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Austin, TX, United States | Member Since 2015

  • 13 reviews
  • 70 ratings
  • 152 titles in library
  • 0 purchased in 2015

  • The Power of Myth: Programs 1-6

    • ORIGINAL (5 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Joseph Campbell, Bill Moyers
    • Narrated By Joseph Campbell, Bill Moyers

    An exhilarating journey into the mind and spirit of a remarkable man, a legendary teacher, and a masterful storyteller, conducted by TV journalist Bill Moyers for their acclaimed PBS series.

    Lucas says: "A series that changed my life"
    "A series that changed my life"

    I first heard this as I was just out of college and trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life and where I stood from a spiritual/religious perspective. I can't overstate the impact this series had on my career path and personal development.

    Now, some 17 years later, I gave it another listen and I hear a whole new set of lessons relevant to my life as an established professional and continuing seeker of wisdom and personal growth.

    I've listened to a lot of audiobooks in my time (200?) and have loved a heap but there are only a couple others I would even consider giving five stars. I reserve that for "classics" and I would give that status to "The Power of Myth."

    22 of 23 people found this review helpful
  • The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Sam Kean
    • Narrated By Sean Runnette

    Reporter Sam Kean reveals the periodic table as it’s never been seen before. Not only is it one of man's crowning scientific achievements, it's also a treasure trove of stories of passion, adventure, betrayal, and obsession. The infectious tales and astounding details in The Disappearing Spoon follow carbon, neon, silicon, and gold as they play out their parts in human history, finance, mythology, war, the arts, poison, and the lives of the (frequently) mad scientists who discovered them.

    Ethan M. says: "Excellent, if unfocused"
    "An engaging and excellent primer on chemistry"

    I am a ravenous ingester of science books but I tend to stay in the biological realm; chemistry was distinctly not my thing in my college days. This book was on a "top 10 science books of 2010" list that I have since misplaced, however, so I picked it up.

    It did not disappoint. I'd compare it to Bryson's "Short History of Nearly Everything" in that it illuminates the scientific concepts by telling the tales of the individuals who made the discoveries or, in some cases, were affected by quirks of chemistry. I found the writing graceful and clear but, like at least one other listener, found myself skipping back frequently. Drift off for a moment and you're suddenly lost.

    My issue with chemistry (and where it overlaps with quantum physics) is that I have a hard time seeing its relevance to my own life. I enjoyed learning this stuff for interest's sake but so much of it seems a bit, well, "out there" and irrelevant. To some degree, this book helped me see the importance of chemistry and quantum physics in our technological era but I did not feel like much of this will really stick with me and shape my view of the world.

    Clearly the author knows and loves his subject matter. As an introduction to chemistry I give it a big thumbs up but my next book will be back in my home turf of the biological sciences.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Modern Scholar: Unseen Diversity: The World of Bacteria

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Betsey Dexter Dyer

    Professor Betsey Dexter Dyer of Wheaton College examines the role of bacteria as major players in Earth's biodiversity. In the course of these fascinating lectures, Professor Dyer delves into the history of microbiology, the four billion year history of bacteria and archaea as the dominant organisms on Earth, and the place of pathogens in the greater context of the bacterial world. This course serves as both a field guide for curious naturalists and a friendly introduction to the world of bacteria and archaea.

    Lucas says: "Even THINKING about it? Go ahead and get it!"
    "Even THINKING about it? Go ahead and get it!"

    I picked this up on one of Audible's super sales (I think I got it for $5) and I absolutely loved it. Yes, I'm a science geek, and your average person is not going to appreciate this course but, if you're at all curious about microbes and the history of science, I can assure you this is an excellent course. The professor obviously loves her subject and communicates well (this is a series of lectures, not really an "audiobook" per se). It is aimed at the curious, not the wanna-be microbiologist, so it's not TOO technical and I assure you that you will be impressed with all that bacteria do to make life possible for us.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Nick Lane
    • Narrated By Graeme Malcolm
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Where does DNA come from? What is consciousness? How did the eye evolve? Drawing on a treasure trove of new scientific knowledge, Nick Lane expertly reconstructs evolution's history by describing its 10 greatest inventions - from sex and warmth to death - resulting in a stunning account of nature's ingenuity.

    Joshua says: "Great and informative but with prior knowledge"
    "technical but enlightening"

    The most technical of the many science/biology books I've read to date--not for those who hated biology class.

    It was particularly good on the theories origins of life/DNA, photosynthesis, and eukaryotic cells. Not so great on consciousness (I think it's hard to make a case that that is one of the greatest "inventions" of evolution from the overall picture of life) and death (really a chapter about how we can avoid the degenerations/infirmations of old age--SPOILER: eat less).

