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Doggy Bird

Mes livres preferes sont les grands classiques, certains romans, la poésie, et l'histoire. J'aime écouter dans la voiture et au gym.

Glen Ridge, NJ USA | Member Since 2001

ratings
135
REVIEWS
96
FOLLOWING
5
FOLLOWERS
72
HELPFUL VOTES
487

  • Far from the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity

    • UNABRIDGED (40 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Andrew Solomon
    • Narrated By Andrew Solomon
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (400)
    Performance
    (339)
    Story
    (335)

    A brilliant and utterly original thinker, Andrew Solomon's journey began from his experience of being the gay child of straight parents. He wondered how other families accommodate children who have a variety of differences: families of people who are deaf, who are dwarfs, who have Down syndrome, who have autism, who have schizophrenia, who have multiple severe disabilities, who are prodigies, who commit crimes, who are transgender.

    C. Beaton says: "A Gripping Masterpiece"
    "Moving study of identity and unconditional love"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was a very long book with great emotional impact. It is very heartfelt and sincere and one of the most moving books I have read. I usually am wary of authors who read their own books, but the emotion of the author adds meaning to this text and is an important part of the experience. The book is a very personal exploration of the experience of parenthood of children who fall 'far from the tree'. The author interviews hundreds of families, focusing on parents with children who are 'different'. Most are children who are different from 'typical' society as well as different from their parents. The author refers to the identity shared with others not of the family as 'horizontal' identity. This is distinguished from a 'vertical' identity from family membership (i.e. father down to son). However the book also studies the issue of parents who purposefully or incidentally conceive children who share their horizontal identity. The issues the book raises are complex, emotional, and sometimes challenging and frustrating (not in terms of comprehension but rather in terms of experiencing emotionally difficult subject matter and politically/philosophically/religiously sensitive views). The book explores the limits of human morality and human dignity. The author concludes that the ability to sustain a horizontal identity with the love and support of parents and family is critical to a happy life for people whose lives are considered 'not typical' and that the ability to accept and embrace these horizontal identities -especially when it is foreign to us- is part of what 'love' requires.

    I cannot say it is the 'best' book I ever read, or even the best I have read recently, but it is one of the most meaningful ones due to the weight of its subject. It's about identity, parental love, loss, fulfillment, disability, eugenics, abortion - pretty weighty stuff. What is wonderful about this book is that it presents the reader with the situation that initially faced the unwary parents and then pushes you to look at the situation from different perspectives. It discusses the implications of actions that are very emotional and asks you - or maybe forces you to examine the logical or illogical conclusions of your own beliefs and prejudices and those of the parents involved. It asks you to consider what you take for granted and what you are willing to reconsider in light of what you hear.

    The book stemmed from the author's own experience of growing up gay with parents who initially rejected that identity in their son. He seems to have suffered his own homophobia as a result even after he grew comfortable as an adult with a gay identity. Thus, the question of identity and parental love is central to his quest to understand the many identities of the people in the different groups he studies - deaf children, those with autism, Downs Syndrome children, criminal children, schizophrenics, etc. Sometimes the book bogs down with all the different identities and examples, but it is always valuable and sincere and the multiplicity of examples helps to illuminate different aspects of the issues.

    The book ends with a discussion of the author's own decision to become a parent. It's thus a very personal book as well as a study of parents and children with 'horizontal identities'. It is very focused on parental love and unconditional love and the nature of acceptance. Although I highly recommend the book, I think those who find it most satisfying will be those with some connection to people with horizontal identities or readers with very open minds willing to ask themselves questions that don't always have easy or evident answers.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Children Act

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Ian McEwan
    • Narrated By Lindsay Duncan
    Overall
    (17)
    Performance
    (17)
    Story
    (16)

    Fiona Maye is a High Court judge in London presiding over cases in family court. She is fiercely intelligent, well respected, and deeply immersed in the nuances of her particular field of law. Often the outcome of a case seems simple from the outside, the course of action to ensure a child's welfare obvious. But the law requires more rigor than mere pragmatism, and Fiona is expert in considering the sensitivities of culture and religion when handing down her verdicts.

    Bonny says: "McEwan has written perfection in this novel."
    "Very strong narration by Lindsay Duncan"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I really enjoyed this book, as I have all of the Ian McEwan novels I have read. His writing is excellent and he examines meaningful subjects without the posturing and self-consciousness I find irritating in much of contemporary literary fiction.

    I rated the narration a "5" because it reminds me of the wonderful Juliet Stevenson narration for 'Sweet Tooth', and 'Middlemarch' and many of the Jane Austen novels. I had not heard Lindsay Duncan before but I will seek out other of her narrations in the future. She enunciates really well and has a very pleasing voice and tone without affectation.

    The focus of this book is the distinction between morality and religious faith and the dilemma of legal justice at the center of these tensions when the court must decide between the arguments of one parent vs. another in a divorce case where the parents have different religious beliefs, where medical decisions counter to a family's religious beliefs on behalf of children are appealed to a court by a hospital and where other weighty decisions of the family courts involve choices made for others based on laws and made by humans in all their imperfections.

    The book itself is fascinating and benefits even more from the excellent narrator. Many other books address some of the topical issues in this book, but many are quite manipulative and sensational. What is appealing about this particular book is the author's attempt to deal with these topics without whipping up the passions of righteousness and emotion but through examining the ways in which a judge attempts to do right by those on whose behalf he/judges.

    I rated the narration better than the overall book because somehow the ending didn't feel like the rest of the book. I am not sure the author was entirely successful at blending the personal life of the judge and her involvement in the life of the child at the center of the novel. I felt that much more tension was built up than actually was resolved by the ending - I don't want to disclose too much but I didn't feel as engaged by the ending as I was by most of the book. That said, I am already thinking about listening again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • This House of Sky: Landscapes of a Western Mind

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By Ivan Doig
    • Narrated By Tom Stechschulte
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (52)
    Performance
    (35)
    Story
    (33)

    A nominee for the National Book Award, Ivan Doig's brilliant memoir shares the experiences and culture that shaped his early years and made him fall in love with the West. From his childhood in a family of homesteaders through the death of his mother and his move to Montana to herd sheep, Doig shows his intimate connection with the American West.

    Doggy Bird says: "Early work by a favorite author"
    "Early work by a favorite author"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This was my first audio version though I have enjoyed reading the books of Ivan Doig for many years. Most of his books take place in the Montana of early to mid-20th century and are as strange and fascinating for me as the stories of medieval knights. They bring me the kind of pleasure that I felt as a child reading the "Little House" books, but with much more mature themes and very beautiful, often poetic language.

    I think Tom Stechschulte does a very good job of reading with a natural but flat drawl that I associate with this region of the country and with an earlier and slower time. This particular book is interesting because it describes Doig's journey in becoming a writer. It is a tribute to his parents and grandparents and to the way of life that his family for generations had known. This way of life had already begun to disappear at the time this book was written and Doig was conscious of chronicling the end of an era in this work. He taped his father's and grandmother's recollections as he progressed, knowing these were memories that held in them a way of life that was disappearing. I was sometimes surprised when modern technology shows its face in a book filled with stories that could not have been much different a hundred years before. The challenges faced, hard weather and stubborn animals, are eternal and help to make the stories timeless and yet there is an aspect of them very bound by time since few Americans today grow up with a childhood like this one that occurred not much before most of us were children.

    I think the emotion in the stories, the connection between the family members who spend a lot of time struggling with one another as well as with nature is another reason I enjoyed the memoir. It demonstrates an intense but unsentimental bond I found very appealing. The stories recount Doig's memories of his life with his father after his mother died, from the age of 6 or 7 until college and Doig's burgeoning conscience of his rejection of this life.

    When his father becomes ill his maternal grandmother joins the journey and the three of end up together -more or less- and the stories of their isolated, hard working lives driving sheep and repairing fences, working in the shadow of awesome mountains and catastrophes make for fascinating reading most of the time. There are a few stories where the memoir slows down in the middle - where the fact that this is Doig's first full length book becomes evident, but that is a small price to pay for this very engaging memoir and story of Montana. Doig's use of language and investigation of memory also distinguish this memoirs from those of many less talented writers that seem to appear more and more frequently these days. Highly recommended for readers who appreciate beautiful writing and stories of other way of life.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Age of Innocence

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Edith Wharton
    • Narrated By David Horovitch
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (263)
    Performance
    (207)
    Story
    (210)

    Countess Olenska, separated from her European husband, returns to old New York society. She bears with her an independence and anawareness of life which stirs the educated sensitivity of Newland Archer, engaged to be married to May Welland.

    Ilana says: "Narrated to Perfection"
    "One of the best narrated novels I've heard"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a favorite novel which I am hearing for the first time in audio. The narration is a wonderful surprise and has really enhanced the pleasure of an already beloved text. The reader is British, but uses American consonants and more nasal vowels to distinguish the mostly American dialogue from the narrative text. That distinction, plus his resonant voice and sensitive reading gives an extra level of meaning to the book which focuses on a love triangle in late 19th century New York. The reading illuminates Edith Wharton's particular view of American customs and social distinctions in that period. The characters are rich and well defined by their dialogue, making this perfect as an audiobook. The 'innocence' that characterizes many of the actors in the drama at different moments is a somewhat sarcastic commentary by Edith Wharton whose eye is sharp and whose writing is incisive. This audio is such a pleasure! In an impatient and fretful period when I have been starting books and abandoning them unable to sustain interest, this excellent performance has been like an oasis in the desert. From the moment I sampled the audio I have been unable to put it down. Highly recommended both for the beauty of the prose and its very sensitive reading.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Sheryl Sandberg
    • Narrated By Elisa Donovan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2511)
    Performance
    (2218)
    Story
    (2228)

    Sheryl Sandberg - Facebook COO, ranked eighth on Fortune's list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business - has become one of America's most galvanizing leaders, and an icon for millions of women juggling work and family. In Lean In, she urges women to take risks and seek new challenges, to find work that they love, and to remain passionately engaged with it at the highest levels throughout their lives.

    Claudia says: "Make your life count - no matter what you do"
    "Useful guidance, too long for small number of idea"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I initially refused to consider reading this because I find business books boring and underwritten -two ideas, two hundred pages. Most would make a reasonable serious business journal article at best. This book is not a lot different, lots of ego and anecdotes, but also some very useful perspectives and ideas that would have made a nice substantive article.

    That said, I agree with much of what Sandberg says and I agree with her general point on how badly things are going for working women in our country relative to their potential to have more fulfilling and more meaningful careers whether at home or at the office depending on their ability to negotiate more manageable work loads in the home and the office. I salute her for standing up and saying so and for her commitment to being a feminist when so many women are willing to take the fruits of the women's movement but unwilling to fight anyone other than themselves.

    I enjoyed the book, but it could have been an article….

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Timothy F. Geithner
    • Narrated By Timothy F. Geithner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (198)
    Performance
    (176)
    Story
    (174)

    On January 26, 2009, during the depth of the financial crisis and having just completed five years as President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Timothy F. Geithner was sworn in by President Barack Obama as the 75th Secretary of the Treasury of the United States. Now, in a strikingly candid, riveting, and historically illuminating memoir, Geithner takes listeners behind the scenes during the darkest moments of the crisis.

    Jean says: "Gripping"
    "Surprisingly well read and well written account!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    First, I am usually loathe to review a book I have not completed. Second, I usually prefer a professional narrator to the author's own reading. Last, my tastes have run towards classical fiction and opera in recent months, perhaps because I work in the bond markets and it isn't all that relaxing to keep on working during my commute as well as during a 12 hour workday.

    All that aside, this is SUCH a fascinating account of Secretary Tim Geithner's life and work experience that I am breaking with habit and writing a review although I am only a few hours into the book.

    Geithner is actually a pretty decent narrator considering what a mediocre public speaker he was, and continues to apologize for. He has a tendency to drop his voice a little at the end of sentences which forced me to repeat some of his reading - but that small flaw is quite manageable and shouldn't discourage even picky listeners.

    The story of his life and experience is quite engaging and well-written. His background is unusual and his perspectives sharp. This audio reveals him to be quite different from person portrayed by the press or even his own public appearances during his tenure in office and he defends his decisions and positions well. I am really impressed by his ability to explain how and why things happened and his own justifications for actions taken.

    As a bond market participant with a front seat on the financial crisis I enjoyed reading TOO BIG TO FAIL. But one of the most frustrating aspects of that book was its strict reportorial nature - it explained what happened minute to minute but provided no real analysis of why and what it all meant. This book exactly goes to the places I found missing in TOO BIG TO FAIL and that is the most satisfying part of the book for me.

    Geithner's willingness to say exactly what he thinks when so much of what he did is politically unpopular with so many on both sides of the US political divide is the most addictive part of this listening adventure. I can only stop listening long enough to write this review. I very highly recommend it to those who value Geithner's perspective on earlier crises as well as the 2008 Financial Crisis and his tenure as the first Secretary of the Treasury for the Obama Administration.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • The Operas of Mozart

    • ORIGINAL (18 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Robert Greenberg
    Overall
    (17)
    Performance
    (17)
    Story
    (16)

    When Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died in 1791 at the age of just 35, he nonetheless left behind the defining composition in every available musical genre of his time: symphony, chamber music, masses, and above all - opera. Opera was the prestige genre of the era, and the thought of it, Mozart wrote, made him, "beside myself at once." It was a form he loved dearly, depending on it heavily for personal, professional, artistic, and financial reasons of the greatest weight.

    Doggy Bird says: "One of the best values on Audible!"
    "One of the best values on Audible!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    First of all, I have several Great Courses for which I paid full price from the Teaching Company - I love the courses and get a lot of pleasure out of listening to them. The value of being able to get Great Courses for one Audible Credit per course is ALONE worth an annual Audible subscription.

    Second, I think Robert Greenberg's Music Courses are terrific and really one of the best uses of the audio book format for university level lectures. You not only hear the discussion of the music but hear music samples as well which makes it far superior to books about music history which can't provide samples of the music discussed. Greenberg's choices of music to illustrate the points he make are always excellent and really make listening to these lectures an enormous pleasure. Like others have said elsewhere, he can be quite corny -if that bothers you this is not the professor you will want to hear. I find his energy and enthusiasm makes the course more interesting and his attempts at humor are rather endearing (it may be that people from New Jersey find corniness less offensive). I appreciate his attempts to liven things up even if some of the jokes are rather silly.

    Third, although I am not particularly knowledgeable about music the more I get to know opera the more I realize how very much I love Mozart's operas. It is true that Greenberg spends a lot of time on Cosi Fan Tutte as another listener noted. I didn't expect this to be exhaustive but rather Greenberg's own view of the most interesting aspects of Mozart's operas since it is still an introductory level course. For someone as prolific as Mozart it didn't surprise me that the professor made a selection based on his views. However, if you are expecting it to be exhaustive you will not be satisfied. Greenberg is very informative but selective, and with me that's OK.

    Lastly, some negative comments have been made on the lack of librettos included with the course - those librettos are not part of the more expensive versions of the course either. You have to get librettos on your own - there are no entire operas included in the course, only excerpts so I don't know why anyone would think a libretto would be needed to follow the lectures. Some of the complaints made by listeners are very picky considering the comparative value of getting these courses so cheaply on Audible.

    Very highly recommended.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • My Life in Middlemarch

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Rebecca Mead
    • Narrated By Kate Reading
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (46)
    Performance
    (40)
    Story
    (40)

    A New Yorker writer revisits the seminal book of her youth - Middlemarch - and fashions a singular, involving story of how a passionate attachment to a great work of literature can shape our lives and help us to read our own histories. Rebecca Mead was a young woman in an English coastal town when she first read George Eliot's Middlemarch,regarded by many as the greatest English novel. After gaining admission to Oxford and moving to the United States to become a journalist, through several love affairs, then marriage, and family, Mead read and reread Middlemarch.

    Doggy Bird says: "A Reader's Pleasure!"
    "A Reader's Pleasure!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I haven't actually finished this book but I decided to write a review because I am enjoying it so much. I look often to see how many people have left reviews for books while I am reading them because I like to know if others have had the same experience.

    In this case there don't seem to be many Audible readers so far, and I don't find the Amazon reviews very satisfying since the quality of the narrator is such an important part of the experience for me.

    From the minute I read about this book's publication I have wanted to read it. I loved reading 'Middlemarch' many years ago and recently listened to the Juliet Stevenson audible version (highly recommended). For many years the book had intimidated me when I was young - I was afraid I would not be able to get through its density. I was quire surprised one day to pick it up and fall right in. Yet it took me thirty years to return to it. Having heard so recently the wonderful Juliet Stevenson narration It seemed perfect timing to experience someone else's experience of the book.

    I find this sort of literary reflection both interesting and rewarding because I really like to know how others experience books I have loved. I would like so much to discuss these sorts of topics with serious readers and I hope that others will read this book and take the time to reflect on their impressions. As I am listening to Mead's book I feel like I am enclosed in a comfortable armchair, encompassed in my reading the way I was as a child, even though I am in reality sitting on an uncomfortable New Jersey Transit banquette. It's like being able to talk to a good friend about the things you really care about.

