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Cynthia

Audible listener who's grateful for a long commute!

Monrovia, California, United States | Member Since 2012

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  • 207 reviews
  • 207 ratings
  • 469 titles in library
  • 11 purchased in 2015
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  • W Is for Wasted: A Kinsey Millhone Mystery

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Sue Grafton
    • Narrated By Judy Kaye
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1439)
    Performance
    (1269)
    Story
    (1264)

    Two dead bodies changed the course of my life that fall. One of them I knew and the other I'd never laid eyes on until I saw him in the morgue. The first was a local PI of suspect reputation. He'd been gunned down near the beach at Santa Teresa. It looked like a robbery gone bad. The other was on the beach six weeks later. He'd been sleeping rough. Probably homeless. No identification. A slip of paper with Millhone's name and number was in his pants pocket. The coroner asked her to come to the morgue to see if she could ID him.

    karen says: "Well worth waiting for...."
    "Respectfully Submitted"
    Overall
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    For a couple of years, I was assigned to litigate cases in Santa Barbara. It's a deceptively large city (90,412 in 2013) masquerading as a town small enough to walk everywhere. The Spanish Colonial Revival Courthouse is beautiful and lovingly maintained even as the latest technology is incorporated into the courtrooms. Each time I made an appearance, I took a few minutes to spot places Sue Grafton must have used to create Kinsey Millhone's world. Santa Barbara historically maintains so many places, it's not hard even though the series is set a quarter of a century ago.

    "W is for Wasted" (2013) is set in 1989, before cell phones and when the few people who knew what the Internet was were dialing in on 300 baud modems. Santa Barbara, then and now, has a persistent homeless population. When Kinsey's name and phone number are found in the pocket of a dead man who's part of the homeless community, she's drawn into an investigation that leads her to her own family in Bakersfield. It's a branch so distant it's almost a twig.

    Grafton's plots have become much more intricate since "A is for Alibi" (1982), but the resolution to the mysteries Kinsey solves end up telegraphed pretty well in advance. What I like about Grafton's books is that she intertwines two or more seemingly unrelated stories that tie together in the end. Trying to figure out how the stories merge is a kick. Grafton's cast of supporting characters is fun. Kinsey's landlord, Henry and his brother William have supporting roles in this book. They are, as always, amusing foils for each other and Kinsey. One of my favorite characters makes an appearance mid-book, and I didn't see that coming.

    However, I was disappointed in how Grafton handled Bakersfield and Kern County. Grafton got the geography right, and the mutability of the community and its tendency to tear down homes, and rebuild. It's roots are in the oil fields that dot the horizon, and many people there are descendants of "Okies" who migrated during the Dust Bowl of the depression. It can be a roustabout tough place. Where Grafton missed is the music. Bakersfield natives are proud of Buck Owens and the Buckaroos, Merle Haggard, and the other musicians that created the "Bakersfield Sound" of the 1950s. There's still a tremendous amount of support for local musicians so it wouldn't be surprising to find other talented local musicians playing in bars.

    As to the Audible - well, the voice actor's tone and pronunciation were fine, but the production quality was really off. I ended up listening to almost the entire book at 1.25 times speed. That's a first for me in over 200 Audible titles I've listened to.

    The title of the review is from the last line of every Millhone book.

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    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Sebastian Junger
    • Narrated By Richard Davidson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (124)
    Performance
    (106)
    Story
    (106)

    Man’s struggle against the sea is a theme that has created some of the world’s most exciting stories. Now, in the tradition of Moby Dick comes a New York Times best seller destined to become a modern classic. Written by journalist Sebastian Junger, The Perfect Storm combines an intimate portrait of a small fishing crew with fascinating scientific data about boats and weather systems.

    Cynthia says: "Best as a Listen"
    "Best as a Listen"
    Overall
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    There are some books and stories that work best for me on Audible. Frank Mueller's narration of Erich Maria Remarque's"All Quiet on the Western Front" (1927/1929) was one - I somehow managed to miss it as assigned high school reading, and had no luck trying to actually read the text. I couldn't follow it until I listened. Stephen King's 2010 "A Good Marriage" was a so-so-so novella narrator Jessica Hecht turned into a wicked, memorable tease in 2014. Now, I'm adding Sebastian Junger's 1997's "The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea" (2014 Audible) to my list.

