This is a tough book to review. I have rated it highly based on the quality of the production and authorship. It is engaging and appears to be well researched. I did not enjoy this book, however, for the light it has shined on the holiest books in Christianity and the doubt it has cast on my faith.
After completing "Forged," I have to say it has had a significant impact on my faith. The direction of that impact is toward doubt. How deep and how wide the impact will be in the end remains to be seen.
If you accept Ehrman's research and conclusions, then it could make you question every word of the New Testament. "Misquoting Jesus" revealed that there are errors in the Bible. "Forged" takes that even further in saying that many of the books are not written by the men they are attributed to commonly or, in some cases, not even written in the correct century.
Every Christian's faith is different, I know, and you could simply conclude that my faith was already weak. I won't argue otherwise, but I will suggest that if you are looking for a book that will strengthen your faith in God or the Bible, then this is not the best choice.
The question I am left with is whether it's better to believe the Bible is divinely inspired and without error or to accept that man's touch has tainted it? If you choose the latter, then my experience has been that it's a slippery slope.
We actually went to hear David Sedaris read two days before this book was released. Going into the auditorium I was thinking how cool it was that he picked Columbia, SC as the feature stop on his tour; the stop right before the release. However, when he admitted that he didn't really know anything about Columbia (despite growing up in North Carolina), my hometown shriveled back down to it's normal lowly status.
As for the book, it is very good; much better than "When You are Engulfed in Flames." David has left most of the really personal reflections about his youth and family behind in "Me Talk Pretty One Day," "Naked," and "Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim," but still manages to find some new ones for this book. It is amazing how many good (and funny) stories are to be found in one family.
This book is his most polished so far and David has nearly perfected his unique delivery. After hearing (watching) him live for the second time, I realized that though his speech patterns are his own, he does plan his cadence and pauses very carefully for maximum effect. I have listened to all of his books and several of his broadcasts and having done so, I don't think I could "read" his books. Hearing him read his own stories is a big part of what makes David Sedaris so enjoyable.
If you have listened to David Sedaris books before, then you will feel right at home. If not, then listen to one or more of the earlier books mentioned above first. Either way, you will enjoy this audiobook.
Let's hope there isn't 5 more years before his next one.
Oh, and the music played between the stories IS great, too.
This is a good time to learn about North Korea. Having listened to the biographical "Nothing to Envy..." earlier, this novel seemed the logical next choice.
This book is fascinating, disturbing, and surprising at every turn. The first half of the book is stronger than the second and the story becomes less grounded as you go, but it never loses momentum. The characters would be unbelievable were they placed in our society, but given how other worldly North Korea is, they make sense.
The readers change as the point of view moves between characters. The reader during the title character's view is more effective, but as a group, they are very good.
If you don't know much about North Korea, my suggestion would be to listen to "Nothing to Envy..." or another slice of life book about the country before this one. By all means, though, take the time to enjoy "The Orphan Masters Son."
I have to admit that when I heard the introduction to this book, I was about ready to turn it off. The author's story of how he came to write it and, especially, his belief at the time the base story came to light that all German's were Nazi's in WWII left me wondering whether this could be a good listen. However, I soon forgot any misgivings and found myself immersed in the story, especially Franz's side.
The brief central story is compelling, but it's the background stories that are the most interesting. I have read other books about the air war over Europe, but learned from this book a great deal about how the air war evolved from the pilot's point of view.
I won't give out any spoilers, but this is a very interesting book that is well worth your time. I gave the "story" a 5, not because of it's prose, but because of the information it contains. The writing is fine (basically it's reporting) and the pace of the book and organization are spot on. There is an element that is overplayed in the writing, but it's not so over the top to detract from your enjoyment (I'll leave it to you to figure out what I am talking about).
With all that's been in the news about North Korea lately, I thought it time to learn more. This book is, I think, as good of a place to start as any.
The book is about several citizens, mostly in the lower end of the sociopolitical strata. You learn that all of these people are escapees from the regime and though I believe the accounts, you do have to recognize that they represent a unique sample of the society.
