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Member Since 2011

  • 10 reviews
  • 60 ratings
  • 460 titles in library
  • 19 purchased in 2015

  • The Professor and the Madman

    • ABRIDGED (3 hrs)
    • By Simon Winchester
    • Narrated By Simon Jones

    Part history, part true-crime, and entirely entertaining, listen to the story of how the behemoth Oxford English Dictionary was made. You'll hang on every word as you discover that the dictionary's greatest contributor was also an insane murderer working from the confines of an asylum.

    Zentaro says: "Great Book"
    "Great Book"

    This is a great book. It tells the story of the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary. The story centres around two characters primarily, Minor (the madman) and Murray(the professor).

    It gives bit of a life story of Minor, and tells how he came to be locked up in an asylum. It also gives some information about the history of English dictionaries, and about the process by which the OED was compiled.

    Minor, obviously bored living in isolation, and besides his madness very intelligent, took to indexing and providing quotations of the words in all his books. As the dicitonary team progress through the alphabet, Minor would ask which words they were working on, and look up in his home made rolodex, the book titles and page numbers in his vast collection of books, then copy out the required quotations and send them to the dictionary team for inclusion.

    He is said to have been one of the most prolific contributors. There's nothing particularly exciting in this audio book, but it is a fascinating historical story.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • The Botany of Desire

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Michael Pollan
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Every schoolchild learns about the mutually beneficial dance of honeybees and flowers: The bee collects nectar and pollen to make honey and, in the process, spreads the flowers' genes far and wide. In The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan ingeniously demonstrates how people and domesticated plants have formed a similarly reciprocal relationship.

    Teddy says: "If you have an open mind... Give it a listen"
    "Great book"

    This book is great. Sure it's not a textbook so don't expect to use it to pass your biology exams. It's a pop science book that will be interesting to a wide range of people, in particular anyone interested in gardening and plants.

    It's basically four stories, each one about a different plant and the authors experience with them and musing on them and their history. The four plants are apples, tulips, marijuana and potatoes.

    The book is well written and in some places quite funny. It kept me entertained, I picked up a few factoids on the history of these plants, and it made me think about how plants and humans depend on each other.

    The narrators reading was a bit overdramatic in the introductory parts, either he settled down or I got used to it, because I enjoyed the narration through most of the stories. This narrator also did "The Traveler" (fiction), which I also enjoyed about 6 months ago.

    Overall, this is one of the best books I've downloaded in the last few months.

    22 of 24 people found this review helpful
  • Zodiac: The Shocking True Story of the Nation's Most Bizarre Mass Murderer

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Robert Graysmith
    • Narrated By Stefan Rudnicki

    After Jack the Ripper and before Son of Sam there was only one name their equal in terror: the deadly, elusive, and mysterious Zodiac. Beginning in 1968 the hooded mass murderer terrified the city of San Francisco and the Bay Area with a string of brutal killings. A sexual sadist, his pleasure was torture and murder.

    Zentaro says: "Interesting"

    I hadn't really heard of Zodiac, perhaps it's not living in the US, or perhaps being younger than 30, but when I think of well-known serial killers this isn't a name I think of. So in that sense, the details in this book were all new to me.

    I thought this book was well written and well-read. I liked how the chapters alternated between chapters about victims, chapters about zodiac, and chapters about law enforcement. It made it very easy to follow the progression of the story.

    The book is well narrated and easy to listen to. Although this audio version is new, I think the actual book is relatively old, however this doesn't really matter, since I don't think there would have been any new developments since it was published.

    I can't speak for the accuracy of facts in this book, since I wouldn't know, but it seems plausible enough.

    Overall enjoyable if you have an interest in true-crime stories. I didn't find it particularly graphic (it's certainly not for kids) so you probably won't have nightmares for weeks after listening. The murder scenarios were described in some detail, but it wasn't gratuitous. But your mileage may vary.

