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Chris

alameda, ca | Member Since 2004

71
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 14 reviews
  • 18 ratings
  • 248 titles in library
  • 15 purchased in 2014
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  • Guitar Zero: The New Musician and the Science of Learning

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Gary Marcus
    • Narrated By Gary Marcus
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (98)
    Performance
    (91)
    Story
    (88)

    Just about every human being knows how to listen to music, but what does it take to make music? Is musicality something we are born with? Or a skill that anyone can develop at any time? If you don't start piano at the age of six, is there any hope? Is skill learning best left to children or can anyone reinvent him-or herself at any time?

    Alex says: "Entertaining if somewhat superficial"
    "Enjoyable account of our relationship to music"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a short but enjoyable account of how and why people play music. Centered around the author's quest to learn guitar as an adult, it touches on many aspects of learning and playing music. The author was an excellent reader. A couple of reviews complained that it didn't give them tips on improving their playing; that is no reason for a negative review, as the book doesn't promise that any more than it promises to teach you to ride a bike. I plan to read more books on this interesting topic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Twelve Years a Slave

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Solomon Northup
    • Narrated By Hugh Quarshie
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (119)
    Performance
    (113)
    Story
    (114)

    Hugh Quarshie reads the extraordinary autobiography of Solomon Northup. His harrowing true story, first published in 1853, was a key factor in the national debate over slavery prior to the American Civil War, significantly changing public opinion on the topic of abolition. It tells the horrifying tale of Solomon Northup, an educated, free black man living with his wife and children in New York State, whose life takes an appalling turn when he is kidnapped, drugged and sold into slavery.

    Joel says: "What an Experience"
    "I can't find the words. Read it."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was an incredible listen, one of the best audiobooks I've heard.While I had some slight idea of what U.S. slavery involved, this brought it home more than anything else I've heard. Every time I listened, I came away feeling as if I'd seen a new light shined on human nature as well as on our history. Hearing of humanity's capacity for casual and unthinking cruelty left me thinking about how I live my life, how aware or unaware I am of the suffering of others, and how able or unable I am to look beyond what seems good enough. I also learned of how a human's spirit can be utterly destroyed by unremitting cruelty.

    The author spoke with striking insight and eloquence about what he saw and experienced. I was especially struck by his observations that most of the people involved had a mixture of good and bad in them. He had high praise for one of his owners, who he considered one of the finest people he'd known aside from the single blind spot that he thought that whites should own blacks, because he'd never known anything else and couldn't see beyond it. And I thought again about John Brown's predictions around the same time that slaveholders would not reform without a bloody war, which was soon in coming.

    The narrator was as outstanding as the material, completely owning the material. I can't say enough about this audiobook.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Room Full of Mirrors: A Biography of Jimi Hendrix

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Charles R. Cross
    • Narrated By Lloyd James
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (189)
    Performance
    (119)
    Story
    (121)

    For many, the name Jimi Hendrix conjures up a larger-than-life image of the man who set fire to guitars, women's hearts, and the status quo. In this groundbreaking account, music journalist Charles R. Cross takes a far deeper look. Beyond Hendrix's legendary onstage and offstage magnetism, and his excessive lifestyle, was a man who struggled to accept his role as an idol and privately craved the kind of normal family life he never had.

    Tim says: "Great Book - Interesting and Sad Story"
    "Outstanding"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was a wonderfully written and narrated book. I wasn't expecting much, thinking that there are many mediocre rock star bios around, and this would likely be another, but it was excellent. I actually paused it a few times because I didn't want it to end. It's about Jimi the person, and provides a very engaging account of how he got to where he did, and of his trying to navigate stardom when he arrived. I didn't know much about his personal life, but it was sad to read of all the sycophants surrounding him, and it made me think a lot about what it is to feel trapped, as Jimi did near the end of his life when he couldn't see a path out of doing what everyone expected of him. It made me think too of how important parents are--Jimi's were neglectful, and I suspect he might still be with us if someone had provided him some better tools for living. The narration was perfect. Best of all, it's had me revisiting his great music again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Scott Stossel
    • Narrated By Michael Goldstrom
    Overall
    (118)
    Performance
    (102)
    Story
    (108)

    Drawing on his own long-standing battle with anxiety, Stossel presents an astonishing history, at once intimate and authoritative, of the efforts to understand the condition from medical, cultural, philosophical, and experiential perspectives. He ranges from the earliest medical reports of Galen and Hippocrates, through later observations by Robert Burton and Søren Kierkegaard, to the investigations by great nineteenth-century scientists, such as Charles Darwin, William James, and Sigmund Freud, as they began to explore its sources and causes.

