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Nothing really matters

Rob Thomas

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada | Member Since 2013

195
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 62 reviews
  • 66 ratings
  • 422 titles in library
  • 187 purchased in 2014
FOLLOWING
22
FOLLOWERS
15

  • Bounce: Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and the Science of Success

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Matthew Syed
    • Narrated By James Clamp
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (187)
    Performance
    (82)
    Story
    (82)

    Few things in life are more satisfying than beating a rival. We love to win and hate to lose, whether it's on the playing field or at the ballot box, in the office or in the classroom. In this bold new look at human behavior, award-winning journalist and Olympian Matthew Syed explores the truth about our competitive nature: why we win, why we don't, and how we really play the game of life.

    Joao Coelho says: "Very eye opening"
    "Great book about top performance"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Any additional comments?

    I really enjoyed this book. It explains very interesting aspects of top performances in sports and other areas. It's one of the few books I've read that discusses the phenomenon of "choking under pressure". (Come on researchers, do more research on choking.)

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Off to Be the Wizard

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Scott Meyer
    • Narrated By Luke Daniels
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1168)
    Performance
    (1098)
    Story
    (1105)

    It's a simple story. Boy finds proof that reality is a computer program. Boy uses program to manipulate time and space. Boy gets in trouble. Boy flees back in time to Medieval England to live as a wizard while he tries to think of a way to fix things. Boy gets in more trouble. Oh, and boy meets girl at some point.

    Charles says: "Fantastic"
    "Middle-aged male nerd humour. A+"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Recently I listened to "The Death of Ivan Ilych" and "Siddhartha" as well as a number of intense non-fiction titles ("Beyond Anger" and some Great Courses titles). All very serious, all very deep. This book is light fare, but is very funny, well done, and aimed at middle-aged male nerds like me. It's just the antidote I needed.

    I enjoyed every second of this story. I even tortured my family by insisting on listening to the last few chapters non-stop through breakfast the rest of the morning and lunch until the book was done.

    [SPOILER ALERT] The premise of the book is a fun take on the idea that humanity are the white mice in someone else's science experiment or game. The fun starts when a few learn how to game the game. The characters are all geeky and likable. The basic conflict in the story is a classic. A Machiavellian narcissist psychopath wants power and doesn't give a hoot about those he must crush in the process (just like your bosses at work!). And the good guys are determined to stop him. The catch is they are all very powerful wizards in mediaeval England.

    I can't wait to listen to the next installment.

    Highly recommended for middle aged male nerds looking for funny, light reading/listening.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Free: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

    • UNABRIDGED (15 mins)
    • By James Thurber
    • Narrated By Ben Stiller
    Overall
    (3215)
    Performance
    (2865)
    Story
    (2897)

    Mild-mannered Walter Mitty is a day-dreamer who escapes his anonymous life by disappearing into a world of fantasies filled with heroism, romance and action. This well-known and beloved tale has launched its famous protagonist into the cultural lexicon, warranting his inclusion in English-language dictionaries and countless anthologies. Stiller's imaginative performance as Mitty is the perfect re-introduction to the classic character and a great preface to the upcoming film, for longtime fans and new listeners alike.

    Dave says: "We Only Live Once. Or Do We?"
    "This is my Webley-Vickers 50.80, he said calmly"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    What an amazing short story!

    [SPOILER ALERT] Walter Mitty is a hen-pecked husband who feels inferior most of the time. But he escapes into his fabulously rich fantasy world where he holds all the cards. Walter is married but still so alone and his tale is simultaneously hilarious and poignant. The ending is subtle and superb.

    Read this and your head will go, "pocketa-pocketa-pocketa".

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Escape from the Carnivale: A Never Land Adventure

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 55 mins)
    • By Dave Barry, Ridley Pearson
    • Narrated By Jim Dale
    Overall
    (68)
    Performance
    (40)
    Story
    (39)

    Little Scallop should be happy. She's a princess of the Mollusk tribe, rulers of beautiful Mollusk Island. And she has two fun friends - Aqua and Surf - who just happen to be mermaids.

