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Lucas

on a quest to read Audible's entire nonfiction science section...

Austin, TX, United States | Member Since 2009

9
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 15 reviews
  • 34 ratings
  • 257 titles in library
  • 5 purchased in 2014
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  • The Botany of Desire

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Michael Pollan
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1473)
    Performance
    (747)
    Story
    (750)

    Every schoolchild learns about the mutually beneficial dance of honeybees and flowers: The bee collects nectar and pollen to make honey and, in the process, spreads the flowers' genes far and wide. In The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan ingeniously demonstrates how people and domesticated plants have formed a similarly reciprocal relationship.

    Teddy says: "If you have an open mind... Give it a listen"
    "Great narration of a wonderful book"
    Overall
    Performance

    I'm on a quest to ingest pretty much every science book Audible has to offer (at least in the biological sciences). I have a long way to go but I've done quite a few now; at least 25. My hat is off here to the quality of Michael Pollan's research, writing and thinking; a truly unique perspective and well-reasoned points of view. Some passages are so eloquent and poetic that they absolutely left me agog. But underneath the prose is a scientific acumen and ability to theorize based on the facts that is impressive; he really has some interesting ideas here. They'd be difficult to prove scientifically but they're fun to comtemplate. Not so sure his reasoning was right on associating flowers with the demise of dinosaurs but I'm certainly no authority.

    Scott Brick's reading was absolutely pitch-perfect; it's really the best match of writing and reading I have heard in the science books I've listened to. Brick knows how and when to inflect Pollan's prose with just the right note of humor, sarcasm (a very hard task for readers, apparently) or seriousness. He's never monotonous or droning and he's lively without being contrived.

    Omnivore's Dilemma (also read by Brick) is a more influential and important book but Pollan's passion and lyricism really comes through in this and it's just fun to journey through history, science and contemporary agriculture with Pollan. If you've read this far, I really don't think you'll be disappointed with this book so give it a try!

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Charles Duhigg
    • Narrated By Mike Chamberlain
    Overall
    (4594)
    Performance
    (3879)
    Story
    (3847)

    At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, raising exceptional children, becoming more productive, building revolutionary companies and social movements, and achieving success is understanding how habits work. Habits aren’t destiny. As Charles Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.

    Mehra says: "Nice! A guide on how to change"
    "Eye-opening and applicable"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There was some very interesting stuff that I think you can apply to your life whatever your age or situation; it will definitely give you a new perspective on your daily routines. I do think some of the things he discussed stretch the definition of "habits" but it's an engaging read.

    The reading wasn't particularly memorable but that's just fine, often "transparent" is the ideal narration.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Stardust

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Neil Gaiman
    • Narrated By Neil Gaiman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2636)
    Performance
    (1146)
    Story
    (1154)

    Tristran Thorn has lost his heart to the hauntingly beautiful Victoria Forester. One crisp October night, as they watch, a star falls from the sky, and Victoria promises to marry Tristran if he'll retrieve the star and bring it back for her. It is this promise that sends Tristran on the most unforgettable adventure of his life.

    Bob says: "Witty and magical"
    "Not my favorite from Mr. Gaiman but worthwhile"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I listened to this with my family (12 & 14 yo + Mom & Dad) on a long road trip and it was reasonably good but, and here's a rarity, I actually liked the movie better. I won't ruin anything here, just say that the resolution is not nearly as satisfying and the book lacks much of the humor that made the movie so enjoyable. There's also a rather vivid sex scene that made for a few awkward moments--definitely not for the lower elementary set. Still, it is not promoted as a children's book so that's my responsibility.

    We also listened to Gaiman's "The Graveyard Book" on the trip and enjoyed that tremendously. This one paled by comparison. I can also highly recommend "Neverwhere" and "Anansi Boys" (one of the best audiobooks ever) but, again, these are not really among Gaiman's works for youth.

    "Stardust" is definitely worth the listen if you're a Gaiman fanatic but not the place to start if you're new to him.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By John J. Ratey
    • Narrated By Walter Dixon
    Overall
    (2539)
    Performance
    (1581)
    Story
    (1562)

    Did you know you can beat stress, lift your mood, fight memory loss, sharpen your intellect, and function better than ever simply by elevating your heart rate and breaking a sweat? The evidence is incontrovertible: Aerobic exercise physically remodels our brains for peak performance.

