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Tom Johnson

California
  • 7
  • reviews
  • 351
  • helpful votes
  • 104
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  • 61 Hours

  • A Jack Reacher Novel
  • By: Lee Child
  • Narrated by: Dick Hill
  • Length: 13 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,197
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,681
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,677

A tour bus crashes in a savage snowstorm and lands Jack Reacher in the middle of a deadly confrontation. In nearby Bolton, South Dakota, one brave woman is standing up for justice in a small town threatened by sinister forces. If she's going to live long enough to testify, she'll need help. Because a killer is coming to Bolton, a coldly proficient assassin who never misses.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Make sure you have time before you start

  • By Gustavo on 05-25-10

loved this book more than others

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

Reviewed: 07-19-19

finally learn why reacher left the army! also, not sure what some of the other negative reviews are about. this booked captivated me.

  • Never Go Back

  • A Jack Reacher Novel
  • By: Lee Child
  • Narrated by: Dick Hill
  • Length: 13 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,045
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,321
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,299

Former military cop Jack Reacher makes it all the way from snowbound South Dakota to his destination in northeastern Virginia, near Washington, D.C.: the headquarters of his old unit, the 110th MP. The old stone building is the closest thing to a home he ever had. Reacher is there to meet - in person - the new commanding officer, Major Susan Turner, so far just a warm, intriguing voice on the phone. But it isn’t Turner behind the CO’s desk. And Reacher is hit with two pieces of shocking news, one with serious criminal consequences, and one too personal to even think about.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Expect the Best

  • By David Shear on 09-06-13

I love d it

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

Reviewed: 07-09-19

I can't seem to get enough of Jack Reacher. and the narrator is unparalleled. I soak in every word.

  • Without Fail

  • A Jack Reacher Novel
  • By: Lee Child
  • Narrated by: Dick Hill
  • Length: 16 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,775
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,349
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,341

Skilled, stealthy, and anonymous, Jack Reacher is the perfect man for the job: to assassinate the vice president of the United States. Theoretically. The head of a high-level Secret Service security detail wants Reacher to find the holes in her system - and fast. A group of desperate men already has the vice president in its sights. And it will stop at nothing to realize its objective.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Best in the series so far

  • By Virgil on 07-11-16

probably one of the best Reacher novels

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

Reviewed: 12-22-18

listened to this one twice all the way through. great story and characters. in awe.

  • Term Limits

  • By: Vince Flynn
  • Narrated by: Nick Sullivan
  • Length: 15 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,092
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,538
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,532

In one bloody night, three of Washington’s most powerful politicians are executed with surgical precision. Their assassins then deliver a shocking ultimatum to the American government: set aside partisan politics and restore power to the people. No one, they warn, is out of their reach—not even the president. A joint FBI-CIA task force reveals the killers are elite military commandos, but no one knows exactly who they are or when they will strike next.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Term Limits

  • By David Share on 06-26-11

gripping, intriguing from start to finish

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

Reviewed: 04-01-18

Flynn can write even without Rapp as a character! loved the story of this book.

  • Zero Day

  • By: David Baldacci
  • Narrated by: Ron McLarty, Orlagh Cassidy
  • Length: 13 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10,685
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,403
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,386

From David Baldacci - the modern master of the thriller and number-one worldwide best-selling novelist - comes a new hero: a lone Army Special Agent taking on the toughest crimes facing the nation. John Puller is a combat veteran and the best military investigator in the U.S. Army's Criminal Investigative Division. His father was an Army fighting legend, and his brother is serving a life sentence for treason in a federal military prison. Puller has an indomitable spirit and an unstoppable drive to find the truth.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Big fan of David Baldacci, not a fan of Zero Day

  • By William R. on 11-22-11

Characters are flat, plot is slow, unoriginal

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

Reviewed: 12-03-16

Puller is a boring character, and the plot moves too slowly. I abandoned this book after about 4 hrs. The narrators are great, but there's no real tension or interest in the plot or characters, and it feels like a Reacher imitation.

