Oh my, I finally finished this lengthy book (1076 pages, over 63 hours of listening). I am very glad I read/listened to this book. I should give it 5 stars for being a life-changing book, but because of the literary shortfalls, I just can't.
So here's what I think. The story was good, and very thought-provoking. I see so many parallels in what Ayn Rand was trying to say 60 years ago vs. what is going on in this country today. It is scary and hopeful at the same time. I don't get why we as humans in the 21st century can't understand that when we penalize those who produce we are destroying ourselves. Why do we keep saying things like, "Let's tax those rich b_____s. They can afford it." Well ok, but then who will pay your paycheck. Use your heads, people. The rich guys are the ones with the ability to create jobs for the rest of us. If they are not allowed the freedom to create, where does that leave the rest of us? We will not get far when we are all on government handouts.
So that is the gist of this book. Live and let live. Let those who are able, create jobs for the rest of us. Don't keep taxing and regulating them to death. Or any of us, for that matter.
Now, about the literary side of things. This book is full of lectures. Some of them go on for page after page after page. A lot of good things are said, but many of them are said over and over. The worst one is the chapter "John Galt Speaks" near the end of the book. How many ways can you say the same thing? Whatever number that is, it was reached in that chapter. I read this book AND listened to it as well. About half way through that speech, I put the audio on 3x speed and listened in fast mode. I didn't miss a thing. . .
The story is largely allegorical and I like that sort of thing, but it went a little too far for my taste. Also, the love story just didn't make it for me. It was just too unrealistic. It went something like this: (This might be a semi-spoiler, so be aware)
Woman: Oh Man #1, I have loved you since we were children.
Man #1: You are the only woman in my life. Don't believe all that playboy stuff they say about me.
Woman: Oh Man #2, I have never had a relationship like this before.
Man #2: Now that I can finally admit that I love you, I will divorce my wife so that we may live happily ever after. Well, at least I'll be happier with or without you after I dump that broad.
Woman (upon seeing Man #3 for the first time): "Ah Sweet Mystery of Life, at last I've found you!"
Man #3: I'm sure we can live happily ever after, well, that is, after I save the world and have my near-death experience at which point you sweep in and save my life by taking on a small army single-handedly. We're going to be great together.
Man #2: I always knew you would find someone else. And when I met him, I have to admit I can't blame you. He is AWESOME!
Man #1: Yeh, I kinda like him too.
So taking the good with the bad, it still is a book worth the many hours it takes to read it. (If you listen to it, put the narrator speed on 2x, at least.) I can't recommend it to everyone. It takes a weird combination of being mature and a dreamer to really appreciate it.
A word about the narrator. Scott Brick is one of the most highly rated narrators, and I also think he is very good, but he does some things that bother me a lot. First off, he uses the same syntax for everything. Secondly, he has a way of elongated certain words every time he reads them. "Any" is one of them, or anything with an "n" or "m" in the middle. He reads quite slowly, and does not use a very wide range of characterizations. Still he is a good reader and I am pretty sure I will listen to other books read by him. He just won't ever be my favorite.
The ideas set forth in this book are great. Unfortunately, the writing did not match up to it. It was certainly worth reading and I got a lot out of it, but from a literary sense, it was tedious. These men were truly heroes. Maybe better said, they were true men. I wish there were a lot more of their ilk in this world.
This premise had the potential of being a blockbuster, but there was just too much junk to wade through. I totally understand that this woman had so many problems in her life that no one would aspire to, but I just thought it was overdone, and I just didn't love reading/listening to it. I kept expecting it to get better, and although the ending sort of redeemed much of the not-so-glorious parts of the book, it just wasn't enough for me to get all excited about. It seems that Ms. McFadden tried to follow along the lines of the marvelous "Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neal Hurston, but in my opinion it did not even come close.
Such an insight into one of the most intelligent animals in the world. I loved learning about this misfit herd, and what Lawrence Anthony was able to do to save them. Just amazing.
