You no longer follow KHarrang

You will no longer see updates from this user when they write new reviews, or suggestions based on their library or recommendations.

You can re-follow a user if you change your mind.


You now follow KHarrang

You will receive updates from this user when they write new reviews, or suggestions based on their library or recommendations.

You can unfollow a user if you change your mind.




  • Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Richard Wrangham
    • Narrated By Kevin Pariseau
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Ever since Darwin and The Descent of Man, the existence of humans has been attributed to our intelligence and adaptability. But in Catching Fire, renowned primatologist Richard Wrangham presents a startling alternative: our evolutionary success is the result of cooking. In a groundbreaking theory of our origins, Wrangham shows that the shift from raw to cooked foods was the key factor in human evolution.

    KHarrang says: "Fascinating book about early human development..."
    "Fascinating book about early human development..."

    This is a fascinating book that makes for great listening. One measure of a good book is how much I tell others about it. After listening to Wrangham's book about the effect of cooking on human development, I find myself mentioning it to all my friends and acquaintences (my family is probably sick of hearing about raw food diets, and the unappreciated effects of cooking on food and culture). In addition to those interested in early human development, this book also renders useful information about the dangers of today's hyper-processed foods (mostly obesity). Highly recommended. Great content and good narrator.

    17 of 17 people found this review helpful
  • The Book of Strange New Things

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Michel Faber
    • Narrated By Josh Cohen

    It begins with Peter, a devoted man of faith, as he is called to the mission of a lifetime, one that takes him galaxies away from his wife, Bea. Peter becomes immersed in the mysteries of an astonishing new environment, overseen by an enigmatic corporation known only as USIC. His work introduces him to a seemingly friendly native population struggling with a dangerous illness and hungry for Peter's teachings - his Bible is their "book of strange new things."

    D. says: "Where's the plot?"
    "The Book with a Strange New Setting"

    This book has received much critical acclaim, the New York Times Book Review labeling it “the literature of enchantment.” Another reviewer pronounced it the best novel of the year. With an interesting premise of a missionary traveling to another galaxy, I eagerly went off my usual audiobook diet of non-fiction to try more exotic fare.

    Fans of Marcel Faber will no doubt enjoy more of his elegant prose and detailed character development. And if there were an Olympics for audio book narration, Josh Cohen would take home the gold medal with his uncanny mastery of countless voices and accents. Faber explained in an NPR interview that he wrote this book after his wife was diagnosed with incurable cancer, and his understandably dystopian world view definitely comes through in his writing. Although some may categorize this book as science fiction, Faber uses the alien civilization and distant human outpost as more of a device for examining estrangement and relationships.

    That said, I found the book ultimately frustrating, and all the favorable reviews surprising. Science fiction fans will probably not consider this book in the genre at all, given how incidental are the details of the other world and its inhabitants. If one would have thought that the first contact with other life forms would have been a momentous historical event, none of the characters in the book apparently think so. The missionary, appropriately named Peter, spends no time reflecting on this singular marvel, but rather sets off for the distant galaxy as if he were traveling to Africa or somewhere, giving more thought to things like how his cat will do in his absence.

    Much of the book is devoted to Peter’s communications with his wife back on Earth, who he corresponds with via a crude form of intergalactic email (apparently attachments are too data intensive, sort of like in the early days of dial up). Readers hoping a lot more will happen in this story will be disappointed. For example, we learn that Peter has been hired to replace the pastor who preceded him on the alien planet, who has gone missing without a trace. Tantalizingly named Kurtzberg (hint, Conrad), I won’t drop any spoilers here, but suffice it to say Peter never ventures up river.

    Similarly, readers hoping that something enlightening (heck, anything!) will come of the biblical exegesis Peter presents to the childlike aliens will have little to show for a lot of reading, except perhaps Peter’s adept rephrasing of the New Testament into words more easily pronounced by the locals.

