I picked up this audiobook because I wanted to begin studying philosophy and I needed a starting point. I am not disappointed. Durant gave me the direction I was seeking and a lot more.
One of the most valuable things it provides is the context in which each philosopher wrote their philosophy. Durant shows how the time and place of each philosopher affected each work. He also highlights the influence of other philosophers in each work.The great works of philosophy weren't created in a vacuum.
I had never heard of Will Durant but as I listened I got the impression that whoever this guy was he really did his homework. How little did I know! Suffice to say that I believe he is qualified to write such an ambitious work. Look him up on Wikipedia if you are as ignorant as I.
And what a narration! I can't speak highly enough of the way this sometimes difficult work was tackled by Gardner. I don't know how he did it, it's like he wrote the book himself and was conveying his own thoughts on the complicated mind of Kant or Nietzsche.
If you don't know much about philosophy, you really can't go wrong with using this as a starting or reference point. I imagine even those with experience in the field will find Durant's insight beneficial.
I was greatly pleased to find William James included in the discussion, but was disappointed not to find more on Descartes, Hume, Locke, and others.
For reference, from wikipedia:
"Philosophers profiled are, in order: Plato, Aristotle, Francis Bacon, Baruch Spinoza (with a section on Descartes), Voltaire (with a section on Rousseau), Immanuel Kant (with a section on Hegel), Arthur Schopenhauer, Herbert Spencer, and Friedrich Nietzsche." Also Henri Bergson, Benedetto Croce, Bertrand Russell, George Santayana, William James, and John Dewey.
Calling The Book Thief a kids' books is sort of like saying the same thing about To Kill a Mockingbird. While the main character is a child, and there's nothing overly complicated structurally or thematically, making it accessible to a younger audience, the emotions are complex, the writing rich, and the subject mature. Ok... so maybe that was a glorified way of saying it's a good book for many ages, but coming across such a find is tough.
Many great books have been written about The Holocaust, but one of the things that makes The Book Thief unique is the treatment of Germans caught up in the insane nationalism of Nazi Germany. While it may be a bit tongue in cheek to say that everyone in The Book Thief is "human", Zusak does a fantastic job of keeping humanity at the forefront of the story. Death, fear, cruelty, love, compassion, selflessness, and loss are all players, but The Book Thief puts humans first, and what they do second.
A definite buy for anyone looking for a well narrated, genuinely emotional listen.
Full disclaimer: I'm a bit of a Pynchon fanboy. That being said, if you're considering Bleeding Edge, check out the sample. If you can handle the narration, and you're familiar with the author, you will love Bleeding Edge. It's got everything Pynchon fans like, but in a more subdued, dare I say "mature" way?
It's about the Internet. It's about 9/11. It's about what it means to be real and alive. It's full of conspiracy and obscure hacker (Yes, Thomas, I remember anon.penet.fi and own an earlier edition of ORA's Perl 5) and pop culture references from the noughties. However, I didn't find the references stifling and forced (unlike the 80's references in Ready Player One. Then again, I did admit I'm a bit biased).
Like any good fanboy, I picked up the audiobook and printed book on the publication date. I love the book but just can't get into the audiobook. Granted, reading Pynchon is a daunting task. Any reader would have trouble really nailing puns in Russian or hitting every German joke, but Jeannie really made it sound -exceptionally- difficult.
I really wouldn't bother with the audiobook, but the book's so good I encourage curious shoppers to check out the sample. Maybe it's just me!
If you've never read Pynchon before, I emphatically suggest skipping this audiobook as an introduction. There's too much in the writing to love to be turned off by the reader!
14 is an exciting search into strange occurrences at a California apartment building. I looked forward to each chapter and was genuinely interested in finding out exactly what was going on and how the story would progress and conclude. Plenty of humor and a little romantic spiciness rounds out an enjoyable sci-fi mystery. While not particularly thought provoking or emotionally engaging, 14 is full of trivia that kept my ears open and my brain working.