Some of Baldacci's other books are much better.

  • Words of Radiance

  • The Stormlight Archive, Book 2
  • By: Brandon Sanderson
  • Narrated by: Michael Kramer, Kate Reading
  • Length: 48 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 50,494
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 47,231
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 47,208

In that first volume, we were introduced to the remarkable world of Roshar, a world both alien and magical, where gigantic hurricane-like storms scour the surface every few days and life has adapted accordingly. Roshar is shared by humans and the enigmatic, humanoid Parshendi, with whom they are at war.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Book !!; no let down- "Words of Radiance" shines

  • By Don Gilbert on 03-08-14

Loved the characters

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

Reviewed: 06-02-14

I loved the characters Sanderson developed. They really drive the story forward. Although long, once you're hooked, the time flies by and you don't want any other audio book.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Your Brain at Work

  • Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long
  • By: David Rock
  • Narrated by: Bob Walter
  • Length: 9 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,427
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 2,744
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,710

Meet Emily and Paul: The parents of two young children, Emily is the newly promoted VP of marketing at a large corporation while Paul works from home or from clients' offices as an independent IT consultant. Their lives, like all of ours, are filled with a bewildering blizzard of emails, phone calls, yet more emails, meetings, projects, proposals, and plans. Just staying ahead of the storm has become a seemingly insurmountable task.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Interesting Insights into the Brain

  • By Tom Johnson on 11-28-12

Interesting Insights into the Brain

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

Reviewed: 11-28-12

I wrote a post detailing my review of Your Brain at Work. I'm posting it here for reading convenience:

Rock’s main argument is that by better understanding your brain, you can align the way you work with your brain’s tendencies, patterns, and instincts to be more productive and successful.

Rock keeps your attention throughout by implementing a narrative conceit involving two people, Paul and Emily, in before-and-after scenarios. Paul and Emily make poor decisions at first, and then later, when they understand better how the brain works, they make better decisions and find more success in the mock situations.

I found Rock’s book particularly interesting, not only for the helpful productivity tips but also because of the insights into the brain.

The Stage Metaphor

To explain how the brain works, Rock compares the brain to a stage. The stage can only accommodate so many actors before the play starts to get chaotic. When we multitask, we place more actors on our stage, and if we have too many actors, we become overloaded. The actors bump into each other and can’t move about in graceful harmony. It’s chaos. This translates into stress and frustration.

Rock says our brain can’t multitask when the tasks involve the prefrontal cortex — an area of the brain that requires high attention and focus. Instead, we only task-switch between multiple activities. Only when one activity is so familiar and routine that our basal ganglia can handle it almost unconsciously can we perform multiple tasks at once.

For example, if you’re used to driving the same route to work, it’s not difficult to drive that familiar route while listening to an audio book that requires a moderate level of concentration. In this case, you can multitask because your prefrontal cortex handles the audio listening while your basal ganglia handles the driving. However, if you were driving in downtown Manhattan for the first time — an act requiring a high degree of concentration and alertness — there’s no way you could successfully perform two prefrontal cortex tasks with equal competence.

In fact, Rock cites studies showing that our IQ dramatically falls when we attempt to multi-task, such as switching between an iPhone and a meeting. Studies show that a Harvard-level educated person can be reduced to a third-grade equivalent when multi-tasking.

Constant interruptions that compel us to continue switching tasks removes our chance at productivity. Important tasks that require deep immersion in thought are compromised when we fail to focus with enough uninterrupted study to reach a “continuous flow state,” as it’s sometimes called.

When actors on our stage keep coming and going, appearing and disappearing, and when the play keeps changing scripts and scenes, the brain can’t be productive. We need an uninterrupted focus with just a few actors on stage.

