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deipnosophist

Alexandria, VA
  • 9
  • reviews
  • 2
  • helpful votes
  • 20
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  • Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?

  • And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House
  • By: Alyssa Mastromonaco, Lauren Oyler
  • Narrated by: Alyssa Mastromonaco
  • Length: 5 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,520
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,219
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,213

If your funny older sister were the former deputy chief of staff to President Barack Obama, her behind-the-scenes political memoir would sound something like this. Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? is an intimate and admiring portrait of a president, a candid book of advice for young women, and a promising debut from a savvy political star.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Engaging and funny

  • By Jean on 04-06-17

If Amy Schumer Worked at the White House

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

Reviewed: 06-19-18

Mastromonaco is a hoot that's for sure. She is very frank and candid about all the dirty details of the White House and goes into extraordinary detail about the time she desperately needed a tampon. There are lots of other great stories too, and if you like to know the juicy gossip of backroom Washington, you'll probably like this book.

  • Vacationland

  • True Stories from Painful Beaches
  • By: John Hodgman
  • Narrated by: John Hodgman
  • Length: 5 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,740
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1,641
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,632

John Hodgman - New York Times best-selling author, semifamous personality, deranged millionaire, increasingly elderly husband, father, and human of Earth - has written a memoir about his cursed travels through two wildernesses: from the woods of his home in Massachusetts, birthplace of rage, to his exile on the coast of Maine, so-called Vacationland, home to the most painful beaches on Earth.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Not your typical coming of age story

  • By Tiffany Pearce on 11-02-17

Funny stories from an effete man

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

Reviewed: 06-19-18

One of the funniest lines comes at the beginning of this book: "All fathers long for the end of the world." There's a great way in which Hodgman uses his comedy chops to make the banal amusing. Some of the essays are about the Maine coast, but many more are just about his life in general and how he deals with success and his elitism in a very un-elite place. You'll know pretty soon if you like Hodgman's affect. It kind of reminds me of the way Nick Offerman writes his books. It's an odd little mix of high brow diction and mind-in-the-gutter sensibility. In short, if you're a hipster, you'll probably love this stuff. I found it entertaining and finished the book, but I'm not sure if I'd go back for a second helping.

  • Island of the Lost

  • Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World
  • By: Joan Druett
  • Narrated by: David Colacci
  • Length: 8 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3,258
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,010
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,002

Auckland Island is a godforsaken place in the middle of the Southern Ocean, 285 miles south of New Zealand. With year-round freezing rain and howling winds, it is one of the most forbidding places in the world. To be shipwrecked there means almost certain death. In 1864, Captain Thomas Musgrave and his crew of four aboard the schooner Grafton wreck on the southern end of the island. Utterly alone in a dense coastal forest, plagued by stinging blowflies and relentless rain, Captain Musgrave inspires his men to take action.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • One of the Best Stories Ever Told!

  • By Tiffany on 04-10-16

The thing about shipwrecks is...

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

Reviewed: 06-19-18

that they're boring. The most exciting part of this book is learning about the pet parrot that the castaways had and all his little quirks. I sort of pictured this shipwreck happening on a tropical island, but the Auckland Islands seem to be pretty cold and not very interesting. The story reminded me of Bridge on the River Kwai in that the captain takes a lot of steps to keep his crew working and not focusing on their disastrous situation. The dry tone of the narration probably didn't help much and I had a real hard time differentiating the characters. I'm glad I finished it, but the middle seemed to really drag and I was close to returning it and getting a refund.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Lagom: Not Too Little, Not Too Much

  • The Swedish Art of Living a Balanced, Happy Life
  • By: Niki Brantmark
  • Narrated by: Ana Clements
  • Length: 4 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 50
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 45
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 43

In an interconnected world filled with goal-oriented perfectionists, Lagom reminds us to slow down, to decompress and destress, to be mindful of sustainability yet not deny ourselves pleasure. But lagom is not a rigid set of rules - sometimes you need more, sometimes you need less, and that's fine, too! With this idea-filled guide, you can learn to find greater balance, well-being, and harmony - and, most importantly, make time for the things that matter most in life.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • This book inspired me to live a little better

