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greensboro, NC, United States | Member Since 2009

  • 64 reviews
  • 70 ratings
  • 272 titles in library
  • 2 purchased in 2015

  • How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By Paul Tough
    • Narrated By Dan John Miller
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    The story we usually tell about childhood and success is the one about intelligence: Success comes to those who score highest on tests, from preschool admissions to SATs. But in How Children Succeed, Paul Tough argues for a very different understanding of what makes a successful child. Drawing on groundbreaking research in neuroscience, economics, and psychology, Tough shows that the qualities that matter most have less to do with IQ and more to do with character: skills like grit, curiosity, conscientiousness, and optimism.

    Gregory says: "Heavy on Anecdotes, light on data"
    "how to succeed in not wasting time"

    ? do you have young children at home
    ? do you wonder what their adult world will be like
    ? do you fret about whether they will be prepared for it

    paul tough wondered for years about all these questions
    it came to a head for him when he and his wife had a newborn son
    he wanted to redefine the new path to success at school and at work

    this book dances over all the best new theories of education
    the author interviews an endless series of bright young educators
    they have an energy and earnestness that is almost inspiring

    all this material has been covered elsewhere by better authors
    the subject matter cries out for a wiser more experienced voice
    insight about raising children is best delivered with a weary patience

    if this subject really interests you look up geoffrey canada
    his life and work will lead you to other substantial sources
    unlike mr. tough, mr. canada understands more than he knows

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Stench of Honolulu: A Tropical Adventure

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Jack Handey
    • Narrated By Jack Handey
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    The legendary Deep Thoughts and New Yorker humorist Jack Handey is back with his very first novel - a hilarious, absurd, far-flung adventure tale. "Are you a fan of books in which famous tourist destinations are re-purposed as unlivable hellholes for no particular reason? Jack Handey's exotic tale is full of laugh-out-loud twists. A reliably unreliable narrator and his friend, who is some other guy, need to get out of town. They have a taste for adventure, so they pay a visit to a relic of bygone days - a travel agent - and discover an old treasure map."

    Cathleen says: "Mildly Entertaining, Not a good read"
    "perfect off-speed pitch"

    ? do most modern comedians just seem too frantic for you
    ? do their manic ravings tend to wear you out after a while
    ? does " funny " always need to be mach3 with your hair on fire

    SNL's jack handey is the practitioner of the sly comedic off-speed pitch
    he's the absolute master of the wry, kick-in-the-pants, backdoor laugh
    at times, the jokes would hit me as i was about to " drive by them "

    i've listened to the book three times, always on a long road trip
    the relaxed " don't rush me " style of the prose fits car travel well
    if you're more thoughtful than hyper, it might just suit you too

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • What It Is Like to Go to War

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Karl Marlantes
    • Narrated By Bronson Pinchot
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In 1969, at the age of twenty-three, Karl Marlantes was dropped into the highland jungle of Vietnam, an inexperienced lieutenant in command of a platoon of forty marines who would live or die by his decisions. Marlantes survived, but like many of his brothers in arms, he has spent the last forty years dealing with his war experience.

    Lynn says: "Destined to become a Classic"
    "american bushido"

    i was only 17 years old when the vietnam draft ended
    the guys, a year ahead of me, were the last to " get a number "
    it was a ranking system based solely on your date of birth

    ? do you ever wonder what really makes warriors tick
    ? do you think you have the willful talents that combat requires
    ? does war's brutal majesty hold some fascination for you

    karl marlantes has written a more than thoughtful book for you
    it is a sequel to his excellent vietnam novel " matterhorn "
    this book beautifully outlines for americans " the way of the warrior "

    marlantes is obviously a troubled and more than talented man
    from a blue collar childhood in oregon to rhodes scholar at yale
    but then his almost visceral need for combat pulls him to vietnam

    ? how can i love a mean and evil thing so deeply, marlantes asks
    ? why does war make me feel alive, in a way, nothing else does
    ? how do i turn off my warrior self as i try to return to civilian life

    marlantes' post-vietnam life has been spent answering those questions
    in a way, the book is a deeply personal, philosophical wrestling match
    if those same issues churn in your soul; this book is a great guide

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Mark Twain
    • Narrated By Norman Dietz
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Revolutionary for its realistic dialogue and uncompromising plot, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is arguably the greatest of all American novels, and a powerful sequel to Mark Twain's lighthearted classic, Tom Sawyer.Join the industrious, fiercely independent young Huck as he escapes his abusive, drunken father and sets out on an unforgettable journey down the Mississippi River.