    "The Perfect Storm" was, at the time it was written, a newer approach to writing scientific history. Junger approached a historically significant natural phenomenon by telling the stories of those who lived through it - and those who did not. The book is liberally salted with meteorological history and contains thorough discussions of how storms develop and are sustained. It's interwoven with the personal histories of the people that sailed the seas during that epic storm, and the loved ones they left pacing on widow's walks.

    Swordfishing is a difficult life, and the crew of the Andrea Gail worked hard and played hard. Junger traces the lives of the crew members, concentrating especially on Bobby Shatford and his girlfriend, Chris Cotter. Their volatile relationship was a good analogy for the coming storm.

    Junger's writing can be dry, but Richard Davidson's narration made the statistics and history lively. Meteorological terms that were unfamiliar to me slipped off his tongue with ease.

    I will no longer feel guilty, thinking that I really should finish "The Perfect Storm" every time I dust the paperback that's been sitting on my bookshelf for more than a decade.

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    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • FREE Recession Proof Graduate: How to Land the Job You Want by Doing Free Work

    • UNABRIDGED (42 mins)
    • By Charlie Hoehn
    • Narrated By Ray Chase
    Overall
    (134)
    Performance
    (119)
    Story
    (120)

    Recession-Proof Graduate is a wildly popular career guide that's been downloaded over 150,000 times. This audiobook is frequently shared among students, teachers, parents, counselors, freelancers, and entrepreneurs. It's been integrated in the coursework at a number of universities, given away as a graduation gift, and translated to Italian. When I changed my strategy, I landed a handful of dream gigs, got to work with amazing people like Tim Ferriss and Ramit Sethi, and found myself turning down multiple paid job offers.

    Megan Hewins says: "Hit and Miss"
    "Interesting Premise"
    Overall
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    Charlie Hoehn's "Recession Proof Graduate: How to Land the Job You Want by Doing Free Work" (2011) has some fantastic ideas for finding work in a tough economy, and those ideas worked for him. Hoehn talks about approaching businesses and volunteering work, and he's set forth the specifics on how to figure out who to approach; what approaches to use; and how to turn that into paying work. It appears to have worked for Hoehn very well, but it looks like he's consulting to relatively young and technologically nimble companies.

    I'm having a hard time imagining his approach working in companies that are so large that adapting new technology is expensive because of the sheer number of people involved; so entrenched that older management wouldn't be comfortable thinking outside of long established practices; and highly regulated, which makes those businesses, of necessity, extremely cautious. I'd add a caveat to Hoehn's plan: if you are going to do this, chose an industry that's structurally capable of accepting what he's suggesting, rather than an industry like big banking or insurance.

    Hoehn's ideas are intriguing, and it's worth the time to listen.

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    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Woman Who Wouldn't Die: The Dr. Siri Investigations, Book 9

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Colin Cotterill
    • Narrated By Clive Chafer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (54)
    Performance
    (45)
    Story
    (45)

    In a small Lao village, a very strange thing has happened. A woman was shot and killed in her bed during a burglary; she was given a funeral and everyone in the village saw her body burned. Then, three days later, she was back in her house as if she'd never been dead at all. But now she's clairvoyant and can speak to the dead. That's why the long-dead brother of a Lao general has enlisted her to help his brother uncover his remains, which have been lost at the bottom of a river for many years.

    Cynthia says: "Yes, it's that good."
    "Yes, it's that good."
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    Comrade Dr. Siri Paiboun, the retired National Coroner of Laos, inhabits a world so vividly written it already stands the test of time. Colin Cotterill's Siri Paiboun series is set in late 1970's Laos, after the Pathet Lao overthrew the Lao monarchy, and at the beginning of a new country. Laos, as I've learned listening to Cotterill's books, is a rich collection of tribes, cultures, and languages. Their histories are as complex and fascinating as the legendary tribes of North America - the Navajo, the Ojibwa, and the Lakota. Cotterill's fiction is a window into daily living in the ascendency of Sino-Communist nations, just as Arthur Conan Doyle's (1859 - 1930) Sherlock Holmes stories are a glimpse into daily Victorian England and Tony Hillerman's (1925 - 2008) Lt. Joe Leaphorn series explores the culture and beliefs of the tribes of the American Southwest along with daily practicalities.

    I visited China in 1981, shortly after it 'opened up' to western travel. It was a China of sturdy blue Mao suits; one speed no-brake bicycles instead of cars; of grain drying on city streets; of Hutongs instead of high rises; and of intermittent electricity even at the second best hotel in Beijing, the Friendship Hotel. If Laos was similar to China at about the same time, Cotterill's books are historically accurate. But it's not the details that bring me back to the series - it's Cotterill's characters.

