I picked up this lecture because of curiosity over witch burnings and religious inquisitions. How did people enact such cruel tortures upon others and what does that say about the human species?
Professor Teo does an amazing job recreating an image of life in the Middle Ages to explain the context of the events in history. I was fascinated by the rich detail of the time period and of his description of people's lives, culture, fears and beliefs.
In addition, Professor Teo is such an interesting, expressive speaker, that it was easy to get immersed in his lectures. I encourage history fans and anyone who has a curiosity about the time period to take a listen.
First, the positive:
Professor Noble is an engaging lecturer and clear cares and knows a lot about his subject. I order this lecture hoping for a more biographical approach to the different popes. However, this series is more about the politics, structure, history and form of the papacy. Even the the subject is more more complicated than I expected, I continued through the series, carried on the professors enthusiasm. I learned quite a bit, and even though I was a novice to the subject, I didn't feel the subject was presented above my head.
For the less negative:
The main problem I had with the lecture was that the professor approaches his subject from a very apologetic point of view. He is sympathetic to the pope's point of view and will relate good intentions to popes throughout history without evidence. He also somewhat glosses over the more corrupt history of certain popes, though to his credit, he does not ignore them entirely.
I find the morally challenging aspects of history to be the most interesting, so in this way, I was disappointed. However, my main goal of listening to this lecture was to learn more about Catholic history, which I can say I did.
"The Circle" is quite a topical novel for anyone who lives in the 21st century, which is probably most of us. It studies our society's hunger for permanence and self-validation in an age where the value of privacy seems merely quaint. What does it mean to lose one's self in the sea of public information? Dave Eggers wants to show us.
The serious topic of "The Circle" does not mean it is a dry read (or listen). On the contrary, it reads like a thriller -- or a horror story -- in disguise. And while the novel is one-sided in its analysis, that doesn't to me take away from its value of surveying the topic. And while, I don't think I'll cancel all my social media accounts as some I have read have done, it does make me pause before I post and ask myself ... why?
If nothing else, pick up this book for when the topic of privacy and the Internet comes up at your next office party -- unless your office parties are much more fun than mine.
Steven King is the undisputed master of horror and suspense, and "Doctor Sleep" is a worthy follow up to his classic haunted hotel novel, "The Shining." I sped through this novel, finishing it in less than a week. King did a stellar job answering the question, whatever happened to Danny, while delving into some of his own inner demons. "Doctor Sleep" is written to be both honest and entertaining.
However, Will Patton does an amazing job performing the narration of this new novel. His contribution is noteworthy in its own right for anyone who appreciates the art of audio story telling. While lesser narrators may get in the way of a good story with awkward character speech or stilted reading, Patton paints a rich illustration of King's piece. If for no other reason, I recommend picking up this book for the chance to hear the talents of this narrator.
Claire Danes does an unsurprising but still amazing job at reading this classic science fiction novel. The story may seem slow in the beginning, but the introspective start provides an important canvas for the muted despair and life of grey dullness inhabited by the main character, who serves as a breeding vessel for the privileged few.
Even with the quieter start, Danes' talented reading kept me glued in. The novel progresses to reveal a complex and damaged society that struggles under its rich facade of religion.
"The Handmaid's Tale" is an interesting look at the role of women in society, extremism in religion and the subjection of the underclass, and I highly recommend it. The theme of this book is one that has stayed with me, which is to me the mark of a great book.
Fans of Dan Savage probably already know his opinion on a far range of subjects, as he is not one to hide his opinion. But this books details his opinion with nuance and details on not always provided to him in shorter formats.
Dan's book has some interesting anecdotes and stories, but it is more of an editorial than a biography. His views are thoughtful, and his tone is engaging. The book is a fun listen with Dan's original wit, humor and irreverence that people both love and hate him for.
What would a fascist America look like? Sinclair Lewis builds his novel on this question, and it's not a pretty picture.
Fans of dystopian writers Aldous Huxley and George Orwell may Lewis' version interesting. The idea for the miniseries "V" was based on this book, so fans of the show may find this worth a listen.
Even though some of the situations link strongly to Lewis' time period (for example, the controversy surrounding women's suffrage), the overall themes are ones Americans still grapple with today.
If you've heard him on This American Life on reading any of his other great books, you probably already love his hilariously dry observational wit. The boy who as jealous that he was ignored when his sisters got attention from creepy exhibitionists -- this shouldn't be funny, but somehow it is with David Sedaris, it really is. The best way to enjoy Sedaris is listening to him read, and this book doesn't disappoint.
This story quickly pulls you in and keeps you listening. If you liked the (excellent) movie, pick up this book to revisit the characters and the story. You shouldn't be disappointed.
The narrator's performance was a bit weak for some of the women characters, but I can forgive him for that as his Pat and many of his other characters were great. I had a lot of fun listening to this book and finished it quite quickly. Now I'm stuck twiddling my thumbs until my next credit arrives.
14 was a bit creepy, kind of spooky, but definitely fun. The strange stories draw you in, and the colorful characters make it an enjoyable journey.
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