    Ryan says: "A must read for anxiety suffers"
    "Great audiobook"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is one of the best audiobooks I've heard. The narrator so inhabited the material that it was hard to believe he wasn't telling his own story. I will look for other work by him. The material itself was a great tale of of what is known about chronic anxiety, including the history of our developing understanding and of various modes of treatment, and of the author's own experiences with it (a lot of which are very harrowing, and some of which are funny). The book addresses anxiety both in its routine forms as part of universal human experiences, and in its more extreme and debilitating forms. It is masterfully written. As a sufferer from a more than average level of anxiety, I didn't find a cure but I got increased understanding and comfort from learning of the experiences of others. This book does not go for fake easy answers to any of the issues it covers (and I think some reviewers have criticized it for not doing so). It tells it like it is, is scientifically sound, and is very beautifully done.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Naked Lunch: The Restored Text

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By William S. Burroughs
    • Narrated By Mark Bramhall
    Overall
    (236)
    Performance
    (151)
    Story
    (154)

    Naked Lunch is one of the most important novels of the 20th century, a book that redefined not just literature but American culture. An unnerving tale of a narcotics addict unmoored in New York, Tangiers, and, ultimately, a nightmarish wasteland known as Interzone.

    Chris says: "Delightful rendition"
    "Delightful rendition"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Today I started listening to this again as I was re-organizing my audio library, couldn't shut it off, and was shocked to realize that I didn't review this when I first heard it. About the book: It will horrify a significant portion of the population. It is full of brutality, filth, pedophilia, profanity, etc. If you don't know what you are getting into, beware. At its best, it is brilliant satire. I give the story one star because there is no story, but there is not supposed to be. The book will more many of those readers that it doesn't offend. It contains some tedious repetition, and passages that could probably only be interesting if one is as wasted on drugs as the author was when he wrote it. It also contains many brilliantly inspired passages and images that have endured through the years.

    The thing that kept me listening again today is the narration. Every narration is necessarily just one interpretation of a book, and Bramhall puts a unique stamp on this one. His voice is a drawl, I suppose spun off of Burroughs' own, but much more extreme. You might like it or you might not, but I found his style enjoyable when I got used to it. The best part of it is the voices that he gives to the various characters. These interpretations are brilliant and hilarious.

    I do most of my reading at bedtime, and was unable to finish reading this book because it gave me nightmares (as it reportedly did to Jack Kerouac when he helped transcribe the original text). The audiobook let me get through it during my commute. It made me forget the work day.

    The audiobook is highly recommended to those who understand what they are in for.

    25 of 26 people found this review helpful
  • David Copperfield

    • UNABRIDGED (33 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Charles Dickens
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1217)
    Performance
    (780)
    Story
    (790)

    Based in part on Dickens's own life, it is the story of a young man's journey from an unhappy and impoverished childhood to the discovery of his vocation as a successful novelist. Among its gloriously vivid cast of characters, he e.ncounters his tyrannical stepfather, Mr. Murdstone; his formidable aunt, Betsey Trotwood; the eternally humble yet treacherous Uriah Heep; the frivolous, enchanting Dora; and one of literature's great comic creations, the magnificently impecunious Mr. Micawber.

    Darwin8u says: "More saints per capita than any book by Butler"
    "Great listen"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was my first Charles Dickens; I think the review "Dickens in Full Sentimental Mode" captures my reaction well. The characters were brilliantly drawn and vivid. I think it could have been trimmed a bit without being hurt, and a few of the resolutions of story lines and the happy ending did feel a bit contrived, but I loved spending time with these characters. I stand in awe of Simon Vance's narration, and wish I could shake his hand. By chance I listened to the interview with Lemony Snicket that's available (free) on Audible just as I started this novel. Snicket narrated three of his wonderful "Series of Unfortunate Events" novels but, as he describes in the interview, he found it the most grueling experience of his life and had to pass the job over to Tim Curry (too bad, as we loved Snicket's readings). He conveyed how very difficult it is to narrate a book, which made Vance's narration of Copperfield seem all the more awesome. Vance can do voices, and brought them all to wonderful life. All in all, a great listen!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Night

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Elie Wiesel
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2295)
    Performance
    (1055)
    Story
    (1072)

    Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and the Congressional Gold Medal, Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel offers an unforgettable account of Hitler's horrific reign of terror in Night. This definitive edition features a new translation from the original French by Wiesel's wife and frequent translator, Marion Wiesel.

