probably good enough (though this is far, far higher quality that anything MacGyver ever did).
I expect I will be listening to it again very soon!
I got about halfway through this book and didn't have the energy to continue. The overall premise is fine, if a bit shopworn. It echoes a lot of Battlestar Galactica insofar as you have the old ship (and crew) that can succeed where all the newer models fail. Where it fails I think is not allowing our culture to advance at all even though it is set almost 300 years in the future. The attitudes, problems, and prejudices expressed by the characters are exactly the same as they are today. If I think how much humanity has progressed over the last 300 years (and especially the last 100) I find it really hard to believe nothing culturally or politically will have changed. Do we really think the same nations and geopolitics around now will be the same 300 years from now? Britain still the same, suspicious of the Chinese and Russians, etc? Really?
The use of language was fairly unsophisticated in many parts. The overuse of generic "reporters" and "bureaucrats" and their paper-thin characterizations got a bit tiresome. Overall I think there are better series (Black Jack Geary for one) out there.
I stumbled into this book almost my accident. I am a frequent Audible customer, but stick with history and novels primarily. I would not consider myself a "self-help" book kind of guy at all. But fortunately I went a bit off-script and bought this book. It was absolutely fascinating and probably the only way a guy like me could get energized about mindfulness.
Dan comes into mindfulness as a complete skeptic and novice and we learn right along with him about the myriad benefits to meditation. It is a fascinating ride. We also get a bonus insight into the workings of network news.
I have subsequently listened to Professor Siegel's Great Courses series on the scientific foundation of mindfulness and it is a great companion piece. But listen to this one first! It is funny, interesting, informative, and well worth your time.
I am convinced that Professor Siegel's approach is really the best way to be introduced to Mindfulness. He strikes an almost perfect balance of technical explanation, philosophical background, anecdotes from his practice, and actual meditation examples.
Frankly, the list of benefits coming from mindfulness is almost unbelievable. I say "almost" because each time Prof Siegel would discuss yet another benefit I would hear myself thinking "there is no way that is true" he would then discuss all the studies that have been done in that particular area that prove out its efficacy.
He is clearly an expert in his field, very enthusiastic, properly self-effacing, and an excellent presenter. There is some mediation practice in-line in the lectures, but there are also full-length meditations included at the end of the course. Since I mostly listen while driving I resisted the urge to practice during the lectures.
Frankly, after listening to the course, I think it would be very hard not to want to put it into practice yourself. I also recommend "10% Happier" by Dan Harris as an excellent companion book to this lecture series. Dan comes into mindfulness as a complete novice (and skeptic). Anything that can win over Dan and Prof Siegel has my vote.
This is classic Stephen King and quite an enjoyable listen overall. I heard King interviewed once where he said something like he writes very much in the time of the story. Meaning there are lots and lots of "contemporary" cultural references from 1978 that are wonderful in and of themselves. Growing up as a teen in the '70's wasn't all that easy (being a former '70's teen myself) and King does a masterful job of describing the detail in just the right way. Some of the dialog seems slightly unnatural for teens, but since he wrote the book in 1983 he probably got it pretty right.
And of course, since this is set in the late 70's, our heroes have to try to solve the mystery/stop the evil without the use of the internet, cell phones, etc. The spend a a fair bit of time getting change for the phone booth and even have to do research in a public library - go figure! As a small example I really loved the descriptions of the typical middle-class food choices of our teen age heroes - Wonder Bread, Twinkies, and everything.
Yes, the story is fairly scary and I think King did as good a job as anyone possibly good with the story of a possessed car, but there is only so much that one can do with that one plot device (especially as it is revealed early on) and I thought the story bogged down halfway through since the eventual confrontation seemed inevitable one third of the way in. This isn't a short book and the plot could have been resolved in 12 hours vs 19.5 hours, but King's writing is so smooth it is quite OK.
But at the end of the day, I think it is reasonably easy to hide from a car, so it doesn't rise to the top-tier of King's books, but still worth a listen. Of course throughout the book I kept thinking of all the self-driving cars being tested right now from Google and all the others. My, how time flies!