    Nothing really matters says: "Yet another great Star Catcher book!"
    "Yet another great Star Catcher book!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Another great novel in the family-friendly Star Catcher series. Again, like all the others in the series, this novella has great writing and benefits from really great narration.

    In Escape from the Carnivale we hear another adventure involving Peter's friends and Fighting Prawn's daughters on the island of Neverland while Peter is away. [SPOILER ALERT] It's an adventure with intrepid kids, nasty pirates, and a nasty set of visitors to the island who sail a circus-like ship complete with nautical curiosities.

    Highly recommended.

    If this is your first book in the series, you'll want to read Peter and the Star Catchers first. There are two other novellas like this in the series, btw.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Cave of the Dark Wind: A Never Land Adventure

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Dave Barry, Ridley Pearson
    • Narrated By Jim Dale
    Overall
    (54)
    Performance
    (31)
    Story
    (31)

    While Peter is away from the island, James and the other Lost Boys discover a mysterious cave. Shining Pearl and her sister, Little Scallop, warn the boys that the cave is a dangerous place, inhabited by a creature known as the Goat Taker - a beast so scary that even the Mollusk tribe fears it. But the boys can't resist trying to discover the cave's secrets.

    Nothing really matters says: "Another great Star Catcher book!"
    "Another great Star Catcher book!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Another great novel in the family-friendly Star Catcher series. Again, like all the others in the series, this novella has great writing and benefits from really great narration.

    In Cave of the Dark Wind we hear another adventure involving Peter's friends and Fighting Prawn's daughters on the island of Neverland while Peter is away. [SPOILER ALERT] It's an adventure with intrepid kids, a spooky cave, nasty pirates, bats, and a cursed treasure.

    Highly recommended.

    If this is your first book in the series, you'll want to read Peter and the Star Catchers first. There are two other novellas like this in the series, btw.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Killed at Resaca

    • UNABRIDGED (16 mins)
    • By Ambrose Bierce
    • Narrated By John Michaels
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    Killed at Resaca, is a short story of the American Civil War by Ambrose Bierce. Bierce is a master of the surprise ending. This short story of bravery and betrayal is no exception. Ambrose Bierce was a veteran of the American Civil War, and like many veterans, anger simmers just below the surface. In this short story Bierce’s simmering anger comes out in a surprising way at the end of the story.

    Nothing really matters says: "Mismatched narrator, good story."
    "Mismatched narrator, good story."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you've ever had the good fortune to read "The Devil's Dictionary" you know Ambrose Bierce is a very, very funny writer. He is a master of irony and subtle and keen insights on the human condition.

    I really wanted to enjoy this book and experience his great sense of humour again, but unfortunately the narrator was a mismatch for the material. I'm not criticising him. I can hear this narrator doing adventure stories with lots of drama. But he did not capture the humour or "feel" of this subtle tale and transmit it to me, the listener.

    This story needs to be re-recorded with someone who will give it the treatment it deserves. It could be very funny, if read right.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • A Message to Garcia

    • UNABRIDGED (10 mins)
    • By Elbert Hubbard
    • Narrated By Kent McKamy
    Overall
    (19)
    Performance
    (11)
    Story
    (11)

    A Message to Garcia, written by legendary author Elbert Hubbard, is widely considered to be one of the top 100 greatest books of all time. This great classic will surely attract a whole new generation of listeners. For many, A Message to Garcia is required reading (or listening) for various courses and curriculums. And for others who simply enjoy timeless pieces of classic literature, this gem by Elbert Hubbard is highly recommended.

    Nothing really matters says: "I wish it were so. But it generally isn't."
    "I wish it were so. But it generally isn't."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Unless you are 18 years old, plus or minus two or three years, you likely find the world a complicated place. People like you one day and hate you the next, you know not why. A machine works fine one day and dies the next for no apparent reason. And getting a thing done is rarely as easy as you imagine it to be.