    40 of 44 people found this review helpful
  • 100 Bullshit Jobs...And How to Get Them

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Stanley Bing
    • Narrated By Stanley Bing

    The scholarly discipline of Bullshit Studies has blossomed in the last several years, fertilized by a number of critical works on the subject and the growing importance of the issue across a wide range of professions. Now, best-selling author and lifelong practitioner Stanley Bing enters the field with a comprehensive look at the many attractive jobs now available to those who are serious about their bullshit and prepared to dedicate their working life to it.

    Zentaro says: "This is a toilet book"
    "This is a toilet book"

    I guess the title should have been a giveaway, but this book is one of those 100 section books with 1-2 pages on each job. It's not really great for audio and is really a book for a waiting room, coffee table or toilet.

    It's averagely funny, the content is not too bad, but it's not something you can sit back and get into. I guess it may be ok for a short commute so you can drop in and out at virtually any point.

    Overall a bit disappointing.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science

    • ABRIDGED (7 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Atul Gawande
    • Narrated By William David Griffith

    Sometimes in medicine the only way to know what is truly going on in a patient is to operate, to look inside with one's own eyes. This book is exploratory surgery on medicine itself, laying bare a science not in its idealized form but as it actually is - complicated, perplexing, and profoundly human.

    Andy says: "Great book"

    This is a fantastic book. It will be enjoyable for anyone with some interest in medicine, and most likely will be thoroughly enjoyed even by those with no interest in medicine.

    It's not really heavily focussed on technical aspects of medicine, though there is some detail about medical procedures but it's generally just part of setting the scene of the story.

    The book is mainly a collection of stories with a common theme - that doctors are human and sometimes make mistakes. There are some stories about negligent doctors, but primarily it's about good doctors who aren't always right. There is a kind of running ethical dilemma about the balance between training and giving practice to new doctors and giving patients the best care.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing

    • ABRIDGED (1 hr and 29 mins)
    • By Al Ries, Jack Trout
    • Narrated By Al Ries, Jack Trout

    Calling upon over 40 years of marketing experience, authors Al Ries and Jack Trout use vivid examples and fascinating anecdotes to explain the keys to today's tough, competitive marketplace. Learn how to avoid the danger of ego and arrogance, the need to understand trends, and many other crucial marketing lessons, as Ries and Trout point you solidly in the direction of success.

    Zentaro says: "Outstanding book"
    "Outstanding book"

    This is a fantastic book for anyone interested in marketing. The format is 22 rules, alternately spoken by each of the authors.

    Full of great insights and interesting stories about marketing campaigns of various companies that succeeded and failed. It does however show it's age a bit in some of the examples, being nearly ten years old, but that doesn't take away from the value of the book.

    Highly recommend for anyone thinking in business or thinking of starting one. Even if you're not in business, the anectdotes and stories will be interesting to most people none the less.

    12 of 13 people found this review helpful
  • Mozart's Brain and the Fighter Pilot: Unleashing Your Brain's Potential

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Richard M. Restak
    • Narrated By Richard M. Restak
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In Mozart's Brain and the Fighter Pilot, eminent neuropsychiatrist and best-selling author Richard Restak, M.D., combines the latest research in neurology and psychology to show us how to get our brain up to speed for managing every aspect of our busy lives.

    Glenn E. Graham says: "Brain exercises for you"
    "It's OK"

    There's some good stuff in this audiobook... but it didn't keep my interest consistently. I think this would probably be better on paper.

    Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for this kind of book at the time, but I found it fairly average.

    3 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • The Genius Factory: The Curious History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By David Plotz
    • Narrated By Stefan Rudnicki
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    It was the most radical human-breeding experiment in American history, and no one knew how it turned out. The Repository for Germinal Choice, nicknamed the Nobel Prize sperm bank, opened to notorious fanfare in 1980, and for two decades, women flocked to it from all over the country to choose a sperm donor from its roster of Nobel-laureate scientists, mathematical prodigies, successful businessmen, and star athletes.

