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Freeland, WA, United States | Member Since 2008

  • 9 reviews
  • 18 ratings
  • 207 titles in library
  • 23 purchased in 2014

  • The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Richard Dawkins
    • Narrated By Richard Dawkins, Lalla Ward
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Richard Dawkins, the world’s most famous evolutionary biologist, presents a gorgeously lucid, science book examining some of the nature’s most fundamental questions both from a mythical and scientific perspective. Science is our most precise and powerful tool for making sense of the world. Before we developed the scientific method, we created rich mythologies to explain the unknown. The pressing questions that primitive men and women asked are the same ones we ask as children. Who was the first person? What is the sun? Why is there night and day?

    Connie says: "Audio version is superb for us grown-ups"
    "Audio version is superb for us grown-ups"
    If you could sum up The Magic of Reality in three words, what would they be?

    eye-opening mesmerizing bravo

    What other book might you compare The Magic of Reality to and why?

    In a class of its own; a master and beloved teacher who is well known for his searing intellect and scorn for those who discount the collective intelligence of evidential science in favor of subjective and ancient woo, disarms himself in order to speak with gentle, unblinking clarity. Ostensibly he does this to honor his own commitment to spare youth from propaganda and unfair use of rhetorical flourish. But that technique is tremendously alluring for us grown-ups too. Here Richard Dawkins plays the wise uncle, mentoring our species to grow up and see the real world for what it really is: amazing

    What about Richard Dawkins, and Lalla Ward’s performance did you like?

    Their narration is more professional and alluring than that of most of the professionally narrated books I have listened to via Audible. I also loved the refreshing pattern of male and female voices taking turns.

    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?


    Any additional comments?

    If any book could give me hope that our species might actually make it through the necessary transitions, it is this one -- provided it is widely read and listened to. I first read the hardcover, gorgeously illustrated, but was surprised I loved it far more as an author-read audiobook by which I create the pictures in my own mind while dear Uncle Richard and Aunt Lalla are reading to me!

    31 of 33 people found this review helpful
  • Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Emma Marris
    • Narrated By Renee Chambliss
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    A paradigm shift is roiling the environmental world. For decades people have unquestioningly accepted the idea that our goal is to preserve nature in its pristine, pre-human state. But many scientists have come to see this as an outdated dream that thwarts bold new plans to save the environment and prevents us from having a fuller relationship with nature. Humans have changed the landscapes they inhabit since prehistory, and climate change means even the remotest places now bear the fingerprints of humanity.

    Connie says: "Conservation at the Cusp of Change"
    "Conservation at the Cusp of Change"
    What did you love best about Rambunctious Garden?

    The storytelling and site-specific descriptions make this scientifically rigorous book unusually memorable and meaningful.

    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    Marris extracts from the polarized advocates (human manipulation v. hands-off of nature) direct quotes that vividly show the deep emotions and uncertainties in this unusual time of worldviews in collision.

    Which character – as performed by Renee Chambliss – was your favorite?

    Jessica Hellman

    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?


    Any additional comments?

    Anyone concerned about climate change will find the science stories in this book deeply disturbing, in that humans will have to get extensively involved in helping plants move north faster than they are capable of doing on their own.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs)
    • By Jonathan Haidt
    • Narrated By Jonathan Haidt

    In The Righteous Mind, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt explores the origins of our divisions and points the way forward to mutual understanding. His starting point is moral intuition - the nearly instantaneous perceptions we all have about other people and the things they do. These intuitions feel like self-evident truths, making us righteously certain that those who see things differently are wrong. Haidt shows us how these intuitions differ across cultures, including the cultures of the political left and right.

    TaxSage says: "Genius mumbled"
    "Bridging the liberal / conservative chasm"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Righteous Mind to be better than the print version?

    Most "readers" will appreciate the superb delivery of the audio version. Those of us (myself included) who discover that his worldview and ideas reshape our own will either want to listen to the audio twice or also purchase the print version -- to enable note taking and marking up of the most important pages.

    What did you like best about this story?

    Because the ideas are so unsettling for social and political liberals (like myself!), the author's tone and personal story vignettes are absolutely vital to keep me from becoming defensive (and thus no longer really listening). Yet, by the time he concludes, I feel fully affirmed -- as the need today is not for liberals to go conservative, but for liberals to become morally fuller by maintaining our existing commitments while opening to searching for solutions that are no longer win-lose but win-win. In fact, I recall watching online a spring 2012 interview that Bill Moyers conducted with the author, and Bill's curiosity and open delight in this larger worldview are a treasure to watch. Morality becomes all encompassing.

    What about Jonathan Haidt’s performance did you like?