David Mills has put together a wonderful book articulating the atheist position. It is mostly about challenging Intelligent Design, but there are several chapters arguing against typical Christian orthodoxy that are very well put together. In the introduction, Mills stresses how much time he spends making his writing clear, concise, and free of jargon and it shows. It is a very tightly organized and efficient book. He covers more in his book than ones twice as long. It also puts him in a solid position to criticize ID and Creation Science advocates for writing in very convoluted ways in order to sound more scientific.
The narrator was quite good, though there were a few mispronunciations that stood out, but didn't detract from the overall message.
Also, Mills spends a fair bit of time criticizing Christian Fundamentalists and frequently lumps them in with overall Christian believers. He lives in the southern US so I have no doubt a large percentage of Christians are fundamentalists. Out here in the more liberal West we don't see that many and the Christians are much more "reasonable", but the overall arguments are very sound regardless.
If you are interested in this kind of book, I definitely would add this to your reading list next to Dawkins and Harris.
I am a big fan of time travel books and mysteries so I was intrigued by the publisher's summaries and the reviews, but I couldn't take more than 90 minutes of it. This is clearly a Young Adult dystopian book, but that wasn't obvious in any of the descriptions. After dwelling for pages and pages how a geeky 15 year old boy had become a "hot" 17 year old genius I realized I had stumbled into the wrong section. I'm sure it a fine specimen in the genre, but not for me.
First off, I am a huge Bernard Cornwell fan. I have read/listened to all the Sharpe books, the Copperhead books, Winter King series, and many others. But for some reason 1356 seemed uninspired, especially compared with Agincourt, which I just re-listened to in anticipation of this book. Very similar eras, but character development, social history, and a compelling storyline all seemed better in Agincourt. And the narrator for 1356 didn't seem well suited to the role. His English accent was nice, but he sounded congested much of the time and I had a hard time distinguishing between the characters.
Bottom line - if you like the Grail Quest series and want to see how Thomas of Hookton has progressed, you should give it a listen. Looking for a great medieval historical novel? Check out Agincourt and give 1356 a pass.
This book is a series of short stories that take place in timelines around those featured in the novels. While not required, I think these stories are best enjoyed once you have finished all the main novels. There are some "spoilers" in the short stories when the characters refer to events that happened at the conclusions of the different novels.
Even though the book consists of stand-alone stories, there is some context-setting at the beginning of each that explains when/where each one takes place.
Each story is substantial enough to be enjoyed in its own right. It actually felt similar to a regular Joe Ledger novel since those tend to be a series of action-packed episodes back to back anyway.
To me, it was every bit as enjoyable as any of the other novels, which means it was a rocking 5-star listen.
And there is an awesome bonus story at the end. An interview between Jonathan Maberry (the author) and Ray Porter (the narrator). It offers really terrific insight into how Ray goes about preparing for and recording the novels. It is also clear that Jonathan is as big a Ray Porter fan as I am! Worth the price of a credit all by itself. Enjoy!
I have listened to dozens of "courses" from the Teaching Company over the years and this is one of the best. It was done a while ago but it still very worthwhile. What a treat to be able to listen to it via Audible. Professor Childers is an excellent lecturer and great storyteller who has an infectious enthusiasm for his subject. It is titled "a Military and Social History" but know if that it is about 80% military and 20% social. I wish there would have been more social or political context but I wouldn't have traded any of the military side - they should have just added additional lectures and I would have been quite happy.
Prof. Childers does a remarkable job telling the story of this literally global catastrophe that is very easy to follow. It is hard to imagine a traditional book brought to audio that could accomplish the same feat.
This was my first teaching company lecture series I ever listened to (over 10 years ago) and at that time I had only a cursory understanding of WWII. In the intervening years I have been an enthusiastic student of all things WWII and have read at least 15 books on various aspects of the conflict and visited numerous sites/monuments. So I can honestly say the lecture will be equally enjoyable whether you are new to the subject or you are familiar with it. Prepare for time well spent.
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