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Carolyn

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  • 34
  • reviews
  • 477
  • helpful votes
  • 35
  • ratings
  • Traffic

  • Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)
  • By: Tom Vanderbilt
  • Narrated by: Marc Cashman
  • Length: 13 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 560
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 328
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 333

Driving is a fact of life. We are all spending more and more time on the road, and traffic is an issue we face everyday. This audiobook will make you think about it in a whole new light.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Driving Towards Traffic

  • By Joshua Kim on 06-10-12

Thorough and Interesting Look at Driving Behaviour

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

Reviewed: 12-20-17

This book covers a significant amount of detail about driving behaviour and traffic outcomes from that behaviour. It is more about human behaviour and psychology than traffic engineering and it takes a wide, international view on approaches to solving traffic problems, including considerable historical context. I found it very interesting, with a wide range of topics and well-researched answers to questions about how to be safe on the road, including input from many experts in the field. It presents safety data without being preachy, and it maintains the relatable style of a non-expert while providing the largely non-judgmental approach of a sociologist.

This book was engaging to listen to despite the amount of statistics and numbers involved. Although the conversational, personal style of the author helps provide that feel, the narration also was well-done and contributed to keeping me listening for extended periods at a time.

Overall, this book is thorough in its depth and a good mix of reinforcement of common sense and surprising results of studies on driving behaviour. It is a little dated on its discussion of self-driving cars, which have become significantly more sophisticated since the book was written, but otherwise it is relevant and modern. I would recommend it to anyone interested in human behaviour, especially if, like me, you listen to audiobooks while sitting in stop-and-go gridlock on your commute every day.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Asleep

  • The Forgotten Epidemic That Became Medicine’s Greatest Mystery
  • By: Molly Caldwell Crosby
  • Narrated by: Christian Rummel
  • Length: 6 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 264
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 244
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 246

In 1918, a world war raged, and a lethal strain of influenza circled the globe. In the midst of all this death, a bizarre disease appeared in Europe. Eventually known as encephalitis lethargica, or sleeping sickness, it spread worldwide, leaving millions dead or locked in institutions. Then, in 1927, it disappeared as suddenly as it had arrived. Asleep, set in 1920s and '30s New York, follows a group of neurologists through hospitals and asylums as they try to solve this epidemic and treat its victims - who learned the worst fate was not dying of it, but surviving it.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Scary, and still unsolved, medical mystery

  • By joyce on 12-14-14

Interesting, but not excellent

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

Reviewed: 11-20-17

This book is a description of the outbreak of epidemic encephalitis in the 1920s. I knew very little about it before reading the book and it was a fascinating story. It really is a forgotten disease that should be remembered like polio or pandemic flu, considering the severe effects its survivors lived with for the rest of their lives - Parkinson’s disease, psychosis, paralysis, etc. - but it is not. And I do feel that the book did a good job conveying the importance of the disease and the effects it had on people’s lives. It also made sure the story was relatable and human, not just dry, impersonal facts, by including detailed descriptions of the personalities and backgrounds of important characters such as researchers, case studies, and family members.

However, the book’s style was a little strange. It strayed from its otherwise historical and medically accurate tone to make up weird, unnecessarily flowery descriptions about, say, the path a particular researcher took to work. Other personal details of major characters were drawn from correspondence and other real documentation, which made those completely fictional passages stick out even more. It also talked a lot about the city of New York without always having a really clear reason why that was relevant to the narrative, such as a long and detailed description of the overhauling of Central Park in the 1930s. Those parts seemed like filler and rather than enhancing the book, they were just a distraction from what I really wanted to find out: what we know about the disease today. That answer, however, was bizarrely rushed and lacked detail, which was a letdown compared to the slow, tangent-laden pace of the rest of the book.

The narration was good, if not outstanding. I gave it four stars.