    It's also a scary place at times. Folks pose threats for no good reason. Sometimes they are family or neighbours. Sometimes they live half way around the world. What's with that?

    It's also a disappointing place. People you thought you could trust and rely on, let you down for no apparent reason. They do the wrong thing - the opposite of the thing you'd have done in their shoes. They do it even if doing the right thing would not have been too hard. Why? That's too complicated a question to answer because human beings are quite complex creatures with infinitely varying motivations and all kinds of baggage. Ten people can look at one object and see eleven different things.

    Sounds bleak, eh? Wouldn't it be nice if the world were simpler? Like if folks did what they were supposed to do, for what you believe are the right reasons. Wouldn't it be great if some folks were always motivated and diligent and loyal and acted with perfect integrity? Sure. But the world isn't like that. Sorry. Some folks are generally better due to good parenting, learning tough lessons, good dispositions, or what have you. But NO ONE is perfect.

    Elbert Hubbard would like to see the world as a simple, black and white proposition. I wish he were correct, but he's not. He's oversimplifying up a storm in this book. The world isn't made up of good and bad people. You know intuitively it's not like that. Some people may fairly consistently be good in my eyes, but in another's eyes they may be bad. Or they may be good one day, but change later. Life's kooky like that.

    Mr. Hubbard's vision is a nice pipe dream. But, unfortunately, that's all it is.

    You probably do not need to fret. Just work at learning how to get by in our complicated world. Try reading lots of good books, but give this one a pass unless you just happen to be curious.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Siddhartha

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Hermann Hesse
    • Narrated By Firdous Bamji
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (582)
    Performance
    (376)
    Story
    (377)

    Siddhartha is Nobel Prize-winning author Hermann Hesse's most famous and influential work, a novel of self-exploration that will linger in your mind and spirit for a lifetime. A young man, blessed with loving parents and a safe home in a world where want and neglect abound, leaves this haven in search of himself.

    Ramanujam says: "Very Interesting to Listen"
    "The Buddhist 'Life of Brian'."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I initially thought this was a version of the life story of the Buddha (one of whose names was "Siddartha"). But it's the story of a contemporary who crosses paths with the Buddha in the story, but who carves his own path to enlightenment. It's like "The Life of Brian", but with philosophy and poetic wording rather than that great Monty Python humour.

    I found the story of Siddharta compelling, poetic at times, and well-narrated. I was not completely convinced by Sid's philosophy ultimately, but I still really enjoyed the story. I would have docked the story one star for it's philosophical conclusions, but that that didn't seem justified.

    So, I highly recommend the book for its twisty-turny story, the lyrical writing, and the interestng ideas it sets out. Don't worry about it if you're exactly not on all fours with Sid's conclusions by the end. The narration is really excellent as well.

    PS: You will need some basic info about Buddhism though. I'm no expert, but here goes. The most important thing is that the goal of the religion is to meditate long and hard until you finally achieve the ultimate truth of the universe at which point you're on your way to Nirvana. If you fail, you are reincarnated and get another chance. And know that Brahmans are the the priest/upper class of that society.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Living Space

    • UNABRIDGED (36 mins)
    • By Isaac Asimov
    • Narrated By Mark F. Smith
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    When the technology for twisting to other probability patterns was developed, a grateful Earth solved its overcrowding by sending people to live on Earths where plants and animals never got started. Each family could have its own planet, because there was an infinite number of such alt-Earths available, and the computers never assigned the same one twice. Trouble was - someone else had the same idea!

    Nothing really matters says: "More fun old-school sci-fi"
    "More fun old-school sci-fi"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    These old sci-fi stories are great fun. It's almost always rewarding to read something obscure by a great old sci-fi author like Isaac Asimov.

    I'm really glad to see Audible making older and shorter classic stories available.

