I decided to approach Steven Weinberg's "Dreams of a Final Theory" because it is an area about which I know little. The Audible offering of the book is very good. I seek out books that are well read, well written and informative. This audio volume wins on all three counts.
I came to the book as less than a novice. I caught onto the authors points without a deep understanding of math, E=MC2 or anything of the kind. His chapter, "On a Piece of Chalk," introduced basic principles of Atomic Theory in a clear way. His placement of physics into historical context was particularly helpful.
If you are a novice and would like to learn something new - this may well be worth your time. It was worth the time so far as I was concerned.
Brian Christian has wed computer science and philosophy in “The Most Human Human: What Talking with Computers Teaches Us about What it Means to be Alive.” From this book I have received new insights from Artificial Intelligence, interpersonal communication, and simple conversation. This book links computers and computer science to group and individual identity which will shift the reader’s thinking certainly. Parenthetically, if you are planning to read Stephen Baker’s “Final Jeopardy: Man vs Machine and the Quest to Know Everything” you might want to read this book first. If you have completed that book, put Christian’s book on your reading list immediately. Well written, informative, and entertaining. Read expertly by the author.
Those not deeply involved in retail or related marketing, will find this book revealing and helpful. In particular, it traces the development of retail in the US describing the “three waves” that have brought us to this point. The most recent third wave which has over taken the market place since 2000 is the focus of the book. In “The New Rules” Robin Lewis and Michael Dart orient the reader to what has taken place in the third wave, explain what it means, and speculate about where retail may go from this point. They portray a number of business which are in current decline (Sears) and those which are adjusting quite well to the new environment (Apple, Amazon). This leads me to a couple of thoughts about the book. First, the examples are very contemporary as they should be and the future success of the firms described is yet unknown. The authors cannot avoid that. The companies used to illustrate firms creating the neuro/experience linkage are limited to tech related retail (again Apple, Amazon etc.). I would like to have heard about the changes in marketing undertaken by Harley Davidson for example in creating a life style as well. These are simple observations and in no way detract from the value of the book. In sum, this volume will be of value to more people than the title suggests. Individuals in not-for-profits and those just interested in the future of the US economy will benefit. Those steeped in marketing and retail, maybe will find it less so. Well written and wonderfully read by Brian O'Neal
I try to read books that might inform my ignorance and this book fit the bill just fine. Here Susan Casey mixes science, maritime history and engineering, and surfing to the benefit of all who come to this book. The emphasis is on waves and surfing, but the portions on 津波 (tsunami) and maritime experience with waves is really informative. I can't say that this book has a broad appeal, but I would encourage anyone to give it a try. You will learn a lot, be excited and thrilled, and come to apreciate the ocean in a different way. The writing is very good and the reading of Kirsten Potter is excellent.
The internet has infiltrated every aspect of our lives and we can no longer ignore it or get on without it. Reading everything I can find on the relationships between the internet and its impact on people behaviorally and psychology, I added Elias Aboujaoude’s “Virtually You: The Dangerous Powers of the E-Personality” to the stack. I have been pleasantly surprised by the volume and greatly rewarded for reading it. A psychiatrist, Aboujaoude aptly relates what is known about the effects of the internet on behavior and presents it in a way easily accessed by anyone. This is the first volume that I have come across that discusses, for example, the difference between the personalities and identities of persons deeply experiencing virtual environments. Psychological implications are covered from a number of perspectives. Aboujaoude admits that the internet and our “virtual selves” are here to stay. His book cautions readers to pay attention to the implications of these new relationships. This book is well written, an excellent orientation, and the reading of Teddy Canez is excellent. The only caution I would add is that this literature is nascent and formative in nature. Aboujaoude tells you what you need to know at this point. I hope he will follow up with other books and writings soon.