  • By Nicola Daya on 06-19-18

More of a Buzzfeed list than a real book

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

Reviewed: 06-19-18

I wanted to like this book. I though that it would be kind of a combination of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and The Almost Nearly Perfect People about Scandinavian culture. There is a little bit of cultural anthropology here as the author plays the removed British observer, but in my opinion the book trends too much toward a Martha Stewart how-to book with directions for making homemade Christmas decorations and other knick knacks. It ends up being just a general self-help book with a Swedish theme. And many of the recommendations are just kind of laughable. Sure, I'll be sure to go for a brisk ocean swim every day before work! Or not. I'd love to bike to work if I didn't have to travel on four-lane highways to get there. Swedish people are unique because Sweden is a pretty unique place. I'm more interested in that fact than a bunch of platitudes about getting enough sleep.

  • Springfield Confidential

  • Jokes, Secrets, and Outright Lies from a Lifetime Writing for The Simpsons
  • By: Mike Reiss, Mathew Klickstein
  • Narrated by: Mike Reiss
  • Length: 7 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 659
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 608
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 603

Four-time Emmy winner Mike Reiss - who has worked on The Simpsons continuously since episode one in 1989 - shares stories, scandals, and gossip about working with America’s most iconic cartoon family ever. Reiss explains how the episodes are created and provides an inside look at the show’s writers, animators, actors, and celebrity guests. He answers a range of questions from Simpsons fans and die-hards and reminisces about the making of perennially favorite episodes.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • D'oh

  • By Lucas on 08-14-18

Funny inside info if you're a Simpsons nut

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

Reviewed: 06-19-18

If you're a fan of the Simpsons, you'll really enjoy looking behind the curtain to see how the show gets made and random decisions that sometimes led to the most iconic Simpsons moments of all time. I liked the part where Reiss talks about the four episodes that changed the way the Simpsons were made. There are some places that I imagine are funnier if you read them on the page, but Reiss does a good job as a reader and I looked forward to listening every morning.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Confidence Game

  • Why We Fall for It...Every Time
  • By: Maria Konnikova
  • Narrated by: Maria Konnikova
  • Length: 12 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 543
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 495
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 494

While cheats and swindlers may be a dime a dozen, true conmen - the Bernie Madoffs, the Jim Bakkers, the Lance Armstrongs - are elegant, outsized personalities, artists of persuasion, and exploiters of trust. How do they do it? Why are they successful? And what keeps us falling for it over and over again? These are the questions that journalist and psychologist Maria Konnikova tackles in her mesmerizing new book.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • The Confidence Game = major disappointment

  • By Nicole Kiess on 02-16-16

Nothing really revolutionary here

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

Reviewed: 01-06-17

What did you like best about The Confidence Game? What did you like least?

I enjoyed the investigation into the psychology of why we fall for con games and the ways in which everyone is susceptible. What I enjoy about a good con story is the "caper" aspects, though. I enjoy knowing the ins and outs of how someone actually games the system. This book was short on those kinds of stories and highlighted long cons that primarily relied on relationship building.

Were the concepts of this book easy to follow, or were they too technical?

The concepts here were not too technical. If anything, they were too simple. It basically boils down to the fact that we have high opinions of ourselves and therefore refuse to believe that we could get conned. That said, Konnikova does a nice job in outlining the major phases of the con (the put-up, the touch, etc.).

What didn’t you like about Maria Konnikova’s performance?

Whenever possible, I do like to hear the author read her own work, but in this case Ms. Konnikova's voice became enervating. Her voice is very breathy and she tends to over-pronounce "s" or "sh" sounds. Her voice also has a lot of vocal fry and tends to fall off at the end of sentences.

Any additional comments?

I look forward to listening to most of my Audible books, but this one really felt like a slog. I kept looking at how long I had left and wishing it was less. I was really excited to get into this book, but it just did not offer me much new insight.