    The narration wasn't bad, but I think I've been spoiled by some of the truly fantastic narrators I've heard on Audible. I was going to give it four stars to be generous, but was listening again as I wrote this and heard a hesitation that really should have been edited out. And some of the character voices were inconsistent and seemed not quite right. So three stars.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Skull

    • UNABRIDGED (48 mins)
    • By Philip K. Dick
    • Narrated By Mike Vendetti
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    A man is given the chance to get out of jail, but he must travel back in time and kill a man who has changed the world. His only clue to the identity of this individual is a skull. The man's skull is 200 years old. What if?

    Nothing really matters says: "Great old-school sci-fi short story"
    "Great old-school sci-fi short story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I enjoyed the story. It was great fun and a quick read. I was torn about how to rate this production, though.

    I was thrilled to find this kind of old-school sci-fi available through Audible. And, like I said the story was great. When it started though, I recognised the narrator's voice from the Librivox's production of "Red Badge of Courage". In that audiobook, he mispronounced a word I felt he really should have known (or looked up). It irked me because it yanked me out my immersion in the story. But it was Librivox and free, so it was no biggie.

    Just a short way into this Audible book, though, he pronounces “Martian”, “martin”. Add to this the fact that his reading style doesn’t do much for me, and hopefully you will understand why I felt I could only give the narration two stars.

    The key reason I switched from free audiobooks on Librivox to paid ones on Audible is quality of the narration. If the quality is not there, I’m left feeling a bit disappointed. Mind you, this story is probably not available on Librivox and also, this story was not very expensive. So, maybe I should just chill a bit...

    In the final analysis, I do NOT want to discourage Audible from making these sorts of obscure and/or short classics available. I want to encourage it. That said, someone at Audible should be carefully reviewing these cottage-industry readings to at least check the pronunciation.

    (I say “cottage industry” as I see from his website that this narrator has gone into the business of encouraging others to narrate fringe classics in the public domain. In fact, the very next story I listened to, Isaac Asimov's "Living Space" was a result of this effort. Again, the general idea of making these great old stories available is a great one.)

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Death of Ivan Ilyich

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Leo Tolstoy
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble
    Overall
    (153)
    Performance
    (136)
    Story
    (138)

    Hailed as one of the world’s masterpieces of psychological realism, The Death of Ivan Ilyich is the story of a worldly careerist, a high-court judge who has never given the inevitability of his death so much as a passing thought. But one day death announces itself to him, and to his shocked surprise he is brought face-to-face with his own mortality. How, Tolstoy asks, does an unreflective man confront his one and only moment of truth?

    Alexandria Milton says: "Elegant, simple, and true"
    "I wish I could give this six stars."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a very powerful story about the point of life. It illustrates, through an explanation of the life and death of the main character, Ivan, that we should all take a hard look at how we live our lives and our assumptions about that.

    [SPOILER ALERTS from here on.] Ivan does everything seemingly right in his life. He studys hard, gets married to a women from the upper crust, has children, has many friends, is popular at work, entertains the high society folk, eventually becomes a judge, and fixes up his house, work, and social life so it's all very "comme il faut" (stylish and enviable).

    Then he is struck with an illness which to me sounds a great deal like cancer. As it drags him slowly and irreversibly toward death, Ivan is mentally tortured. He cannot figure out why, beyond the obvious cold terror of his approaching demise, he is so misable, frustrated, and angry. By the end, he finally gets it. His life was, in the final analysis, wasted. Perhaps he could have died with more peace of mind had he focussed more on giving love and kindness to others. In his last moments he does a bit of that, though, and leaves the world with some measure of happiness.

    Wow. Heavy stuff. But it certainly rings true. Your BMW won't come and visit you in the hospital and your kids will probably never say, "I wish dad was more distant and harsh and spent less time with me."

    On a final note, Simon Prebble is a reallly fantastic narrator. He did this profound story justice in a way I think very, very few others might have been able to do. At the very end of this book and his marvellous narration of it, I was so moved I had to wipe away a tear or two.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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