If you are interested at all Hinduism and ever wanted a better understanding, this is a great place to start.
I teach a Grade 11 World Religions course at my school and wanted to listen to a 'backgrounder' on Hinduism to help in my preparation. This book did the job beautifully--in fact, my only criticism is that is should have been longer.
The narrator, actor Ben Kingsley (who played the title role in 'Gandhi'), does a great job in reading this book with dignity and the gravitas a subject like this deserves. Throughout the book there are other accented voices who read excerpts from the Bhagavad-Gita (in an Indian accent) and commentary on Indian culture from English books (read in a British accent). This helps to break up the flow and is non-offensive.
Because Hinduism is so inextricably woven into the fabric of Indian culture, the book spends a great deal of time speaking of both religion and culture. In fact, if you are planning to travel to India, or you have an interest in India generally, you will find this audiobook very helpful to read. I have travelled to India on several occasions and this book accurately reflects both the culture and spirituality of modern India.
If the author was a better writer.
Absolutely. As a straight male in my mid thirties, I read this to "see what all the fuss was about" and tap into the zeitgeist. What I found was the horrific realization that this may be what it is like to be inside a woman's head. Perhaps instructive, but mostly painful.
The director on this book made a bad call: in the email exchanges between Annastasia and Christian, the narrator kept reading the To:, From:, Date and Time: lines in the emails, as well as the email signatures, something you would gloss over as a reader--this made these exchanges tiresome, not like they were meant which was more snappy and playful. Not necessary.
By the end, I did want to have closure, and it did not come. Which means I will just have to ask someone else what happens in the next 2 books because I cannot endure another myself.
There are better ways to spend your Audible credits and time.
So I have both enjoyed and suffered through this book and the 2 previous books. This is definitely the most irritating one of the series so far, as in Bella is finally beginning to drive me crazy with her whining and whinging. She drones on and on "I'm the worst person in the world for hurting Jacob, blah blah blah" -- spare me! How this whole series could be so much better in the hands of a more talented author!
First a disclosure: I am a straight, 30ish, educated man and yes, I enjoyed Twilight. As a high school teacher, I wanted to hook in to the zeitgeist by understanding what all the fuss was about this novel. Make no mistake this is not a well-written book, in fact the first 3 hours of this audiobook made me wonder if I could handle the whole listen. Stephanie Meyer lays out the heroine's first week of school with such protracted detail that I just kept saying "get on with it, already". Perhaps it is the whole appeal for many readers, the constant exploration of the minutia of a teenage girl's thoughts, especially in relation to every "chuckle", "smirk";, and eye movement of the Edward Cullen vampire character. His every facial tick is analysed and commented on in such detail it was bordering on painful. That said, around the 4 hour mark the book totally picks up, once the brilliant narrative crux is evident: here is a girl, irrevocably drawn to a boy that wants to eat her, and he in turn is fully drawn to her and wants to overcome his desire to drink her blood. This "star-crossed lovers"; theme is as old as the hills, but the vampire angle refreshes the refrain. The narrator is superb; all the comments in these reviews attesting to her abilities with this book (and the next one that I have started) are warranted. If you want an easy listen, and don't mind blowing two credits (I must say, the two credits seem unwarranted here), this will happily occupy some time while you commute or go about your while-listening business.
There is no doubt this is a superb listen. Enough reviews have been written celebrating the wit and majesty of this book, I need not repeat.
I will add in two points: once you start getting in to the book, be sure to read up more on the author. There is also a great video clip of him speaking about Middlesex on Oprah--I found this help me further contextualize the book. Just Google him and Oprah and you'll find it.
One criticism: the producers felt the need to put in these odd musical overlays at certain parts of the story, some dramatic and some seemingly random. Not only was it intrusive and unnecessary, but the music itself sounded like some cheesy free-download classical mash. The narrator is superb (also check out his narration on a book about McCarthyism called 'The Age of Anxiety'—brilliant) and he rose above the hackneyed music that was sorely out of place.