    "The Woman Who Wouldn't Die" (2013) finally - and finely - creates a real Madame Daeng, Siri's second wife. Madame Daeng and Siri met in the revolution, but he was married to the exemplary revolutionary heroine, Bua. Bua was the public role model of every aspiring Lao female warrior, including Daeng It turns out that Daeng was, covertly, as brave, clever and perhaps more deadly than Bua - but because her success was predicated on secrecy, no one - including Siri - knew.

    Madame Daeng's autobiography is laid out in parallel chapters as Siri and Daeng solve a vexing mystery, along with his comrades - Nurse Dtui and her husband, Inspector Posey; founding communist party member Comrade Civilai; and Mr. Tsung, the extremely capable morgue assistant who coincidentally has Down syndrome. The mystery's a good one, and the Cotterill's more adept in this book than his previous books at laying out the clues without making them stand out as clues.

    Cotterill's made a good choice of narrator in Clive Chafer. Chafer's good at switching between Thai, Lao, Vietnamese, and English. He's English and he's reading with an accent - not British, but? Whatever it is, I like it.

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    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Gospel of Freedom: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail and the Struggle that Changed a Nation

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Jonathan Rieder
    • Narrated By Joe Washington
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (87)
    Performance
    (78)
    Story
    (79)

    "I am in Birmingham because injustice is here," declared Martin Luther King, Jr. He had come to that city of racist terror convinced that massive protest could topple Jim Crow. But the insurgency faltered. To revive it, King made a sacrificial act on Good Friday, April 12, 1963: He was arrested. Alone in his cell, reading a newspaper, he found a statement from eight "moderate" clergymen who branded the protests extremist and "untimely".

    Rick says: "Wow!"
    "When the Cup of Endirance Runneth Over"
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    Five years before he was assassinated, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 - 1968) published "Letter from Birmingham Jail." It was a response to "A Call to Unity," an April 12, 1963 letter written by eight Southern clergymen that, while nominally supporting the quest for racial equality, decried civil rights demonstrations lead by "outside agitators"and urged aggrieved Blacks ('Negroes' at the time) to use community level negotiations and the court system to achieve parity. In other words, wait. Just wait.

    Sociologist Jonathan Rieder, PhD's "Gospel of Freedom: Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter from Birmingham Jail and the Struggle that Changed a Nation" (2013) is a scholarly dissertation of the civil rights strategy the cultural conditions and forces that underly the Letter; King's family dynamics and how those shaped the letter; and the rhetorical syntax that made "Letter" so effective it resonates more than half a century.

    For example, Rieder explores the strategy behind the actual arrest. Dr. King had to go to Birmingham and be arrested, since King knew Birmingham would incarcerate him for a long period of time. In contrast, the cannier sheriff in Albany, Georgia, after he'd arrested King a second or third time, actually arranged to have someone post King's bond so he had to be released. The sheriff wasn't acting out of sympathy for the civil rights movement or for King. He didn't want Albany to be a touchstone of the civil rights movement that Birmingham became.

    Rieder's analysis of the text itself is exhaustive and sometimes exhausting. He argues convincingly that the first part of "Letter" is essentially a sermon Dr. King had been honing and delivering for several years. Dr. King walked into jail with the arguments that are in "Letter" already developed, and just needed to tailor them to "A Call to Unity."

    Rieder's discussion of the cadence and King's choice of words is interesting, but even as beautifully constructed and historically and biblical nuanced as "Letter" is, King couldn't have had time to detailed thought into every word. Dr. King wrote it in the margins of newspapers; on toilet paper so rough it held up to the assault of a pencil or pen; on smuggled notebook paper; and finally, on a legal pad his attorneys were able to bring him. It was transcribed, edited and published just two months later. The scholarly analysis intrigues, but King's lifetime religious training (he was a fourth generation minister); his education (King had two Bachelor's degrees and a PhD); and his unparalleled oratorical prowess and astounding reasoning must have meant he was able to write "Letter" without agonizing over every single word. That's not to say Rieder's analysis isn't apt, but I think he understates how much the impact of the writing depends on the perception of the reader.

    Rieder's directed this book at readers who already have a fairly in-depth understanding of King and the civil rights movement. The appendix (the last Audible chapter) has the full text of "Letter." Unless you already know it very well, listen to it first, or read it on line - then listen to "Gospel of Freedom."