Ever heard of Nancy Wake? Well, you probably should have. She was an incredible WWII heroine. What guts this woman had. She was a native Australian who became an undercover agent and explosives expert. She did not seem to flinch at facing the most terrifying of circumstances in order to do what needed to be done. She was responsible for helping countless people get out of France before they could be taken by the Germans. She herself was caught at one point, but she never gave up, and after regaining her freedom, went right back to putting it to the Germans.
I was amazed at the courage and determination of this woman, and wonder why I had never heard of her before.
I do not very often judge another human being, but in this case I can tell you that Warren Jeffs is one of the most evil men on the face of the earth. I pray he NEVER gets out of prison. Although he has never actually killed someone (that we know of), nevertheless, he has taken so many lives and destroyed their freedom that he should and must be held accountable.
The bottom line is Gun Control is less about guns and more about control. Get smart, America. Don't let them infringe our second amendment rights to keep and bear arms. It is unconstitutional, and if it happens, where do we stop as far as letting them take our freedoms away? It won't end well.
I LOVED this book. As she did in "Stiff," Mary Roach tackles a less than savory subject with intelligent and humor. I learned a lot of great info about the digestive track, and I laughed out loud at many of Roach's vignettes and explanations. Who knew that ingesting someone else's fecal material could restore your probiotic balance and help you heal, for example? If you have any interest in how the body really works, you will love this book. However, if you are a bit squeamish,you may want to pass. This is not nearly as, well, upsetting as "Stiff," but the subject matter is often inappropriate for "polite company." I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Emily Woo Zeller's narration was spot on. Such a fun listen!
The premise of this story is very creative and I was immediately engaged. These characters find themselves in a heck of a fix. My heart was broken for all of them.
I wanted a different ending, but I don't know what it would have been. Perhaps there was no way to end it in an equitable manner. It is a tough problem that these people had to deal with.
Although I liked the narrator, he was very hard to understand at times, especially when his voice went very soft. I know he was doing that for effect, but if you can't understand what he is saying, the effect is lost anyway.
All in all, I would recommend this book. I enjoyed reading/listening to it very much.
This is a beautifully crafted story. I think the thing I enjoyed most about it is how the author, Jess Walter, was able to tell several different but related stories at once, weaving them together into a unified whole. The stories crossed many years and many countries before being tied up so beautifully in the end. Each story has its heartbreaks and happiness, bitter and sweet. It is like a symphony that passes the melody around through various instruments, but at last brings it all together in a glorious recapitulation.
The characters are well developed and run the gamut from many that I loved, to many that I disliked, to some that I loathed. I recommend this book to most adult readers, those who can appreciate a good story without freaking at the yucky stuff. There is some swearing in it, but it is mostly by the bad guys, something that made me dislike them all the more. I just don't like to read a lot of swearing. It isn't classy.
This book made me want to look up information on Richard Burton. Did you know he was #12 of 13 children? His mother died giving birth to #13. He was raised by his sister Cecelia. Burton was not his real surname. He took that name from his mentor who adopted him, Phillip Burton. Phillip made him go up on the highlands in the wind and practice his diction. He had to make himself be heard and understood without shouting. He was very close friends with Dylan Thomas, and grieved a long time when Thomas died young.
Thought you might enjoy that bit of Richard Burton trivia. You'll appreciate it if you read this book.
Narration by Edoardo Ballerini was top notch. Obviously Italian himself, he seemed at ease in both English and Italian.
Ok, here's my problem. As soon as my eyes open, I only have one thing on my mind: Where's the food! So my pre-breakfast productivity is at a startling low. I am feeling guilty. I already get up at 5:30, but I don't get the exercise in. I need to start doing it, but then I need to start doing a lot of things. I enjoyed this book, but there wasn't a lot new in it. I love getting up early and getting a lot done, but then, I also love staying up late and sleeping in when I can. Which should I do? I guess I stay up too late too often because I am not that successful, at least not in monetary terms. (more guilt)
This author reads her own book. I have heard worse, but it would have been much better if she had hired a professional reader.
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