As someone who has never liked math or found it particularly applicable to my own daily life, I wish I had read this book a long time ago. Not only did it clarify some of the concepts of probability and statistics that never really made sense to me, it also planted seeds of interest in fields of study I'd never heard of, such as forensic statistics. Mlodinow does a fantastic job of exploring the balance between order and randomness in popular arenas like Hollywood and the sports world, and somehow manages to make the history of these branches of mathematics interesting and humorous. I plan to revisit this book in the future to see whether its lessons will hold a different meaning at a different point in my life and in the world.
I bought this because of the many rave reviews, and because I was ready for some light-hearted fiction after reading some much more sobering book lately. It certainly turned out to be a break from anything educational, but I wouldn't say I really got anything else out of it. Where to begin...
-The humor, by and large, is cheesy and predictable - think Diablo Cody one-liners.
-The plot is so outrageously far-fetched that it almost achieved a sort of dream-like imagination at times, and for that I give it some credit, but this fictional world ends up being too silly to get lost in it.
-Charlie is the ONLY character with any shred of nuance and believability, so I have to give credit for that as well. The beta male theme isn't so much an undertone as a slap in the face, but it does lead to some funny situations. All of the other characters are either over-the-top (often racist) stereotypes with absolutely no substance, or silly monsters with boring, repetitive dialogue.
-The major plot twist (the real Death) will be immediately obvious to anyone with half a brain. It was almost painful to listen to the whole book knowing that it was going to be "revealed" in dramatic fashion at the finale.
-Okay - the narrator did a decent job.
Adding this to my list of things that are inexplicably popular. The more I think about it, the more I hated it.
If you have any interest at all in hip hop, you'd be doing yourself a huge favor by listening to this book. It's incredibly detailed, offering snapshots of pivotal moments in the rise of hip hop from beats in clubs and kids rapping on the street to the extremely successful and ubiquitous art form it is today. Although it's over 27 hours and nearly 700 pages in print, I only wish this was longer. The drama between some of the industry's leading figures not only gives context to lyrics that might not otherwise make sense, and imparts a deeper understanding of artists' identities - it's also makes for a lot of interesting narratives. Even if you think you know a lot about hip hop history already, you will almost certainly learn something new, and there's a perspective here you can only get from hearing it all in the context of the time and place in which it happened. Oh, and it's really well-written and narrated. Definitely recommend this one.
This is much more than the story of a hunt for one man. I don't even want to trivialize it by trying to sum up everything it covers, so I'll say only that this is another, very revealing, very significant facet of the effects of the Holocaust. You don't have to be Jewish to find it profoundly moving and thought-provoking. It reads like a political thriller, but never in a melodramatic way. Definitely worth a listen.
I picked this up after it was recommended to me by some friends and family. The first third or so was disappointing. I really did not care for Louie Zamperini, based on the description of his life and personality, and I was expecting more than a detailed account of his childhood. Things picked up a bit when he competed in the Olympics, but it was still very much the Louie show. I considered abandoning the book at a few points, but I had already committed quite a bit of time to it, so I pressed on.
I was very glad I hadn't given up when the war started, and the author finally started talking about some other people's lives for a change. I don't want to give too much away here, but the real survival story begins about halfway through, and the book suddenly becomes both gripping and emotionally moving. I was wary at the first mention of religious dogma, but it was relatively brief, so I gave it a pass and moved on.
My favorite section by far was the recounting of the POW experience. It's unbelievably detailed, offers both an immediate picture and a summary of the war's progress worldwide, and just very well written overall. If was the whole book right there, with nothing before or after, this would be one of my favorite books. I gave it four stars on that basis alone. However, the war eventually ends and then it's back to the Louie show, and he's even less likable or relatable now. When Billy Graham is introduced at the end of the book as a grassroots messiah, I could see that everything was going to be wrapped up in a nice little package of faith, and I stopped listening with only about an hour left.
In summary: you'll probably love this book if you're a pious type. I can certainly handle discussions of religion in general, but I don't like being told what to think. This is truly a remarkable story of a remarkable life; it just rubbed me the wrong way.
This should be a must-read for pretty much everyone, especially women. I don't mean that in a disrespectful way - I'm a woman myself - it's just in assault or abuse situations, we tend to be the victims rather than the perpetrators. There are many important lessons to be found here, and it dispels a lot of the ideas we think of as common sense. It's like a lifetime of experience in a single, short book. I also appreciate that the author doesn't waste too much time telling stories, which would be an easy trap to fall into. It's interesting and engaging, but everything has a purpose. Highly recommended.
There's a good amount of technical discussion in this book, which is exactly why I got it (to supplement my psychobiology class). If you don't know much about brain anatomy, you might find yourself opening up the dictionary pretty often. But it's all very interesting, and it's read slowly enough that I don't think it's impossible to follow. If you're looking for more of a real life-application type of book, this probably isn't it, but it's a good primer for those books.
I have to say, the title of this book was a little misleading - there's a section on black holes toward the end (where I'm at now) and a few mentions earlier, but this is not a book about black holes. That said, I think it's a great introduction to astrophysics for anyone who is curious about science but maybe has (like me) a few gaps in their knowledge of the universe. It's not dry at all - in fact, it's surprisingly funny at times, and very...human. Down-to-earth, you might say (har har). It has really piqued my curiosity about many things and made me want to explore them further.
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