It was however, a bit disappointing as a mystery. You know that famous Sherlock Holmes line about eliminating impossibilities? 14 takes that line, rolls it up, smokes it, and flies off laughing, leaving me far below, scratching my head wondering what happened. It’s probably an unfair comparison…nobody ever said 14 was a whodunit. But when a significant part of a work is people sitting around trying to figure out what’s happening, it’s maybe too easy to expect a little nod to convention.
Fans of David Wong or listeners looking for something bizarre will find things to like in 14. Complete strangers to the genre will find this a more than sufficient introduction.
In short: The narration makes this book a "pass" to anyone except those with a real interest in the novel. Those just perusing, looking for a good read, might want to move along.
In detail: The Jungle tells the story of an immigrant trying to make his way in America during the turn of the 20th century. What follows a fable of how the power struggle between the US Railroad Trust and Meat Packing Trust took its toll on the goods manufactured and the workforce that manufactured the goods. Upton then makes the case for his solution.
Whether or not you or I agree with this solution, I think Upton does a fantastic job in outlining his concerns with completely unregulated capitalism (and specifically the lack of anti-trust laws).
If you're interested in the difficulties of immigrants in settling in America, fiscal policy or economic philosophy, this is a great novel for you. In the same vein as Atlas Shrugged (albeit from the exact opposite perspective and a historical instead of futuristic viewpoint), The Jungle is food for thought for those with an open mind and an interest in politics.
Likewise, if you are interested in a story about humanity at its best and worst, or if you're looking for a story about the struggle of human spirit against soul crushing odds, you can't go wrong with this pick.
However, if you're looking for a lighthearted or fanciful novel, you'd be better off looking elsewhere. The Jungle is bleak, depressing, and not for the faint of heart (or weak of stomach).
The narration was, at first, pretty bad. Like the reviewer Kosina before me, I am not sure whether he got better or I just got used to it, but there were still times where I found Mr. Affleck's stilted style difficult to endure. I truly hope this book gets a better treatment from another narrator.
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a picaresque work of American realism that gives us a glimpse of the antebellum south through the eyes of a brilliant satirist. Twain's characters, blissfully ignorant of their fallibility, are at once funny, frustrating, and sad.
Meandering down the Mississippi River, it may be easy to forget Twain’s warning at the beginning of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn:
"Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot."
Without taking it too seriously, it’s important to keep this in mind. By focusing too much on a motive or moral, one risks over-simplifying the work into a piece of propaganda. There’s a lot more going on here, and a patient understanding of human weakness is a subtle undertone too important to the work to be lost in a fury of moral indignation.
It is slightly more difficult to ignore the plot. Warning or no, it's hard to overlook the glaring inconsistency of the ending with the rest of the book. Twain goes so far as to conjure Dumas in his Count of Monte Cristo style escape sequence. Unlikely, contrived, and episodic as it may have been, the French masterpiece still stuck together better than the American.
But if we heed his warning, we can focus instead on scathing satire that sheds light on absurd logic and a value system almost too incredible to believe. Elijah’s narration is a superb transparent window through which Twain’s gilt-edged wit shines brilliantly. It was here that I found the most enjoyment, not in the "adventures" themselves.
Twain also kindly lets us know that there are a few different dialects used this book. This being the case, it must be very difficult to do a true narration. Now, I'm no expert on “Missouri negro” or “Pike County” dialects of the mid 1800s, so I can't comment on Elijah’s authenticity. However, I can say that they were entertaining and largely consistent throughout the work. Be warned, however, that there is a studied exactness in his cadence that tends to drag behind the narrative.
If you're a fan of the book, and are on the fence, I can tell you to buy with confidence. You'll love the audiobook! If you've never read it, it's still worth the credit to experience Twain through the voice of such a faithful interpreter.
Ostensibly, Uncle Tom's Cabin is about the power of a slave's faith in God. This faith gives Uncle Tom the strength to endure and find peace even as he his separated from everything he loves, and is physically and mentally abused.
Here we find a conundrum. Is Tom to be admired for enduring these hardships, or damned for accepting his subjugation? Is he morally obligated to break free from his bondage, or to endure a morally reprehensible situation?