    Tom says: "Great story-reader does a superior job"
    "an american heart, broken but resilient"

    allegedly, twain toured the south many years after the civil war
    the trip broke his heart, as he saw how little the region had changed
    he became despondent, thinking "...all that suffering was for naught..."

    it was that despair, that prompted him to write a companion to Tom Sawyer
    he turned his sadness and anger into our first and truest american voice
    the 2 basic american themes : slavery (race) and frontier (space) are joined

    twain's tone is bold, funny, sarcastic, sentimental, angry, kind and irreverent
    he simply refuses to apologize, for even one minute, for being an american
    we're not a footnote to the old world, he says, we have our own greatness

    the narration, by norman dietz, is exceptional in each of the many voices
    twain's humor makes the bitter pill of his social commentary easier to swallow
    each time i read the book, it makes me tearfully proud to be an american

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Lawrence Wright
    • Narrated By Morton Sellers
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    A clear-sighted revelation, a deep penetration into the world of Scientology by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the The Looming Tower, the now-classic study of al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attack. Based on more than 200 personal interviews with both current and former Scientologists - both famous and less well known - and years of archival research, Lawrence Wright uses his extraordinary investigative ability to uncover for us the inner workings of the Church of Scientology.

    Chris Reich says: "Scared the Hell Out of Me"
    "scientology is the answer to what question"

    are you a life long resident of southern california ?
    are you curious about john travolta and tom cruise ?
    can science fiction and pseudo religion really intersect ?

    well, lawrence wright has written a strong willed book for you
    his previous book was about the rise of al-queda
    i suspect that was good preparation for this current effort

    scientology's mildly talented founder was layfette ronald hubbard
    sadly, he died as a morbidly obese, chain smoker living in a trailer
    sounds a little more like west virginia than transcendent world leader

    mr. hubbard is clearly no match for mr. wright's keen, lawyerly insights
    documenting and dissecting scientology's flaws comes easily to mr. wright
    in the end, i was left wondering just who would find scientology appealing ?

    insecure, narcissistic and not terribly bright people seem to be its' main target
    i don't want to be unkind, but that covers about 1/2 of southern californians
    scientology's appeal to struggling actors and celebrities is almost intuitive

    in the years to come, i suspect there will be more and similar exposes
    the campy and mercenary aspects of scientology will be too hard to pass up
    as one reviewer said, mr. wright should be applauded for "...outing a bully..."

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Wave

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Sonali Deraniyagala
    • Narrated By Hannah Curtis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    On the morning of December 26, 2004, on the southern coast of Sri Lanka, Sonali Deraniyagala lost her parents, her husband, and her two young sons in the tsunami she miraculously survived. In this brave and searingly frank memoir, she describes those first horrifying moments and her long journey since. She has written an engrossing, unsentimental, beautifully poised account: as she struggles through the first months following the tragedy, furiously clenched against a reality that she cannot face and cannot deny....

    CBlox says: "Tragic. Raw. Heart-Ripping!"
    "the unbearable weight of being"

    do you find your modern life uncomfortably light ?
    do you wonder how you'd measure up in a real storm ?
    would you like to hear from someone who endured the unendurable ?

    sonali deraniyagala (SD) is an odd but appropriate authority on all this
    she was pampered as a child ( maid, cook, driver, private schools etc.)
    her middling academic career with a husband and 2 boys seemed a good fit

    but, in the span of a morning she lost her parents and her entire family
    the fact that the tsunami spared her life seemed almost cruel at first
    she spent the better part of the next two years being watched by friends

    they, of course, thought she'd try to kill herself and they were quite right
    her temptation to just crawl in a hole and join her family was overwhelming
    her tantrums, alcohol and dark theatrical moods were endured by her family

    it's impressive how her achingly slow recovery didn't fit a modern stereotype
    SD doesn't seem to dwell on freud, medications, ECT or the latest fad
    the extended network of her Sri Lankan family gets most of the credit

    SD's multiple academic contacts and a chance to travel also helped her
    it really makes me wonder how a modern "bowling alone" person would do
    i certainly don't have a web of support like that at home or at work

    at it's heart, the book is SD's meditation on grief as the price we pay for love
    she misses them all so much because she loved them all so much
    SD's surviving the storm was fate, that SD goes on without them is brave

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Far from the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity

    • UNABRIDGED (40 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Andrew Solomon
    • Narrated By Andrew Solomon
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    A brilliant and utterly original thinker, Andrew Solomon's journey began from his experience of being the gay child of straight parents. He wondered how other families accommodate children who have a variety of differences: families of people who are deaf, who are dwarfs, who have Down syndrome, who have autism, who have schizophrenia, who have multiple severe disabilities, who are prodigies, who commit crimes, who are transgender.