This is a great listen that will surely entertain and enthral.
Being Canadian, I have not been exposed to much detail regarding the history of slavery in the US. While I am sure many American students end up reading this in school/college/university, I would never have had occasion to read it had it not been referenced in Barak Obama's books (which, by the way, are an amazing Audible listen). Uncle Tom's Cabin is incredibly engaging as it makes the oppression and cruelty of slavery palpable, in turn helping the uninitiated understand the importance of this divisive issue in American history. I also just enjoyed the turns of phrase of the 150 year old written word--don't let the book's age turn you off, the archaic expressions help make it a fabulous listen.
I went through a bit of an Obama-fest with Audible, listening to Dreams from My Father, The Audacity of Hope, and then this book. If you are looking for a book to read on the President I would strongly recommend reading his first book, Dreams from My Father (written in 1994) before this one. This book, Obama (unabridged), spends the first chapters basically reiterating 'Dreams'--and it is much better to listen to Obama reading his book himself rather than this paraphrase job. The great advantage to this book, Obama (unabridged), is that it covers what 'Dreams' and 'Audacity' do not, namely an in-depth coverage of his 2004 Senate race and then his superstar Africa trip 2 years later; the author spends 2+ hours of this audio book recounting Obamas trip. It is both a meditation on Obama's rise to celebrity status and one journalist's own experiences as a news professional 'on the stump'. Both elements are interesting, though the authors tendency to 'put himself in' is at times distracting. That said, this is a great snapshot insight into life of a campaigning politician, and it does discuss how Obama's usually unflappable persona got frayed at times through his meteoric rise to prominence. Worth a listen if you want more of the 'back story' to how Obama got to the White House.
If you are fan of Gladwell, this book is more of the same: great stories distilled from studies by random social scientists. If you are looking for a first book of his to listen to, I would recommend 'Outliers' instead--it is more coheisive and an all around more compelling book. One thing about this version of the Tipping Point was the weird musical interludes at the end of each chapter--I have never heard anything quite as tacky in other Audible books. Some producer made a bad call on that one.
This book came highly recommended to me, and having enjoyed Khaled Hosseini's other novel 'The Kite Runner', I thought I would give it a try. What a listen! Well narrated, good pace, and a compelling story about the life of two women in Afghanistan under both the Soviets and the Taliban. The tragedy and strength of everyday life during difficult times is lyrically portrayed. For me, a 5 star Audible book is one where, after my 1-hour commute home from work, I don't want to get out of the car right away as the story is so engrossing. This is one of those books.
I was interested in this book because I wanted to learn more about how the Bible came to be. Since the subtitle pens it is a 'biography', I thought (silly me) that it would be an engaging account of the history of the book. Instead, this was a dry, almost clinical, account of the minutia of ancient Biblical history. The author, Karen Armstrong, seems to take delight in throwing verbose grammar at the reader, to the point that it obscures the message. If I wasn't driving while listening to this book I would want a dictionary to go along with it. The narrator does not help things, as she reads this book like a scientific research paper: dry--no, make that arid. I would only recommend this book if you are already a Biblical scholar; Armstrong goes into such rapid fire detail about such a vast expanse of history that it is impossible to follow the thread of the book unless you have a good grounding in the subject matter already. There must be a better, more engaging narrative out there on how the Bible came to be.
I wanted to learn the historical background to today's troubles with Iran so I listened to this book. It does a great job outlining in some detail about how the CIA brought down the democratically elected Iranian leader, and how this sowed the seeds for years of oppression under the Shah, and later, the Iranian hostage crisis.
If you are more interested in the recent history of Iran and have always been interested in the hostage crisis, I would instead recommend 'Guests of the Ayatollah' here from Audible: it is a more engaging listen and does a great job bringing Iran and the hostage crisis to light.
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