That said, Barbara Demick does a great job of telling the stories without embellishing the accounts. My guess is that she realizes that they don't need any added emphasis or passionate vitriol; for most Americans, the situation under the "Dear Leader" is beyond our ability to fully comprehend.
If you ever wonder why the people of North Korea hate us so much, you will get your answer in this narrative. You will also learn, as I did, that the chances are very low that we will see another Libyan or Syrian type uprising in North Korea (we will be dealing with the most unfriendly country imaginable until we or they cease to exist). Finally, you will also learn, as the title explains, just what an ordinary life in North Korea looks like.
Karen White's reading is adequate, but not great. I don't want to tell you what bothered me about her style lest you listen for my complaint. However, if you do find yourself thinking that something about her reading bothers you, keep listening. Either she gets better, you get used to it, or the story becomes so compelling that you don't notice.
It is hard to overstate the impact of the climatic few minutes during the Battle of Midway. When you think of how a nuclear war could end things in the blink of an eye, you tend to think of that as a recent idea--history changing that quickly. However, those few minutes in June 1942 were like any nuclear strike you might imagine today. Ian Toll does a good job of bringing the back story up to those moments and then letting the following days play out. If you are a history buff, this is a good listen. It's a long book if you are not a history nut, but if you can get through it, it will likely make you want to learn more. Grover Gardner is a good reason to listen to any book and he does his usual great job here.
"Lamb" is the product of a fertile mind. When I think about a book like this, I always wonder most about how anyone could think of writing it. Here we have a (roughly) historical account of the life of Christ told through different and VERY irreverent eyes in such a way that would likely make a fundamentalist explode but possibly make an unbeliever think "Christ is cool." Christopher Moore takes New Testament facts, throws in some of the wilder beliefs about what He did between ages 13 and 30, and then resurrects (literally) a childhood pal to tell the tale. Wow.
This is a highly enjoyable book. I don't think it's blasphemous, but it does walk right up to the line.
If you aren't convinced, then let me just give you two reasons to listen to it:
1) You get to hear the very revealing comments from two blind men after getting their sight back. Amazing.
2) You (finally) find out why bunnies are a part of Easter.
As the son of a WWII Navy veteran who served in the Pacific, this part of the war has always appealed to me. Herman Wouk weaves a completely believable story that is compelling and thoughtful. Willy Keith is used to carry the story, but the real story is about men at war under intense pressure. The trial itself is masterfully told and the aftermath of the trial is the real climax to the book, not just a wrap-up.
Kevin Pariseau does an excellent job as reader. If you are a lover of historical fiction, you've probably already read this book (I did when I was a teenager), but even if you have read it in the past, it is definitely worth a listen as well.
Herman Wouk is the master of WWII historical novels. He does a great job of combining history with the elements of a typical novel and the result is very satisfying. Granted, you have to set aside your critical mind a little when you look at where Pug Henry gets to go and who he gets to interact with, but as as way to carry the story both about the war and this family, it's a necessary concession and does not diminish the experience.
This book is not as powerful or as personal as "The Caine Mutiny," but given the scope is expanded exponentially (from a single destroyer in the USS Caine to the entire world war), it's still an excellent book.
Have just started the sequel, "War and Remembrance," and it simply picks up where "Winds of War" leaves off. Kevin Pariseau, who also reads "The Caine Mutiny" is well chosen for all of these books.
Reading the title, you might be led to believe that this is a book filled with humorous anecdotes and stories about anonymous patients. Well, the anonymous patient aspect is true. The humor; not so much. This is a clinical recounting of dozens of patients the author has encountered and treated over many decades. I'm sure psychologists, neurologists, and others researching and treating mental illness would not believe this to be dry reading, but for those of us who are not employed in those disciplines, it feels a lot like a textbook.
Now, with that said, it is a book intended for laypeople and I did learn a great deal. My father had Alzheimer's and my mother suffers from advanced Parkinson's disease. This book expanded my understanding of neurological disorders and gave me some insight into their world.
If you are looking for information, by all means get this book. If you are looking for entertainment, this is not likely to be your favorite listen.
I don't want to repeat reviews already given, but do want to restate that this is a great book for any dog lover. Moreover, it makes you hope that your dog does have a purpose and that they think the way the author describes.
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