I was hesitant to get this Audible Frontiers audiobook because I generally don't enjoy anthologies. However, I found the Metatropolis stories fascinating -- several stories include references to ecology-related technology changes and the narrators are top-notch. Highly recommended for sci-fi/cli-fi fans.
Disclosure: I received this audiobook from the publisher.
First, a confession: I'm normally not a novella/short story fan. I like my audiobooks long and meaty ;-) But when offered an opportunity to listen to a futuristic sci-fi novella narrated by the very talented Simon Vance, I couldn't pass it up!
This audiobook is just under three hours long. The story itself is very interesting and once I started listening, I didn't want to stop. It takes place in the not-so-distant future and focuses on protagonists Joe and Mary and their subsequent adventure. The book walks through their day to day life in detail, and describes not yet invented technologies and capabilities in a way that made me wish I was there. I felt the same kind of wonder I used to experience as a kid watching The Jetsons or Apollo launches. Kirby's story reminds one of the promise of the future and its technology.
Simon Vance's narration is, as always, top notch. He voices the various characters in a way that made me forget there was just one narrator! He brought a light tone and the perfect cadence: Vance and this sci-fi adventure story make a great pair. Recommended.
When I learned that Michael Moss wrote this book based on a food industry insider suggestion that he research how the industry uses salt, sugar, and fat, I knew I had to read it. This book lays open an insider view of the food business, and feels (in a good way) like a cross between a nutrition guide, a business book, and a marketing tips/tricks white paper. There is so much interesting detail outlined that it's impossible to do it justice in a brief review... Moss leaves no stone unturned and no "sacred cow" unexamined. He looks at how foods that are inherently unhealthy (e.g., fruit flavored yogurt, which is loaded with sugar) are marketed as health foods, and how salt, sugar, and fat are often used for their nearly addictive qualities, in addition to the more mundane task of preserving shelf life. He cites examples of when food companies attempt to make healthier versions of certain foods, they suffer because their competitors seize upon the formula change to grab market share.
Perhaps the most interesting element of the book is how the insiders Moss interviewed generally don't eat the food their companies sell (viewing it as unhealthy). He also traces the experience of insiders who experienced a "crisis of conscience" about how their companies' products affect public health. Moss doesn't condemn the food industry insiders for the choices they make (that negatively impact public health) but rather notes they're largely trying to do what they feel is best for their company in the competitive market place and preserving the company's bottom line.
I listened to the audio version of this book. Narrator Scott Brick struck the perfect tone throughout, making this a fun and fascinating listen. I'd rate this in the top three of any audiobook I've ever read, it's that good. Whether you're interested in nutrition, public health, business, or marketing, this is a must listen/read. Very highly recommended.
This profoundly beautiful story traces the changes in a middle-aged couple's lives after the husband sustains a traumatic brain injury... because he cannot remember his life before, his wife Abigail (author and narrator) reaches across and joins him in his new world. Following her husband's accident (he was tragically hit by a car while out walking the dog), Abigail begins to live alone with their dogs while her husband lives in an assisted living facility where she visits him frequently.
Rather than retrace the story from the point of the accident, the book meanders across time, events, and locations in a way that feels natural and sincere. The story's progression reminded me of how one's thoughts wander during the grieving process, and how a single seemingly unrelated thought will remind one of cherished memories of an event that occurred "before." This is a love story in the truest sense in the way that Abigail's life before is irretrievably lost: She must summon the strength both to rebuild her own life and to be a source of strength to her husband.
Although Abigail's tone is light and matter of fact during most of the book, there were passages I found so moving that I teared up. Having had a loved one who experienced traumatic brain injury, the conversations Abigail describes with her husband felt familiar, as did her kindness in not correcting her husband when he thought they were on vacation when just driving around town or any other number of ways. She showed her love by reaching across and allowing her husband to be who he'd become after the accident, rather than reminding him of what he (and she) had lost.
I found this book intensely moving. There is no "eureka" moment of enlightenment, but rather the day-to-day experience of accepting life and loved ones for what they are rather than what could be. Highly recommended.
Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone is the compelling story about the U.S. occupation in Iraq and the culture of inexperience, arrogance, and cronyism within the U.S. Green Zone. My previous impression of the Iraq war was that U.S. officials were well-meaning but sometimes misguided and the U.S. media portrayed a sugar-coated view rather than the reality of life on the ground. Listening to this audiobook, I felt shocked by just how much worse the situation had been than I'd previously realized. I found Imperial Life in the Emerald City so enlightening and informative that I didn't want to take a break from listening.
Ray Porter's narration more than does justice to Rajiv Chandrasekaran's story. This audiobook felt like listening to a fascinating novel rather than a nonfiction account by a newspaper journalist... the story and narration are powerful and engaging. I highly recommend this audiobook to anyone who wants to better understand the "story behind the story" of the U.S. in 2003-2004 Iraq.
Whenever I've seen videos of U.S. troops interviewing local residents in Iraq or Afghanistan, they're usually aided by an interpreter. And so I've wondered... what is the interpreter's perspective? Code Name: Johnny Walker answers that question from the perspective of an Iraqi man who accompanied U.S. Seal teams as they searched for targets. His role was part negotiator, part investigator, and part diplomat. I came away from this book with a deep respect for "Johnny Walker" (the author's pseudonym), his skills, and his commitment to keeping his U.S. military colleagues and Iraqi residents safe. He's clearly a very intelligent man and based on mission details recounted in the book, his contribution to these U.S. military missions was invaluable. He also shares his perspective on the possibility of emigrating from Iraq to the U.S., which I found very interesting and touching.
