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R

Reader

ratings
85
REVIEWS
15
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
0
HELPFUL VOTES
10

  • The Swerve: How the World Became Modern

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Stephen Greenblatt
    • Narrated By Edoardo Ballerini
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1163)
    Performance
    (1011)
    Story
    (1005)

    Nearly six hundred years ago, a short, genial, cannily alert man in his late 30s took a very old manuscript off a library shelf, saw with excitement what he had discovered, and ordered that it be copied. That book was the last surviving manuscript of an ancient Roman philosophical epic by Lucretius—a beautiful poem containing the most dangerous ideas: that the universe functioned without the aid of gods, that religious fear was damaging to human life, and that matter was made up of very small particles.

    Ethan M. says: "Very compelling history, a less compelling thesis"
    "Bit boring"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    More about the book hunters of the Renaissance.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Stephen Greenblatt again?

    Hmm. Maybe.


    Did Edoardo Ballerini do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

    I guess so.


    Could you see The Swerve being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    Possibly as a documentary about Lucretius and the discovery of his poem. I'd avoid Greenblatt's over-wrought hypothesis that this one book changed the course of humanity, though.


    Any additional comments?

    I wouldn't buy this as an audiobook. Possibly it's better in hardcopy.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Special Topics in Calamity Physics

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Marisha Pessl
    • Narrated By Emily Janice Card
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (644)
    Performance
    (266)
    Story
    (270)

    This is a darkly hilarious coming-of-age novel and a richly plotted suspense tale told through the distinctive voice of its heroine, Blue van Meer. After a childhood spent moving from one academic outpost to another with her father, Blue is clever and possessed of a vast lexicon of knowledge. But when a drowning and the shocking death of a teacher lead to a confluence of mysteries, Blue is left to make sense of it all with only her gimlet-eyed instincts and cultural references to guide - or misguide - her.

    Jeanie says: "Over 21 Hours of Bliss..."
    "Not excellent writing but strangely gripping story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Pessl is a bit of a sloppy writer, as some here have pointed out. Her writing at times falls flat, is unsuccessful and even downright silly, but she did succeed in creating an odd story with an unreal atmosphere, in an odd place and time with characters slightly askew, and for this, I liked the book and found myself unable to stop listening. I was very interested to find out how this strange tale unfolded (and indeed haven't, since I have four hours left).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Country Driving: A Journey Through China from Farm to Factory

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Peter Hessler
    • Narrated By Peter Berkrot
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (310)
    Performance
    (156)
    Story
    (152)

    In the summer of 2001, Peter Hessler, the longtime Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker, acquired his Chinese driver's license. For the next seven years, he traveled the country, tracking how the automobile and improved roads were transforming China.

    BARRY says: "Excellent book and narration"
    "Hilariously bad narrator"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This seems to be a typical Peter Hessler book; it's a meandering, well-researched and well-written examination of a quickly transforming nation. Sometimes I wish the trajectory the book travels was a bit straighter, but overall, I respect the author's design and intentions.

    However, the narrator was ridiculous! I can't tell if he enhances the book by adding unintentional humor, or if he completely derails it. All of his renderings of the Chinese people quoted in the book make it sound like they are born-and-bred New Yorkers, and possibly chain-smoking New Yorkers. (I suppose born-and-bred New Yorkers might disagree with me — this is an opinion of someone not from there.) Still, I wish the publisher had hired someone who is more familiar with Chinese accents, and who could have reproduced subtle and diverse voices for the many different people featured in this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Awakening

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Kate Chopin
    • Narrated By Kim Basinger
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (235)
    Performance
    (204)
    Story
    (195)

    Kate Chopin’s novel, a landmark work of early feminism, is seen as a pre-cursor to the works of American novelists such as William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway. The upper-class Creole society of New Orleans and the Southern Louisiana coast at the end of the 19th century is brought to audio in a stirring performance by Academy Award-winning actress Kim Basinger.

    Deborah Jacob says: "Like Seeing a Movie with Your Eyes Closed"
    "With a different reader, this could be amazing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In the end, I grew accustomed to Kim Basinger's odd way of reading, her funny way of pausing midway through a sentence at an unlikely spot as if she had forgotten what she was in the middle of doing. This book is so lovely, though, that I often wished for a better, more sensitive and more dynamic reader.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Beautiful Ruins

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Jess Walter
    • Narrated By Edoardo Ballerini
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6496)
    Performance
    (5623)
    Story
    (5612)

    The story begins in 1962. On a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks out over the incandescent waters of the Ligurian Sea and spies an apparition: a tall, thin woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. She is an actress, he soon learns, an American starlet, and she is dying. And the story begins again today, half a world away, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio's back lot - searching for the mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier.

    Ella says: "My mind wandered"
    "Amazing book, amazing narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Stories within stories within stories, some of which are set on the sumptuous coast of Italy — a bonus!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Katherine Boo
    • Narrated By Sunil Malhotra
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (806)
    Performance
    (686)
    Story
    (697)

    Annawadi is a makeshift settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport, and as India starts to prosper, Annawadians are electric with hope. Abdul, a reflective and enterprising Muslim teenager, sees “a fortune beyond counting” in the recyclable garbage that richer people throw away. Asha, a woman of formidable wit and deep scars from a childhood in rural poverty, has identified an alternate route to the middle class: political corruption.

