What can I say that hasn't been said a thousand times about Edgar Allen Poe's stories. So, I'll limit this review to this this particular audio book which contained 3 stories. "The Tell-Tale Heart", "The Cask of Amontillado", and "The Black Cat". Already familiar with the stories, I got this audio book as a freebie from Audible...can't remember why. Anyhow, I really enjoyed the narration by Earl Hammond. The only issue was during portions of The Black Cat, it was obvious that it was a transfer from tape, and the source was less than perfect. But the presentation was flawless. :)
Over the years I've watched several debates about religious subjects, several of those with Richard Dawkins as a participant. And as it turns out, much of the subject matter within this book I was already familiar with by my exposure to those debates. That said, I enjoyed the subject matter of the book, as well as the rational, and well thought out presentation of arguments. One of the key points the book strives to get across is that religion in general is a bad concept. Some points include, moderates tend to pick out versus in phrases from their holy books, often out of context, to emphasize their own personal points of view. While extremist with those same holy books, take a more fundamentalist view of them, often with disastrous results. Another point, movements such as the Creationist movement and its attempt to force creationism as a "Science" in our public schools only achieves to teach our children that when you don't know something, instead of striving to learn the answer to that question, you simply throw your hands up and say, "God made it that way." No true knowledge can come from that point of view.
I would recommend this book to anyone who was interested in religion in general, worldviews on various religions, and the religiosity now going on within the United States, making it the most religious country in the industrialized world. The book covers some possible reasons for this. One of them being that religion in the United States is big business. One hypothesis is raised that with no "official" religion in the United States, religion is sold like any other product in a free market economy. If you don't agree with the particular flavor of the religion you're a part of, you can go down the street to another church, another denomination, and enjoy the company of others who have interpreted the same words in a different way. Essentially catering to demand, this enabled religion to reach mega proportions, so much so, that as with other big businesses, they now employ their own lobbyists to help shape the laws of the land. If you're lucky enough to be part of the particular religion that has the most money, then your views will likely be reflected in your elected officials.
I don't believe this book should be anyone single point of reference in the "rationality and religion" argument. But I believe it certainly should be part of it. There are many good books out there on the subject, and I believe this is one of them.
Sam Harris's book, Waking up, is an attempt to give readers an option for religious experience, without the burdensome divisional essence of, and dogma of religion. Sam points out that all religions are mutually inconsistent, therefore they can't all be right. But, there's obviously a need for spirituality in human beings. This book tries to address that in a way that would allow people to have spiritual experiences that doesn't separate them from other human beings, or force them to make the impossible choice of "Which is right?". Neutral spirituality I guess you could say.
So, how does he go about that? In short, through mindfulness, and meditation. His "no self" philosophy stems from Buddhist traditions, and attempts to help the reader realize that the person in your head that you're talking to all the time, the person behind your eyes, doesn't exist. It's an illusion. Unlike other illusions, it's only when you look straight at it that you can see that it was an illusion. I've read several reviews that indicate that this concept is worrisome to some, confusing to some, and down right offensive to others. I can understand that, but the idea of "no self' isn't meant to be any of those. It's simply pointing out that this "you" doesn't live in your brain. This "I" in your thinking conversation isn't stored in one part of your brain. It can be altered and affected by physical changes to the brain. But all that aside, that's the direction of Sam's philosophy. If it doesn't sit will with you, well, that's fine too. If you took nothing else from this book but the being mindful and meditation advice, you may would walk away from it more at ease than you started. And, once down that road, your experiences in meditation, and life-changing state of mind while being mindful, may make you more open to the concept.
Sam also covers gurus and the like, in a way that may help make persons looking for a teacher more savvy in doing so. What I mean is, he points out that just because a particular guru may be very insightful, and have good advice for students, that doesn't necessarily mean that person is of high moral fiber. Don't go throwing your money at just anyone promising "enlightenment". (Or "salvation) as far as that goes...) I walked away from the chapter on gurus and such, with the feeling that he was trying to teach a bit of street savvy to anyone who may be going in that direction. And Sam points out several times in the book, that although gurus may help to point persons in the right direction, or help make things clearer, faster, they are by no means necessary. What Sam offers in this book, is available to everyone, anytime, at no cost. You don't even need to buy the book if you don't want. Google it. Most everything in this book is available out there on the internet. Just not in nicely organized book form. The book is worth it.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Sam Harris, an atheist interested in discovering a expression of their spirituality, or a religious person who is curious about how someone can be spiritual without committing to any particular religion. Someone who is practiced at meditation, and familiar with different Buddhist traditions may not get as much out of this book as others. Let me make clear, that the book is not asking the reader to become Buddhist, or accept Buddhist mythology. But as the book points out, Eastern philosophies are generally more focused on spiritual development in this way. I enjoyed the book, and look forward to Sam's next work.
This wasn't my first time in Middle Earth. I've been a fan of The Hobbit/Lord if the Rings books for more than 20 years I guess. However, having just seen the first of the 3 Peter Jackson Hobbit movies, I wanted to go back and familiarize myself with the original work, so I could tell what was changed in the movie. This version of the audio book was very pleasant to hear, and I enjoyed it very much.