    In the end, I found myself thinking the setting the author chose was distracting to his purpose. The novel could as easily taken place in any far off corner of the Earth, like Peter Matthiessen’s At Play in the Fields of the Lord. And then readers like me who were hoping for something more like Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris would not feel like they bought the wrong book.

    But still, that British narrator’s American accents are crazy good…

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Notes from No Man’s Land: American Essays

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Eula Biss
    • Narrated By Jennifer Van Dyck
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In a book that begins with a series of lynchings and ends with a series of apologies, Eula Biss explores race in America. Her response to the topic is informed by the experiences chronicled in these essays - teaching in a Harlem school on the morning of 9/11, reporting for an African American newspaper in San Diego, watching the aftermath of Katrina from a college town in Iowa, and settling in Chicago’s most diverse neighborhood.

    KHarrang says: "Well Written (If Not Well Thought Out)"
    "Well Written (If Not Well Thought Out)"

    Eula Biss is a talented writer with interesting life experiences, and many of the essays in this collection are lyrical explorations of her thinking. With the theme of race interwoven throughout her writings, this makes for a thought-provoking book, and one capable of passionate discussion, e.g., in a book group.

    That said, the author seems to use the personal essay format as permission to put forth her most superficial views, often poorly researched if at all. For example, she begins the book by stating the oft-repeated conclusion that there is no biological basis for race, which is therefore a purely social construct. Even the most casual research shows that this is wishful thinking and scientifically incorrect (see, Race Is Seen as Real Guide To Track Roots of Disease, By Nicholas Wade, Published: July 30, 2002 in the New York Times). What the author means is that the biological differences are exceedingly minor and cannot support all the behavioral claims or segregationists, etc., but this is no excuse to misstate facts. Similarly, the author later boldly states that the historical record is completely devoid of documentation of a certain practice, as if she has actually reviewed the historical record in its entirety.

    Personally, my aha moment was realizing that racism can be thought of as merely a subset of the more general shunning of otherness. And this is why I think of the book as, at best, a well written series of essays based on the most lightweight analysis of the purported subject matter. The author describes some of the most atrocious examples of racism, but seems to see these only as stemming from the bad traits of certain members of the currently predominant racial group—rather than something universal in the human condition. This produces a lot of guilt on the author’s part, but little understanding much less any prescription for improvement.

    Perhaps I owe the author thanks for making me think about this by writing much I found to disagree with.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Faith Instinct: How Religion Evolved and Why It Endures

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Nicholas Wade
    • Narrated By Alan Sklar
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    For at least the last fifty thousand years, and probably much longer, people have practiced religion. Yet little attention has been given, either by believers or atheists, to the question of whether this universal human behavior might have an evolutionary basis. Did religion evolve, in other words, because it helped people in early societies survive?

    Douglas says: "I want to be more clear..."
    "Interesting Subject (if you tolerate the narrator)"

    This book begins with an interesting premise: given the universality of religions of various sorts with all human populations, is there some evolutionary advantage this commonality could have conferred such that religion could be said to be genetic in some sense?

    If you're looking for a well written, up to date, and understandable survey on this topic, then this is a good place to start. (Several of the reviewers that pan this book seem be say either that they disagree with the conclusions or they already know everything presented.) Perhaps not the definitive treatment of this subject, but a good survey. For example, I found the discussion of how altruism and aggression/warfare could have developed together to be fascinating (if depressing!).

    My problem with this book was the narrator. Maybe this is just a personal thing that will not bother others, but I found the narration so annoying that I could not finish the audiobook. No offense, but the narrator sounds like a chain smoker with a basso profundo voice recorded too early in the morning. Gasping for air before each sentence, he drove me crazy. He would be great for a political attack ad ("John Smith... wrong for America"), but not non fiction audiobooks.

