The title of this book and the medical mystery it implied intrigued me and I was excited to listen to it. It wasn’t long before I felt that the title of the book was a misnomer. I would be surprised if there was one hour of cumulative time on the discussion of the Italian family who “couldn’t sleep”. A more apt title would be something like, Prion Disease: A History of Discovery in Animals and Humans. But then, who's going to read that?
The book dealt more with the study of prions—the smallest known infectious agent which is a naturally occurring protein molecule that lacks nucleic acid. It is these prions that are at the root of this family’s illness called Fatal Family Insomnia (FFI). It starts with sweating and constricted pupils the size of pin points and ultimately prevents family members with FFI from sleeping, leading to death. Members of this family have a 50/50 chance of passing this hereditary illness on to their offspring.
The majority of the book discusses the history and pathology of such prion-related diseases such as mad cow disease in cows, scrapies in sheep, kuru in humans (cannibal-related), Creutzfeldt-Jakob syndrome and Alzheimer’s and NOT the subject of the book as titled.
Everyone knows how horrible Alzheimer’s is with the loss of mind that accompanies it. Just imagine how awful it would be to have Alzheimer’s but you still know what is happening to you. That is what it is like for this family. FFI is horrendous and rare (only 40 families in the world have it) and it is this rarity that prevents the needed money being allocated to it for researching its cure.
It’s a sad family story, but again, and disappointingly so, the "family" is minor player in the saga. It was an okay book if you’re looking for a medical mystery but it was not what I had signed on for. The author had me at title but I still felt mislead on this one from the beginning.
The first thing that jumps out at me in this book is the narration by Dan O’Grady. As David Aaron Baker is to the Odd Thomas series and Davina Porter is to Claire Randall Frazier in the Outlander series, Dan O’Grady is Don Tillman here. Each of their performances in these books is fantastic, outstanding; there can be no other for these books, good. I mention the narration first because even before the story blooms, their efforts have already captivated me. There are few, if any, narrators I dislike and feel for the most part, all do excellent, professional work. However, the combination of an extraordinary story with a narrator that brings that story to life by truly becoming that character is a rare thing. So, I am very excited to add Dan O’Grady’s performance to the aforementioned short list in my newly created Narration Hall of Fame !
Did I mention how great the narration was?
For those of you familiar with the television series The Big Bang Theory, this book will remind you a lot of the socially challenged, Sheldon Cooper character. In this case, Don Tillman, like Sheldon, exhibits many of the classical Asperger’s symptoms. They even have similar occupations, Sheldon the theoretical physicist and Don, the geneticist. The story line revolves around Don wanting to find a partner, which he refers to as the “wife project”. As you can imagine, he undertakes a rigorous scientific approach to this task - - as you would expect someone with this personality trait would do. In light of the book trailer tagline, the art of love is never science , you can envisage the outcome.
I have to admit, I found many similarities to myself in this character. Not to that severe degree, but I could easily become like Don (who is a little less extreme than Sheldon) if I were to allow myself to (take a look at my profile to understand). Therefore, I am encouraging my wife to read this one and am very curious as to her reaction and opinion. I am eagerly anticipating the sequel to be released in September 2014. This is an outstanding romantic comedy that will appeal to all.
Nothing influenced my life more than the early NASA programs, especially the Apollo missions. I still remember myself as a young 8-year-old, watching the moon landing along with the rest of the world. I was the perfect age upon which this historic event would ensure maximum impact.
A fond memory is going outside with my Dad and looking up at the moon and wondering if we could see the light from the craft circling the moon while Neil and Buzz where on the surface. I was in awe. Surprisingly, these events did not inspire me to be an astronaut but rather the awe of the universe sparked my curiosity and desire to become an astronomer.
Even at eight years old, I was voraciously reading every astronomy book in the adult section of the library. I memorized planetary data like sport stats on my baseball cards. I subscribed to Sky & Telescope magazine to keep appraised of the latest news in the space program and astronomy news in general.
The following year, for my 9th birthday, I received the best birthday gift of my life—a telescope. I cried. I wanted that more than Ralphie in the movie, A Christmas Story, wanted his Red Ryder BB gun. I used that thing at every opportunity to check out the universe and witness astronomical events no matter the time of day. I was ecstatic. I was gaining astronomical knowledge and I had the tools. I was on my way to becoming an astronomer!