    Jacobus says: "A quality production of a gripping tradegy"
    "Buy this now"
    Overall

    I scanned some reviews here and I see that others have said it more eloquently than I can, but I had to post my five-star review. I just finished this and it was an absolutely stunning book. I wondered ahead of time if such a very short book would tell me anything about this time that I hadn't heard before, but indeed I've never heard anything like this. Short, eloquent, and narrated by a voice that was absolutely perfect, it packed a huge punch, and left me thinking deeply about my love for my family and for others. As the author says, no one who has not experienced something like the camps can imagine it, but the book gave me a hint of the limits of human endurance, and left me thinking about how to better love my fellows in this world. One of the best listens/reads of all time for me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • On the Road: The Original Scroll

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Jack Kerouac
    • Narrated By John Ventimiglia
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (291)
    Performance
    (163)
    Story
    (160)

    Though Jack Kerouac began thinking about the novel that was to become On the Road as early as 1947, it was not until three weeks in April 1951 that he wrote the first full draft that was satisfactory to him. Typed out as one long, single-spaced paragraph on eight long sheets of tracing paper that he later taped together to form a 120-foot scroll, this document is among the most significant, celebrated, and provocative artifacts in contemporary American literary history.

    Chris says: "Stellar, if you know what you're getting into"
    "Stellar, if you know what you're getting into"
    Overall

    A delightful listen. Many reviewers here apparently did not know what they were listening to. This is not "On the Road"; this is an early version of that novel, much more stream-of-conscious and meandering, as typed on a single scroll with little sleep and many stimulants. The narrative structure of the originally published version seems a little questionable to me, and this is even more meandering, with interludes and characters that really go nowhere. But if you appreciated the beauty of the original (and as some of the negative reviewers surmised, learning how to have fulfilling, mature relationships is not one of the things you should come here for), hearing this considerably longer version is wonderful. "Artie Bucco"'s reading is a joy--I kept forgetting that I wasn't listening to Kerouac reading it. He really captures the spirit, and was one of the best matches between reader and material that I have heard.

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  • The Odyssey

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Homer
    • Narrated By John Lescault
    Overall
    (38)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (9)

    In his perilous journey home after the Trojan War, Odysseus must pass through the land of the Cyclops, encounter Circe the Enchantress, and face the terrible Charybdis and the six-headed serpent Scylla.

    Chris says: "Great"
    "Great"
    Overall

    I never read the Odyssey in college or anywhere else, and found that it was becoming impossible to get through life without understanding all the references to it. The first time I started the audiobook (on my commute) I gave up and put it away for a while, due to what seemed a flood of unfamiliar names, son of so-and-so, etc. Recently I tried it again and after the first few minutes got quite pulled in. You have to be in the mood, and able to devote full attention since it is different from modern literature, but it is a stellar experience to finally hear this story, and I thought the narrator was excellent--just right for the material. Beautiful literature, beautifully presented.

    After this I wanted to hear him read The Iliad too, but now I gather that The Iliad is a lot harder slog than the Odyssey.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Perfectly Reasonable Deviations from the Beaten Track: Selected Letters of Richard Feynman

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Richard P. Feynman
    • Narrated By Richard Poe, Johanna Parker
    Overall
    (101)
    Performance
    (31)
    Story
    (31)

    Few scientists have enthralled more people than Richard P. Feynman, the Nobel Prize winner and best-selling author of Six Easy Pieces and Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! Beloved for his engaging character and zest for life, he is an American icon. In this selection of letters, Feynman's towering genius and singular personality shine like dazzling stars.

    Chris says: "Absolutely delightful"
    "Absolutely delightful"
    Overall

    This was one of the most enjoyable audio books I have listened to. The readers were fine, and the content was wonderful. Particularly memorable were the one-two punch of Feynman's letter to his mother describing the first atomic bomb test, followed immediately by a love letter to his wife Arlene, written more than a year after her death. Very moving. Other highlights for me were his advice to people to never stop pursuing the things in life that they are really crazy about. Feynman was a fine example of the great results that can come from doing that. I am a physicist, but the book is highly recommended to anyone who would like to spend some time with a great soul--no knowledge of physics required.

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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