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