    But again, maybe it's just me: try the sample before you buy, and if you're fine with the narrator, then enjoy this interesting book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Imagine: How Creativity Works

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Jonah Lehrer
    • Narrated By Jonah Lehrer

    From the best-selling author of How We Decide comes a sparkling and revelatory look at the new science of creativity. Shattering the myth of muses, higher powers, even creative “types”, Jonah Lehrer demonstrates that creativity is not a single gift possessed by the lucky few. It’s a variety of distinct thought processes that we can all learn to use more effectively. Lehrer reveals the importance of embracing the rut, thinking like a child, daydreaming productively, and adopting an outsider’s perspective.

    aaron says: "Starts out Promising, but Then...."
    "Worth a Listen"

    If you want a well researched and tightly written survey of the important topic of innovation, and how we can foster more of it, then you'll want to listen to this book.

    The author is a credible science writer, and here as in his previous books he compiles an interesting collection of stories, research results, and theories of prominent thinkers. We learn that perhaps the most important thing Steve Jobs did at Pixar was the design of the team's workspace (including the location of the bathrooms!), and that cities tend to be innovation clusters because of their density and happenstance connections rather than anything deliberate. Anyone interested in what the future will look like in terms of innovation (and especially innovative groups) will want to check this book out. Thumbs up.

    My only complaint is that the author, like Malcolm Gladwell, may at times commit success bias (assuming that whatever successful people or companies do is causational, ignoring all the people or companies that did the same things but did not succeed). Also, the audio recording by the author is a testament to the value of a professional reader. The author reads in a virtual monotone, and whatever his accent is soon becomes annoying (he pronounces patents as "paddens", and shouldn't as "shoont", etc.). The author should listen to how much better a professional narrator sounds.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Guitar Zero: The New Musician and the Science of Learning

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Gary Marcus
    • Narrated By Gary Marcus
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Just about every human being knows how to listen to music, but what does it take to make music? Is musicality something we are born with? Or a skill that anyone can develop at any time? If you don't start piano at the age of six, is there any hope? Is skill learning best left to children or can anyone reinvent him-or herself at any time?

    Alex says: "Entertaining if somewhat superficial"
    "Enjoyably Informative"
    Would you listen to Guitar Zero again? Why?

    I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the intersection of neuroscience and music.

    What was one of the most memorable moments of Guitar Zero?

    The author does a good job of weaving in interesting summaries of the current state of the science of things like language acquisition and musical talent vs. practice.

    What about Gary Marcus???s performance did you like?

    The author is a good narrator, which is not always the case.

    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    This book delivers a number of ah-ha moments, such as debunking the myth of 10,000 hours.

    Any additional comments?

    This audio book not terribly long, and some will probably complain that it's not technical enough, but it makes for a thoroughly enjoyable tour through the science of musicality. The author is good humored, and tells entertaining stories about his visit to music camp (for kids because he is such a lousy guitarist). If you've ever wondered whether music is somehow innate in humans, this book does a good job of walking you through the answers from a neuroscientist.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • One Second After

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By William R. Forstchen
    • Narrated By Joe Barrett
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Already cited on the floor of Congress and discussed in the corridors of the Pentagon as a book all Americans should read, One Second After is the story of a war scenario that could become all too terrifyingly real. Based upon a real weapon - the Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP) - which may already be in the hands of our enemies, it is a truly realistic look at the awesome power of a weapon that can destroy the entire United States.

    Sara says: "A terrifying story"
    "This Book Is The Real Disaster"

    I listened to this book with the expectation that it would be an interesting examination of the fragility of our modern electronic infrastructure, a spellbinding post-apocalyptic science fiction story, or hopefully both. Unfortunately, this book is neither. First, the author merely posits that an Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP) generated by unnamed terrorists disables every single machine in the US. There is more information in the short Wikipedia article on EMP than in this book. And second, rather than a good science fiction read, the book is instead a long diatribe against all the things that apparently bug the author. When was the last time you heard someone rail against "hippies"? Everyone in the book who matters is ex-military (the only ones with the guts to shoot looters), and the phrase "I can't believe we've come to this" is repeated ad nauseam. The fact that the hero of the book, coincidentally like the author in real life, is a history professor at a small North Carolina college, makes the reader wonder whether this is really a fantasy for the author -- particularly after the hero becomes the undisputed military ruler and savior of the town in the wars against marauding cannibals. The new audio release on Audible of "Earth Abides" by George Stewart is a truly great post-apocalypse story that has withstood the test of time. With "One Second After", however, this book is the real disaster. The author's Web site says he has already sold the movie rights... God save us indeed.