Shawn Achor provides an overview of positive psychology and offers seven principles of positive psychology which contribute to individual success and personal performance. Over the years, many have sought to promote positive thinking. Prominent among them is Norman Vincent Peale for example. However, scientific research of late has begun to support the views of positive thinking and the benefits that can be derived from nurturing such a point of view. In this book, Shawn Achor aptly presents to the layperson findings in the related field of positive psychology. This is definitely informative . Achor offers strategies that the listener can implement immediately. The section on the “Tetris Effect” was the most helpful to me. It helped me understand where habits come from and how we can get “stuck” in particular ways of doing things and harbor attitudes unconsciously. The book is well written, easy follow, entertaining and informative. It is readily available to the uninitiated as well. The author reads his own work and does an admirable job of it as well.
This is a stimulating biography of a tragic figure. If you came of age during the Fisher era, if you are a Chess player, or if you are just interested in getting into an interesting biography, this book is well worth our time. The book traces Fisher’s childhood including the influence of his mother who lived in Russia and was involved in leftist activity. It details how he became interested in Chess and his mothers influence on that career. The final years of Fisher’s life are related in a thoughtful manner. Every page shows a broken, delusional man seeking to find peace. A most interesting section include the final pages that detail the disposition of Fisher’s assets after his death. That is not to be missed. Frank Brady has done us a great service by bringing this man to life and by shedding light on the era in which he lived. The reading of Ray Porter is excellent.
Gus Russo and Stepehen Molten have joined forces here to bring listeners up to date on the latest material related to the Kennedy assassination and related questions. They look at the death of the President from the perspective of the Castro borthers, the Kennedy brothers, and of course Lee Harvey Oswald. They seem to have exhaustively incorporated materials most recently released from the National Archives related to that era. Molton is a novelist and Russo has written other books such as "Supermob" and "The Outfit". Their writing and research talents shine throughout the book. Those of us who are old enough to have lived through those dark days will find plenty to scare the devil out of us here related to the Bay of Pigs, the Russian Missle Crisis, and other issues. The writing is very good and the reading of Paul Boehmer is excellent. This is a contribution to the history of that time which is well worth the listener's time.
"Colossus" is Michael Hiltzik's contribution to the public works literature including - for example - David McCullough's "The Great Bridge" and "The Path Between the Seas" along with "Golden Gate" by Kevin Star. In this volume Hiltzik details the history of the taming of the Colorado River during the Western Expansion to the building of the Hoover Dam. The political horse trading, engineering, labor problems, and more other surprises than can be listed here are presented. The book offers an amazing window onto the sacrifices made by those who physically built the dam with their sweat, muscle, and sometimes their lives. Desperate men in desperate economic times. This book focuses on the political economic issues to the exclusion of engineering details. So readers expecting another "The Path Between the Seas" might be a little disappointed. This is more a political biography than an engineering biography of the dam. Otherwise, the prose keeps the listener's attention and the reading of Norman Dietz is excellent.
This is a memoir of H. Joaquin Jackson, Texas Ranger. It is a collection of stories and recollections about his career as a Ranger. The book is entertaining, humorous, exciting, and heartbreaking Texana. It traces a career spanning several decades of Texas/Mexican conflict, changing mores and political realities and much technological advances in law enforcement. It would be interesting to hear what Ranger Jackson would have said in his own words, but his co-author, David Wilkinson, makes the prose sing. Perhaps the reader catches most clearly Ranger Jackson’s true voice in the chapter on his son who is serving a life sentence in prison. This is a man-book. The reading of Rex Linn is superb.
I try to approach books that will fill gaps in my knowledge. “How Fiction Works” by James Wood fit that bill. It is short, but full of insights into fiction. I have no background in literary criticism, but was able to follow Wood’s arguments for the most part. Wood throughout the volume stresses how fiction writers need to be observers. The chapters demonstrated that insight throughout and reveals how various authors have presented their subjects as a result. The book is well worth the time, but come expecting to apply yourself to the subject for the duration. Otherwise, I was disappointed in the asides that Wood made toward religion. It was out of place in this volume because this book was about fiction and how it works. Frankly, statements referring to Jesus as “that cheerless psychologist” and to religion as “That vast musical moth eaten brocade” were simply out of place. Wood’s uses other passages from the Old Testament to good advantage and they were informative. My beef isn’t with religion or quoting religious texts. I just found Wood’s cracks about religion not germane to the topic at hand and a distraction. Otherwise, the reading of James Adams is good though his accent was difficult for me to follow in places.
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