    Dr. says: "An Antidote for Shantaram"
    "Bold, seering journalism and writing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It is easy to forget that one is reading a work of nonfiction with Beyond the Beautiful Forevers. Katherine Boo's writing is so vivid, her storytelling so precise, her insights eerily telephathic, or so it seems, that one gets quickly enveloped into this story of the ruthless struggle for life, death — and brief, aching glimpses of a better life — that these slum residents endure day after day. I am amazed by this book, by Boo, by her three years living in the slum, and by the horrors she depicts of those who are among the poorest in our unjust and inequitable world.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Heft

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Liz Moore
    • Narrated By Kirby Heyborne, Keith Szarabajka
    Overall
    (1962)
    Performance
    (1766)
    Story
    (1771)

    Forrmer academic Arthur Opp weighs 550 pounds and hasn’t left his rambling Brooklyn home in a decade. Twenty miles away in Yonkers, seventeen-year-old Kel Keller navigates life as the poor kid in a rich school and pins his hopes on what seems like a promising baseball career - if he can untangle himself from his family drama.

    Mel says: "Intriguing--Captivating--Altering"
    "For the Most Part, Wonderful Characters"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I loved the character of Arthur Opp, and would have preferred the whole story be told from his point of view, but that would have been a radically different novel. The reader of Arthur was wonderful, too, with a gravelly, warm voice that seems to rumble from his depths — exactly what you imagine a 550-lb. cultured man would sound like. I didn't care as much for the reader for the young boy, nor did I like his character quite as much.

    The story as a whole is sad and disappointing, although the book ends on a possibly uplifting note. There are some minor inconsistencies, too, here and there throughout the book, which felt a bit sloppy.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Shantaram

    • UNABRIDGED (43 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By Gregory David Roberts
    • Narrated By Humphrey Bower
    Overall
    (3370)
    Performance
    (1703)
    Story
    (1706)

    This mesmerizing first novel tells the epic journey of Lin, an escaped convict who flees maximum security prison in Australia to disappear into the underworld of contemporary Bombay. Accompanied by his guide and faithful friend, Prabaker, Lin searches for love and meaning while running a clinic in one of the city's poorest slums and serving his apprenticeship in the dark arts of the Bombay mafia. The keys to unlock the mysteries that bind Lin are held by two people: his mentor Khader Khan, mafia godfather and criminal-philosopher; and the beautiful, elusive Karla, whose passions are driven by dangerous secrets.

    Jamie says: "Do Not Miss This"
    "This is a stale piece of writing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I was drawn in by the potential for drama, romance, great characters, wonderful portrait of Bombay, and the unbelievable story and plot that this novel seemed to promise. But I was disappointed. It's overwritten, cliched, and frequently mawkish. I stopped listening after Part II.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • This Boy's Life

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Tobias Wolff
    • Narrated By Oliver Wyman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (148)
    Performance
    (102)
    Story
    (103)

    This book essentially launched the memoir craze that has been going strong ever since. The story is pretty grim: teen-aged Wolff moves with his divorced mother from Florida to Utah to Washington State to escape her violent boyfriend. When she remarries, Wolff finds himself in a bitter battle of wills with his abusive stepfather, a contest in which the two prove to be more evenly matched than might have been supposed.

    Darwin8u says: "Beautiful, unsentimental memoir of youth"
    "Over-rated book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    For some reason, this book is highly touted. I found the writing uninspired and the young protagonist at times very unlikable (as in when he's beating his dog). I understand cruelty begets cruelty, and this boy certainly dealt with too many harsh men in his life, but it is still hard to find sympathy for a young boy who's sadistic at times, even if he feels shame afterwards.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • All the Little Live Things

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By Wallace Stegner
    • Narrated By Edward Herrmann
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (43)
    Performance
    (31)
    Story
    (33)

    Scarred by the senseless death of their son and baffled by the engulfing chaos of the 1960s, Joe Allston and his wife, Ruth, have left the coast for a California retreat. And although their new home looks like Eden, it also has its serpents: Jim Peck, a messianic exponent of drugs, yoga, and sex, and Marian Catlin, an attractive young woman whose otherwordly innocence is far more appealing—and far more dangerous.

    B.J. says: "Another winner from Stegner"
    "Sad story, lovely writing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What made the experience of listening to All the Little Live Things the most enjoyable?

    Stegner writes about nature and people with heart-stopping beauty.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    Stegner's acute rendering of people, their complexities and struggles.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Every time he describes the land, the sky, a character's expression.


    If you could take any character from All the Little Live Things out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Jim Peck. Although he's an infuriating idealistic and naive hippie in narrator Joe Allston's eyes, he is also a character in search of truth, beauty and purity. But he inevitably gets tripped up by his own falseness and darkness, like we all do.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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