Overall, I gave this book three stars. The content when it was on-topic was very interesting and the subject was presented with a good balance of sympathetic humanity and scrupulously accurate facts. However, the author’s style of long, loosely-connected tangents detracted from the overall impact. I wouldn’t listen to it again because by the end I was finding that part of the book very irritating - and then the ending wasn’t even satisfying or worth the wait.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Stuff

  • Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things
  • By: Randy O. Frost, Gail Stekeete
  • Narrated by: Joe Caron
  • Length: 9 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,254
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 954
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 962

What possesses someone to save every scrap of paper thats ever come into his home? What compulsions drive a woman like Irene, whose hoarding cost her her marriage? Or Ralph, whose imagined uses for castoff items like leaky old buckets almost lost him his house?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Utterly fascinating

  • By JoAnn on 10-06-10

A Little Clinical, But Good

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

Reviewed: 11-15-17

This book tells a number of stories about compulsive hoarders, separated by a lot of clinical discussions of the behaviour. I found it to be kind, fair, and deliberate in its avoidance of over-sensationalized reality-tv-style depictions of these people, who are instead portrayed as creative, intelligent, sensitive, and often badly misunderstood (and mistreated) by the rest of society. It was a professional and refreshing take on the phenomenon of hoarding.

Although I enjoyed the book, it was too detached and clinical for a popular psychology book in my opinion. Hearing about the people was interesting, and some of the discussion of causes of hoarding, treatments, etc. was worth reading, but it was not personal enough for me to feel invested in the hoarders’ lives (likely due to the professional detachment of the authors) and too much of it was about things like how to categorize hoarding in the DSM and other minutiae that not many average readers would care about.

The narration was very good. It was easy to listen to and added to the experience of reading the book.

Overall, I gave the book four stars. It was definitely insightful, respectful, and interesting; I just found it was not always focused on the aspects of the topic most likely to engage an average person reading the book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Princesses Behaving Badly

  • Real Stories from History Without the Fairy-Tale Endings
  • By: Linda Rodriguez McRobbie
  • Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell
  • Length: 10 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 160
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 147
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 149

You think you know her story. You've read the Brothers Grimm, you've watched the Disney cartoons, you cheered as these virtuous women lived happily ever after. But the lives of real princesses couldn't be more different. Sure, many were graceful and benevolent leaders - but just as many were ruthless in their quest for power, and all of them had skeletons rattling in their royal closets.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Rapid-Fire History

  • By Troy on 01-15-14

Great Stories for Adults

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

Reviewed: 11-06-17

Stories about women are always a low priority in the study of history, even stories about women with high visibility and social status. Stories about women that avoid both demonizing them and romanticizing them excessively are even rarer. This book is an excellent collection of stories about women that could be considered “princesses”, regardless of the historical importance of that princess. The book tells interesting tales about princesses who led armies or who ruled empires as well as princesses who went broke or went crazy, all of which are treated factually as much as possible (with some editorializing that is a little contrived, but overall the narratives are well-written). The stories are diverse and engaging, and although I read a lot of history books, many of the women featured were people I’d never heard of. The book makes an effort to focus on human stories of more obscure women, regardless of their accomplishments or flaws, which makes it truly unique. The author tries to offer non-European “princesses”, and generally does that well, though it is still pretty Euro-centric.

Although the introduction does talk about the need to contradict the Disney Princess idea with the reality of what a princess really is, do not make the mistake of thinking that this is a good book to read your princess-obsessed seven-year-old. The book deals in the realities of royal life and does not avoid discussing sex and violence (neither are excessively graphic but they are present). Not many of the stories would be age-appropriate to share with a kid under 12.

The narration in this book was excellent; one of the best I’ve heard, even with all the non-English names and places.

Overall, this was neither a repetitive nor a dull book about royalty. It provides an important perspective on historical women that makes them real and tangible as people rather than paragons of virtue or symbols of evil temptation. It is definitely worth the read and the other dimension it provides to traditional historical narratives about women in generally and princesses specifically.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Elevating Child Care

  • A Guide to Respectful Parenting
  • By: Janet Lansbury
  • Narrated by: Janet Lansbury
  • Length: 3 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 607
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 510
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 496

