Sutton, MA | Member Since 2012
It pains me to write a negative review of any book considering how hard the author must have worked to get published. I would have written a positive review if I had stopped reading/listening after completing chapter 3. In 20-HRS the theory, philosophy, research, and approach to how to tackle a new subject is very strong. The application, as exhibited in the second half of the book, is actually very boring. Mr. Kaufman knows his learning theory and communicates an well organized plan on how to attack any new subject. However, it was very difficult to listen to the nuance of yoga or the manusha of how to play GO for 2 hours. At times I failed to relate his primary learning tenants established in the early chapters to the later application chapters. This book cannot sustain your interest past 3 hours.
I was hesitant to purchase “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” (Ocean) as this was my first Neil Gaiman novel and my interest in the fantasy genre extends as far as George Martin. I was old-fashioned wrong! Ocean was terrific. Ocean was a simple and unpretentious story about a childhood experience. Similar to Martel’s “Life of Pi”, there’s much more happening here if the reader/listener bothers to delve underneath the surface.
Gaiman has an expert sense of the fears and anxieties that fuel the behaviors of a 7-year-old child. He also captures the magical thinking that children use to understand and negotiate their environments. Gaiman’s child has yet to be overtaken by the realities of science and logic. As a result, the reader is taken into imaginative situations only available through the mind of a child. The insights that come out of Ocean are refreshing and creative.
Ocean is very entertaining and never boring. The audiobook is also very manageable at roughly 5 hours in length and only a handful of characters to track. Ocean is well worth your investment in time and money.
The System is must read for anyone with more than a passing interest in college football. Each chapter takes a specific element of the college football game (coach, recruitment, crimes committed by athletes, NCAA investigations, boosters...) and explores the topics in detail through the use of factual stories. These stories best exemplify the moral corruption within the system of college athletics and are great listening material. The listener almost forgets this is an audio book, instead The System seems like a highly detailed/smart sport radio program (without commercials). What listeners can expect is an inside/outside education about what really happens in big time college football programs. Some avid college football fans may find the book obvious as the topics have all been previously explored by 60-Minutes and ESPN. If you are an avid college football fan and know what a "Hostess" relative to recruiting college athletes, you probably know 90% of the information in The System.My only criticism of The System is the organization of the chapters. The book does lead of an over aching point. The listener is exposed to one theme of college football at a time until the books simply ends.
Okay, I didn’t like Sam Harris’s essay on lying. Why? The essay is very similar to a lecture you would expect from an ivory tower intellectual lacking any real world experience. Mr. Harris preaches the benefits of providing forthright feedback to others in lieu of white lies. Although this honest and forthright feedback is initially painful to the question asker (does this is dress make me look fat?), in the end you will be forgiven and earn greater respect. I can only imagine the Mr. Harris works in a socially isolated setting and has small set of very confident/highly intellectual friends. He wouldn’t last five minutes in the social circles I encounter on a daily basis. However, the biggest disappointment of this essay is Mr. Harris rarely addresses the functions or motivations that initiate lying behavior. In my opinion, the more interesting essay would address why people feel compelled to lie to others.
“Anatomy of an Epidemic” will appeal to mental health professionals, psychiatrist, medical doctors, and individuals impacted by psychotropic medications. The book posits one simple question: “why have the rates of mental illness skyrocketed in the last 20 years despite the reported advancements in psychotropic medications?” The author, Robert Whitaker, attempts to answer this question armed with data, peer-reviewed research, and a no holds barred investigatory diligence. Overall, Mr. Whitaker suggests that the American public has been sold a bill of goods by pharmaceutical companies relative to the true effects of psychotropic medication on human behavior. He provides a history of psychotropic drug development, picks apart the research funded by pharmaceutical corporations, and examines the social factors that incentivize a diagnosis of mental illness.
Mr. Whitaker does not supply any useful answers to the complex problems encountered by those affected by mental illness. Instead, he challenges the conventional wisdom and public beliefs around the effectiveness of medications such as Prozac, Paxil, Respirable, and Zyprexa. If Mr. Whitaker has one message for readers the message would warn individuals suffering from mental illness to be very cautious before following the advice of a mental health professional to start taking psychotropic medications. There is clear evidence these medications can potentially exasperate a mental health condition and become lifelong endeavors.
Mr. Whitaker is an excellent writer. “Anatomy of an Epidemic” is very readable although it deals with very technical peer-reviewed information. He has a clear and efficient writing style that communicates very well to readers with a basic familiarity related to psychotropic medication and mental health diagnosis.
