California, USA | Member Since 2014
I don't think I've ever laughed so much listening to a book. Admittedly I'm in the ideal demographic for this book: a middle age male who enjoys living life with gusto, eating and drinking heartily, and working with wood. Still, I suspect that anyone who enjoys the TV show "Parks and Recreation" will enjoy this book. This is essentially an autobiography but with a lot of wit, wry humor and frequent acknowledgement that he's been lucky. It leaves no doubt that Nick is someone you'd be happy to call a friend.
Warning: If you're a fundamentalist christian you're likely to be offended by his observations regarding religion in the early part of the book. But if you're an atheist or at least religiously liberal you'll enjoy those parts as much as everything else he has to say.
As a geek I loved that the author doesn't resort to a deus ex machina. Yes, there are lucky breaks. But throughout the story the author uses actual science to explain how the protagonist manages to survive on Mars. Even if you're not a science geek you should read this book. You don't even have to know what hydrogen or a liter is. The science doesn't get in the way of the story but will give you a sense for why science is important even to your life on Earth.
I haven't had this much fun listening to fiction in a long time. As other reviewers have noted this will be most appealing to atheists and theists who are willing to entertain the idea that their religion may not be the only "truth". What I didn't see mentioned by others is the superb narration. Not only does each character have a distinct voice in many cases it's hard to imagine the character speaking any other way. I found this especially true for the main god, Lucky, as well most of the other characters (although this didn't extend to the main mortal protagonists Terry and Phil).
If only FOX news was as "fair and balanced" as this book. If you really care about a "fair and balanced" presentation of the facts you must read to this book. I don't expect anyone to change their opinion about the best way to spend our tax dollars or what societal goals are desirable as a result of reading this book. But do read this book so you will realize the FOX has an agenda that has nothing to do with being fair and balanced in their presentation of the facts.
I listen to NPR and BBC news every day. I read Glenn Greenwald and other progressive bloggers such as The Rude Pundit. But I also regularly read other conservatives such as David Brooks, Peggy Noonan and Charles Krauthammer. I was already aware of the study which showed that people who primarily got their news from FOX were significantly more likely to believe bogus "facts" (e.g., about Iraq and WMDs). So I thought I knew how much FOX news skewed reality for their audience. This book made me realize the situation is far worse than I knew.
If you like nightmares don't bother with Freddy Krueger ("A Nightmare on Elm Street "). Instead listen this tale of religious fanatics doing their best to drag the world back to the dark ages. The first couple of minutes left me wondering if I had bought a story that was going to extoll the virtues of religion. But as the story unfolds you realize that the devoutly religious are not the heroes. If this book doesn't make you actively work to marginalize the likes of John Hagee, Michelle Bachmann and Rick Santorum then you had better be comfortable with the idea of being killed because you were declared a witch by others in your community.
This is classic Matt Taibbi. He is not afraid to use blunt, honest, language. Such as calling the individuals who nearly caused another Great Depression a variety of terms never heard from journalists or the pundit class except when attempting to smear members of the other political party.
Having read other books on the recent financial crisis (e.g., "The Big Short") I thought I had a good understanding of the underlying causes and perpetrators. But listening to Matt's account I found myself occasionally sounding like a sufferer of Tourette syndrome as I learned new details about how the amoral, greedy, stupid "masters of the universe" at AIG, GoldmanSachs, et. al. nearly destroyed the world.
Buy a copy for yourself and another for your Tea Bagger family member or friend.
This story made me think of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night". That book is told from the perspective of an autistic child. This one from the perspective of a dog. In both you are drawn into the protagonists world. Here the author does a marvelous job of giving the dog just enough human qualities that you can relate to his viewpoint yet you never lose sight of the fact a dog is narrating.
This is the most approachable critical historical look at Jesus and the New Testament that I've yet read. This book should be mandatory reading for everyone, both believers and non-believers, who holds a strong opinion regarding Christianity. It certainly won't turn a non-believer into a believer. It's unlikely to turn a believer into a non-believer. But it is likely to make both sides take less extreme stances regarding the role of Christianity (especially those of the American Evangelical persuasion) in todays society.
I first read this book roughly 20 years ago and have read most of Robert Heinlein's books. This is one of my favorites (along with "Starship Troopers" and "Stranger In A Strange Land"). But what prompted me to write this review was the narration. It is on a par with the narration for "Water For Elephants". The narration does a good job of making each character distinct and bringing the story to life. It is a good example of an audio book that is better than the dead tree version.
This was the second Dean Koontz book I read many years ago and is still one of my favorites. It is closer to science fiction than his more recent work. Particularly refreshing is the portrayal of a priest who embraces rationality rather. But what really earned this audio book five stars is the narration. This is one of the best readings of any fiction book I've listened to in the past couple of years. The only other book whose narration I think is of comparable quality is "Water for Elephants".
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