Time passed and I eagerly awaited my time until I could go to high school to learn more about astronomy and take physics sophomore year. I knew physics was required for an astronomer and was already looking at colleges to see where I might like to go to get my degree. Life was good.
Then came sophomore year and physics; followed by the end of my dream. I had always been an “A” student except when it came to physics and geometry. I could not grasp working with vectors in physics nor theorems in geometry. While doing well in all other classes, I barely passed these two. I was defeated. If I could not handle high school level courses related to my dream, how could I expect to excel in those courses in college?
In hindsight, I believe I gave up too early and should have attempted it again in college, but what did I know? I still view being an astronomer as my dream job but don’t get me wrong; my life has turned out pretty darn good. I have a wonderful, healthy family and we are happy and comfortable. I have upgraded my telescope over the years and have maintained my passion for astronomy. Today I am among other things, a husband, father, son, brother, and. . . amateur astronomer.
Don’t know why I wrote all this. Not your typical review or commentary but it was cathartic. Reading this book made all these wonderful memories come flooding back and that’s the impact of the book upon me. So, I suppose I just want to thank America and NASA for all the wonderful things they did in helping shape this former little boy’s life.
Good luck, Mr. Gorsky!
Two distinct ideas came to mind as I listened to this one. Since I could not weave them into one coherent treatise I thought I’d share them both.
- If you like John Lee as a narrator, this book is possibly for you.
- If you like your history dense, this book is probably for you.
- If you wonder why this area continues to be so f*ed up, this book is likely for you.
Sadly, Jerusalem’s history has been determined by dynamite, sword, and blood. It’s violent past has earned it the moniker, “The maim, rape, and pillage capital of the world”.
SO,. . .
- If you like beheadings, heads on poles, heads on gates, or mutilated bodies left rotting on the ground for years and/or enjoy the putrid odor as a result this book is for you.
- If you like eviscerations, bisections, slow dismemberments starting with fingers and toes and working your way through the body joint-by-joint, or dismemberments of noses, ears, hands, etc., for punishment, this book is for you.
- If you like hangings, garroting, fingernail pulling, or heads crushed in vices, this book is for you.
- If you like eye gouging, hacking of bodies until they are no longer recognizable as human and then kabobed, this book is for you.
- If you enjoy torture such as being forced to drink molten gold, or suicide bombings this book is for you.
I don’t know if it was the author’s intent but I interpret the overriding theme to be the historic brutal violence of this place. I had known of the Crusades and assumed there were military battles but never imagined the sickening degree of violence. It reminds me a quote from William Wilberforce (an English social reformer and abolitionist) that I referenced in my review of The Slave Ship, that sums it all up for me, “So much misery condensed in so little room is more than the human imagination has ever before conceived.”
(George Burns speaking as God) “What in my name have you done? Yeah, you! I’m talking to all of you. Christians. Muslims. Jews. Arabs. Europeans. Palestinians. You know who you are. You, who invoke my name. This disgusting, vile, abhorrent behavior has gone on for over 2,000 years and must stop. What’s wrong with you people? Did you lose or misunderstand the tablets I sent down regarding your expected behavior? I have granted you dominion over all my creations and in return I ask you to follow 10 simple rules. Is that really too much to ask?
As your Father, I try to be understanding and patient. And, like a father, I am sometimes forced to discipline. Remember, the 40 days/nights of rain? Sodom and Gomorrah? The plagues of Egypt? How soon children forget. But, be forewarned! Know that I’m watching. Learn to play nice with the other children and stop justifying your actions in my name. I am a God of peace and love. Don’t make me bring all of you up here for your personal judgment. If that happens, let’s just assume I won’t be in a good mood.”
As-salamu alaykum. Shalom Aleychem. Peace.
Easter Island was always a mysterious place I've wanted to see. Now that I'm getting older, it is officially a bucket list item. While still an exotic destination, this book has taken all the mystery away. Everything (the statues, the people, the deforestation) solved. Great to read about and glad to finally have answers but while all very interesting it lessens the appeal of one of my favorite places. A little mystery is good.
