I am not one to write reviews, and when I do they are usually to highlight what is wrong with a book. However, I can't say enough good things about this book. The writing is really funny and well done. The author seamlessly weaves between understanding of memory and cognition and the amazingly entertaining storyline of him being coached to enter the US Memory Championships-- challenging "mental athletes'" claim that "anyone can do this". The book blew my mind. Part anthropology, part brain science, part Toad's Wild Ride, I could easily listen to this book again just for the sheer pleasure. You won't be disappointed with this.
I have been on a cog-sci kick for a few months now and as I am in a grad program that incorporates spirituality and psychology, I was interested in hearing specifically some of the science and open to how belief mechanisms and superstitions work.
This. was. terrible.
Shermer is not just a skeptic, he is someone with a grudge against anyone that believes anything except the cold, hard facts. I have imagined him punching any child still dumb enough to believe in the tooth fairy or scornfully mocking and spitting on a child still hoping that Santa might come in the night. I mean, this guy doesn't just not believe, he wants to make an ass out of anyone who is stupid enough to have faith in anything.
Sadly, the book is little more than a diatribe about how smart and rational he is and how shockingly stupid and naive everyone else is--- even nobel laureates are nincompoops if they hold the horrifically moronic delusion that God exists! I mean, what idiocy! The vitriol becomes tired and boring and eventually I was listening at 3x speed and then I just gave up.
If you're looking for a good science book, I recommend The Brain that Changes Itself.
After reading Man's Search for Ultimate Meaning and being incredibly bored, I got this audiobook, as I was determined to read MSfM, but didn't have the mental patience (after getting burned by MSfUM) to sit down with it. These are two entirely different creatures and I am so glad I got this.
MSfM is beautifully written and achingly eloquent. The stories are wonderful and the explanations of logotherapy at the end are just redundant enough to make the whole thing stick in the mind. The book is highly quotable, which would be the main reason one might want a hard copy either in addition to or instead of the audible version. Because the text is so clearly and lushly descriptive and profound, and the reading so clear, I ended up playing a section in school for a class.
I could listen to this a few times and be satisfied.
I don't love British narrators and the pomp of the accent gets on my nerves, but it felt appropriate in this case and worked well. Despite being a short read, it was worth the credit.
I am squeamish. I don't like horror films and a even Buffy the Vampire Slayer has kept me from sleeping on occasion. I was worried from other reviews that the book might be gory or disgusting and that I wouldn't make it through. Not so. I also worried that the book would drone on, as others had complained. Not for a second. Finally, my biggest worry was that the writing would be poor or the narration bad (side note: ALWAYS listen to the sample read before purchasing an audiobook). No and no.
Scott Brick is masterful. I mean, I don't know where this guy might go for a little recognition, or how he acquired such a skill, but his reading is superb.
Capote's writing is masterful and the language and detail he chose to include are so literarily perfect it is hard to believe that he is relying on quotes and facts. Brilliantly executed. Capote's quotes of the real people put Steinbeck's fictional characters to shame. On this count, the book is a gem in the American cannon.
Finally, there is an beautifully walked line between giving us the details and putting the reader in touch with the the truly horrifying events, without the melodrama and theatrics that most authors can't help but fall into.
This was an audible that after a long draught, got me finding reasons to take the dogs out or go for a long car ride. I was listening first thing in the morning and before I went to sleep (no problems sleeping!). I devoured this and now want to see the movie.
I am a scrooge when it comes to my credits. This one was perhaps the best one I have spent to far.
I enjoyed this book thoroughly. Part Gladwell, part science history, part brain science upper division, this is a great intro to neuroplasticity. Now, if you aren't already interested in this subject, it probably isn't going to feel very relevant and so I wouldn't recommend it to my mom or a few of my friends. But if you are already interested in the subject, Doidge takes you on fun journey with twists and turns along the way (I was not expected him to go in depth on a famous sadomasicist/exhibitionist).
Reading is great, presentation is great, stories are great. I didn't give it five stars because the book teeters a little bit between being a resource (if your child has a learning disability or someone you know has had a stroke this is an essential read) and a lay book and the result is that I now feel under-informed about a variety of things I knew nothing about previously.
If you consider yourself a lay reader and are just looking for a little motivation to start taking those piano lessons again, this is a great book; something you might find in Readers Digest. If you are a brain science geek, this is a pretty light book.
I bought this based on the high reviews it received on audible and I was not disappointed. As a book geek with four undergraduate degrees and working on my second masters, it is not very often that I am told something I don't already know but this book totally blew my mind. The brilliance of it lies in Whitaker's meticulous research and presentation. The basic thesis is: psychiatric drugs are largely marketing ploys, not science. This is a bold crazy claim, but by the time you are halfway through the book and have heard hundreds of snippets of the outcomes literature from big pharma's horse's mouth (and heard from eight major sources that no one has ever been able to provide evidence of a "chemical imbalance" occurring in the brain), you aren't just convinced, you are utterly terrified at what the future will hold for the next generation, all growing up right now on these noxious drugs. As someone getting their master's in psych, I purchased the book after listening to it, as it is the most relevant reading I have done so far in my studies.
If you or anyone you know is on, has taken, or has ever considered taking medication for depression, anxiety, bipolar, schizophrenia, or ADHD, or you plan on living in this country for the next 20-40 years, you really owe it to yourself to read this book. It will light a fire.
After several heavy science books and a full load of school reading, I was ready to take on a lighter subject. This was perfect. Jacobs, the author, also does the reading and he has a great voice- even tone, lots of intonation, and clear. His stories are varied and all funny. The chapters are all stories of experiments he has done for articles in Esquire. These are great in themselves but Jacobs goes one step further and adds a Coda at the end of each chapter reflecting on the experiment, how much it changed his life, and how it compares to some of the other stories in the book. Some of the chapters might not seem that interesting at first glance (acting like George Washington), but Jabobs makes them interesting through his combination of facts, stories, anecdotes, and attitude.
This would be ideal for a long car ride with a friend or a summer read. It is not heavy material but it is poignant and funny.
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