    Kathleen says: "Spark"
    "Great science, subpar writing/narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In short, this book provides a wealth of evidence that exercise improves mental health as well as physical health. Those with depression, ADHD, epilepsy, arthritis and countless other maladies show remarkable improvement when they start exercising. Clearly, many of the ails of American citizens and the greater society are the result of our sedentary lifestyles. No surprise there but you will be overwhelmed by the mountains of scientific evidence to this effect.

    Unfortunately, at least in audiobook format, the writing is not compelling enough to keep me from constantly getting distracted. I adore good science writing but this is one I barely made it through. It's unfortunate because the science here could be presented in a way that inspires folks to get off their duffs and do something active--anything!

    I found "Born to Run," which is less scientifically oriented, far more effective in this regard so give a look at that title.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • What I Talk about When I Talk about Running: A Memoir

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Haruki Murakami
    • Narrated By Ray Porter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (481)
    Performance
    (232)
    Story
    (238)

    From the best-selling author of Kafka on the Shore comes this rich and revelatory memoir about writing and running and the integral impact both have made on his life. Equal parts training log, travelogue, and reminiscence, this revealing memoir covers Murakami's four-month preparation for the 2005 New York City Marathon. Settings range from Tokyo, where he once shared the course with an Olympian, to the Charles River in Boston, among young women who outpace him.

    Rick says: "It is what it says it is"
    "Better if you know his previous works?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Perhaps if you've read Mr. Murakami's previous works this would be of greater interest to you but, as someone who has not, I was unmoved by this book. I finished about 2-3 weeks ago and I recall few moments of epiphany or inspiration nor have I referred to it in any of my conversations recently. The writing is eloquent and introspective but, in the end, too personal to offer many insights to this reader who is unfamiliar with his novels.

    Having said that, I only got this because a friend of mine who admires this author's previous books really enjoyed it. We are both running/exercising enthusiasts and writers of one ilk or another so hopefully I've offered some insights that are helpful as you consider this selection.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Seth Godin
    • Narrated By Seth Godin
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1050)
    Performance
    (498)
    Story
    (490)

    Tribes are groups of people aligned around an idea, connected to a leader and to each other. Tribes make our world work, and always have. The new opportunity is that it's easier than ever to find, organize, and lead a tribe. The Web has enabled an explosion of all kinds of tribes - and created shortage of people to lead them. This is the growth industry of our time. Tribes will help you understand exactly what's at stake, and why YOU can and should lead a tribe of your own.

    April says: "Leadership"
    "Lots of ideas but not enough depth"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'd been hearing about Seth Godin for a long time and I did enjoy this book but I think it might be better suited for print than audio. It's divided up into short essays about various topics related to leadership and the changing cultural/business landscape. Since he seems to be reading a section/chapter heading about every minute or so, nothing really sank in for me. This is not a comment about the quality of his thinking but I think this might be the perfect book to keep atop the toilet tank; read a tiny bit and then ruminate on it for some time. There's inspiration to be found here for sure but, for me at least, I ended this one feeling like a promise hadn't been kept somehow.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Christopher McDougall
    • Narrated By Fred Sanders
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4604)
    Performance
    (2369)
    Story
    (2404)

    Why we think it’s a great listen: Want to join the “superhumans”? Luckily you don’t have to run to catch up with them, thanks to McDougall’s and Sanders’ inspiring (and motivating) journey through history, science, physiology, health, entertaining characters and unlikely friendships. Full of incredible characters, amazing athletic achievements, cutting-edge science, and, most of all, pure inspiration, Born to Run is an epic adventure.

    Corey says: "Amazing read - even for non-runners"
    "Got me to lace up my sneaks and go for a run"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The only flaw I can find with this audiobook is that it took a bit to get rolling but, once it did, I absolutely fell in love with this one. Great characters, lucid writing and research, engaging story and a motivational message puts this one in my top 20 if not top 10 audiobooks.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • How Music Works: The Science and Psychology of Beautiful Sounds, from Beethoven to the Beatles and Beyond

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By John Powell
    • Narrated By Walter Dixon
    Overall
    (227)
    Performance
    (176)
    Story
    (171)

    Have you ever wondered how off-key you are while singing in the shower? Or if your Bob Dylan albums really sound better on vinyl? Or why certain songs make you cry? Now, scientist and musician John Powell invites you on an entertaining journey through the world of music. Discover what distinguishes music from plain old noise, how scales help you memorize songs, what the humble recorder teaches you about timbre (assuming your suffering listeners don’t break it first), and more.