    Zentaro says: "Interesting stories, but not what I expected."
    "Interesting stories, but not what I expected."

    I'm not sure what I expected when I got this audio book, but it wasn't what I got. I guess I thought there would be some more solid data about how the whole nobel prize sperm bank experiment all turned out, or more about the genetic factors in intelligence.

    However, now I've heard it, it's understandable why there wasn't more about this aspect. It's because no-one really knows how the nobel sperm experiment turned out, and if the stories in the book are anything to go by, many of the donors weren't really genius's anyway, and only one nobel prize winner is actually known to have donated.

    The stories are interesting, and relate to donors finding children, children finding donors, children finding half siblings, and the interactions and relationships that ensue between them. It raises thinking points about what impact the donors had on the intelligence of the children as well as the impact finding out they were nobel sperm babies had on them. But it doesn't so much answer these questions as leave them for you to ponder yourself.

    There is a smattering of the authors opinions on various topics surrounding the nobel sperm bank, sperm banking in general, eugenics and alike, but it's more passing thoughts and general opinions than concerted research. However the author always presents it as such, and never tries to pass off his musings as factual.

    Overall it was an entertaining book, and the authors style is quite funny. There's one particular story that really stands out, when one of the children finally meets his "nobel" donor, and he is not quite what you would expect.

    12 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • A Short History of Nearly Everything

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs)
    • By Bill Bryson
    • Narrated By William Roberts

    A Short History of Nearly Everything is Bill Bryson's quest to understand everything that has happened from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization. He takes subjects that normally bore the pants off most of us, like geology, chemistry, and particle physics, and aims to render them comprehensible to people who have never thought they could be interested in science. In the company of some extraordinary scientists, Bill Bryson reveals the world in a way most of us have never seen it before.

    Marius says: "Superbly whimsical"
    "My favourite audio book so far"

    This is my favourite audio book from audible so far. At first the narrator was slightly irritating, he sounds like the kind of "crazy professor" types they get to host pop science shows for kids, but after a while he grew on me, and in the end I think it was very well narrated.

    The actual content is far too wide ranging to cover specifically in a short review. But it follows a coherent path about all those little tidbits of the history of our planet, our species and our universe, that everyone should know, but most of us never bothered to investigate.

    Even though this is probably one of the longest audio books on this site, you'll still be wanting more when it's over. If you're interested in the general topics I mentioned, and just want a nice, "for the average person with an interest in science" presentation of this material, you'll thoroughly enjoy this audio book.

    It rarely strays into the extremely technical or detailed, but still conveys the main thrust of the ideas. I highly rate this book, the writing is good, and there were times I laughed out loud, at the authors humour which kind of sneaks up on you.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

    • ABRIDGED (3 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Malcolm Gladwell
    • Narrated By Malcolm Gladwell

    Why did crime in New York drop so suddenly in the mid-90s? How does an unknown novelist end up a best-selling author? Why is teenage smoking out of control, when everyone knows smoking kills? What makes TV shows like Sesame Street so good at teaching kids how to read? Why did Paul Revere succeed with his famous warning?

    Zentaro says: "An interesting listen"
    "An interesting listen"

    I really enjoyed this audio book. I've heard Malcolm Gladwell speak before and had been interested to "read" The Tipping Point for a while. It's a mixture of anectdotes, psychology, economics, marketing, epidemiology and more.

    The principle focus of The Tipping Point is how small changes, can bring about large effects. With examples such as marketing of Hush Puppies shoes, the broken windows theory, Airwalk shoes, Paul Reveres midnight ride, word of mouth, mass hysteria and more.

    The only disappointing thing about this audio book is that it is abridged. If you like short 3 hour "quick listen"'s, you may not mind, but it felt to me, like a reasonable amount of material was cut out. This was even more apparent at the end during the afterword, when it references several things that did not appear in this audio book.

    But overall, it was enjoyable, fairly "light reading", and kept my interest throughout.

    31 of 31 people found this review helpful

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