    The author is the audio narrator -- and he is superb! Personal stories he tells are especially powerful this way, and his best stories are those that reveal the pivotal experiences in his own life that led him from social/political liberal to a wider embrace of the full spectrum of moral and ethical appreciation.

    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    It is way too long to listen to in one setting -- but very compelling to use as bedtime listening on consecutive nights or for a very long road trip.

    Any additional comments?

    I learn so much these days online via short videos, newsclips, blogs, op-ed pieces, etc. that I tend to become stingy about my time reading a traditional book. Books are often not time-efficient enough for me anymore. But The Righteous Mind exemplifies deep respect for the reader/listener's time via its organization, writing, storytelling, and editing. It actually restores my faith in learning via books. As I reflect on my experience, I see that what took the author a lifetime to achieve in worldview expansion, I actually got in a week of evening listening.

    11 of 13 people found this review helpful
  • The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking: How Irrational Beliefs Keep Us Happy, Healthy, and Sane

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Matthew Hutson
    • Narrated By Matthew Hutson, Don Hagen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    In this witty and perceptive debut, a former editor at Psychology Today shows us how magical thinking makes life worth living. Psychologists have documented a litany of cognitive biases and explained their positive functions. Now, Matthew Hutson shows us that even the most hardcore skeptic indulges in magical thinking all the time - and it's crucial to our survival. Drawing on evolution, cognitive science, and neuroscience, Hutson shows us that magical thinking has been so useful to us that it's hardwired into our brains.

    David says: "Highly enjoyable"
    "A must-read for humanists and freethinkers"
    Would you listen to The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking again? Why?

    I highly recommend this book in audio format, as its presentation is engaging and the ideas are embedded in stories at a leisurely pace. Worldview shifting as well as entertaining.

    Any additional comments?

    What this book helped me realize was that the most rational stance for humanists and freethinkers is not to work towards eliminating magical thinking in themselves and their children, but to knowingly harness these powerful instincts -- instincts that well served our ancestors! Magical thinking will not be eliminated, so let's use it playfully, pragmatically, and in ways that enhance our lives and relationships.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Moral Lives of Animals

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Dale Peterson
    • Narrated By Sanjiv Jhaveri
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Wild elephants walking along a trail stop and spontaneously try to protect and assist a weak and dying fellow elephant. Laboratory rats, finding other rats caged nearby in distressing circumstances, proceed to rescue them. A chimpanzee in a zoo loses his own life trying to save an unrelated infant who has fallen into a watery moat.

    Douglas says: "Read This Book Along With One..."
    "Great content; half again too long"
    If you could sum up The Moral Lives of Animals in three words, what would they be?

    animals are us

    What could Dale Peterson have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    have a competent editor cut it in half; have more of his scholarly experience appear near the front, which now reads like an adventure tale of youthful avocational interest and passion, with no assurance that it will actually lead somewhere important (which it eventually does, in fact, do)

    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    The narrator reads every sentence as if it was the climax of the paragraph, so it was exhausting to listen to.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Here on Earth

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Tim Flannery
    • Narrated By Tim Flannery
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Tim Flannery’s first major book since The Weather Makers charts the history of life on our planet. Here on Earth, which draws its points of departure from Darwin and Wallace, Lovelock and Dawkins, is an extraordinary exploration of evolution and sustainability. Our success as a species has had disastrous effects on many of the Earth’s ecosystems and could lead to our downfall. But equally, Flannery argues, we are now equipped as never before to explore our true relationship with the planet on which our biological, economic and cultural futures depend.

    Connie says: "The Next Jared Diamond"
    "The Next Jared Diamond"

    "This book is a twin biography of our species and our planet. At its heart lies an investigation of sustainability -- not how we achieve it, but what it is. I've written it at a time when hope that humanity might save itself from a climatic catastrophe seems to be draining away. Yet I'm not without hope. For I believe that as we come to know ourselves and our planet, we'll be moved to act."

    Flannery fulfills brilliantly (and poignantly) on his promise. Surely, he is the next Jared Diamond -- but with far more literary flair. My only criticism of the audiobook format is that Flannery (who ably narrates the story himself) keeps a brisk pace that is unmodulated by the kinds of pauses (following climactic ideas or exceptionally artistic passages) that I would enforce were I reading the book in hand.

    As with Jared Diamond, Tim Flannery brings to his interdisciplinary, big-picture thinking a full scientific understanding of Earth history. In so doing, he helps the reader see through (what I like to call) "deep-time eyes" -- and what songwriter Peter Mayer calls a "million year mind."