I don't have too much to say on this one without spoiling it, so I will sum it up with a quote from Commander Barclay of the HMS Topaz from the book. It is regarding the consequence of Europeans arriving on the shores of Easter Island.
"It is a sad fact that in these islands as in North America, wherever the white man establishes himself, the aborigines perish."
No matter how benign their intent, makes me wonder what would happen to us should aliens ever come to Earth.
If you like books that leave you with that bittersweet ending - glad to have reached the end but sad to know you’ll be leaving the characters you love behind - this one is for you.
I loved this book! The references to the 80’s were fun and brought back some great memories from my earlier years. This is one of those few books that I thought about constantly when I was not listening to Wil Wheaton reading to me. I could not wait to commute to and from work. I could not wait to do my chores around the house. I could not wait to get back to this book. Even though I don’t listen to audiobooks before bed (I prefer to just read at that time), I would still find my last thoughts of the day drifting to the characters in this book rather than the typical stresses of everyday living.
This was my first experience with Wil Wheaton as a narrator and I was very impressed. I would highly recommend him as he is now one of my favorite readers.
Great story, great nostalgia, and great narration all add up to a great feel good story – yet I’m sad to have finished it. :-(
What an affirmation! While listening to this book, I was constantly reminded of Al Franken’s Saturday Night Live character, Stuart Smalley, and his mantra, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.” Well, those who understand me do. Full disclosure, according to the Myers-Briggs Personality Test, I’m an ISFJ.
There were so many points of affirmation for me—things I intuitively knew. Things I’ve tried to share with others mostly to no avail. This book supplies all the data I need to support my case. Unfortunately, I don’t think the people who need to read/listen this book (extroverts) will.
The book is not an “introverts are superior” diatribe but rather an explanation of how we can leverage personality types most effectively. There is no right or best personality type but like life in general, we need to understand each other for more harmonious relationships. Whether these relationships are family, work, or social, applications of understanding are documented throughout the book.
There was one example in the book that hit particularly close to home. Although SAT or IQ scores do not support it, people who talk more are perceived as leaders. And, which personality type talks more? Extroverts. Now, assume that both extroverts and introverts have an equal amount of good ideas. Who is going to get their way more? Extroverts. This could be dangerous because they’re going to get their way more meaning that many of their bad ideas are also going to be implemented.
Oh, another thing I intuitively knew but now have support for is brainstorming sessions. Studies show the larger the number of people involved in a session, the less effective they are. A 9-member group is less effective than a 6-member group which is less than effective than a 4-member group which is less effective than a 2-member group. The suggestion is to conduct brainstorming sessions electronically. Collect comments and then share them anonymously and build from there. One of the reasons is that most introverts are better writers than speakers.
Other examples from the business world give tips for how both introverted and extroverted leaders can best work with their subordinates of each type. Take advantage of each of their strengths. Such as how studies show that introverts “inspect” and extroverts “react”. Neither adjective should be taken as derogatory but instead as strengths. Allow introverts time to examine and solve. Studies show they are more persistent trying to solve unsolvable problems. The famous introvert, Albert Einstein said, “It is not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” My hero.
A final word on the narration—fantastic. Please listen to rather than read this book. Kathe Mazur does a perfect narration in a “Quiet”, calm, soothing voice. Very appropriate “in a noisy world that can’t stop talking”.
I don’t get all the haters of the Dan Brown books. Are you really going in with the expectation that these books are going to be award-winning, works of art? If so, do you critique every book you read with that same expectation? It would be a pity if you did.
Like movies, I don’t expect every one I watch to be an Academy Award winner. If I did, that would certainly narrow the number of films I’d see. No, I go to be entertained (whatever that may mean on any particular day). That’s the way I look at the books I read, particularly fiction and I think Dan Brown’s books are very entertaining. They are a fictional escape.
We’ve all seen the stats that show how few books Americans are reading these days (present company excluded) and I think these types of books are an excellent way to get the masses to pick up, read, listen and get back involved in books. That’s what it is all about…like starting children with books from an early age, once they’re in, who knows where it can lead them. I want more of my friends to read books and if this is the hook, then I’m happy to bait it and reel them in.
