Austin, TX, United States | Member Since 2009
Well-written science nonfiction is a treat that I relish and this book delivers in spades. Newton is the book's main focal point but it also spends considerable time detailing the contributions of Galileo, Kepler, Leibniz, Hook, Leeuwenhoek and others. The description of calculus was clear and even, I have to admit, compelling (I have a BA rather than a BS because I refused to take calculus). The religious devotion of these pioneers was surprising and Dolnick does a nice job of pointing out the irony of the effects Newton and Leibniz' work on religion and society.
I had put off purchasing this one because I disliked Alan Sklar's reading of "Before the Dawn" but I really liked his narration with this one. He tends to chuckle from time to time and sound a bit like a bombastic professor but that worked in a way here that it didn't in the other book.
If you have an interest in the history of science, especially the early days, I can heartily recommend this book's pleasing blend of narrative and scientific explanation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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