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Margaret

Member Since 2018

154
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 51 reviews
  • 82 ratings
  • 406 titles in library
  • 21 purchased in 2018
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  • The Varieties of Religious Experience

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By William James
    • Narrated By John Pruden
    Overall
    (115)
    Performance
    (94)
    Story
    (91)

    First published in 1905, The Varieties of Religious Experience is a collection of lectures given at the University of Edinburgh in 1901 and 1902. William James was a psychologist and, as such, his interest in religion was not that of a theologian but of a scientist. In these 20 lectures, he discusses the nature and origin of religious belief. The average believer is one who has inherited his religion, but this will not do for James's inquiry.

    Chris R says: "Dense & Insightful"
    "More than 100 years old and still entirely current"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This work is a classic, recognized as such when issued as a book more than a century ago and continuing. I recommend it to anyone with any interest in the phenomena of personal religious experience presented by a scientist.

    I have been interested in religion since I started Grade 1 at a Catholic school in the exurbs (at that time) of Toronto. I had a sudden conversion experience to what I would now call pantheism at age 18. I am now a member of a Unitarian Universalist congregation.

    As a psychologist addressing an audience of eminent theologians and philosophers, James quotes long excerpts from the writings of many men and women about their own religious experience. Sudden conversion to godly devotion is one phenomenon about which such primary material was abundant. My sudden conversion was less dramatic than any of those James recounts.

    A fascinating but horrifying phenomenon is the extremes of "asceticism." I heard bits of the legends of Christian martyrs and ascetics from the nuns who taught at my school. Nightmare stuff, still.

    Historically, this work came at a very interesting time for the intellectual culture of Europe and the United States. "On the Origin of Species" had been published 40 years before and had been gaining acceptance and respectability continuously. As Darwin knew, his work was a challenge to the authority of the Great Jaweh. In these lectures, the profound changes in the character of the Great Jaweh (generally just called "God") over the centuries are laid out and analyzed scientifically, along with the stories of powerful deities who have come and gone.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Anansi Boys

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Neil Gaiman
    • Narrated By Lenny Henry
    Overall
    (12632)
    Performance
    (9903)
    Story
    (9904)

    Returning to the territory he so brilliantly explored in his masterful New York Times best seller American Gods, the incomparable Neil Gaiman offers up a work of dazzling ingenuity, a kaleidoscopic journey deep into myth that is at once startling, terrifying, exhilarating, and fiercely funny, a true wonder of a novel that confirms Stephen King's glowing assessment of the author as "a treasure house of story, and we are lucky to have him."

    A. Hawley says: "Beautifully narrated"
    "Charming story with delightful protagonists"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    And really evil villains. A coming-of-age story of a late-bloomer. Magic is everywhere: the ancient swamps of Florida; the tiny back bedroom of a run-down East London flat; the exotic garden isles of the Caribbean. Take the trip.

    The best of many gratuitous funnies: “By the windmills of Babyland, he sat down and cried.”

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Left Hand of Darkness

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Ursula K. Le Guin
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1765)
    Performance
    (1615)
    Story
    (1617)

    A groundbreaking work of science fiction, The Left Hand of Darkness tells the story of a lone human emissary to Winter, an alien world whose inhabitants can change their gender. His goal is to facilitate Winter's inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization. But to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the completely dissimilar culture that he encounters. Embracing the aspects of psychology, society, and human emotion on an alien world, The Left Hand of Darkness stands as a landmark achievement.

    kwdayboise (Kim Day) says: "Almost 50 and still amazing"
    "A Powerful Adventure Story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I read The Left Hand Of Darkness years ago, when I was in my 20s. I remembered that it was great but I didn't remember much about it. The only thing that stayed with me was the reproductive biology of the aliens (who are being visited on their own planet, making the Terran the real alien, as he realizes). That is still fascinating after all this time.

    Mainly, it is a great story about a race from an advanced planetary civilization invading another planet. In this story, the invaders are benign and the inhabitants of the invaded planet are given the opportunity to choose whether the invaders will stay or go away forever. The heart of the story is a long trek the 2 main characters, one from each world, are forced to take over a barely imaginable vastness of ice and snow and deep cold. LeGuin's descriptions of the ice-scapes are so beautiful and intense.

    The androgyny of the fictional planet's human inhabitants is thought-provoking, to say the least. What effect would it have on life and culture when gender is fluid to the extent that a person may be the mother of some children and the father of others? Perhaps having read this book in my relative youth is one reason why gender fluidity appears to me to be more or less within the range of normal.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Cosmos

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Carl Sagan
    • Narrated By LeVar Burton, Seth MacFarlane, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and others
    Overall
    (3009)
    Performance
    (2745)
    Story
    (2735)

    Cosmos is one of the best-selling science books of all time. In clear-eyed prose, Sagan reveals a jewel-like blue world inhabited by a life form that is just beginning to discover its own identity and to venture into the vast ocean of space.

    Seph says: "Over-acting voice actors"
    "Still relevant after all these years"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This audiobook is not identical in content to the TV series of the early 1980s, but it's close. And it's not narrated with Sagan's own idiosyncratic voice (for obvious reasons). But the scientific prose is still as clear and poetic as I recall from way back when and Lavar Burton is a close second to Sagan himself. Each chapter is a self-contained gem worth hearing at least twice. My audiobook library includes more than 200 titles and this is one of the best.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Unknown Universe: A New Exploration of Time, Space and Cosmology

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Stuart Clark PhD
    • Narrated By Stephen Hoye
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (864)
    Performance
    (785)
    Story
    (788)

    On March 21, 2013, the European Space Agency released a map of the afterglow of the big bang. Taking in 440 sextillion kilometers of space and 13.8 billion years of time, it is physically impossible to make a better map: We will never see the early universe in more detail. On the one hand, such a view is the apotheosis of modern cosmology; on the other, it threatens to undermine almost everything we hold cosmologically sacrosanct.

    Jared says: "Engaging Update on past few years in Astrophysics"
    "Exactly as much cosmology as I can handle"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The author is an astrophysicist and a journalist. The book is pitched to the curious non-astrophysicist and non-scientist. The writing style is clear and entertaining. I had not heard of Stuart Clark before I "read" this book but I plan to read more of him.

    The performance is excellent. Stephen Hoye's narration is pleasing and paced right for popular science. (I have returned many books, most often because the narration is speeded up past the point where I can enjoy the experience.)

    I think any reader with any curiosity about the beginning and the end of time, who doesn't quite understand how space and time can be the same thing, and who wonders where everything came from will enjoy this book.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Brat Farrar

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Josephine Tey
    • Narrated By Carole Boyd
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2325)
    Performance
    (2108)
    Story
    (2103)

    A stranger enters the inner sanctum of the Ashby family posing as Patrick Ashby, the heir to the family’s sizeable fortune. The stranger, Brat Farrar, has been carefully coached on Patrick’s mannerisms, appearance and every significant detail of Patrick’s early life, up to his 13th year when he disappeared and was thought to have drowned himself.

    Catherine says: "Great all around"
    "Perfect for an early-teen horse girl"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Beginning with the positive: With little assistance from the story line or the characters, the narration is commendable.

    All the way through this novel, I was reminded of the English girls' boarding-school novels that were readily available in the second-hand shops of my small Ontario town in the 1950s. The story line moves at a steady, moderate pace toward the climax, which happens exactly as telegraphed early on. The family at the center of the story remains apparently unchanged by the horrifying, if implausible, events.

    There is a lot of terribly-English horse-talk throughout. Perfect for an early-teen horse girl.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • An Anthropologist on Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Oliver Sacks
    • Narrated By Jonathan Davis, Oliver Sacks
    Overall
    (816)
    Performance
    (726)
    Story
    (723)

    To these seven narratives of neurological disorder Dr. Sacks brings the same humanity, poetic observation, and infectious sense of wonder that are apparent in his bestsellers Awakenings and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. These men, women, and one extraordinary child emerge as brilliantly adaptive personalities, whose conditions have not so much debilitated them as ushered them into another reality.

    Jeff says: "SACKS IS AN ABSOLUTE JOY !!"
    "paradoxical indeed"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    a painter who becomes completely color-blind (not your regular red-looks-black colorblind). A surgeon with Turette's. A blind man to whom retina function, but not brain function, is restored and then what happens. No one but Sacks could tell these tales of neurology, a science as complex and nuanced as genomics, but much more concrete.

    The narration is good, and reminiscent of Sacks himself.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Tristram Shandy

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Laurence Sterne
    • Narrated By Anton Lesser
    Overall
    (109)
    Performance
    (102)
    Story
    (97)

    Laurence Sterne’s most famous novel is a biting satire of literary conventions and contemporary 18th-century values. Renowned for its parody of established narrative techniques, Tristram Shandyis commonly regarded as the forerunner of avant-garde fiction. Tristram’s characteristic digressions on a whole range of unlikely subjects (including battle strategy and noses!) are endlessly surprising and make this one of Britain’s greatest comic achievements.

    Zeno says: "Monty Python's Great, Great Grandfather"
    "good "lullaby reading""
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Brit-coms go back further than we thought. I listened through this book once. then I started from the beginning again. I caught some very funny "diversions" I had missed the first time around.

    I found this book to be good "lullaby reading." That is, I fell asleep laughing.

    There are several versions available with different narrators. I can recommend this one.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Seedfolks

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 26 mins)
    • By Paul Fleischman
    • Narrated By full cast
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (740)
    Performance
    (640)
    Story
    (644)

    Thirteen lives. One garden. Set in Cleveland, Newbery-Award-winning author Paul Fleischman's poignant book is a large lesson in connectedness and community for all. When a derelict vacant lot is gradually transformed into a community garden in inner city Cleveland, the people of this community find their differences are less apparent and their isolation dissolved. Performed by thirteen multicuturally and age-authentic voices, this audiobook is designed for listeners of all ages.

    Rina says: "Excellent to listen"
    "Sweetly entertaining."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Seedfolks is a charming story and this production feels real. The =characters drive the story

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Spy: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Paulo Coelho
    • Narrated By Hillary Huber, Paul Boehmer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (233)
    Performance
    (219)
    Story
    (220)

    On the occasion of the centenary of Mata Hari's execution for espionage in 1917, Paulo Coelho reconsiders her life and character in a fictional memoir. In a series of letters written from prison on the eve of her death, Mata Hari reflects on the choices she has made to always pursue her own truth - from her childhood in a small Dutch town to unhappy years as the wife of an alcoholic diplomat in Java to her calculated and self-fashioned rise to celebrity in Paris and across Europe as an exotic dancer.

    Margaret says: "Strong woman versus the patriarchy"
    "Strong woman versus the patriarchy"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The strong woman wins, of course, by living her life on her terms. The story is told in two voices: first the woman herself and then her male (and only) ally. I found the the woman character and her first-person narrative engaging (and a refutation to anyone who would say that a male novelist should not write as a woman). The historical setting is well rendered as a time of cataclysmic change, dangerous for everyone. Our heroine does not flinch.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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