The first tip for productivity, then, is to allow for longer periods of uninterrupted thought and focus as you tackle high priority problems. Turn off the distractions and allow yourself to engage for a while with a problem. Identify your priority for the day early in the morning, and carve out time to tackle it. Avoid social media, meetings, phone calls, and other distractions that take you away from a state of focus.

The Science of Insight

Beyond encouraging single tasking, Rock also touches on the neuroscience of insight. He says when you get stuck on a problem, it’s helpful to step back and look inward for a few moments. He says our brain has a unique ability to enter states of self-awareness, or mindfulness, where our “director,” as he calls it, observes itself in action.

This is the metacognitive ability we have to step outside of our thought processes and observe ourselves thinking, to see ourselves acting in the moment almost as if we were another person. Philosophers have reflected on this director in the mind for centuries, he says.

Scientists who study insight find that insights come most frequently when people look inward with a quiet contemplation. To arrive at insights, he encourages a model called ARIA: Attention, Reflection, Insight, and Action. When faced with a problem, narrow your attention by removing extraneous actors from the stage and focusing inward. Then reflect, perhaps looking at the issue from different perspectives. More often than not, insights will come.

If they don’t, Rock mentions a few other strategies for insights as well. If you’re stuck at an impasse, give yourself a break. It’s easy for the brain to get stuck continuing down the same path over and over. You need to rest and shift your attention for a while to something else, and then return to the problem with a fresh perspective later. You’ll find you’re no longer stuck in the same rut as before, and you may see the solution much more clearly and easily.

He also recommends simplifying complex problems into smaller parts. Instead of trying to wrap your mind around a problem with multiple stages, various components, workflows, and related issues, chunk the issue into simpler parts that you can tackle individually.

Finally, he recommends incorporating more visuals to tackle the problems. Visuals make it easier to process complex information. Drawing pictures of the problem, or incorporating some other visual stimuli to think and interact with the problem may lead you to insights more quickly.

SCARF Model

In the second half of the book, Rock dives into five key attributes the brain cares deeply about: status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, and fairness, or SCARF for short. Our brain treats these attributes almost as intensely as survival instincts. When we interact with others, we will have more success by remembering to account for these attributes.

For example, with fairness, studies have shown that when two people are to split $10, if one person decides to take $7 and give the other $3, the person getting the smaller amount will feel such an incredible unfairness, he or she often will choose for no one to receive money at all rather than be slighted with the lesser amount. The sense of fairness is at times stronger than the desire for reward.

Autonomy is another huge trait the brain gravitates toward. In leadership roles, it’s much better to help people find solutions themselves rather than force others to accept solutions and decisions you make for them. We love to have independence in our work, and when it’s taken away and we are compelled toward specific ends, we reject it fiercely.

With status, slight another person in front of others, giving new projects to someone with little experience instead of to a senior-level team member, and this shift in status can demotivate. The same strategy works at home in managing children. The older children enjoy a higher level status, and when you take that status away, or put the older child on equal ground with the younger, it sends the older child into rebellion for the loss of status.

What does relatedness mean? People respond better when you try to relate to their frustrations, challenges, and experiences. Relating to another person can help build trusting, solid relationships, which will help you have more successful interactions.

Certainty is also a state the brain craves. Kids love to have routines, because routines encourage a world of certainty. People don’t like uncertain futures. Will you be able to meet the project deadline? Will the company go under? Uncertainty breeds fear and a sense of doubt.

Takeaways

Your Brain at Work has a lot of helpful ideas to increase productivity. Here are a few of my takeaways:

* Identify your priority at the start of your work day.

* Focus on a single task for a solid duration of time and avoid distractions.

* If you find yourself feeling overloaded, remove some of the actors on your stage.

* When you need insight to solve a problem, change your attention and heighten your reflection, looking inward with mindfulness.

* If you still need insight, take breaks to change your perspective, chunk complex problems into smaller parts, and use visuals such as drawing.

* Remember the importance of status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, and fairness when interacting with people. If something goes wrong, analyze the situation based on these elements.

351 of 365 people found this review helpful