    68 of 113 people found this review helpful
  • Outliers: The Story of Success

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Malcolm Gladwell
    • Narrated By Malcolm Gladwell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In this stunning new book, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of "outliers"--the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different? His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing.

    S Prabhu says: "Excellent book; well adapted for the audio format"
    "Captivating (if not an outlier)"

    Regardless of what you ultimately think of the author's analysis, Gladwell is a masterful storyteller, weaving together interesting anecdotes from such diverse sources as plane crash research to hillbilly feuds to standardized math tests. That Gladwell narrates the audio book himself adds greatly to the listening experience. Critics will complain that his thesis is obvious (that opportunity, cultural inheritence and hard work play key roles in success), or that his examples are selective and ignore in turn outliers that don't illustrate his points -- or, somewhat inconsistently, both. But Gladwell's books are successful because he examines phenomena and topics of importance in an accessible and entertaining way. No one should mistake Malcolm Gladwell for a big thinker like, say, Stephen J. Gould, but Gladwell would be the first one to tell you that he's no outlier. Don't accept everything the author says as truth revealed, but do listen to this book -- it's one of the best non-fiction offerings available through Audible.

    59 of 63 people found this review helpful
  • God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By David Levering Lewis
    • Narrated By Richard Allen

    At the beginning of the eighth century, the Arabs brought a momentous revolution in power, religion, and culture to Dark Ages Europe. David Levering Lewis' masterful history begins with the fall of the Persian and Roman Empires, followed by the rise of the prophet Muhammad and the creation of Muslim Spain.

    Larry says: "God's Crucible"
    "Tough slogging..."

    Fascinating subject matter and meticulous research, but Audible listeners who make it through the 18 hours of this book deserve some kind of a medal. The author may be a distinguished historian, but I don't think there is a simple declarative sentence in the entire book. Though perhaps not intended for general audiences, the endless litany of facts, dates, names, and erudite references in this book soon numbs the mind. And I was listening to this book while traveling in Andalucian Spain to the actual places described (God knows somewhere...) in the text! Contrast this form of writing with, say, that of David McCullough (author of many delightful histories such as "1776" and "John Adams"), and I can only wish for what might have been with this book.

    Don't be dissuaded from listening to this book, however, as the information is important to understanding the relationship of Islam to the West. Just be prepared for something that reads more like a graduate level history text than a page-turner.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Miracle in the Andes: 72 Days on the Mountain and My Long Trek Home

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Nando Parrado, Vince Rause
    • Narrated By Arthur Morey
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Nando Parrado was unconscious for three days before he woke to discover that the plane carrying his rugby team, as well as their family members and supporters, to an exhibition game in Chile had crashed somewhere deep in the Andes. He soon learned that many were dead or dying, among them his own mother and sister. Those who remained were stranded on a lifeless glacier at nearly 12,000 feet above sea level, with no supplies and no means of summoning help.

    KHarrang says: "A Must Listen"
    "A Must Listen"

    Retold by the survivor most responsible for the group's rescue, this excellent book not only provides a spellbinding rendition of one of the great survival stories of all time, but also provides a unique view into the feelings and thoughts of the people who were there, and a perspective from three decades later on what it means to have survived. This is one audio book you will not want turn off or even pause. The epilogue spoken by the author himself, together with an interview by the publisher, provides added interest. I've listened to maybe 40 different Audible books, and none more enjoyable or thought provoking than this one. Highest recommendation.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.


Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.