    The narration is scholarly and a little dry. Well, actually, sleepy dry. I wasn't expecting King by any means, and trying to approximate how King would have delivered "Letter from Birmingham Jail" if he'd given it as a speech? Well, King didn't deliver it as a speech so it wouldn't have been accurate. But livelier would have helped.

    I'm giving the book 3's because it wandered, but that's not an opinion about "Letter From Birmingham Jail." That elegant, profound piece of writing made the world better.

    The title of the review is from the text of "Letter."

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    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Fahrenheit 451

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Ray Bradbury
    • Narrated By Tim Robbins
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (254)
    Performance
    (229)
    Story
    (229)

    Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden. Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television "family."

    W Perry Hall says: "I'm Burnin', I'm Burnin' for You"
    "What Dandelions Mean"
    Overall
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    I hesitated buying Audible Studio's Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451" (1953) because it seemed almost sacrilegious. But I've got three print versions and my kids have an electronic text version. Bradbury - who died in 2012 - had to have licensed at least the first Audible version, and his estate must have authorized this version. If the author said "okay," why shouldn't I listen? As busy as I am, I won't have time to read the text version again until I retire. And, well, Tim Robbins is the narrator.

    It's impossible to write a review of "Fahrenheit 451" that hasn't already been written by Cliff Notes, Spark Notes, or some high schooler robbed of the magic of discovering Bradbury independently and forced to read the book. I just hope that the fact it's required reading doesn't obscure Bradbury's absolutely brilliant science fiction storytelling. ATMs? Earbuds? Flat screen TVs? They're all there - more than 60 years ago. But it's more than SciFi to me - it's horror.

    Fear is very, very personal - I understand scary spiders, but snakes? Sure, boa constrictors can be a little intimidating, but California King Snakes are just about the cutest things to slither the ground. I've heard not everyone feels that way. For me, "Fahrenheit 451" is one of the most horrifying stories ever. I watched Francois Truffaut's 1966 movie version when I was 11, several years before I read the book. That night was the first time I woke up screaming from a nightmare. The books - burning the books. It was as if my friends were being burned alive.

    The reason I keep personalizing the book and the review is that Bradbury's writing is Art, with a capital 'A.' Like all true art, it means different things to different people at different times. As a teenager, I don't think I realized it was dystopian - and I sure missed Fireman Guy Montag's feelings for his wife, Mildred. I got the overt symbolism, but only because a 9th or 10th grade teacher whose name I've forgotten made me learn it for a test.

    Unfortunately, I wasn't impressed by Robbins as a narrator for this book. He's a fine Guy Montag, but as Mildred Montag and Clarisse McClellam? Ow. Mildred was biting and shrill, which is appropriate for her character - but it still hurt my ears. Robbins' Clarisse came across as vapid, and that wasn't good for a profound character.

    For those of you playing 6 Degrees of Stephen King, this Audible performance is 1 degree. Robbins played Andy Dufrense in Frank Darrabont's 1994 film "The Shawshank Redemption." That was based on King's 1983 novella, "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption," published in the "Different Seasons" collection. Here's a less commonly known connection: King is a huge Bradbury fan, and "Fahrenheit 451" uses the term 'The Running Man' several times. King wrote an okay novella called "The Running Man" (1982) under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. which was made into a better - or maybe just funnier - 1987 movie of the same name starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Bradbury's influence on King is far beyond just that subtle tribute. For example, his 2014 "Revival" revives the Bradbury's traveling carnival from "Something Wicked This Way Comes."

    The title of this review comes from dandelions Clarisse picked for Montag.

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    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Slash and Burn: The Dr. Siri Investigations, Book 8

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Colin Cotterill
    • Narrated By Clive Chafer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (67)
    Performance
    (51)
    Story
    (51)

    Dr. Siri might finally be allowed to retire (again). Although he loves his two morgue assistants, he’s tired of being Laos’ national coroner - a job he never wanted in the first place. Plus, he’s pushing 80 and wants to spend some time with his wife before his untimely death, which has been predicted by the local transvestite fortune teller. But retirement is not in the cards for Dr. Siri after all. He’s dragged into one last job for the Lao government: supervising an excavation for the remains of a US fighter pilot....