    One criticism I have of the performance is that I am fond of Kate Reading's fiction narration, but I find it less satisfying for a non-fiction book. She has a storytelling musicality that lilts at the end of sentences but that just doesn't seem the appropriate rhythm for non-fiction. That said she is an excellent reader who makes the text easy to understand, just not perfect for this particular book.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Don Giovanni: Opera Explained

    • ORIGINAL (1 hr and 19 mins)
    • By Thomson Smillie
    • Narrated By David Timson
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    Don Giovanni has long been regarded as Mozart’s supreme theatrical achievement. The subject seems unpromising - the last day in the life of the notorious womanizer Don Juan - but the skill of the librettist allied to the genius of Mozart at the very peak of his powers has created a work which is not only highly entertaining but reflects an incredible understanding of the human condition.

    Doggy Bird says: "Very short introductions to specific operas!"
    "Very short introductions to specific operas!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have recently developed a passion for opera that has found me attending an opera I know little about beforehand. A colleague in London got tickets for Don Giovanni and I decided my first visit to Covent Garden demanded a little investment in preparation ahead of time. This series from Naxos is just perfect to get you ready to attend an opera with a little bit of historical and musical context to make the experience richer.

    The recording is only about 1 hour and 20 minutes long. The narrator is good, he provides not only background for the specific opera in question but also for other operas by the same composer. Clips of the music are part of the 'explanation' - one of the nicest feature of audiobooks vs. reading a regular text.

    So, you get a summary of the story, some musical interludes and some historical and musical context - helpful to allow you to focus more attention on the music and the staging once you get to the opera.

    Highly recommended!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Mark Harris
    • Narrated By Lloyd James
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (200)
    Performance
    (76)
    Story
    (78)

    Here is the epic human drama behind the making of the five movies nominated for Best Picture in 1967 - Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, The Graduate, In the Heat of the Night, Doctor Dolittle, and Bonnie and Clyde - and through them, the larger story of the cultural revolution that transformed Hollywood and America forever.

    Sharon says: "A good listen - A valuable book"
    "Really Enjoyable Cultural History"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    For those who enjoy the history of the film this is a very rewarding book about the changes in our culture as they were reflected in five films of the late sixties, a period of extreme social and cultural turmoil. Although there are many complaints about some of the narrator's pronunciation, I didn't find those problems insurmountable to my enjoyment.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Ann Patchett
    • Narrated By Ann Patchett
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (180)
    Performance
    (167)
    Story
    (164)

    Blending literature and memoir, Ann Patchett, author of State of Wonder and Bel Canto examines her deepest commitments: to writing, family, friends, dogs, books, and her husband in This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. Together, these essays, previously published in The Atlantic, Harper, Vogue, and The Washington Post, form a resonant portrait of a life lived with loyalty and with love.

    Bonny says: "Entertaining, engrossing, and elucidative essays"
    "Great Reading, Great Writer!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is a great book of essays with very personal themes and much discussion of the author's relationships with family and friends. I had high expectations when this book of essays was recently published and I was not disappointed. The author's narration personalizes the entire book. I felt like she was speaking directly to me. This was further accentuated by the personal nature of the topics, strengthening the rapport between reader and author.

    I would imagine these essays would interest even those readers unfamiliar with her novels, but for readers who are already fans these essays are particularly relevant since she discusses her craft and her working habits as well as her shift from the short story to the novel. For example, in one essay she talks about reading her manuscripts entirely out loud to a colleague before they are published. That will not surprise listeners to this audiobook since it is clear that her skills have been honed by much practice - she is a wonderful narrator.

    I have been a fan of Ann Patchett for many years, and greatly appreciated the title essay of this collection when it was offered to Audible subscribers a few years ago. I also had experienced her narrating skills in her non-fiction book about her friendship with Lucy Grealy, TRUTH AND BEAUTY. I usually don't appreciate author-narrators but when they have such great skills they can really add to the personal essay read aloud - another example of this talent is Jonathan Franzen.

    This book was a treat from beginning to end - everything about this collection was delightful and made me want more. I highly recommend it to essay fans, Patchett fans and those interested in the craft of writing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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