Far from the Tree (FFTT) is a structured summary of selected childhood disabilities and challenging behaviors. The science and personal family stories associated with these disabilities/challenges are expertly woven together by the author and narrator, Andrew Solomon. The strengths of FFTT are the insights and revelations made by author when documenting the affected family’s thoughts/feelings relative to caring for an atypical child. Some of the disabilities/challenges Solomon takes on include Deafness, Autism, Dwarfs, Prodigies, Children born of Rape, and Transgender. Solomon breaks down each chapter according to a single disability and gives the reader/listener a complete analysis of the subject.What makes FFTT different from any other books on disabilities/challenges is Solomon provides such an expansive view of the subject. He provides both the science and family affect. For example, in the chapter of Autism there are discussions of the behavioral symptoms, early indicators, parental response to the diagnosis, parental adjustment to the diagnosis, physiological explanations (brain), treatment options, interactions with schools, early intervention, and descriptions of the day to day existence of caring for a child with special needs. Instead of writing a paragraph on each subject, Solomon blends the information together to create a compelling and realistic picture of the experiences encountered by the families. It is this blending process that makes FFTT deeply personal and realistic. The reader is not simply spoon fed a list of facts, but provided facts in relation to how family’s deal and respond to a particular challenge. What will readers get out of FFTT? Readers will learn how families cope and respond to having an atypical child. Readers will learn about the science various disabilities and behavioral challenges of atypical children. Readers will admire how many of these affected families pull themselves out of the shock of having an atypical child and become great parents.
The very few people who actually read my audio books reviews recognize that I am an unapologetic Stephen King fan. Many Stephen King fans enjoy being sacred or are followers of the American of horror genre. I am not one those readers. Instead, I admire Stephen King (SK) due to the rich storylines, engaging plots, and interplay between characters. Joyland has all of these elements in abundance.
Joyland is ultimately a nostalgic novel that brings your back to in time and age. SK seems to have a perfect recollection of what was like to be a heart broken college student unencumbered by social obligations. Devin Jones (main character) is free to explore life, take risks, and discover himself. Along the way Devin develops lasting friendships and learns the value of helping others. Joyland's characters are memorable, fun, and full of energy. Like all SK novels, Joyland allows the reader to enter into situations one rarely gets to see in real life. Devon's journey to self actualization is exciting, touching, and never (ever) boring. Many readers/listeners may assume that Joyland is scary or full of crime because it was written by SK. Although the plot revolves around an unsolved murder, Joyland is a vehicle for SK to write about pinnacle life events that serve to shape one's life.
Stephen King's Joyland is a perfect audio book. The number of characters, settings, and situations are easily manageable without referring to written materials. I hope you give Joyland a try.
My family and I drove from Boston to New York listening to "the wonderful wizard of Oz." At 3HRs 52MIN OZ was the prefect length for a long car ride. We were enthralled and memorized by the depth and beauty of the story. The book is moderately different from the movie, which allows much discussion around the discrepancies. The narrator, Anne Hathaway, is excellent, where she bring so much magic and life to multiple characters. Our family continues to discuss the book weeks after completion.
Entertainment Weekly (EW)gave Malcolm Gladwell's "David and Goliath" (DG) an abominable review. EW reported that Gladwell had dissolved from a data based story teller to a manipulator of anecdotal tales used to support his main thesis. As a result, I was disinclined to purchase DG. However, I was very pleased by his "Outliers" and "Tipping Point" so I took the chance.
Thank goodness I did not allow those muttonheads at EW to influence my book buying behavior. DG is an excellent book that challenges some of the most commonly held assumptions in the US and turns them upside down. Gladwell uses data and personal stories to analyze the social significance of affirmative action, three strikes laws, and entering an ivy league college. Gladwell's gift is summarizing research studies into a common sense digestible units that any reader can readily absorb. He further drives home point by selecting compelling real life stories that best exemplify these research studies. Gladwell keeps his readers entertained by avoiding the technical jargon associated with peer reviewed data.
The point of DG is that we all possess personal strengths that can help us achieve goals in the face of impending failure. David does not defeat Goliath due to luck, instead David fought an unconventional battle by changing the rules to his benefit. DG will expose the reader a different perspective on approaching tasks or problems that seem beyond our skill set. Our perceived weaknesses can be our greatest strengths.
As a curious person, I often tackle books outside my experience base. However, I was interested in what happened at Memorial Hospital in New Orleans immediately following Hurricane Katrina. 5 Days at Memorial (5-Days) is an excellent book for anyone associated with providing medical treatment. Sheri Fink completes a step-by-step analysis into each facet of the tragedy that occurred following Katrina. Fink is an exceptional writer and her ability deconstruct this tragic story is amazing. As a professional not involved in the medical world, I soon became burdened by the relentless detail described in 5-Days. There were so many patients, nurses, doctors, medicines, and government officials that I soon lost track of the story. 5-Days has a heavy and serious tone that is constantly present. Overall, this is an excellent book for lawyers, doctors, nurses, ethicists, and hospital professional. As a curious reader I lost focus about halfway in.
Lightning was an audio daily special for $2.95. Considering the price, Lightning was a nice listen (slightly below average). The first half of Lightning was a terrific thriller that keeps the listener guessing and constantly problem solving. Dean Koontz keeps the story progressing at a manageable pace. However, the story begins to bog down as the key protagonist enters adulthood. As a listener you just burn-out on the same type of repetitive action sequences. Others may like this fast paced and action orientated book. After completing 60% of the book, I found the characters under developed and superficial. If you are looking for a great Koontz book, try Intensity.
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