I think this is the first time I rate a book with five stars for both story and performance. So many of the diseases prevalent in modern societies (e.g., Type 2 diabetes) are called "mismatch disease" because they are caused by mismatch of the modern life style such as abundance of food (of unbalanced kind) vs. our evolutionary tendency to store fat and sugar when we can because food was scarce. This book provides a comprehensive view on how we humans developed since our ancestors started walking on two feet. The author has a rare quality of being able to translate his research expertise to its public health implications. I feel lucky to be alive in this age when books like this can teach us the evolutionary perspective on how we are living now compared to the past and what can be improved. It is also devastating to know that so many of modern diseases are preventable, and yet, important information like this has not seeped into the mainstream culture.
There is no question that Dostoevsky is a great writer. I love it when his characters say outrageous things (more fun than Tolstoy's stories, I think). But the motivation of the murder was not strong enough for me. I liked Brothers Karamazov better.
The narrator was outstanding. I am giving 4 stars to the narrator rather than 5 only because his voice's dynamic range is so wide (from whispering to yelling) that it was not suitable for listening during my commute, which consists of subway riding and walking through busy streets, even with a good pair of earphones. The narrator's voice got lost in the surrounding noise when he was whispering, but his yelling (during the characters' arguments) got too loud when I was walking through less noisy areas so that I had to be constantly re-adjusting the sound level. After listening to more than a hundred audiobooks, this is the first time I faced this technical problem, not because the narrator was not good but because he was too good! So, if you are a commuter like me, be warned.
I often smelled dishonesty in the personal finance industry ads. This book tells me that the reality is much worse than I had imagined. The author's arguments seem backed by well-researched information and credible, and I could tell that she is honest, as she herself was once a financial columnist. I wished that she could provide some concrete recommendations to fix the problem, but pointing out all the problems is a very good start. The narrator could have done better though - she did not sound she had rehearsed at all. But overall, I highly recommend this book.
I don't have a problem falling asleep, but I always thought I don't sleep long enough. This book gave me enough information about the danger of not getting sufficient sleep. For example, brains apparently clean up toxins while we sleep. Imagine what happens if we don't sleep enough. This is just one example. Brains do all kinds of other processing tasks that don't happen while we are awake. So, I now trust my brain and let it do what it needs to do, just by sleeping. The book also explains why taking a nap can be so beneficial. The book is full of useful information, and the author has a great sense of humor. The narrator is also excellent. Highly recommended.
Because I liked "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle" and "Kafka on the Shore" so much, it's hard for me to get satisfied as much with his other stories available as audiobooks so far. And I am running out of Murakami's audiobooks. But I do appreciate that Murakami experiments with a different approach every time. In this story, you feel like you are walking with a movie camera to observe a sequence of scenes and characters during one evening (until morning). Because of this format, I wasn't upset that story did not resolve. Nice. Not great, but nice.
I agree with the other reviewer who warned that the PDF has 106 pages of figures and tables and that the audio format may not be the best way to "read" this book.
However, in my case, there is no way for me, who is not an economist or a student, to get through 685 pages (577 pages of main text and figures plus notes, index, etc.) in the hardcover copy just by, uh, reading. While the audiobook's 25 hours is longer than the length of an average audiobook, I got through it in less than 10 days just by listening during my daily commute and chores, and I feel I got the gist of the content. It was interesting enough and, I felt I missed some important aspects of the argument depicted in the figures, so I went out and got a hardcopy and a notebook so that I can even take notes. Yes, this audiobook got me interested in this book.
An unexpected bonus of this book for me was the author's references to the characters and the financial/societal backdrops of stories by Jane Austen and Honoré de Balzac. I did not realize how much I missed and did not comprehend the important nuances of the stories from the 19th centuries world (or 18th or 20th for that matter). We don't usually pay attention to how culture is influenced by the distribution of capital in the society and how that affects day-to-day mood of people in it.
I noticed that this book has been greatly politicized. But to me, the book simply provides DATA-DRIVEN analyses and recommendations for a fair society.
Since the advent of the Internet, it was probably a matter of time that the society became more data-driven. But the two founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, definitely pushed this process forward like no other people could. As mentioned in the book, this probably had to do with the fact that both guys happened to be educated in Montessori schools (which encourage students to question the authority and follow one's own quest) earlier in their lives. The book provides a fair assessment of how they evolved as Google became a big company, and yet they tried to retain their original goals. Google tends to be criticized for their invasion of privacies, and I admit that I also always felt nervous about what data they were collecting and how they were using them. But after listening to this book, at least I understand their original intentions and appreciate what they have done to a large extent. I thought the book was a bit too long (nearly 20 hours) - perhaps the author could have delivered the same information with a 2/3 of the length. The narrator was very good.
This is an important book that everyone should read, but, after I bought it, it took me several months before I finally got around to listen to it because the title, "Willful Blindness", (I thought) also hinted at my own problem of this nature operating in my own life. But the book is not so much about psychological analysis at personal levels but more about how the societal structure (e.g., division of labor) lead to major catastrophes due to willful blindness of those who were suppose to be in charge (yes, I know, I could be causing a catastrophe) . The author goes through many examples of this problem (e.g., Hurricane Katrina, the 2008 financial crisis, etc.).
Yes, yes, I get it - the author's analyses and observations are convincing, and we need to do something about this type of problem, but it is unlikely that corporate executives or federal officials would read this kind of book. So, we need structural changes (regulations) in society. It is not just those who are at the top - the whole town could be going along with it, in some cases. Thus, the purpose of the book is to raise awareness on this issue.
I am generally against authors narrating their own books, and this is another example that reinforces my opinion on this. The upside is that you get to hear her frustrations with the nature of the willful blindness in these examples. The downside, to me, was that, of many examples she went through, she was often quoting those whom she researched or interviewed, and sometime I got confused if "I" in the segments was the author or the person whom she was quoting. A professional narrator could have clarified the distinction by using different tones.
Some reviewers thought that the plot was not very plausible. I actually thought it was plausible and even realistic. It's just that I did not expect it to turn out that way, which made the story even better. I listened to the last 10 minutes three times because it was just so well written. But even without the ending, I enjoyed every segment of the story. The narrator was also excellent.
True, his story seems to be very honest account of his version of how things happened leading up to the discovery of the DNA structure. But because of his honest depiction of what he was feeling and thinking at the time, I also learned that this guy is not a likable character (unlike, say, Albert Einstein or Richard Feynman). His depiction of Rosaline Franklin is condescending to say the least (almost character assignation), though he tried to make up for it in the epilogue. It is amazing that he remembered so many details of events, parties, what people said and did and the timelines, which he attributes to his "weekly" letters to his parents (a bit creepy). In the end, I felt sad that a repulsive character like this was behind the great discovery.
The story is about a man who takes a life-ling journey to find a spiritual truth. While the story takes place in India during the time of the Buddha, and Buddhism idioms are used, this is not about Buddhism at all, I thought. I am not religious or even spiritual, but I enjoyed the book tremendously. The story sounded like one long philosophical poetry.
While I was listening to this, I had to fight my urge to search the Internet to find out why this German writer (who, as far as I knew, was not a Buddhist) wrote a story that takes place in ancient India. I was glad I didn't. The Publisher's Summary in Audible.com does not mention this, but the last 50 minutes or so of this audiobook is actually an essay by some professor who explains the background where Hesse wrote this book, which made me appreciate the experience even more.
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