By now, everyone should know about this gem. The only reason I gave it four stars instead of five is because the narrator read the book in the voice of the 14 year old girl, when in reality the story is being told by a 40+ year old woman remembering back to when she was 14.
Jon Ronson reads his own first person narrative here. This book was a very enjoyable 7 hour treat, and I will definitely get Ronson's other books for long car trips. The book touches lightly on many topics surrounding the issues of psychiatry, mental illness, and psychopathy, but it does so by focusing on specific people. Even though important topics are brought up (i.e. influence of the pharmaceutical industry on treatment), the book does not go into great depth about them. Maybe "infotainment" is the perfect label. Ronson ends the book still full of doubts about what's real and what's wrong.
Although this modern journalism where the author includes himself as a character can get tiresome and self-centered with some writers, I liked it here. Part of it reminded me of the movie Adaptation where Charlie Kaufmann wrote himself into his own script and said he's Ouroboros. In one scene from the book, Ronson goes into a house and describes it as something created by the Queen of Narnia. Later in the book, while he's making interview notes, he says "I put in my notes to be sure to say something about the Queen of Narnia."
I only gave the performance four stars because Ronson's voice got a little scratchy. Beware: there is a great deal of profanity and some disgusting imagery in this book (because there are descriptive parts about crazy people). You wouldn't listen to this book with kids in the car.
The first half of this book is very informative and very entertaining at the same time. It is a history of the science of probability with many interesting anecdotes and background stories. If you like listening to the Malcolm Gladwell books, then you should enjoy this book. The second half of the book goes into a lot more detail about normal distributions and standard deviations, which is more difficult to comprehend while driving, but is still informative.
The statistical analysis of investment fund managers compared to the general performance of the stock market showed that the fund managers' performance follows a normal distribution, suggesting that all of their fund returns are base more on chance than on talent.
This book was similar to the author's book "Subliminal", and he uses some of the same source material. I highly recommend that book, too.
We listened to this on a long car trip. The author is the narrator, and he did a great job. It sounds like a regular guy just talking to you instead of someone reading a book out loud. He has a light touch and entertains while educating.
The book gives many examples of studies where people's actions and conscious decisions are controlled by their subconscious, much more than the study participants ever expected. You hear a lot of examples where the subconscious also affects memories.
The author describes in detail how your mind has to fill in certain gaps in perception, and the subconscious controls how the gaps are filled in. There was substantial evidence that a person's perception of events or interpretation of evidence is heavily influenced by the person's position or possible gain, even when the person is offered a separate incentive to remain neutral.
There are examples where people are tricked into "remembering" events that never happened. One interesting study asked students in the week after 9/11 to write down their memories of that day. A year later, they were asked to recount the memories again, and the majority of students had enhanced the drama of what happened to them on that day (how they heard about it, what they did, etc.). When presented with their own written version of events from the week of 9/11, the students denied that was what had happened.
Overall, this is very enjoyable and informative 7 hours of listening. I'm definitely going to get Mlodinow's other book next.
This Audible book is broken into four parts. It's very captivating and interesting in the first part as we learn how the time travel option works. Then it gets boring for long stretches while our first person narrator describes his daily life. The funny thing is, even the main character starts spying on Lee Harvey Oswald, it's still boring.
It's very frustrating to see a writer set up a great premise, then have his characters behave like idiots. Still, I was interested enough to stick with it until the end.
The narrator did a great job with the text and characters he was given.
There was so much detailed technical information in this audiobook that I listened to it twice, back to back, on a long car trip. This was a very informative and easy to follow explanation about how your brain works in certain situations, how to recognize trouble spots, and ways to improve productivity. If I had to sum it up in one sentence, it would be, "Multi-tasking is inefficient and a bad idea." But it's really much more than that.
Other reviewers have complained about the narrator, but his voice and style didn't bother me at all. I guess it's a matter of taste, but he was better than many other readers.
The set-up is this: we follow a married professional couple through their day. A scene is played out once with the person being reactive to his environment without considering the state of his brain. Then there is some technical explanation about the brain and ways you can manage it. The scene is then played out again with the person now making different decisions because he is noticing his brain state and taking appropriate action.
There is a really good section about "reappraisal" of stressful incidents or situations, so that your brain automatically reduces the feelings of stress later, even when recalling a bad situation. That section could have been more detailed, but it is still valuable.
Pros: Good technical information about preparing a farm or ranch for long-term self-sufficiency off the grid and out in the boondocks. Interesting ideas about what could happen in a total economic collapse. Specific suggestions on how to store food and fuel for the long haul.
Cons: Not a great story (not much story at all). Sometimes the technical detail is way too much for an audio book. (Do you want to listen to thirty minutes of plumbing minutiae on how to set up your gravity fed spring with frost-free spigots? If so, this book's for you.) Not an accurate description of what might happen in U.S. society if the dollar collapses.
The bleak American landscape described after an economic collapse is not realistic. The book's situation sounds more like something that might happen after an all-out nuclear war. But according to Rawles, if the US dollar collapses, then all forms of government and military and commercial broadcasters in the U.S. will just fold up shop FOR YEARS and stop keeping order, stop transmitting news, etc. That was the most unrealistic part of this book. The main characters, huddled together in Idaho, were totally cut off from any civilization, save for the Swiss shortwave news broadcasts that were all bad.
Looking at Western countries like Argentina or France that suffered total economic collapse brought on by bad policies or, in the case of France, two world wars being fought across it's surface, there was never a time as bleak and isolated as what Rawles describes here. This book could have been much more informative by tracking more slowly the historical events in countries like Argentina, Zimbabwe, Weimar Germany, etc. when the paper currency started to devaluate so suddenly that society could not remain stable.
All of that said, I am 2/3s through this book, and I do plan to finish it.
My wife read the book "The Field" and told me I would enjoy it. I downloaded this recording thinking it was the actual book on tape. Instead, it's Lynne McTaggart giving a 2 hour summary of what's in the book. (I see now that it's categorized as a speech, not an audiobook.)
The recording doesn't sound like she's reading at all, but instead sounds like she is actually talking to you (which is what I love about Tony Robbins tapes). This is a very interesting and informative recording, and as far as I can tell, you get all of the highlight of the book condensed down to two hours.
As for content, McTaggart describes the work of scientists all over the world who have conducted controlled experiments on the ability of your thoughts to influence matter, including machines and diseases. It's almost as if they are discovering the science behind successful prayer or why goals (intention) matter. The studies of spiritual healing done by people who never even meet the sick person, plus the experiments with water memory, are fascinating.
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