Peter Ganim's narration was excellent -- this audiobook felt completely enveloping. It's one of those audiobooks where the story is paired with pitch perfect narration, and it feels more like a friend recounting an interesting story than someone simply narrating a book. I found this audiobook fascinating and recommend it.
For over a year (2007-2008), author/narrator Sebastian Junger and British photographer Tim Herrington embedded with the U.S. 173rd Airborne brigade in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley. War is based on their experience with that unit and provides the story behind the film, Restrepo. Having already seen Restrepo (which is an excellent film), I was hesitant to listen to War thinking it would feel redundant. However, while Restrepo focused more on the men of the 173rd Airborne brigade and their experiences as soldiers, War offers Junger an opportunity to share his own perspective as a journalist. I found War to be a very compelling listen. Junger's narration makes the events he describes feel immediate and one can sense the emotional attachment he formed to the brigade during the time he spent in a very dangerous area of Afghanistan, where some members of the brigade unfortunately lost their lives. I found his description of the brigade's interactions with Korengal Valley locals to be especially interesting, and how the U.S. soldiers attempted to bridge the cultural divide via translators and offering humanitarian aid. This is a fascinating audiobook and I recommend it to anyone interested in U.S. foreign affairs and Afghanistan.
In "Hardwiring Happiness," Rick Hanson, Ph.D. provides an easy and actionable "recipe" for giving positive experiences greater weight to enable an ongoing sense of peace and contentment. I'd learned of Dr. Hanson's books based on my interest in meditation and his articles about the benefits of using meditation in his psychology practice. I chose to listen to this book when I realized I'd become so focused on worries about loved ones' health issues that I wasn't appreciating happy events as much as I would normally.
Dr. Hanson's approach focuses on identifying (or creating) positive experiences and then extending and reinforcing the good feelings those experiences evoke. Wait, isn't this just taking the time to smell the roses? Absolutely, but it's all too easy to overlook stopping to savor positive experiences when one is feeling especially busy or preoccupied with day to day concerns... and not taking the time to savor positive experiences actually reduces one's ability to cope with stresses as they arise. I listened to the audio version in order to benefit from the guided meditations included within, and also picked up the kindle ebook as a handy reference. The author narrated the audio version and I found listening to his observations helpful in reinforcing the concepts he shared.
I recommend "Hardwiring Happiness" to anyone who feels they aren't appreciating life's gifts as much as they'd like, and wants to take effective steps to more fully savor the good.
Like the JFK assassination, Challenger explosion and 9/11, space shuttle Columbia's tragic end is one of those "where were you when" events that was so shocking that it made an indelible mark on Americans' collective memory. While "Too Far From Home" retraces some aspects of our history in space, this historic story (whose details were new to me) in many ways starts upon the demise of space shuttle Columbia. Perhaps it was well known at the time but I hadn't realized the seriousness of the dilemma NASA faced when the space shuttle was grounded post-Columbia, stranding three astronauts (U.S. astronauts Donald Pettit and Kenneth Bowersox, and Russian flight engineer Nikolai Budarin) in space on the International Space Station (ISS) without a ride home. I found these three astronauts' story to be very suspenseful and compelling.
While some books about space travel are technical and explain every scientific nuance, "Too Far From Home" focuses on the human stories in the aftermath of Columbia. That focus on the human experience is what makes this audiobook so intensely compelling: The grief the three astronauts on ISS experienced upon learning about their colleagues on the Columbia, the challenges they overcame in rationing food, water and other resources while awaiting a ride home, the loss of control experienced by NASA officials when the best solution was to use an untested new Russian spacecraft to retrieve the stranded astronauts, and the very real risks these three astronauts faced during their journey home.
Between the true story authored by Chris Jones and Erik Davies' excellent narration, this was one of the most suspenseful audiobooks I've ever listened to... I highly recommend it to those interested in space history or human drama.
Canadian Chris Hadfield's "An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth" is a fun, fascinating listen. Author/narrator Hadfield describes his lifelong dream to become an astronaut (tip: lots of study and hard work required), how he maintained his fitness for consideration as an astronaut (tip: if abdominal surgery is required, request the laparoscopic approach), and despite the title, life in space. He describes the demands an astronaut's family faces and his experience working as part of an international crew on board the International Space Station, led by a Russian commander. As I listened, Colonel Hadfield's book quickly became a favorite audiobook: Hadfield has an earnest, engaging narrative style and his stories about life on earth and in space are very compelling. Highly recommended.
"Making Habits, Breaking Habits" describes what it takes to form new habits and how to optimize success along the way. The book takes on the 21 day "rule of thumb" that is so often referred to (hint: while it varies based on the habit type, the 21-day parameter generally isn't correct). What I found especially useful is how Dr. Dean describes actionable ways one can increase the likelihood of successful habit forming, by habit type. He also reinforces the concept that multiple small changes can add up to big benefits. This book is a worthwhile listen for anyone trying to develop or reinforce habits, whether it's stopping smoking, eating healthier, exercising more routinely, etc.
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