It is difficult to compare audio editions with the print versions in most cases. When listening to others read a book, I almost always find I would have read it in a slightly different way. When I read a book, I put my own voices on the dialog, and I have my own way of reading and interpreting the sentences. These are small, subtle changes that I find important for my reading experience.
William Roberts does an excellent job narrating this book. I mean, Bill Bryson is who he is, funny, a great storyteller, and able to make almost any subject appear intriguing through his observations. I've read a book by him before, so I knew what I was getting for content. Therefore, William Roberts' narration came as a pleasant surprise and really made the listen a very enjoyable experience. He read with a voice much better than my own internal one, and in my opinion, emphasizing exactly the right words for each sentence, thus bringing out those extra subtleties I enjoy.
Therefore, I'm inclined to consider the audio edition better than the print version in this case.
Being from Norway, I obviously found the part where he travels to Norway particularly interesting. It is interesting to hear a foreign take of one's own culture. It is clear however, that the book is more than 20 years old now, so there's a lot of those small cultural observations that no longer applies. But, I'm old enough to remember!
I'm not going to lift a particular scene up to favorite status. The book was generally enjoyable, and not to mention a reminder of how much the world and particularly Europe has changed during the last 20 years. Some cultural differences have disappeared, some have emerged, as with currencies, politics, customs and culture.
In a way, the stories and observations are a bit outdated, but for someone of my age, that didn't lower the reading experience.
If I had had the opportunity to do so, I probably would do so. But then again, I would with any book, I guess.
In summary, I would say a very enjoyable listen, great but slightly outdated content, but with excellent narration.
While I find the subject of religion very interesting, I live in one of those Scandinavian countries Greta mentions in her book as being secular, where religion governs less and less of our daily life.
Therefore, much of the angriness Greta speaks about doesn't really apply to someone from Scandinavia. Most of the US-related issues, such as being prevented from certain positions, political engagements, career-paths etc., don’t apply for me. Our laws and customs are changing, and religious views no longer play a part in law making. I can happily claim to be an atheist with no risk or retaliation. Religion is losing foothold every day.
In fact, I even refuse to call myself an atheist. I see absolutely no reason to label myself according to a concept I do not acknowledge. To me, it's makes as much sense as if I must label myself as a "hexagonal", because humanity suddenly introduces a concept where we all must be labeled according to the shapes of geometrical figures.
No one flinches or questions your moral upbringing if you claim to be an atheist in this country. There are very few positions, jobs or career-paths being denied me because of my lack of religious view. I didn't need to read this book. I could have said almost everything Greta said, but less elegant. Most of the 99 reasons Greta lists also makes me appalled and frustrated, but I already know what frustrates me about religion. And most people agree with me in this country.
The book does serve as a reminder though, that we must not ever relax our stand. We must constantly be on alert. The world is changing, and suddenly we might again find ourselves in a time where religion gains ground, even in Scandinavia. Just as I write this, a woman from my country is sentenced to 16 month of prison in Dubai for having sex outside of marriage while on a business trip. She was raped at the hotel, and upon going to the Dubai police to file a report, she was arrested. I see no international media jumping onto this story; it is not mentioned on CNN or BBC. I see no politicians jumping on their private jets with the purpose of defending basic human rights. It’s my reason number 100. This woman did not drive too fast. She did not try to smuggle narcotics, she didn’t kill someone, and she didn’t steal anything. She was raped. And for that, she is sentenced to 16 months in prison for violating laws based on religion alone.
Therefore, the audiobook ranks quite high on my list when it comes to importance. For me, it does not bring anything new to the table, and as such, it wasn't a necessary listen for me.
I guess Richard Dawkins comes to mind, although Greta focuses less on religion itself, but rather provides daily examples of religious encounters and how to debate and argue.
I think it's better to consume this book in batches. Some chapters and paragraphs leaves the listener to think a bit, review and ponder on the practical implications and how this applies to his or her daily life. By listening to the book in one go, parts of the self-insight and debating tips might be lost.
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