    Cynthia says: "Hopelessly Smitten"
    "Hopelessly Smitten"
    Overall
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    It's completely possible to fall in love with fictional characters. I've done it before. J. K. Rowling's 'Harry Potter' (1997-2007) is an easy one. Some of the best times of my life were reading all seven books aloud to my (now adult) son. Stephen Colbert? I know he'll do well as the host of "Late Show" but I'll always miss "The Colbert Report" (2005-2014). Add the incomparable Dr. Siri Paiboun, the National Medical Examiner of mid- to late-1970's Laos and his wife, the talented noodle chef Madame Tseng to my beloved imaginary friends.

    Dr. Siri is asked to investigate the 1969 disappearance? death? of a US senator's pilot son in Laos. Not that the Air America was a CIA front; not that Air America was running drugs and arms in Southeast Asia; and not that the United Stares was ever in Laos. The reluctant coroner but happy adventurer is allowed to select a pathologist's dream team to make the trip to the mountains of Laos. He chooses Madame Tseng: Nurse Dtui and her husband, Inspector Posey; Comrade Civilai; and Mr. Tsung, the morgue assistant with Down syndrome. Auntie Puu, a transvestite fortune teller, unexpectedly hitches a helicopter ride and joins the party at the Friendship Hotel. Add an American team, including the tragically alcoholic Major Harold Potter, and an unexpectedly claustrophobic setting, and more than one mystery, and it's an unexpectedly complex plot.

    Dr. Siri's also the host of a 1,000 year old Hmong spirit, Ya Ming. Ya Ming's got lots of friends and lots of business he sometimes accomplishes without his host's knowledge. Cotterill did something in this book that he didn't do in the previous 7 in the series: there was a Ya Ming ex Machina. I guess it's acceptable as a literary device, but it's a bit of a disappointment.

    Cotterill's books are full of witty dialogue and funny, frank characters. Be prepared to laugh out loud, often. Clive Chafer is a droll, memorable narrator and moves between English, Lao, Thai and Hmong pronunciations fluidly.

    [Sorry for any misspellings - I did my best based on what I heard. If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!]

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • The Madwoman in the Volvo: My Year of Raging Hormones

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Sandra Tsing Loh
    • Narrated By Sandra Tsing Loh
    Overall
    (54)
    Performance
    (49)
    Story
    (49)

    In a voice that is wry, disarming, and totally candid, Sandra Tsing Loh tells the moving and laugh-out-loud tale of her roller coaster through "the change". This is not your grandmother’s menopause story. Loh chronicles utterly relatable, everyday perils: raising preteen daughters, weathering hormonal changes, and going through the ups and downs of a career and a relationship.

    Cynthia says: "Amusing in Small Doses"
    "Amusing in Small Doses"
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    I live in Southern California where Sandra Tsing Loh has been a fixture on public radio for years. She was on KCRW until an unfortunate unbleeped "f" world, so now Pasadena City College's KPCC carries "The Loh Down on Science" and "The Loh Life." Both commentaries are amusing, often very informative, and, thankfully, quick. Loh's over the top delivery is hard to take in long stretches.

    "The Madwoman in the Volvo: My Year of Raging Hormones" (2014) is part self-help/medical guide (estrogen cream, aka the magic elixir, might help!); part confessional (how a trip to Burning Man tanked her marriage in a very public and embarrassing way); part wry look at raising pre-teens (an acronym dictionary would help); and often laugh-out-loud funny. Her father - I tried in vain to find out what his name actually is - plays a prominent part, appearing to die not once but several times.

    Loh's father was in his 40's when she was born; and she was in her late 30's to early 40's when her own children were born. That makes for an interesting take on things - she's going through menopause while her own children are going through puberty. Thankfully, she spares her daughters the embarrassment of discussing that, but she dishes on school spats that made me cringe for her daughter, while at the same time knowing I would have been tempted to do what Loh did.

    "The Madwoman" did make me realize that I was woefully unprepared for menopause. I thought tweezers and a magnifying mirror for unwanted hairs would be enough - and boy, was I wrong. I was glad to have someone explain it so that I won't think I'm going crazy.

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    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • We Are All Weird: The Myth of Mass and the End of Compliance

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Seth Godin
    • Narrated By Seth Godin
    Overall
    (229)
    Performance
    (192)
    Story
    (196)

    We Are All Weird is a celebration of choice, of treating different people differently and of embracing the notion that everyone deserves the dignity and respect that comes from being heard. The book calls for end of "mass" and for the beginning of offering people more choices, more interests, and giving them more authority to operate in ways that reflect their own unique values.