    C. Beaton says: "A Gripping Masterpiece"
    "two books about family / both good"

    ? does the prospect of parenthood seem daunting to you
    ? do you have strained relations with your parents or children
    ? do you struggle to just understand members of your own family

    andrew solomon has written a vast and well-researched 2 part book for you
    the miles travelled and calories burned, in writing this book, are impressive
    i suspect, it will incentivize other lesser writers to explore this topic

    the 1st book involves dwarfism, autism, deafness, schizophrenia and down's
    the tone is empathetic and insightful / the emphasis is on fixing the problem
    mr. solomon puts his subjects at ease as he draws out their stories

    the 2nd book involves rape, MSD, crime, prodigies, transgender and father/son
    the tone is a bit caustic and preachy / the emphasis is on fixing the blame
    mr. solomon seems to use his subjects to make his personal point

    overall, the book's empathy and patience and time invested are impressive
    however, mr. solomon is clear eyed and critical when he needs to be
    especially when risks aren't assessed and mistakes are made repeatedly

    in the future, i hope the book's scope may extend beyond our shores
    american medicine is such an outlier compared to other 1st world countries
    we just love invasive surgery, expensive drugs and the latest therapeutic fad

    ? could it be that other, less affluent, cultures have answers for these issues
    ? if the book's struggles truly are universal, there may be better foreign answers
    i'd be interested to know how the world's most ancient cultures approach them

    mr. solomon is an operatic, depressed, misunderstood, gay, jewish new yorker
    it's impressive how often he fits these attributes into his subjects stories
    this tendency is so persistent that it's almost anthropomorphic

    mr. solomon has written a truly great book that will help many people
    but his own story is not as important as the story of his subjects
    he's a more than talented writer and, in time, he'll learn to get out of the way

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D.
    • Narrated By Walter Dixon
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Based on Stanford University psychologist Kelly McGonigal's wildly popular course The Science of Willpower, The Willpower Instinct is the first book to explain the new science of self-control and how it can be harnessed to improve our health, happiness, and productivity. Informed by the latest research and combining cutting-edge insights from psychology, economics, neuroscience, and medicine, The Willpower Instinct explains exactly what willpower is, how it works, and why it matters.

    Niv says: "life changing one of the best I read"
    "professor cupcake vs. keyser soze"

    dr. kelly mc gonigal now teaches psychology at stanford
    previous academic stops include new jersey and boston
    i'm told, her lectures are popular and more than well attended

    basically, this book is an outgrowth of those lectures and lessons
    i assume her audience includes neurotic, bay area undergraduates
    she patiently guides them through willpower exercises and experiments

    the tone of the book is that of a charming, perky yoga instructor
    it implies that 20 minutes of slow breathing will solve most problems
    recent small studies with short followup are cited to support her claims

    the material is presented in a soothing, optimistic and deliberate manner
    issues include fast food, depression, exercise, tobacco, chocolate etc.
    if those are the sort of things you struggle with, then you'll like this book

    i had hoped the author might address more consequential willpower issues
    i.e. narcotic addiction, pedophilia, suicide, autism, divorce, anger etc.
    these topics may simply be beyond the scope of her collegiate audience

    the 1995 film " the usual suspects " had a character - keyser soze
    he was a powerful, mysterious and relentlessly willful criminal mastermind
    it was said of him : "...he showed these men of will, what will was..."

    but, mr. soze might have to look to other sources to learn about willpower
    roy baumeister, scott jurek and daniel kahneman have written good books
    each of these three authors approach the subject from very different angles

    true willpower, like excellence, is a habit and comes at a great cost
    people who tell you differently are selling an easy, "royal road" to happiness
    dr. mc gonigal's book is a comfortable, first step along that important path

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral - Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking! - in America's Gilded Capital

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Mark Leibovich
    • Narrated By Joe Barrett

    The great thing about Washington is no matter how many elections you lose, how many times you're indicted, how many scandals you've been tainted by, well, the great thing is you can always eat lunch in that town again. What keeps the permanent government spinning on its carousel is the freedom of shamelessness, and that mother's milk of politics, cash. What Julia Phillips did for Hollywood, Timothy Crouse did for journalists, and Michael Lewis did for Wall Street, Mark Leibovich does for our nation's capital.