My personal opinion of the Lost Symbol was that I liked it, but after reading all his other books I found this one more predictable. Still it was entertaining and I recommend it. I think many others will enjoy it as well.
I’ve read the anti-Coke reviews of this book and went in with the sneaky suspicion that the author had an agenda and I began reading with that understanding. I believe anyone could pick any company and write a book about them in a similar style.
I have to say as a marketing researcher myself, I found the history of the company extremely compelling and appreciate their marketing and branding from their earliest days. I found it clever the way they thought to get people to drink more Coke. . . bigger bottles. Seems so simple now but back then it was an innovation and now look at the sizes of the sodas we drink today--Big Gulps, Super Big Gulps, etc. It is reminiscent of how toothpaste manufactures got people to use more toothpaste. Think about it, how do you do that? Bigger holes in the tubes! Marketing genius.
So while I enjoyed all of that, I have to say I—with relief, ultimately agree with my fellow Goodreaders and can sum this up by saying, Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be Coke (or any soda for that matter) drinkers for which there are many reasons. The first being health. I still cannot believe that researchers cannot definitively prove there is nothing more than correlation (not causation) between high fructose corn syrup and obesity and/or diabetes. In my mind, the stuff is poison and it is in everything.
Second, I now feel they abuse marketing and show little ethics in this regard. Research shows that infants begin to recognize brands between 6 and 18 months of age. By age 3, children begin requesting brands. Coke manipulates this to their advantage through such marketing campaigns as the cute polar bears and Santa. For the 12 and under cohort, they target such shows as Spongebob Squarepants and for the teen group, they use product placement on shows such as American Idol as well as targeted advertising. While believing in capitalism and the goal of being an industry leader, you must do it responsibly. I don’t think that Coke does this.
Then there are the Coke wars in Mexico and Colombia. We exploit these markets by manufacturing our Coke there where the people become obese through drinking it as Coke drains their water supplies leaving little clean water to drink. The result is the population has to drink the cheap alternative Coke as a water substitute. Coke also overlooks union battles in these countries. These battles ultimately lead to murder in many cases for which Coke assumes no responsibility. Ironically, these two countries ship us their “Coke” but in powered form (cocaine). While one is legal and the other not, the result is unhealthy for all.
It kills me to believe this about one of my favorite brands. While I don’t think I can boycott their products as they are just too ubiquitous, I will severely limit my use of them in my household. C’mon Coke to what’s right and become a good corporate citizen.
Fantastic book...especially if you've read/listened to John Adams. I have to comment once again on the remarkable and mellifluous voice of Cassandra Campbell. As soon as I noticed she was the reader I was in. I highly recommend that you look for her.
Anyway, Abigail Adams. What an amazing woman she was. This book presents the other side of the the John Adams story. How she coped and ran the family during his extended absenses as a career public servant.
Anyway, Abigail Adams. What an amazing woman she was. This book presents the other side of the the John Adams story. How she coped and ran the family during his extended absenses as a career public servant.
It was interesting to learn how archaic society's view of women was during that time and how she struggled for her own identity within those constraints.
From John Adams and hearing about the love letters they wrote, I had the impression that life between the two was all lovey-dovey but it really wasn't according to this. Additionally, the book details the sensitive perspective of the family trials and tribulations as they relate to family relationships. From John Adams, I knew of the key personal tragedies but they were told from John's male perspective. Not that any of the events were less painful to him but they were written with less emotion that a female does (we're just wired different).
I was most impressed with Abigail's financial savvy and contribution to the family's wealth through investing and her own business. This woman could do it all...and she did!
Remarkable...a life well lived.
Not what I thought it would be???but still surprisingly better!
I had anticipated a book about UFOs and the secret testing and/or cover up of alien beings. Instead this is basically a biography of Area 51 and its environs. Well researched and documented with people who were willing to talk to set the record straight about what happens there. Some of it more mundane and some scary, but all very interesting.
The stories told are compelling and the narration by the author, professional. It made for a highly interesting and entertaining book. An amazing biography that I highly recommend for UFO buffs and those interested in history.
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