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  • Coyote America

  • A Natural and Supernatural History
  • By: Dan Flores
  • Narrated by: Elijah Alexander
  • Length: 8 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,105
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,005
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,006

Coyote America is both an environmental and a deep natural history of the coyote. It traces both the five-million-year-long biological story of an animal that has become the "wolf" in our backyards and its cultural evolution from a preeminent spot in Native American religions to the hapless foil of the Road Runner. A deeply American tale, the story of the coyote in the American West and beyond is a sort of Manifest Destiny in reverse.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Very Enjoyable Book, Subject Matter, and Reader

  • By John Townsend on 03-17-17

Good, but could have been better with more science

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

Reviewed: 08-06-18

Dan Flores waxes rhapsodic about coyotes, delving into the name, history, man's interactions with coyotes, and how humans have created the conditions that have allowed the spread of the coyote population eastward across the whole country. While all of this was interesting, he also strays a bit too far from science for me. He uses folklore, mythology, and anthropology to point out how humans and coyotes share many characteristics, like adaptability and intelligence, (which I think they do, but I wouldn't base that conclusion upon folk stories). I think that the author could have spent some time with ranchers and farmers to better understand their intense feelings towards coyotes as predators and not just claim that our "hatred seems hard to square with anything rational.” I think that Mr. Flores could have written a better book if he had written about coyotes in a far less anthropomorphic way, and more about their biology, behavior, and how nature is always a fine and delicate balance.

  • The Unthinkable

  • Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - and Why
  • By: Amanda Ripley
  • Narrated by: Kirsten Potter
  • Length: 9 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 604
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 475
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 476

Today, nine out of 10 Americans live in places at significant risk of earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, terrorism, or other disasters. Tomorrow, some of us will have to make split-second choices to save ourselves and our families. How will we react? What will it feel like? Will we be heroes or victims? Will our upbringing, our gender, our personality - anything we've ever learned, thought, or dreamed of - ultimately matter?

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • these days, you can never know enough......

  • By Andy on 10-29-10

We all need to think about the unthinkable.

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

Reviewed: 07-03-18

I hate to fly, but if I want to see my oldest son who lives 1700 miles away, I pretty much have to. When I was four months pregnant with this son, I was on a flight that had a fire in the cabin shortly after takeoff, so the pilot told us we needed to assume the crash position, return to the airport, land on a runway surrounded by fire trucks, and exit using the wing evacuation slides. Everything turned out fine, but it was pretty darn scary at the time. I've been terrified to fly ever since, asking my doctor for four Xanax four times a year when I had to fly. She has become less willing to prescribe them, so now I just have a drink before boarding.

When I saw this book at the library, even the title made my heart pound, but I decided to check it out and face my fear. Instead of being scary, I found this book to be interesting, informative, empowering, and a positive look at how people react when faced with a disaster. I hope I never have to learn what my "disaster personality" (how you respond in a crisis) would be if I was in the middle of a real disaster, but this book has given me a lot to think about, and at least listen to the safety presentation before takeoff, identify the plane exits as instructed, and learn where the fire exits are when I check into a hotel. I'm still afraid to fly, but after reading The Unthinkable, I can recognize that as an emotional response, and move beyond it by planning, preparation, practicing, and executing my plan. It's a fine line between telling yourself that the chances of a disaster happening to you or a loved one are slim and expecting disasters around every corner, but The Unthinkable provides an educational, logical, and positive approach to risk, fear, and disaster planning.

  • This Is Water: The Original David Foster Wallace Recording

  • By: David Foster Wallace
  • Narrated by: David Foster Wallace
  • Length: 24 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 643
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 515
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 507

Only once did David Foster Wallace give a public talk on his views on life, during a commencement address given in 2005 at Kenyon College. This is the audio recording of David Foster Wallace delivering that very address. How does one keep from going through their comfortable, prosperous adult life unconsciously? How do we get ourselves out of the foreground of our thoughts and achieve compassion? The speech captures Wallace's electric intellect as well as his grace in attention to others.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The best 20 minutes of my life.

  • By John Nosal on 10-09-12

Be aware and pay attention

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

Reviewed: 07-03-18

I've heard many graduation and commencement speeches in the academic careers of myself and my family. I would count only two as worthwhile, and this is one of them. It is simple, based in honesty, but without moral lecturing, and so truthful that it felt like David Foster Wallace was talking to me. I listened to this from Audible, and I think that hearing DFW give the speech made it even more powerful for me. But I also think that it's important enough to hear or read however you can, so google the pdf transcript or listen to it on youtube. Don't just revert to your default setting; choose to look differently, be aware, and pay attention. This one is staying on my ipod for multiple relistens, especially on those days when I'm lazy and have forgotten that "this is water".

  • How to Change Your Mind

  • By: Michael Pollan
  • Narrated by: Michael Pollan
  • Length: 13 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 3,876
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 3,516
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 3,490

When Michael Pollan set out to research how LSD and psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms) are being used to provide relief to people suffering from difficult-to-treat conditions such as depression, addiction, and anxiety, he did not intend to write what is undoubtedly his most personal book. But upon discovering how these remarkable substances are improving the lives not only of the mentally ill but also of healthy people coming to grips with the challenges of everyday life, he decided to explore the landscape of the mind in the first person as well as the third.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A delightful trip

  • By Paul E. Williams on 05-19-18

Perfectly researched, written, & read by Pollan

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

Reviewed: 07-03-18

I've enjoyed many of Michael Pollan's other books, but had already decided not to read this one as I have only a passing interest in psychedelics. But then I heard Terry Gross interview the author on Fresh Air and I was immediately intrigued. After reading the book, I think the best parts are still contained in the interview, but I did learn a lot about the history of psychedelic drugs (mainly LSD and psilocybin), the scientific research (then and now), the damage that Timothy Leary and his cavalier attitude may have done to the drugs' reputation, the possible mental health applications, and even possible enhancement of the lives of people who are not mentally ill.

Much of what makes this book interesting is Pollan's exhaustive research and boundless curiosity, along with his engaging writing style. I listened to the audio book, narrated by the author in his own perfect voice which also added to the experience. His approach is skeptical, which helped me to take the subject seriously because I feel pretty much the same. I rolled my eyes at some of the spiritual trip descriptions, but the author was doing some of the same, and he was able to convince me that there might be something to this through his non-judgmental, educational, and personal writing. I was especially interested in several areas that Pollan mentioned - treating terminally ill patients at the end of their lives with psychedelics to alleviate their fear of dying, and how his wife felt that his own trips had helped him be more present for the death of his own father. I've had recent experience with both of these situations (without the aid of psychedelics!), and if these things are true at all, it would seem almost inhumane not to provide some magic mushrooms that might help patients and their families.

  • Mindfulness Meditation for Pain Relief

  • Guided Practices for Reclaiming Your Body and Your Life
  • By: Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • Narrated by: Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • Length: 1 hr and 56 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 268
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 206
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 201

If you're reading this, chances are your life, or the life of someone you know, is shaped by pain - and the physical and emotional suffering that usually accompany it. The good news: Jon Kabat-Zinn and his colleagues have helped thousands of people learn to use the power of mindfulness to transform their relationship to pain and suffering, and discover new degrees of freedom for living with greater ease and quality of life.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Like a friend talking to you

  • By A reader on 08-27-11

Mindfulness meditation can help

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

Reviewed: 07-03-18

This is probably a 3.5 star book in my opinion, but it was worth listening to, especially when my pain was at its worst. At the very least it provided a distraction from the head, neck, shoulder pain, and crippling headaches I was experiencing. The symptoms affected every aspect of my daily life, and much of the night, but I could often get back to sleep with an extra dose of ibuprofen and listening to this mindfulness meditation. I didn't find it a cure-all, but I do think it was a valid part of treatment that includes ibuprofen, topical arnica, Traumeel, Aspercreme, and physical therapy. Things are better (not perfect), but so far I've avoided surgery for cervical herniated discs. Mindfulness meditation may not fix everything in your life, but it can help in many ways.

  • The Feather Thief

  • By: Kirk Wallace Johnson
  • Narrated by: MacLeod Andrews
  • Length: 8 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 283
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 260
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 260

On a cool June evening in 2009, after performing a concert at London's Royal Academy of Music, 20-year-old American flautist Edwin Rist boarded a train for a suburban outpost of the British Museum of Natural History. Home to one of the largest ornithological collections in the world, the Tring museum was full of rare bird specimens whose gorgeous feathers were worth staggering amounts of money to the men who shared Edwin's obsession: the Victorian art of salmon fly-tying. Once inside the museum, the champion fly-tier grabbed hundreds of bird skins - some collected 150 years earlier.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Unusual and true natural history mystery!

  • By Sylvia on 04-28-18

Weird, fascinating, & engrossing story!

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

Reviewed: 05-08-18

I've fished, tried to cast with my son's fly-fishing rod, and admired some of the flies that he has tied, but I never imagined I could be so captivated by the story of a young man so obsessed with Victorian salmon-fly tying that he would resort to stealing hundreds of rare and exotic bird feathers and skins from the Tring Natural History Museum.

Truth really is stranger than fiction in The Feather Thief, and Kirk Johnson has written this weirdly fascinating story so well that I couldn't help but become immersed in it. He presents his research so the reader can understand the background and development of salmon-fly tying as an elite and expensive hobby in the 19th century. He also writes about Darwin's rival Alfred Russel Wallace and his quest to gather rare birds for scientific study and 19th century women demanding exotic birds and feather for their hats. On the surface, The Feather Thief is about exactly what its title states, but it's also about protecting endangered species and those who exploit those species for pleasure and money.

The author says that after he heard about the feather thief from a fly-fishing guide in New Mexico, “I became obsessed with the crime within moments. The more I found out, the greater the mystery grew, and my own compulsion to solve it.” I felt the same way about this engrossing book.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • A Mind at Play

  • How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age
  • By: Rob Goodman, Jimmy Soni
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Yen
  • Length: 11 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 269
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 239
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 237

Claude Shannon was a tinkerer, a playful wunderkind, a groundbreaking polymath, and a digital pioneer whose insights made the Information Age possible. He constructed fire-breathing trumpets and customized unicycles, outfoxed Vegas casinos, and built juggling robots, but he also wrote the seminal text of the Digital Revolution. That work allowed scientists to measure and manipulate information as objectively as any physical object. His work gave mathematicians and engineers the tools to bring that world to pass.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Book is fine. Reader is annoyiing

  • By Pinot on 05-21-18

I wanted more information about Information Theory

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

Reviewed: 05-08-18

I hate to give a book about Claude Shannon an average rating, but it's only because the book is about the interesting genius that I can even muster three stars. It seems as if the authors felt they didn't have enough information, so they resort to listing many of his fellow grade school students and writing too much about his parents, with little about Shannon's relationships with these people. There was so much more valuable information they could have included; he was much more than his interests in juggling and unicycle riding.

The authors tell us that Mr. Shannon was a genius, and I don't disagree with that at all, but I really wish that they had explained why. I know just a little bit about information theory, but explanations about Shannon's work and momentous contributions are almost absent from this book. Claude Shannon is a person that most people have never heard of, yet his ideas, research, and work play a part in the daily lives of most of us. A well-written book that gives us a better understanding of Claude Shannon the man along with a clear and thorough explanation of his information theory for those of us who are not mathematicians is sorely needed, but sadly, A Mind at Play was not that book for me.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Woman Who Smashed Codes

  • A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine who Outwitted America's Enemies
  • By: Jason Fagone
  • Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell
  • Length: 13 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 842
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 774
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 768

In 1912, at the height of World War I, brilliant Shakespeare expert Elizebeth Smith went to work for an eccentric tycoon on his estate outside Chicago. The tycoon had close ties to the US government, and he soon asked Elizebeth to apply her language skills to an exciting new venture: code breaking. There she met the man who would become her husband, groundbreaking cryptologist William Friedman. Though she and Friedman are in many ways the Adam and Eve of the NSA, Elizebeth's story, incredibly, has never been told.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • An important biography, perfectly told

  • By sarah brown on 10-25-17

Fascinating book about someone you never heard of!

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

Reviewed: 01-24-18

I would bet that only a few people know about cryptography, and fewer still are familiar with the names and work of those who developed the science, like Turing, Shannon, and Friedman. Even if you have heard of William Friedman as one of the founders of the National Security Agency, you most likely have never heard of his wife Elizebeth and her work. Thanks to Jason Fagone, we can finally read her fascinating story in The Woman Who Smashed Codes.

She was first hired by eccentric George Fabyan to work at his Riverbank Laboratories to prove that Francis Bacon had written Shakespeare's plays. Over time, her skepticism about the project grew, but she was developing new cryptographic techniques and working with the man she would eventually marry, geneticist William Friedman. She went on to solve codes for the Navy, Treasury Department, and the military during World War II. Fagone explains the difference between working on paper codes and machine codes (such as Enigma), and Elizebeth excelled at all of them. I had never heard of her, but the author has written a riveting biography, one that makes us all aware of Elizebeth, her curiosity, talents, and accomplishments, gives her long overdue credit, and is a wonderful read.

(I can't help wishing that Jason Fagone would also write a book about Riverbank Laboratories. George Fabyan sounded like an rich, crazy, eccentric, but I'm curious about what other research he was funding there, and what may have come out of that research. I think the topic may be worthy of another book, Mr. Fagone!)

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Holidays on Ice

  • Featuring Six New Stories
  • By: David Sedaris
  • Narrated by: David Sedaris
  • Length: 4 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,175
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,796
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,791

David Sedaris's beloved holiday collection is new again with six more pieces, including a never before published story. Along with such favorites as the diaries of a Macy's elf and the annals of two very competitive families, are Sedaris's tales of tardy trick-or-treaters ("Us and Them"); the difficulties of explaining the Easter Bunny to the French ("Jesus Shaves"); and what to do when you've been locked out in a snowstorm ("Let It Snow").

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Best When In SantaLand

  • By Dave on 12-06-11

SantaLand Diaries is great, but as for the rest ..

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

Reviewed: 01-22-18

Holidays on Ice contains a few five-star, laugh out loud, must-read pieces, like the classic SantaLand Diaries and Six to Eight Black Men. I found much of the rest of the book to be just average, sad, dispirited, and even disturbing (but that's David Sedaris for you).

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Mindfulness

  • An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World
  • By: Mark Williams, Danny Penman, Jon Kabat-Zinn (foreword)
  • Narrated by: Mark Williams, Jon Kabat-Zinn (foreword)
  • Length: 2 hrs and 35 mins
  • Abridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 511
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 425
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 414

Everyday life is so frantic and full of troubles that we have largely forgotten how to live a joyful existence. We try so hard to be happy that we often end up missing the most important parts of our lives. In Mindfulness, Oxford professor Mark Williams and award-winning journalist Danny Penman reveal the secrets to living a happier and less anxious, stressful, and exhausting life.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Missing a written outline for the 8 week program

  • By Diane K. on 08-14-14

The best mindfulness meditation book I've found

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

Reviewed: 01-22-18

I've read various mindfulness meditation books over the last several years, and tried their mindfulness meditation suggestions with uneven results, but THIS is the book I was looking for. The authors stress evidence and explain cognitive behavior therapy, which kept me from rolling my eyes at any hippie mystical aspects of mindfulness. I jumped right in to listening to the introductory chapters on the hows, whys and benefits of mindfulness, and have been using the guided meditations on a daily basis for the last few weeks. There have been some stressful events in my life during this period, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much these meditations have helped. I had some expectations before I started this book that meditating was going to be a difficult and time-consuming task, but that has not been the case at all. Eight to ten minutes daily has made a significant difference in my life. I have been using whatever guided meditation I chose at random, but I'm now going back to the beginning and actually following the book's eight-week plan. Focus, awareness, acceptance, compassion, coping with negativity and the chaos that is life are all skills that I'm beginning to learn with the help of Mindfulness, and I'm very grateful to have finally found THE mindfulness book for me.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful