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Alex

United States | Member Since 2010

46
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 19 reviews
  • 29 ratings
  • 62 titles in library
  • 3 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
3

  • The Science of Persuasion: Scientific American

    • UNABRIDGED (21 mins)
    • By Robert Cialdini, Scientific American
    • Narrated By Sal Giangrasso
    Overall
    (111)
    Performance
    (48)
    Story
    (45)

    From the pages of Scientific American magazine: "The Science of Persuasion" reveals how sales people and politicians, as well as friends and family, get others to agree to what they want.

    Hammy says: "Direct and to the point"
    "Nothing suprising here -- mostly common sense."
    Overall

    Moderately interesting but no stunning insights. I was hoping for more science, particularly science that may go beyond what you'd intuit anyway.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By John J. Ratey
    • Narrated By Walter Dixon
    Overall
    (2650)
    Performance
    (1685)
    Story
    (1666)

    Did you know you can beat stress, lift your mood, fight memory loss, sharpen your intellect, and function better than ever simply by elevating your heart rate and breaking a sweat? The evidence is incontrovertible: Aerobic exercise physically remodels our brains for peak performance.

    Kathleen says: "Spark"
    "Interesting at first, but soon becomes repetitive"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book presents some scientific interesting data about the beneficial effects of exercise. However, the book should be treated more as a reference than as a work that you read (or listen to) from start to finish. The author addresses many different health problems, all of which are improved by exercise. After a while, the research findings start to become dull and repetitive. My advice is to read only the chapters that pertain to your particular health issues.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished from the Streets of Tokyo - and the Evil That Swallowed Her Up

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Richard Lloyd Parry
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (426)
    Performance
    (367)
    Story
    (368)

    Lucie Blackman - tall, blond, 21 years old - stepped out into the vastness of Tokyo in the summer of 2000 and disappeared. The following winter, her dismembered remains were found buried in a seaside cave. The seven months in between had seen a massive search for the missing girl involving Japanese policemen, British private detectives, and Lucie’s desperate but bitterly divided parents. Had Lucie been abducted by a religious cult or snatched by human traffickers? Who was the mysterious man she had gone to meet? And what did her work as a hostess in the notorious Roppongi district of Tokyo really involve?

    La Becket says: "The best audiobook I have ever heard -- hands down"
    "Interesting but too long"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There are some very mild spoilers below.

    This book was interesting mainly for the insights it provided about Japanese culture. For example, who knew that the Japanese police are almost laughably incompetent at solving all but the most routine crimes? Also, the narrator was outstanding -- I felt shivers down my spine every time he pronounced the word, "Roppongi". Seriously, though, he was truly an excellent reader.

    The story itself was suspenseful at the beginning, but the actual crime turned out to be far less sinister and less interesting than I thought. Also, the book is much too long, and it drags in places (particularly toward the end).

    Two other things I didn't like: The title is bizarre and misleading. I don't recall the author developing any ongoing theme of eating darkness (whatever that might mean), and there was only ONE person involved in the crime. Also, I really didn't like the author's final chapter, where he pontificates on What It All Means. He should have left the reader to draw his or her own conclusions.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Sam Kean
    • Narrated By Sean Runnette
    Overall
    (2199)
    Performance
    (1405)
    Story
    (1409)

    Reporter Sam Kean reveals the periodic table as it’s never been seen before. Not only is it one of man's crowning scientific achievements, it's also a treasure trove of stories of passion, adventure, betrayal, and obsession. The infectious tales and astounding details in The Disappearing Spoon follow carbon, neon, silicon, and gold as they play out their parts in human history, finance, mythology, war, the arts, poison, and the lives of the (frequently) mad scientists who discovered them.

    Ethan M. says: "Excellent, if unfocused"
    "Some interesting stories, but not much depth"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book is a light-hearted, superficial romp through the periodic table of the elements. "The Disappearing Spoon" is more entertaining than profound. And that's fine -- I think the author did not set out to write a deep, philosophical book. Don't expect a whole lot, and you won't be disappointed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Neil Gaiman
    • Narrated By Neil Gaiman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5129)
    Performance
    (4729)
    Story
    (4737)

    A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. He is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock. Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie - magical, comforting, wise beyond her years - promised to protect him, no matter what.

    Cynthia says: "Shadows Dissolved in Vinegar"
    "Lots of weird stuff happens without much sense."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you like your fiction to make sense, then this book is not for you.

    The story begins with the suicide death of an opal miner. Shortly after his death, strange things start happening. For example, a fish dies because of a coin that mysteriously appears in its stomach. What, exactly, is the connection between the opal miner and the fish? Well, your guess is as good as mine.

    I did not like this book. The author did not seem to have a clear, coherent vision of the ties between different parts of his story. Overall, the fable did not amount to much. If you're a logical thinker, you may want to skip this one.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Steven Pinker
    • Narrated By Arthur Morey
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (332)
    Performance
    (270)
    Story
    (264)

    In this classic, the world’s expert on language and mind lucidly explains everything you always wanted to know about language: how it works, how children learn it, how it changes, how the brain computes it, and how it evolved. With deft use of examples of humor and wordplay, Steven Pinker weaves our vast knowledge of language into a compelling story: language is a human instinct, wired into our brains by evolution. The Language Instinct received the William James Book Prize from the American Psychological Association....

    Amazon Customer says: "Good premise, but reads like a text book"
    "Interesting but technical book. Sound is flawed."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Steven Pinker is an excellent writer and an all-around smart guy. I always learn a lot when I read anything by Steven Pinker. Having said that, though, I have to admit that parts of this book were somewhat dull (such as the detailed analysis of grammar in chapter 4), and parts were a little hard to follow. I feel like I would need to listen to the book a second time to catch all the parts I missed when my wind wandered. But, overall, I think the book is well worth reading.

    The narrator himself is fine, but the recording is poor. The "s" sounds are very harsh and prominent. I think this problem is called "sibilance". I had to turn the treble way down on my car's sound system, and I still cringed whenever a word had an "s" in it.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • The Theory That Would Not Die: How Bayes' Rule Cracked the Enigma Code, Hunted Down Russian Submarines, and Emerged Triumphant from Two Centuries of Controversy

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Sharon Bertsch McGrayne
    • Narrated By Laural Merlington
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (101)
    Performance
    (85)
    Story
    (86)

    Bayes' rule appears to be a straightforward, one-line theorem: by updating our initial beliefs with objective new information, we get a new and improved belief. To its adherents, it is an elegant statement about learning from experience. To its opponents, it is subjectivity run amok. Sharon Bertsch McGrayne here explores this controversial theorem and the human obsessions surrounding it.

    Lynn says: "Read Up on Baye's Before Reading"
    "Maybe it's me, but I still don't understand Bayes"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've taken two statistics classes in my life, and I remember being confused by Bayes in both classes. So I was hoping that this book would clarify matters for me. Sadly, it didn't. I fully realize that the fault might be my own -- maybe I just don't have a mind for statistics.

    The book did have some interesting stories in it, such as the one about the massive search for a missing atomic bomb that fell into the ocean. However, I never did understand why Bayes' Rule was so controversial (if it works so well in practice, what's not to like about it?), and I'm just as confused as ever about the nuts & bolts of the theorem. I'm almost tempted to crack my old statistics textbooks. Almost.

    Incidentally, the reader mispronounced a lot of names.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By William Davis
    • Narrated By Tom Weiner
    Overall
    (1995)
    Performance
    (1705)
    Story
    (1685)

    Since the introduction of dietary guidelines calling for reduced fat intake in the 1970s, a strange phenomenon has occurred: Americans have steadily, inexorably become heavier, less healthy, and more prone to diabetes than ever before. After putting more than two thousand of his at-risk patients on a wheat-free regimen and seeing extraordinary results, cardiologist William Davis has come to the disturbing conclusion that it is not fat, not sugar, not our sedentary lifestyle that is causing America’s obesity epidemic—it is wheat.