  • H Is for Hawk

  • By: Helen Macdonald
  • Narrated by: Helen Macdonald
  • Length: 11 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3,039
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,759
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,750

When Helen MacDonald's father died suddenly on a London street, she was devastated. An experienced falconer captivated by hawks since childhood, she'd never before been tempted to train one of the most vicious predators: the goshawk. But in her grief, she saw that the goshawk's fierce and feral anger mirrored her own.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Mabel The Hawk--The Fire That Burned The Hurts Away

  • By Sara on 04-09-15

I just don't get it

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

Reviewed: 04-22-16

I know that many many people rave about this book and that it has garnered many awards, but I was not enthralled. MacDonald creates three points of resonance: a death, her hawk, and a recount of a famous author and falconer, but neither story felt entirely captivating to me. I will say that the details about falconry were interesting.

She also has a strange relationship to attention paid to her hawk. She lets her hawk hunt on the public greens of a university but doesn't seem to acknowledge just how nuts this all seems. She seems to both adore the attention the hawk gets her and become annoyed when people don't give her all the deference she believes she deserves. It was moments like these that made the falconry feel indulgent rather than cathartic or exploratory.

I also wonder if I would have enjoyed this book more on paper than audiobook. I found MacDonald's voice too whispery. It seemed like the entire book was narrated on the verge of tears. It is an emotional book but the quivering voice and the prominent "sh" sounds really annoyed me.

  • The Almost Nearly Perfect People

  • Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia
  • By: Michael Booth
  • Narrated by: Ralph Lister
  • Length: 13 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 408
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 368
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 359

Journalist Michael Booth has lived among the Scandinavians for more than 10 years, and he has grown increasingly frustrated with the rose-tinted view of this part of the world offered up by the Western media. In this timely audiobook, he leaves his adopted home of Denmark and embarks on a journey through all five of the Nordic countries to discover who these curious tribes are, the secrets of their success, and, most intriguing of all, what they think of one another.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazing! Anthropological, historical, entertaining

  • By Jay Friedman on 09-30-15

A witty British take on the Nordic set

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

Reviewed: 04-03-16

Where does The Almost Nearly Perfect People rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is one of the better audio books I've completed. Ralph Lister's performance is excellent and captures the pithy evaluations of Booth's book.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Lister is best when he's giving voice to Booth's own skepticism in the form of the back and forth in the interviews with various Nordic anthropologists and scholars.

Which character – as performed by Ralph Lister – was your favorite?

I'm just going to say "see above" in this one. Ugh. Great job Audible.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Question everything: Neither Iceland nor Finland can really be considered Scandinavian, but they are considered Nordic.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Stress Test

  • Reflections on Financial Crises
  • By: Timothy F. Geithner
  • Narrated by: Timothy F. Geithner
  • Length: 18 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,029
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 888
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 881

On January 26, 2009, during the depth of the financial crisis and having just completed five years as President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Timothy F. Geithner was sworn in by President Barack Obama as the 75th Secretary of the Treasury of the United States. Now, in a strikingly candid, riveting, and historically illuminating memoir, Geithner takes listeners behind the scenes during the darkest moments of the crisis.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Credible analysis of the 2008 crisis

  • By Neuron on 09-02-15

Tim Geithner deserves a hug

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

Reviewed: 02-12-15

If you could sum up Stress Test in three words, what would they be?

Insightful, honest, and shrewd.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Stress Test?

The book has a way of reminding us that the policy makers at the helm of the government can be as human as any of us. At one point, Geithner recalls a fight over a strawberry Pop Tart at the end of an all-nighter.

What aspect of Timothy F. Geithner’s performance would you have changed?

It seemed like he had to go back and re-record little phrases, usually no longer than five seconds or so. But in the new recordings, his voice sounded much higher and almost feminine. It was kind of jarring. Also, there are parts where he adds very short little pauses between words that don't need them

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes. It's clear after reading this book that there was a real war going on in government and that Geithner's bet paid off. Things undoubtedly could have gone a lot worse if Geithner hadn't been in the position he had been.

Any additional comments?

At the crux of this book is the very counter-intuitive notion that government spending should drastically increase just when pretty much every other entity would be pulling back the reins on spending. Knowing that is one thing, but actually acting on that and putting hundreds of billions of dollars on that bet is probably what pulled the country out of fiscal doom and has helped us perform better than many more timid economies around the world.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful