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  • The Hard Thing About Hard Things

  • Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers
  • By: Ben Horowitz
  • Narrated by: Kevin Kenerly
  • Length: 7 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,676
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,546
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,517

Ben Horowitz offers essential advice on building and running a startup - practical wisdom for managing the toughest problems business school doesn’t cover, based on his popular ben’s blog. While many people talk about how great it is to start a business, very few are honest about how difficult it is to run one. The Hard Thing About Hard Things is invaluable for veteran entrepreneurs as well as those aspiring to their own new ventures, drawing from Horowitz’s personal and often humbling experiences.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • For large company managers, not startups

  • By Thomas on 03-18-14

The Hard Thing about Being a CEO of a Company

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-13-18

This book is insightful, comprehensive, and well-written. Ben Horowitz walks through his experience with starting, morphing, and leading technology companies. He walks through his own story from Netscape to Loud Cloud to Opsware, to starting a venture capital firm. Along the way he describes the pain and anguish of making flawed decisions just to buy enough time to make better ones down the road. He talks about building the company, changing midstream to survive the next phase, and how to have all of the difficult sorts of conversations that need to be had along the way. If the only way to learn how to be a CEO is to be a CEO - you actually feel like you're in this role as you read this book.

There is tremendous wisdom in this book that may never apply to your situation. From recognizing that "you are responsible for training your people" to taking a company public at the worst possible time because you have no choice, I really appreciate the effort that Ben Horowitz put into telling this story. It won't apply to my situation, but my understanding of my own situation is deeper for his experience.

  • Light Falls

  • Space, Time, and an Obsession of Einstein
  • By: Brian Greene
  • Narrated by: Brian Greene, Paul Rudd, Peter Ganim, and others
  • Length: 2 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,275
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,101
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,102

Best-selling author, superstar physicist, and cofounder of the World Science Festival Brian Greene ( The Elegant Universe, The Fabric of the Cosmos) and an ensemble cast led by award-winning actor Paul Rudd ( Ant-Man) perform this dramatic story tracing Albert Einstein's discovery of the general theory of relativity.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • An enjoyable deviation from standard Non-Fiction

  • By Heath N. Threm on 10-25-16

Einstein and Relativity: As it happened

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-10-18

It took a while to get past the musical soundtrack playing in the background of the narrator, but after a while this story takes over and it is a worthwhile listen. The book is a quick biography on Einstein, and an in-depth discussion of the events that led Einstein to special and general relativity. Einstein worked alone on topics others had given up on, only to face a mad dash to the finish as his friends became rivals.

I'd never thought about this before, but the research Einstein and his team needed to do into existing mathematics which may enable his theory of relativity was an essential part of his success. Also - Einstein's insight to use this new theory to do interesting evaluations and experiments was brilliant.

If you're looking for a light summer biography that focuses on a thread of Einstein's life - this isn't a bad choice (try your best to filter the soundtrack).

  • Detroit

  • An American Autopsy
  • By: Charlie LeDuff
  • Narrated by: Eric Martin
  • Length: 7 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 934
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 840
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 836

In the heart of America, a metropolis is quietly destroying itself. Detroit, once the richest city in the nation, is now its poorest. Once the vanguard of America’s machine age - mass production, automobiles, and blue-collar jobs - Detroit is now America’s capital for unemployment, illiteracy, foreclosure, and dropouts. With the steel-eyed reportage that has become his trademark and the righteous indignation that only a native son can possess, journalist Charlie LeDuff sets out to uncover what has brought low this once-vibrant city, his city.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • WOW

  • By Avid Reader and Listener on 07-09-13

Pray for Detroit

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-26-18

Detroit has been there my whole life, dying a little more every year. First there was the fear, then the fires, the scrappers, and now the deer. Charlie LeDuff explores his home town as a reporter, a war-time correspondent to the American tragedy. The stories he offers on the firefighters, the police, and the politicians is the best I've read explaining aspects of what I've heard through my own family. The stories Charlie offers on his own connection to Detroit, going in some way back to its founding in 1701, are a summary of how Detroit can weigh on you, change you in ways others don't appreciate, are wrenching.

With one exception (Mac-i-naw, not Mac-i-nac) the narrator absolutely nailed this performance as a film noir detective narrating a hard Detroit storyscape.

RIP Detroit Firefighter Walter Harris.

  • The Power of Different

  • The Link Between Disorder and Genius
  • By: Gail Saltz
  • Narrated by: Gail Saltz
  • Length: 8 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 151
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 134
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 133

A powerful and inspiring examination of the connection between the potential for great talent and conditions commonly thought to be "disabilities", revealing how the source of our struggles can be the origin of our greatest strengths. In The Power of Different, psychiatrist and best-selling author Gail Saltz examines the latest scientific discoveries and profiles famous geniuses who have been diagnosed with all manner of brain "problems".

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Dr. Pollyanna

  • By NMwritergal on 01-20-18

Different Brains for Different Gains

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-24-18

In a world where Meyers Briggs assessments, conflict styles, and change preferences are flooding organizations and leadership structures, The Power of Different is such a great listen. By discussing the gains and challenges of different brain types, I developed a new appreciation for the complexity of the topic of cognitive brain science.

Beyond understanding, the author makes a fantastic case for removing "crazy" and "nuts" from our vocabulary because given what we already know about cognition these terms no longer make much sense or serve any helpful purpose.

  • Wicked Plants

  • The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities
  • By: Amy Stewart
  • Narrated by: Coleen Marlo
  • Length: 4 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 871
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 788
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 786

Beware! The sordid lives of plants behaving badly. A tree that sheds poison daggers; a glistening red seed that stops the heart; a shrub that causes paralysis; a vine that strangles; and a leaf that triggered a war. Amy Stewart, best-selling author of Flower Confidential, takes on over two hundred of Mother Nature's most appalling creations in an A to Z of plants that kill, maim, intoxicate, and otherwise offend.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Grows on You Like Kudzu

  • By Cynthia on 04-23-13

Built for the Botanist on a Road Trip!

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-10-18

I was expecting something more like "Get Well Soon", by Jennifer Wright, which folds a story around the wicked plants of the world. The overall structure of this audiobook is much more along the lines of a plant almanac; summaries of the features of one plant at a time stacked up over a relatively large set of plants. There was some connecting story in the summary of each plant, where it is found, and its notable wicked features, but I found it hard to hold all of the information together without having the physical book in front of me.

If you're a botanist on a road trip, you might have more background to draw from to pull information from these brief summaries. I definitely learned more about plants (raw elderberries have cyanide in them, and you should never eat raw cashews), but its hard to pull these facts out of the book and store them in working memory.

  • The Paradox of Choice

  • Why More is Less
  • By: Barry Schwartz
  • Narrated by: Ken Kliban
  • Length: 7 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 953
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 781
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 779

By synthesizing current research in the social sciences, Schwartz makes the counterintuitive case that eliminating choices can greatly reduce the stress, anxiety, and busyness of our lives. He offers eleven practical steps on how to limit choices to a manageable number, have the discipline to focus on the important ones and ignore the rest, and ultimately derive greater satisfaction from the choices you have to make.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • The Tyranny of Pop Economics

  • By Darwin8u on 10-28-13

The Paradox of Choosing Another Take on Kahneman

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-02-18

I picked the "Paradox of Choice" without much thought because it fit a thread of pop-science I've been listening to over the last several months. From Daniel Pink to Michael Lewis to Dan Ariely, the research of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky is often cited in modern non-fiction. As much as I didn't associate the Paradox of Choice to Kahneman's research, the book dives into a few of the tenants of Kahneman's work; the peak-end rule, availability bias, and the subjective way we account for costs in our decision processes. At this point I probably need to dive right in to the original source in Kahneman's "Thinking Fast and Slow", but even with my prior experience in this subject area I recommend the "Paradox of Choice" as a reminder that choice can be good to a point, but harmful beyond that point.

  • Soonish

  • Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything
  • By: Kelly Weinersmith, Zach Weinersmith
  • Narrated by: Kelly Weinersmith, Zach Weinersmith
  • Length: 10 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 545
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 491
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 489

In this smart and funny book, celebrated cartoonist Zach Weinersmith and noted researcher Dr. Kelly Weinersmith give us a snapshot of what's coming next - from robot swarms to nuclear fusion powered-toasters. By weaving their own research and interviews with the scientists who are making these advances happen, the Weinersmiths investigate why these technologies are needed, how they would work, and what is standing in their way.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Really Good-ish!

  • By See Reverse on 04-16-18

Really Good-ish!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-16-18

This book does a great job of walking through the technology trends of the current age, diving in to the consequences without getting as deep into it as Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. The book is technically sound, interesting, well-written, and funny.

Fair warning: As an audiobook, you'll hear "footnote" a lot during the performance. You'll probably get used to it, but if you can't get past the steady interruption you'll be annoyed.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Havana

  • A Subtropical Delirium
  • By: Mark Kurlansky
  • Narrated by: Fleet Cooper
  • Length: 6 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 40
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 36
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 38

Award-winning author Mark Kurlansky presents an insider's view of Havana: the elegant, tattered city he has come to know over more than 30 years. Part cultural history, part travelogue, with recipes throughout, Havana celebrates the city's singular music, literature, baseball and food; its five centuries of outstanding neglected architecture; and its extraordinary blend of cultures.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazing tale of an amazing island!

  • By Dag Zaggles on 02-16-18

Havana was Nice, But Salt is Better

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-31-18

I've been an avid listener of Mark Kurlansky's work, so I was doubly excited to hear that this book was released and it was a decent departure from the Salt/Basque storyline that I've so enjoyed from the earlier books.

While Havana is interesting in its coverage of the relatively tumultuous history of the city, it doesn't have the same feel as Kurlansky's other work. I'm not disappointed, this book definitely gave me a better feel for the deep rooted place Havana holds in American Culture (Sloppy Joe's!)

  • Zero to One

  • Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future
  • By: Peter Thiel, Blake Masters
  • Narrated by: Blake Masters
  • Length: 4 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 13,119
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,059
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,028

The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. And the next Mark Zuckerberg won't create a social network. If you are copying these guys, you aren't learning from them. It's easier to copy a model than to make something new: doing what we already know how to do takes the world from 1 to n, adding more of something familiar. But every time we create something new, we go from 0 to 1.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Seems Insightful Until You Think A Little Deeper

  • By Mark Brandon on 10-31-14

Profound - Stop Bookmarking and Just Re-Listen

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-31-18

There are so many compelling quotes from this book that I had to give up on bookmarking them all, and acknowledging that I'll have to listen to this book again.

There are a number of different threads in this book, but prime among them is a definite view of the future. For all of the talk of "pivot" in other innovation discussion, Thiel outlines the benefit of planning for a future through proactive, visionary leaps. While some startups are content to do whatever it takes to survive, even if that includes completely changing your company, Thiel makes some compelling arguments on the need for visionary companies that are willing to succeed (or fail) moving the ball forward on clear aspects of a better future (for example, cheap/clean energy).

This book is worth the space on your Audible shelf, because it takes a couple of listens to really sink in.

  • The One World Schoolhouse

  • Education Reimagined
  • By: Salman Khan
  • Narrated by: Salman Khan
  • Length: 6 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 354
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 310
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 309

A free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere: this is the goal of the Khan Academy, a passion project that grew from an ex-engineer and hedge funder's online tutoring sessions with his niece, who was struggling with algebra, into a worldwide phenomenon. Today millions of students, parents, and teachers use the Khan Academy's free videos and software, which have expanded to encompass nearly every conceivable subject; and Academy techniques are being employed with exciting results....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Inspiring and Revolutionary

  • By Brad on 12-08-12

Everything I Expected... In Stretches

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-10-18

I absolutely love the mission of the Khan Academy, and I was looking forward to being inspired by this book. In stretches, this book hits the mark - the story of building the Khan Academy and the potential for a new future in K-12 education. Between these flashes of brilliance the story can drag on a bit, but all in all worth a listen!