It's hard to give this book a bad review, because I really can't blame it on the author as much as the editors at Random House for releasing it this way. The book is a story of the author's 1995 trek along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) following a divorce, the cancer death of her mother and a self-destructive meltdown in the modern world. It follows a very unprepared, ill-suited and (ultimately) very lucky, 26 year-old author as she decides to hike the PCT from the Mojave Desert to the Bridge of the Gods on the Oregon/Washington border. The book sells itself as a "wilderness adventure" book, even from the cover, but it belongs better in women's contemporary non-fiction.
The book got the Oprah Book club seal of approval during the time I was listening to it, and you can see why. It is an unabashed woman's perspective on a bucket list challenge. In the end, you can't help but feel torn between what is essentially a wonderful coming of womanhood odyssey and a book chockablock with short stories that have as much focus and direction as a shotgun blast.
Sadly, at a point only four hours from the end of the book, I was so utterly exasperated with what was devolving into a Harlequin romance novel that I almost stopped listening altogether. I stuck it out only to conclude that reaching the end of this book was every bit the analogy to walking the PCT itself.
First, the good parts: Strayed manages the impossible of hiking a majority of a really tough wilderness trail with little experience. She comes to terms with her distractingly untamed libido, former drug use and family issues along the way. Her raw honesty regarding her personal issues was gripping. The listener is truly thrust into her dysfunctional universe headlong.
The bad parts: The book's flow is continually disrupted by the author's insanely voracious libido. At one point nine hours into the audio book as she crosses into Ashland, Oregon, you can just skip an hour of listening and not miss anything. It's soft core porn, not a hiking novel. In fact, you'll probably appreciate the book better that way.
One would think this would be about how an ill-prepared young lady overcame the adversity facing her and rose to the challenge, ultimately steeling herself. But it's the opposite. In almost every possible situation where she can attempt to use her charm or fall back on the fact that she was an overwhelmed young woman in need of the kindness of strangers, she plays the Blanche Du Bois card. I'll give credit where credit is due, but she whines an awful lot.
Substantively, Strayed begins the trail in the Mojave Desert, not in Mexico where it actually begins. She then hitchhikes, in cars and on busses, considerable stretches off the trail. Ultimately, Strayed ends her trek on the Washington/Oregon border - far short of the PCT's Canadian terminus. Functionally, she hiked only around ONE HALF of the trail. You can't help but feel a little cheated by the descriptions of the novel.
Formwise, there are some powerful and very evocative scenes, such as when her horse Lady was put down or when she was robbed for $20 while stoned out of her mind. For the life of me, I could not amalgamate several scenes like these with the rest of the book. They didn't really offer any insight into her character development. There were moments of brilliant writing with no overarching direction to them.
The telling got a little labored at times, as well. The narrator had this way of reading where she deepened her voice, making every male character sound the same. At times, it felt like listening to the puppets from Mr. Roger's Neighborhood as a kid.
I really wanted to give this book five stars when I started it and for most of the book it held out. If you are going to invest 13 hours of your life on this, be prepared for what you are going to get. In the end, I felt this pulled out a 2.5 star rating overall.
I put off listening to this book due to a couple reviews that gave mediocre ratings. What a mistake! Lost in Shangri-La is a wonderfully researched and beautifully written about one of the more interesting "silent missions" at the end of the Second World War. Zuckoff makes an engaging narrator to his novel, neither becoming monotone or annoying during the read. With a true newspaperman's approach to the endeavor, Zuckoff delves into the history and development of his characters aboard the ill-fated C-47, the Gremlin Special, their hardships and a survival story worthy of a movie. The meeting of cultures of the natives of a remote Dutch New Guinea valley and the 20th Century warriors who stumble into their midst is just a flat out four-star recipe for an interesting tale. Enjoyable especially to anyone with an interest of the Second World War in the Pacific, this is a fine use of a credit.
No surprises in Carlin's own reading of his classic late career book releases. In this narrative, you get precisely what you expect. Social observer, hilariously literal etymologist and patron saint of the realists, this listen was worth it to fill the time on my drives to and from work.