    John S. says: "They're out of touch ... and how!"
    "the wolf of insignificance is at the door"

    have you spent significant time in washington DC ?
    do the inner workings of politics just fascinate you ?
    do you have a greater tolerance for gossip than your classmates ?

    if so, this might be a very good book for you
    if not, you might find the book insular and a bit repetitive
    it's basically a prolonged and chatty lesson on human nature

    in 1975, 3 % of former congressmen became lobbyists
    in today's washington DC, the number has risen to about 40 %
    mr. leibovich would like to tell us just how that transition occurred

    those in political power are a sad but predictable bunch of people
    p.j. o'rourke's book " parliament of whores " outlined them clearly
    it's those next to power that are an even sadder, clumsier group

    the press corp, legislative aides and socialites all buzz around DC
    they all lack the power and leverage that money or electability brings
    so they traffic in the only commodity left to them : relationships

    mr. o'rourke's effective book commented on DC from the outside
    sadly, mr. leibovich tries to the same from " inside the machine "
    it's a difficult task since the reader can often questions his motives

    can mr. leibovich remain next to power without actually having power ?
    will all of his efforts keep the wolf of insignificance away from the door ?
    niccolo machiavelli would say no and he's probably right

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Brothers K

    • UNABRIDGED (28 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By David James Duncan
    • Narrated By Robertson Dean
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    This touching, uplifting novel spans decades of loyalty, anger, regret, and love in the lives of the Chance family. Each person chooses their own way to deal with what the world has become.

    Ken says: "At last!"
    "do you like 1960's & drugs & church & baseball ?"

    did you grow up in the turbulence and drugs of the 1960's ?
    was your family built on a foundation of fundamentalist religion ?
    was your youth devoted to brothers and athletics and academics ?
    do you have the patience for an epic, lengthy novel with literary references ?

    if so, this might be the book for you / if not, it might be a long haul
    the characters are all lovingly drawn and have an honest affection for each other
    but the regular references to the (SDA) seventh day adventist church grew tiresome

    the SDA denomination has a high school graduation rate of only 30%
    almost all SDA universities remain in the "unranked" category
    it just doesn't add up to an especially insightful, literary or self aware group

    the book has a pleasantly indulgent and somewhat sophomoric tone
    the problems of the main characters, however, seem to be largely self-inflicted
    they all seemed like very kind and friendly people / just not too bright

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • What's a Dog For?: The Surprising History, Science, Philosophy, and Politics of Man's Best Friend

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By John Homans
    • Narrated By Don Hagen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    John Homans adopted his dog, Stella, from a shelter for all the usual reasons: fond memories of dogs from his past, a companion for his son, an excuse for long walks around the neighborhood. Soon enough, she is happily ensconced in the daily workings of his family. And not only that: Stella is treated like a family member - in ways that dogs of his youth were not. Spending humanlike sums on vet bills, questioning her diet and exercise regimens, contemplating her happiness - how had this all come to pass, when the dogs from Homans's childhood seemed quite content living mostly out in the yard?

    Tango says: "What's a Dog For? Ask a Dog!"
    "an elegant stroll through dog land"

    do you just love dogs ? / did you have a favorite dog as a kid ?
    do you believe that dogs are unique within the animal world ?
    does all the recent canine scientific research confuse you ?

    john homans has written the perfect book for you
    he is not an academic veterinarian or a research scientist
    he is simply a NY magazine editor with a breezy and urbane curiosity

    homans makes no attempt to be exhaustive or authoritative
    he simply asks and answers the questions he thinks we'd like to know
    the book has an ironic, humorous, sophisticated and affectionate tone

    recent MRI research confirms that dogs can in fact "read" humans
    they're also an antidote for the sadness and loneliness of modern city life
    homans reminds us that most dog owners have known these facts for years

    books by g. berns, c. warren, a. horowitz and t. grandin are more scientific
    homans is happy to let them have their expertise and elegant theories
    he simply wants to tell us what a real dog lover would want to know

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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