    Jim "The Impatient" says: "Raw vegetables, eggs, meat and cheese"
    "Speculative hypothesis, not very convincing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    William Davis might be right, but he didn't convince me. His theories about wheat are largely consistent with the idea (championed by Gary Taubes and Robert Lustig, among others) that carbohydrates in general are harmful. So perhaps it's not wheat per se that is the problem; it's the high carbohydrate content of wheat products that's the issue.

    Another problem with this book is that it's very wordy and repetitive. I got the sense that Davis had to struggle to write enough content to fill a book. I remember one section of the book where he tediously listed many, many examples of wheat-based products that you can find in the supermarket. He went on ad nauseum. Was that really necessary?

    My recommendation is to skip the book and wait to see how this all plays out. Perhaps Davis will be proved right, or perhaps he's conflating wheat with carbs.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Connectome: How the Brain's Wiring Makes Us Who We Are

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Sebastian Seung
    • Narrated By MacLeod Andrews
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (87)
    Performance
    (74)
    Story
    (71)

    Sebastian Seung, a dynamic professor at MIT, is on a quest to discover the biological basis of identity. He believes it lies in the pattern of connections between the brain’s neurons, which change slowly over time as we learn and grow. The connectome, as it’s called, is where our genetic inheritance intersects with our life experience. It’s where nature meets nurture. Seung introduces us to the dedicated researchers who are mapping the brain’s connections, neuron by neuron, synapse by synapse.

    aaron says: "A Nice Addition to Your Brain Science Library"
    "Speculative, disjointed. Not ready for prime time."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book should have been an article. The field has not produced enough true science to justify a book-length treatment. The book MIGHT be of interest to people who know very little about neurobiology, since the basics of brain science are covered adequately. But if you have any sort of background in neuroscience, you may want to wait until connectomics has actually produced some substantial results before you a read a book about it.

    Some of the topics in the book (such as cryonics) are given too much coverage, and the overall flow of the book is not as smooth as one might hope.

    Also, the narrator uses some very questionable pronunciations of words like "genomics" and "axonal". He also mispronounces names, such as "Koch" and "Turgenev".

    Overall, I did not enjoy this book and would not recommend it.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Guitar Zero: The New Musician and the Science of Learning

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 33 mins)
    • By Gary Marcus
    • Narrated By Gary Marcus
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (96)
    Performance
    (89)
    Story
    (86)

    Just about every human being knows how to listen to music, but what does it take to make music? Is musicality something we are born with? Or a skill that anyone can develop at any time? If you don't start piano at the age of six, is there any hope? Is skill learning best left to children or can anyone reinvent him-or herself at any time?

    Alex says: "Entertaining if somewhat superficial"
    "Entertaining if somewhat superficial"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I'm basically a musical ignoramus, but I enjoyed listening to this book. Gary Marcus is an engaging writer, but I REALLY would have liked to hear music interspersed with the writing (so as to illustrate the points Marcus was trying to make, or to give examples of songs written by the musicians he was mentioning in the text). Still, that's asking a lot from an audio edition.

    The book covered a wide range of topics within music, so the coverage was necessarily superficial at times. But I'm now reading another, more-detailed book about music, so Marcus inspired me to read more.

    A note about the narrator: He isn't among the better readers I've encountered in audio books. His pronunciation and diction could be be better.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Whad'Ya Know?, Steven Pinker, October 6, 2007

    • NONE (1 hr and 58 mins)
    • By Michael Feldman
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    Michael will have "All the News That Isn't". Then, Professor Steven Pinker informs us on The Stuff of Thought. Also, what it is to live in a mall, the Whad'Ya Know? Quiz, and a trip to our Town of the Week: New Braunfels, Texas.

    Alex says: "Frustrating interview"
    "Frustrating interview"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Michael Feldman is a terrible interviewer. I bought a copy of this show, because I'm interested in Steven Pinker and his theories. Michael Feldman really doesn't know how to conduct a proper interview. I was embarrassed on his behalf. Save your money and download a book by Steven Pinker, instead.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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