Just finished Queen of Bedlam, the second Matthew Corbett book, and I loved it. We begin with Matthew, 3 years after the events in Speaks the Nightbird, working as a legal clerk in New York. Soon though, a murder, then another...both with similar markings cut into their faces. A serial killer in the days before there was a word to describe them. And that's just one of the mysteries Matthew is drawn into. But what is no mystery, is why I like these books. Robert McCammon has a writing style I've been a fan of for more than 20 years. That, along with the historical setting of New York in 1702, the believable characters you meet along the way and their relationships with one another, and just the true mystery of it all. I love a good mystery, and Matthew Corbett is as enjoyable a "Detective", as any I've ever read. I'm a big fan of BBC dramas and Masterpiece Mystery, and I could see these books on the small screen in that regard. Good stuff. I plan to start the next one soon!
I enjoyed this book just as I enjoyed Your Not So Smart. This one is shorter, I think, with only 17 additional psychological bias's, self-delusions and logical fallacies that make us human. Another difference is, this book, unlike Your Not So Smart, comes from the angle of, instead of pretending these brain quirks don't exist or we can't do anything about them as they are simply the human condition, if we can recognize them, we may can possibly avoid the situations and environmental conditions that foster them.
Like I said. I enjoyed it, and if you liked Your Not So Smart, you'll probably like this one.
I started this book because it's been around so long, (1989), and it's so popular that I've seen references to it in comics, tv and movies, that I thought I'd give it a read, or "listen" in this case to see what's the buzz. (I had the audio book.) All in all I enjoyed the book and thought, over all, there is some solid advice that can be gained from it. I've even determined to incorporate the basics of the concepts into my life. I would recommend this book to a friend.
That said, I only gave it three stars for a couple of reasons. The anecdotes about family members seemed to drag out a bit for my taste, and I don't believe any of them ended in a non-positive way. Which isn't realistic. For instance, part of the wisdom the book teaches is that sometimes you just need to let your children live their own lives, and accept it. Then goes on with an example where a parent did just that, and the child ended up deciding to go to college after all, exactly what the parent wanted. A few examples thrown into the mix where the subjects actually had to live with things that didn't go their way in the end would have been a bit more realistic. Secondly, a little less specific religious references would have been less distracting. I believe this book would benefit most anyone of any religion or spiritual disposition, as the author states early in the book. I personally just didn't find the reading of his beliefs as beneficial to the books basic concepts. Maybe and abridged version would have earned more stars from me. Lastly...and it didn't affect my rating or liking of the book, some of the jargon is dated...naturally being published first in 1989. Again, that shouldn't cloud the premise 7 habits. Overall, good habits.
This was a very good biography, which is something I've come to pleasingly expect when I start a Walter Isaacson work. My knowledge of Benjamin Franklin was limited to the near caricature of him taught in school back in my day, along with little bits and pieces from various documentaries I've watched during my adult life. I had no feeling for who the real person was behind the historical figure. Now, I believe I do, somewhat. Which, in itself reflects a good review of this book. Without going into too much of a summary of Benjamin Franklin himself, I think it's worth noting the light that the book shines on him. Ben Franklin was a practical man. A man who, when he saw a need, tried to find a practical solution to address that need. Whether it be protecting a house from bolts of lightning with his lightning rod, to helping design a constitution for a fledgling country whose states were in dire need of it. He believed in the middle class, and believed that excessive wealth, luxury, idleness and inheritable elitism was the root of much of the corruption in England at the time. He was a man who believed in religious tolerance, like many of the founding fathers, because religious dogma could be divisive, and not conducive democratic public discourse. He was a man who understood compromise and the need for it in a true democracy. Personally, he had vices like anyone else. He tended to enjoy spending time with his friends abroad better than his family back home. He often enjoyed the company various women throughout his life, to the dismay of some of his more puritanical political opponents. Contrary to many of his "Poor Richard" aphorisms, in his later years Franklin enjoyed late evenings with friends, wine, and chess. In the end, the book leaves you with the feeling that you may have known person behind the image a bit. He was a remarkable person, and this book is an excellent read for anyone interested in Benjamin Franklin, the man, and the historical figure.
I really enjoyed this book. Each chapter discusses some condition, brain quirk or tendency we all share, and makes us all, "Not So Smart". There's a new show on National Geographic Channel that touches on many of the same topics you can find in this book. If your interested in such things, or just want a book to point out that you aren't nearly as smart as you think you are, (and who doesn't love that), this is definitely worth the read.
Ok, I know this book is a classic. That's why I decided to read it. You know, see what all the hubbub is about. But I have to say that I didn't really enjoy the book very much. It's not a bad book, .. I think I just read it 60 years too late. Had I read it around 1949 when it first was published, I probably would have been drawn deeper into the whole "Big Brother", "The Party" fears and really gotten into the book more. Also, I kind of like a story that has some good things to happen to the protagonists. However, Winston Smith has no such luck. He lives in a society that controls everything to the extreme. Even certain thoughts are illegal. It is truly a negative Utopia. I don't think it's giving anything away, (the book is over 60 years old after all), to say that Winston Smith isn't a hero and he doesn't change the world he lives in. This is the story of Winston Smith and his relationship Big Brother. Worth a read, but not at the top of my list.
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