It was interesting - and slightly frightening - to hear how much of his material is relevant, evocative and poignant even four years after his death. The book earned three stars for story only because this book is a stand-up routine and not a story.
I enjoyed it but would not recommend this if you are offended by profanity. Nice addition to the audio library for one credit.
"Why We Suck" is a game changer from you'd expect from Denis Leary in his stand-up role - if the addition of his Emerson College bestowed pedigree to the cover isn't already too much of a hint.
This book discusses lessons learned in a life grown up Irish Catholic in America. Breaking from his style of staccato salvos of rants, "Why We Suck" is the most sedate of Leary's works to date. Fortunately it is delivered without losing the irreverent and honest bullyragging style which is also Leary's stand-up hallmark. He still pulls no punches, but his delivery is noticeably more premeditated (and probably more funny because of it). Take heart: it works really well.
What's most striking about this book is that Leary practically makes you feel like you're sitting down with an old college buddy you haven't seen for years, talking about 'what the hell could have possibly happened' to you guys between 20 and 50. "Why We Suck" actually delivers some poignant and brutally humorous observations in what I'd call Leary's most "mature" stand-up piece to date.
There are a few slower parts, but that comes with the turf when you get any kind of
"intro/extrospective." I've enjoyed all of his early stuff, but this is probably the first program that I'd feel comfortable giving to my folks to listen to. (Well, at least the *most likely* one I'd give them to listen to...)
Denis Leary fans, don't run. He hasn't gone off to pasture: he still takes numerous hostages and releases each one, one at a time, with their pants down. Have fun.
The premise of the book is quite simple and Jon Stewart works it well. The target listener is an unknown alien race which stumbles upon the book (in some format) sometime after the demise of mankind. In our wake, this (audio) book is what we've left to guide them and a candid guide to who we were, how we lived, what we did and how we did it.
This one is a slow starter. I was a little harsh on this aspect at first, but the book gets much better after the first hour and it's enough to pull it up to five stars. The beginning is a bit out of the realm of where Jon Stewart does his best stuff and it sort of slogs along discussing geographical formations and nature in as humorous a way as you can do it. The good news is that it ultimately pulls out of its stall and makes the day.
Nice transition from print to audio. Once we get into the politico-social humor, Stewart shines. And this is classic Jon Stewart, which saves the day. His poignant, honest and sarcastic commentary had me laughing out loud during my jogs. It's on par with what you would expect from The Daily Show.
A nice, leisurely mind-candy listen that you can stop and start during your drives or runs and not miss a beat. Well worth a credit and on par with a David Sedaris or comparable work. Very entertaining and well worth the money.
This book rode high on the hog for a majority of it. I truly enjoyed it. There were a couple moments that didn't resonate with me (the Steven speaks for me sports fan spots) but other than that, it was really great satire that you'd expect from Mr. Colbert. Loved it.
Absolutely, this was total brain candy but it made some really intense satire. I was waiting in line in a government office listening to this on my iPod when I broke out laughing during the
I don't want to ruin any of the jokes, so I won't. There were too many. I loved his review of each of the branches of our Government, and the flashbacks to the discussions of our founding fathers.
He's just classic Jon Stewart. I'm glad he narrated it. Ed Helms and Stephen Colbert make cameos. If you their brand of humor, you won't be dissappointed.
Just shut up and buy it. You know you want to or you wouldn't be reading this.
You can be either party and you just have set side any differences to laugh at his introspection and honesty. I'd love to meet this guy one day for coffee. Even if you don't see eye to eye on political grounds, this is made me have to repeatedly stop during my jogging because I was laughing so hard. Nice job, Bill. (I had to ding you one star on story because I'm not a Democrat.)
Loved his delivery and genuineness.
Reality: It's hurts. Don't it?
Elliot does a really good job of connecting us with the principles of management that really made Apple and his own successes. Great listen and, I thought, better than Steve's official biography from that standpoint. Jay really sheds light into the leadership aspects, as well as delivers a back ground look at the beginnings of the industry that introduced us to what we never knew we needed until they made it. Not pedantic.
It was a fun audio book. Informative and worth the money.
Pirates. Not the Navy.
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