    Steven says: "Nothing new"
    "(Mis) Judging a Book by its Cover"
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    I bought Seth Godin's "We Are All Weird" (2011) without realizing what I was getting.

    The Audible version of the book has a guy with a green dunce cap and matching Indian cotton tunic. He looked, well, pretty weird. The author's first name is "Seth" which makes me think of funny guy actors-writers Seth MacFarlane and Seth Rogan. Since I don't know any Seths personally, I pretty much thought every Seth was funny, just like I still think every Dallas is a meteorologist, and every Barrack is president.

    Amusing indicators aside, "We Are All Weird" isn't funny. It's a serious manifesto (Godin's word) about the end of mass marketing and, by extension, the end of mass retailing and mass production of lot of things. Thanks to the Internet, we've gone from cobblers custom making shoes for every person in the 16th Century to everyone wearing the same shoes back to custom shoes. An average individual can afford a custom tailored suit. And music - we can listen to what we want, when we want - without having a whole album shoved down our throat (well, except for U2's "Songs of Innocence" (September 9, 2014) Apple foisted on us, and talk about a mass marketing failure there).

    My undergraduate degree's in Business Administration and I had a year of marketing classes, but I didn't keep up with the field. Grodin's theories seem sound, and for those of us old enough to have learned traditional marketing, the theories are new. His discussion and narrative were lively enough to keep me interested in a topic I don't follow. Good marketing, Godin.

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    5 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best... and Learn from the Worst

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Robert I. Sutton
    • Narrated By Bob Walter
    Overall
    (116)
    Performance
    (63)
    Story
    (60)

    Stanford Professor Robert Sutton weaves together the best psychological and management research with compelling stories and cases to reveal the mindset and moves of the best (and worst) bosses. This book was inspired by the deluge of emails, research, phone calls, and conversations that Dr. Sutton experienced after publishing his blockbuster best seller The No Asshole Rule. He realized that most of these stories and studies swirled around a central figure in every workplace: THE BOSS.

    Clint says: "Most pragmatic management handbook"
    "Excelente Jefe, Mal Jefe"
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    On Christmas Day, my new boss sent me an email asking about a 6 month old charge from a vendor. Three days earlier, he sent me an email while I was driving to a client meeting 90 minutes away. When I checked my emails before starting the meeting, I found the original email - and several strident follow ups, demanding an immediate response to the original email and an explanation for why I hadn't responded immediately. Immediately. And, just before New Years' Day, while I was on a family vacation, he had me work for hours on a project he'd already cancelled.

    I could go through Roget's and pick out any number of words for the situation and how I feel about the last 10 days of the year. But, as Robert I. Sutton, PhD points out in "Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best…. and Survive the Worst" (2010), it could have been much, much worse. At least I wasn't water-boarded as a team building exercise like one literally tortured employee in his book.

    Sutton is a Professor of Management Science and Engineering in the Stanford Engineering School. He's got some great concepts - simplified as the 'No asshole rule' that, from my bottom-of-the-pile, no-one-under-me, I-never-want-to-manage-anyone perspective, work. And work well.

    I don't know if my previous boss read this book or Sutton's "The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t" (2007) or just knew some parts intuitively, but he (mostly) followed them. When things worked, he left us alone. When he needed to criticize, he did so swiftly and without apology. Mostly, he deflected outside interference and let us do our jobs. These are concepts Sutton champions, along with rigorous honesty, especially in the face of problems; managing what you know and not rising to the Peter principal level; keeping your mouth shut about confidential information; and showing empathy for employees. Sutton's got specific management techniques for handling difficult situations. I've seen them in action, and they work.

    As far as employee survival techniques go, I'd expected more from a book that's title includes, ". . . and Survive the Worst." For example, becoming, in the words of Roger Waters and David Gilmour of Pink Floyd "Comfortably Numb" (1979) is a great idea, but Sutton doesn't explain how to do it psychologically. It seems like it happens to a lot of employees in Sutton's book as a natural result of unremitting demoralization, so maybe I'll get there.

    This is worth the read/listen if you're a manager or want to be one. In fact, take the Asshole Rating Self-Exam (ARSE) test that's available on line and read the book before becoming a manager. If you're already a manager, have someone you trust fill out the test for you. Please. Follow the recommendations so you are called 'El Jefe Mas Excelente' instead of something else. Unfortunately, though, this book isn't as helpful for us worker bees trying to survive in a restless hive.

    Bob Walter was good narrator, and the pacing and editing was good.

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    3 of 6 people found this review helpful

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