    C. Beaton says: "Great book - wrong narrator"
    "Great writing but so-so content"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This author's sense of humor is right up my alley. I'm really in awe of his ability to find humor in the presentation of technical material. I'm a life-long musician and I definitely learned a few things, however, I'm afraid that much of the content is in a no-man's land between the knowledgeable musician and the novice. I don't regret listenting to it or purchasing it but this is not one of my favorite listens. I think this would be great material for someone who's been playing music a couple years and is ready to step up their understanding of musical history and, to some extent, theory.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Matt Ridley
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble
    Overall
    (107)
    Performance
    (87)
    Story
    (83)

    Arguably the most significant scientific discovery of the new century, the mapping of the 23 pairs of chromosomes that make up the human genome raises almost as many questions as it answers - questions that will profoundly impact the way we think about disease, about longevity, and about free will. Questions that will affect the rest of your life. Matt Ridley here probes the scientific, philosophical, and moral issues arising as a result of the mapping of the genome.

    Gary says: "Still useful today."
    "Great overview of genetics research"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Written in 1999, this is a bit dated but it provides a great summary of the fundamentals of genetics. Clear writing and fascinating case studies elucidate the fundamentals of heredity, traits carried on X & Y chromosomes, Eugenics, nature vs. nurture, the future of genetically-based treatments, and so much more. Highly recommended.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • A Short History of Nearly Everything

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Bill Bryson
    • Narrated By Richard Matthews
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6682)
    Performance
    (2498)
    Story
    (2508)

    Bill Bryson has been an enormously popular author both for his travel books and for his books on the English language. Now, this beloved comic genius turns his attention to science. Although he doesn't know anything about the subject (at first), he is eager to learn, and takes information that he gets from the world's leading experts and explains it to us in a way that makes it exciting and relevant.

    Corby says: "Very informative, fun to listen to"
    "A service to humanity"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I give 5 stars to a book rarely and, normally, I use it in the "I loved it" meaning rather than the "classic" meaning. Here, I mean both. I've listened to dozens of science-oriented books and this one is still my favorite--worth two credits for sure if that's still what it costs.

    Bryson's writing is witty, his research monumental and his storytelling abilities are truly a gift to this genre. The overview of science will leave you with a deeper appreciation of what we've learned, how we learned it, and who dedicated their hearts and lives to the tasks. I go back to it again and again--had to buy a hard-copy (the illustrated version's awesome!) to keep on my shelf and share with the kids.

    Any citizen of the modern world should read this book and even science nonfiction lovers like myself will discover much about the scientists who made our modern world possible and, perhaps, even some science tidbits they didn't already know.

    Thank you, Bill Bryson, you're my hero!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Time, Love, Memory: A Great Biologist and His Quest for the Origins of Behavior

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Jonathan Weiner
    • Narrated By Kevin Pariseau
    Overall
    (24)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (9)

    Jonathan Weiner, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Beak of the Finch, brings his brilliant reporting skills to the story of Seymour Benzer, the Brooklyn-born maverick scientist whose study of genetics and experiments with fruit fly genes has helped revolutionize or knowledge of the connections between DNA and behavior both animal and human.

    Timothy A. Smith says: "This is a profound science book"
    "2 Drosophilae up from this lover of sci-nonfi"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Weiner, also the author of "Beak of the Finch" knows how to make scientists and their research come to vibrant life. Often reading like a novel, this book starts at the very beginning of modern genetics research through the present day. The events are engaging and the scientists are portrayed with character and humanity. With genetics as the foundation of so much modern medicine and bio-technology, this is a rewarding and intriguing look at important and rapidly growing research. For the first time in a long time, this made me contemplate and going back for my masters/Ph.D!

    Its appeal is probably only to science geeks like myself but, if you're one too, I think you're going to love this book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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