Uncle Tom's Cabin doesn't answer these questions, it asks them of the listener. The journeys of other slaves are included so that the listener can easily compare alternatives to Tom's value system to that of some of his fellow slaves.
Uncle Tom's Cabin is not a light-hearted, whimsical adventure tale. So if you're looking for that I wouldn't recommend it. I really doubt anyone could enjoy it at a superficial level. However, if you're looking for something that will inspire you to re-evaluate your value system, this is a rare opportunity to do so
It can be dry at times, and it jumps around from character to character a bit, kind of like a soap opera. I think this actually makes it more interesting, and I wasn't put-off by it like some listeners. The narration was solid, if somewhat lacking in dynamics. I really appreciated that the accents weren't overdone.
A must have for those who want a challenging, rewarding book. Unfortunately, not for those who are looking for a bit of fun or entertainment only.
Dark and somber, Winter's Bone isn't a great pick-me-up. A sense of gloom and foreboding stays with the listener throughout the book. Woodrell doesn't romanticize the pervasive poverty and crime in the story, nor does he dehumanize the cast.
Although I found it hard to identify with any of the characters - their motives were mysterious and their way of life completely foreign - I still enjoyed the listen. It was a glimpse into a side of America that I've never personally experienced.
The narration was appropriate for the work. Galvin did a good job with the accents and the emotional strains of the character. However, I thought that the book didn't call for some of the dramatic flourishes that Galvin gave. With such a sparse writing style, it did add color to an otherwise gray world and made the listen more interesting, but may have detracted a bit from the overall mood of the work.
A dark work of modern realism, Winter's Bone was a credit well spent.
1Q84 is quite an achievement. It reads like a spooky fairy tale thrown into an action thriller. There’s a lot to like in this book. In fact, there’s a lot in this book altogether. Weighing in at just under 47 hours, it’s definitely one of the best bargains for a credit on audible.com. Murakami takes a difficult idea and presents it from the point of view of several characters. Through these characters, each performed by a different reader, the listener experiences a slightly different world.
The fairy tale is wonderful. I loved the mythology, magic, and scariness of this other world. However, femme fatale assassins and fated lovers kept getting in the way of the fun stuff. I really wasn’t interested as much in these storylines.
The narration was professional if undercooked. A slow, deliberate, unadorned style was consistent with all three performers. It was consistent with the dystopian vision of the world in Orwell’s 1984 as well as in Bradford’s film. However, I think that Murakami’s writing alone was enough to give the sense of weight and unease in the world of 1Q84. The flat style of narration may have been a bit too much, detracting from the overall experience rather than enhancing Murakami’s style. This is even apparent more in the (numerous) love scenes than anywhere else in the book.
Like Kurosawa’s Rashomon, an incident may be witnessed by more than one character, who then interprets the incident to the listener. The difference in 1Q84 was that each character pretty much repeated the exact same experience regardless of the character’s point of view. This repetition, combined with the length of the work and the narration style, could be a bit wearisome.
This was my first Murakami book. I will probably give the author another shot, because I did appreciate his skill in interpreting difficult ideas. However, I may pick up my next selection at a bookstore rather than Audible. I’d like to try Murakami with my own voice before I choose another audible selection.
I'm a big fan of Garp and Hotel New Hampshire, so I was expecting thick thematic plots with laugh out loud humor. Truthfully, for the first few hours, I was afraid I would be disappointed.
Stick with it. It gets good. Very good.
In fact, if you're familiar with John Irving's work (or just have a knack for these things), you may be able to tell the very moment when things begin to unravel. From then on the pace is quicker.
The narrator, John, works in two timelines, one in the 1950s-1960s in which he and Owen are growing up together, and one in the 1980s, where we see what has become of the boy from Gravesend. Irving works these sequential timelines effortlessly. As I followed John's story, I thought about miracles, war, friendship, and what it means to be complete.
Owen Meany is one of the most memorable characters I've ever met. I'll definitely pick up the printed version, so I can read it again for the first time.
The Meany voice...what a challenge. The narrator did a good job with it. I'm not sure about some of his pronunciations, though. Maybe it's a New Hampshire thing! Does "can't" rhyme with "want" where you live?
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