    I thought I had, at last, a science book that doesn't try to persuade us that evolution is true but, alas, in the final chapter the author made his pitch. It was a powerful one, though, so I'll excuse it.

    Definitely moments where I started to drift off but, overall, this is a good read for those who love biology.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Sean B. Carroll
    • Narrated By Patrick Lawlor
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    DNA is the genetic material that defines us as individuals. Over the last two decades, it has emerged as a powerful tool for solving crimes and determining guilt and innocence. But, very recently, an important new aspect of DNA has been revealed: it contains a detailed record of evolution. That is, DNA is a living chronicle of how the marvelous creatures that inhabit our planet have adapted to its many environments, from the freezing waters of the Antarctic to the lush canopy of the rain forest.

    Ross Taylor says: "Be prepared..."
    "A different view of evolution"

    I listened to this, The Greatest Show on Earth, and The Reluctant Mr. Darwin last year. They're all good but I found this one most interesting from a science perspective. I have a degree in zoology and know a lot about evolution but looking at things at the level of DNA was novel to me and I really learned a lot. The author makes a convincing case in the book's closing chapters that conserving the world's wildlife, specifically ocean fisheries, depends upon a wide-spread acceptance of evolution as the fundamental concept in biology. I have recommended this to friends and I'll recommend it to you, too, if the basic description of the book sounds interesting at all to you (I grant you it's not for everyone).

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Flush

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Carl Hiaasen
    • Narrated By Michael Welch

    You know it's going to be a rough summer when you spend Father's Day visiting your dad in the local lockup.Noah's dad is sure that the owner of the Coral Queen casino boat is flushing raw sewage into the harbor, which has made taking a dip at the local beach like swimming in a toilet. He can't prove it though, and so he decides that sinking the boat will make an effective statement. Right. The boat is pumped out and back in business within days and Noah's dad is stuck in the clink.

    Book reader says: "Adequate, but something's missing"
    "This family loves it"

    My 9 yo daughter listens to this over and over; more than any other audiobook. I had a drive with my 12 yo son so thought we'd give it a try and the time flew by. Fun story with vivid characters and a well-read audiobook. Highly recommended!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Future of Life

    • ABRIDGED (7 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Edward O. Wilson
    • Narrated By Ed Begley

    Today we understand that our world is infinitely richer than was ever previously guessed. Yet it is so ravaged by human activity that half its species could be gone by the end of the century. These two contrasting truths - unexpected magnificence and underestimated peril - have become compellingly clear during the past two decades of research on biological diversity. In his dazzlingly intelligent book, Wilson describes the treasures of the natural world we are about to lose forever and how we can save them.

    Lucas says: "A scientifically-grounded case for the environment"
    "A scientifically-grounded case for the environment"

    I've listened to Cousteau's "The Human, the Orchid and The Octopus" and Jane Goodall's "Reason for Hope" and just finished this one. To be brief, I think this one stands head-and-shoulders above the other two as a case for the environment and a roadmap for a sustainable way of live for humanity.

    As an environmental educator, I appreciate Wilson's fact-based approach here in regards to both the problems and the solutions; Goodall and Cousteau both argued more from an emotional perspective that, to me, seemed a couple decades old.

    I read books like this to better understand the issues we face but I personally need a healthy dose of hope and optimism to inspire me to keep up the fight. While this book goes into great detail about the problems we've created in modern, ancient and, yes, prehistoric times, it concludes with concrete examples of what's being done, and by whom, to assure the survival of present day wildlife and humans.

    Begley definitely needed a pronunciation consultant (for numerous scientific terms as well as the writer Goethe whose name he pronounced "Goath," like a high school freshman!!) but, essentially, did a good job of reading with enough inflection and emotion to keep me from drifting off.

    I found Wilson's writing to be top-notch. The opening letter to Thoreau was beautiful, in my opinion; one of the better pieces of nature writing I've read in recent years. I suppose if you're not already "green" in some measure, you might find the cases Wilson presents to be unrealistic or alarmist but, it seems to me, you probably just don't really want to hear the truth because this is based in the best facts modern biological science can present.

    Thank you, E.O. Wilson, for a lifetime of science, leadership and conservation!

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Life on a Little Known Planet: A Biologist's View of Insects and their World

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Howard Ensign Evans
    • Narrated By Scott Brick

    This classic book is natural history at its best. The world of insects is Howard Evans' "little-known planet," the realm of the cockroach and the cricket, the wasp and the bedbug. With the precision and authority of a distinguished biologist, and the wit and grace of an accomplished writer, Howard Evans muses on the uniqueness of dragonflies, the romantic impulses of butterflies, the musicianship of crickets, and the mysteries of the firefly.

    Anne says: "Some of my favorite bug groups!"
    "often poetic celebration of insects"

    Some of the passages in this book are absolutely beautiful. Yes, it's dated with frequent references to the huge, 60's & 70's investment in the space program, but the intro alone makes a compelling case to appreciate and take greater interest in the ubiquitous insects.

    Some chapters were more intriguing than others and, yes, there's an environmental diatribe (which I happened to like) in the last 20% of the book or so but I found it a really lovely piece of nature writing.

    He goes into depth about fireflies, dragon/damsel-flies, locusts (not my favorite chapter), crickets, roaches, true flies and more. My only real criticism is that I would have like to have had an overview of the insect class before these "case study" chapters began

    Give it a listen and you may find yourself intrigued with a part of the natural world you may have ignored.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Human, the Orchid, and the Octopus: Exploring and Conserving Our Natural World

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Jacques Cousteau, Susan Schielfelbein
    • Narrated By Stephen Hoye
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Explorer, diving pioneer, filmmaker, inventor, and activist, Jacques Cousteau was blessed from his childhood with boundless curiosity about the natural world. As the leader of fascinating, often dangerous expeditions all over the planet, he discovered firsthand the complexity and beauty of life on earth and undersea - and watched the toll taken by human activity in the 20th century.

    Thomas M. Olenski says: "A Politcal Opinion"
    "Prepared yourself for a diatribe"

    Wow, this is not what I was expecting. Cousteau rails on scientists, religion, world leaders, common citizens, and more. There's also a lengthy section on the perils of nuclear energy that was provided some news to me but it was just too much.

    As the inventor of SCUBA technology and, obviously, a lifetime diver, he saw the oceans deteriorate and whither in a matter of decades so I understand his passionate cry for the planet. I just found some of the science to be a bit lacking in places and too few moments of hope.

    I also found the narrator's voice lacked variation but that may have been a function of the text. I made it through this one but just barely (I stepped it up to double speed to get through--THANK YOU iPOD for that ingenius feature).

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Richard Dawkins
    • Narrated By Richard Dawkins, Lalla Ward

    The Greatest Show on Earth is a stunning counterattack on advocates of "Intelligent Design," explaining the evidence for evolution while exposing the absurdities of the creationist "argument". Dawkins sifts through rich layers of scientific evidence: from living examples of natural selection to clues in the fossil record; from natural clocks that mark the vast epochs wherein evolution ran its course to the intricacies of developing embryos; from plate tectonics to molecular genetics.

    Joseph says: "Well read, well explained, scientific."
    "Could be the book the tips the balance?"

    I enjoyed this book a lot. I have a degree in zoology and already know that evolution is true. This book is really intended to give the "already converted" with an arsenal of studies, arguments, and evidence when we find ourselves in a debate with someone who believes in creation or "intelligent design."

    There's some really great stuff here; some things I was already familiar with and and some things that were new. I think it would be pretty challenging material for someone who didn't get much past high school biology but rewarding. Not having the visual aids with the audiobook was a bummer and would make it more challenging for a non-scientist. I'm hoping that this book's popularity indicates that the public is embracing evolution at last.

    There were so many wonderful bits I could detail but I will let you discover for yourself. I do encourage this book to anyone who's even considering this book and obviously you are if you're reading this. I found the "tag-team" reading with his wife a bit distracting at times. Dawkins reads most of it (probably 65%) and did an excellent job. His wife's reading worked sometimes and not at others. Not ruinous, in my opinion.


    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Robert M. Pirsig
    • Narrated By Michael Kramer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    This thought-provoking journal of a man's quest for truth - and for himself - has touched and changed an entire generation, and is ready to reach out to a new one. At its heart, the story is all too simple: a man and his son take a motorcycle trip across America. But this is not a simple trip at all, for around every corner, their pilgrimage leads them to new vistas of self-discovery and renewal.

    CARL V PHILLIPS says: "definitive version, hasn't aged too badly"
    "Great book, poor reading"

    This book had a big impact on me as a young adult and I've read it about three times. Tried it again in mid-life and it didn't have quite the impact but I think part of that was the reader; I don't usually complain about it but is reading sounded labored; there was a strange little cough at the end of so many sentences, like he's been a life-long smoker or something. I tend to think it's just his way of giving inflection and denoting the end of sentence/paragraph but it was really distracting.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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