An engrossing examination of the science behind the little-known world of sleep.
Like many of us, journalist David K. Randall never gave sleep much thought. That is, until he began sleepwalking. One midnight crash into a hallway wall sent him on an investigation into the strange science of sleep.
In Dreamland, Randall explores the research that is investigating those dark hours that make up nearly a third of our lives. Taking listeners from military battlefields to children’s bedrooms, Dreamland shows that sleep isn't as simple as it seems. Why did the results of one sleep study change the bookmakers’ odds for certain Monday Night Football games? Do women sleep differently than men? And if you happen to kill someone while you are sleepwalking, does that count as murder?
This book is a tour of the often odd, sometimes disturbing, and always fascinating things that go on in the peculiar world of sleep. You’ll never look at your pillow the same way again.
©2012 David K. Randall (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
There have been many recent advances in sleep science and the author takes you on a slightly dreamy tour of them. The performance assaults your ear with bad foreign accents an unnecessary caricatures.
The material is disjointed and the author repeats himself in different sections--possibly because he expected people to jump around to the chapters they were interested in. Not being a scientist he makes the various sources understandable for the layperson. But this also makes it difficult for him to analyse the material and he often presents conflicting points of view without any effort to say which is more likely to be correct. He's basically serving up everything he read and letting you sort through it.
I had to skip certain sections because the reader adopts a nasal, whiny voice whenever he's quoting a study or an interviewee--even ones that are clearly authoritative or completely correct. It's like he's saying "this is how all geeks and nerds talk." He also feels obliged to use British, French and Austrian (Freud) accents if the source material allows.
Without good synthesis or a critical eye for the data you could do almost as well for yourself by Googling "sleep science."
A completely different narrator. Or telling the actual narrator to:(1) Knock off the use of different "voices" (Freud speaking in a German accent; Brits speaking in a variety of different British accents, some of which are appropriate for the social standing of the person being quoted and some of which are not). This was INCREDIBLY IRRITATING in a non-fiction book. This is not a studio performance of a play. It is not Harry Potter, where different voices help you keep the different characters straight. I hated this audiobook's narrator in every chapter without exception, in the majority of paragraphs. Only my interest in the underlying scientific content kept me from asking for a refund. My knowledge that my iPhone was not at fault was the only thing keeping me from throwing it out the window (grin).(2) Knock off the use of overly emphatic and flowery intonation in regular passages. You DON'T have (pause) to (falling tone) EMPhasize every (pause; rising tone) sinGLE WORD in the book... you reALLLY Don't...
Most interesting: the underlying subject of sleep research.Least interesting: the author's recounting of his own sleepwalking, which goes nowhere. (Normally I would expect this to be very interesting.)
No. Nope. No way Jose. Unh unh. Noooooooooo! Am I clear?Well, maybe I would, but only if I heard a sample of his work in a particular (other) performance in which he speaks as a normal audiobook narrator does for a scientific book. I don't know if the peculiarities and irritations of this particular performance were his fault, or something he was instructed to do by a misguided producer. If you think you want this book, listen to the audio sample to see if you can handle Caploe's peculiar and distracting reading style. If you can, more power to you; if you can't, then pass on this one.
Some of the science is interesting. Although I hated most of the narrator's performance, let me give credit where credit is due: he does have an excellent French accent and mispronounces NONE of the French words in the book. (As you may have noticed, many narrators have no idea which letters at the end of French words are silent and which are not.)
The author lacks focus and a clear overall view. He starts out strong, with a description of the discovery, by a historian, of "first sleep" and "second sleep", and how this revolutionizes our understanding of sleep. He's right! And it's well-described in the book. But at several points later in the book, he fails to apply this correct insight to explain other sleep phenomena, simply parroting the scientists who studied those things, apparently unaware of the "first/second sleep" perspective.
I would read another book by Randall, but not one read by Caploe.
The reader put on annoyingly goofy voices for people quoted in the book. He read many passages as if they were punchlines in a joke. Really off-putting.
The narrator did weird voices all the time.
There was no story, this was a boring synopsis of many sleep studies.
Though there are some interesting factoids and bits of research in this book, the narrative is not tight enough. I enjoy "pop science" (as well as more serious works), but there was too much pop and not enough science in this book. The author rambles a bit and belabors his points. In the end, I didn't feel I'd learned very much.
The narrator was very poorly chosen for this book. He would probably be great for a fiction work as he has wide range of character voices. However, he read this book as if it was a drama, every phrase fraught with urgency or conspiracy. And the character voices felt really jarring in a serious book. French accent for the researcher with a French sounding name, a German accent for the German researcher, etc. It was like listening to a parody of a non-fiction book.
Dreamland by David. K. Randall was an interesting foray into the subject of sleep, and it did have scientific merit (I particularly enjoyed the part about sleep studies), but it fell off the deep end in a couple of places, especially where dreams are discussed.
There is a lot to be said for the amount of research that went into this book. The explanations of what physically happens when we sleep, the discussion of various sleep medications, and the evidence used to support the importance of sleep were well presented.
The narrators performace was good - not stellar - but good.
The problem that I had with the scientific merit of the book came primarily with the discussion of dream interpretation. First of all, I should say that I studied that topic in college - I don't have a degree in it or anything - but I studied it enough to write a well-researched paper about dreams.
There are a myriad of factors that can influence dreams including, but not limited to: allergies, bedding, sounds you hear while you're sleeping, effects of medications, foods you've eaten (particularly the acidity of the foods), things you've experienced that day (like watching a weird TV show or movie), the weather, etc. I don't recall any of these factors being seriously presented. If they were, it was in passing to the point that I don't remember it with the exception of a limited discussion about things you've experienced that day. The author did account for that one factor, but the other factors are so important that to dismiss them and concentrate solely on Freudian and superstitious interpretation was, in my opinion, downright irresponsible.
Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in studying sleep, just note that some of it is, at best, poorly researched.
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