    Highlights of the book include: (1) a riveting half-hour walk through the peopling of Earth and the extinction catastrophe that first-wave humans caused when naive megafauna were confronted by spear-and-fire wielders; (2) how indigenous cultures evolved lifeways balanced with the creatures that survived the frontier onslaught; (3) why a big-picture, deep-time understanding is vital for entering the future with realistic hope; and (4) how and why some life forms now depend on continuing human intervention in their behalf -- and would likely perish if our species suddenly vanished from Earth.

    Overall, a splendid and transformative listen!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Twilight of the Mammoths: Ice Age Extinctions and the Rewilding of America

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Paul S. Martin
    • Narrated By Michael Prichard
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    As recently as 11,000 years ago - "near time" to geologists - mammoths, mastodons, gomphotheres, ground sloths, giant armadillos, native camels and horses, the dire wolf, and many other large mammals roamed North America. In what has become one of science's greatest riddles, these large animals vanished in North and South America around the time humans arrived at the end of the last great ice age.

    Connie says: "Twilight of Paul S. Martin"
    "Twilight of Paul S. Martin"

    I knew the author, Paul Martin, for many years. He died September 13, 2010. He is a colleague who gave me, what I like to call, "deep-time eyes." Thankfully, he wrote this book at a time when his career had already fully flourished. His detailed reflections of bringing a deep-time, evolutionary understanding to ecology over the course of 50 years of professional work are superbly presented. I was delighted to discover it on Audible right around the time he died, just by searching the new biology books list here. For nonprofessionals, you may want to leap to chapter 5 ("Grand Canyon Suite: Mountain Goats, Condors, Equids, and Mammoths") and onward to first get a sense of the enormous practical significance of Paul's contributions to the fields of Pleistocene ecology and evolutionary ecology. The final chapter, "Kill Sites, Sacred Sites," invests the practical ecological management consequences of Paul's "Pleistocene Rewilding" proposal with the kind of spiritual significance that compels atheists like him and me to declare ourselves among the religious. Listen, and begin to see not only North America but the other continents and major islands of the world re-animated with magnificent megafaunal ghosts of the very recent past -- and weep for our species role in bringing their demise.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • The Modern Scholar: Evolutionary Psychology I: The Science of Human Nature

    • ORIGINAL (7 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Allen D. MacNeill

    “Why do we do what we do?” In this thought-provoking series of lectures, Professor Allen D. MacNeill examines the surprising - and sometimes unsettling - answers to this most basic of human questions. The remarkable new field of evolutionary psychology takes a scientific approach to the evolution of human nature. Analyzing human behavior in relation to food, clothing, shelter, health care, and sex, Evolutionary Psychology proves an immensely stimulating exploration of human endeavor.

    James says: "Great primer on Evolutionary Psychology"
    "Everybody Should Listen to This"

    My husband and I have listened to this twice thus far. We had already read and thought a lot about evolutionary psychology and evolutionary brain science (we teach it in church and public contexts, and for some, this understanding is "salvific"), but this audiobook is a superb -- and entertaining -- overview. Our only disappointment was that Part 2 was not immediately available.

    8 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origins of Species

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Sean B. Carroll
    • Narrated By Jim Bond

    Just 150 years ago, most of our world was an unexplored wilderness. Our sense of its age was vastly off the mark. And what we believed to be the history of our own species consisted of fantastic myths and fairy tales; fossils, known for millennia, were seen as the bones of dragons and other imagined creatures. How did we learn so much so quickly? Remarkable Creatures celebrates the pioneers who replaced our fancies with the even more remarkable real story of how our world evolved.

    Connie says: "A Remarkable Journey"
    "A Remarkable Journey"

    I am a professional science writer; I love science and have learned a great deal about evolutionary biology and the history of that field. But Sean Carroll's "Remarkable Creatures" brought me back to the first-taste delight and gratitude I felt 25 years ago when I began reading the classic books in this subject. Bravo!
    Anyone who loves science will fall in love with this book. Anyone who loves biographies will love this book. Anyone who loves great storytelling and adventure tales will love this book. More, I can think of no more pleasant and powerful way for anyone to truly grasp the power and beauty of the scientific endeavor as the most trustworthy way of knowing. In these stories of the great discoveries that birthed and honed an understanding of evolution and the deep-time frame that it requires, one comes to viscerally understand why the openness of science to new ideas (the liberal side of science) is necessarily tempered by the skepticism of those who have a stake in then-current understandings (the conservative side of science). Both are essential. This book gives the listener a profound appreciation of both.
    Finally, the author's choice of precisely what biographical elements to convey is masterful. Of note was his choice of including a vignette from each discoverer's childhood that would play out during the course of the narrative as pivotal for shaping his or her character, persistence, or field of interest. The importance of mentors was also very clear in these stories. How crucial to offer up such opportunities to questing youth in every generation!
    Overall, I give this book my highest recommendation.

    22 of 22 people found this review helpful

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