Janet Lansbury's advice on respectful parenting is quoted and shared by millions of listeners worldwide. Inspired by the pioneering parenting philosophy of her friend and mentor, Magda Gerber, Janet's influential voice encourages parents and child-care professionals to perceive babies as unique, capable human beings with natural abilities to learn without being taught; to develop motor and cognitive skills; communicate; face age appropriate struggles; initiate and direct independent play for extended periods; and much more.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Fluffy but Useful

  • By Carolyn on 04-20-16

Fluffy but Useful

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

Reviewed: 04-20-16

This is not an ask-an-expert parenting book. Janet Lansbury is a sort-of-used-to-be-famous disciple of Magda Gerber, an infant development expert who died in 2007. Lansbury doesn't claim to be an expert, but she is a wholehearted believer in the RIE approach to respectful parenting and has years of experience teaching this method to other parents. This book is almost entirely about infants and toddlers, not older children.

In principle, RIE is about respecting children from birth as whole people and letting them develop and learn on their own terms and in their own time. I agree with this principle, but, like any parenting ideology, it inevitably gets taken too far, like when Lansbury is very critical of parents asking toddlers harmless questions like, "Where's your nose?" because, apparently, that creates performance anxiety...? And although it's nice in theory to ask an infant's permission to change their diaper, it's a little much to expect parents to never need to get through a diaper change with an active nine-month-old without a distraction like a toy or a song, or to constantly tell a newborn everything that is about to happen at all times. I also don't believe in never explicitly teaching children things. If you don't expose them to something, how are they supposed to know whether or not it interests them? The book also tells you to ignore your parenting instincts in favour of doing everything the RIE approach tells you, which in my opinion is more likely to make parents feel insecure and not genuine than it is to help them make good decisions for their kids.

That said, the majority of the advice is useful if you can manage to not take the sanctimonious parts too seriously. Messages for parents like "take care of yourself", "it's okay to let kids be frustrated", "you don't need to entertain your baby", and "boundaries are important and necessary, not mean" are all good and helpful things for parents to hear. Is some of it contrived? Sure. But the overall message is reassuring and surprisingly realistic. Your baby needs the freedom to explore, and it is completely reasonable to restrict their play areas with gates/fences/etc. to keep them safe. The vast majority of babies will roll, sit up, walk, talk, and toilet-train in their own time and focusing on median-based milestone timing is a recipe for unnecessary parent anxiety. Your baby doesn't need to be attached to you 24/7 to feel secure. Your toddler will thrive in a world with limits and natural consequences. Hovering and constantly intervening is not helpful and often actively undermines kids who are trying to develop social skills or learning to solve problems. Kids are happiest with simple toys and a safe play environment - they don't need noisy, over-complicated "educational" toys or fancy music classes to learn and grow. Take your cues from your child when making decisions about everything from mealtimes to conflicts with other children and don't rely on tricks or manipulative tactics to make them do what you want.

Lansbury, perhaps because she used to be an actor, is a very good narrator. Unlike many books read by the author, this one felt comfortable and natural.

I can't give this book five stars. It's definitely above average for a parenting book, but still a little judgmental and often not based on actual developmental science. However, it was much better than I expected and would be worth listening to again in the future.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • The Whole-Brain Child

  • 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind, Survive Everyday Parenting Struggles, and Help Your Family Thrive
  • By: Daniel J. Siegel, Tina Payne Bryson
  • Narrated by: Daniel J. Siegel, Tina Payne Bryson
  • Length: 6 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,781
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,379
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,335

Your toddler throws a tantrum in the middle of a store. Your preschooler refuses to get dressed. Your fifth-grader sulks on the bench instead of playing on the field. Do children conspire to make their parents’ lives endlessly challenging? No - it’s just their developing brain calling the shots! In this pioneering, practical book, Daniel J. Siegel, neuropsychiatrist and author of the best-selling Mindsight, and parenting expert Tina Payne Bryson demystify the meltdowns and aggravation, explaining the new science of how a child’s brain is wired and how it matures.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Must-Listen for all parents (and people!)

  • By Lynne Kachel on 06-18-12

Useful Tools; Impratical and Contrived Pet Theory

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

Reviewed: 04-15-16

I really enjoyed the first half of this book. The concept of using neuroscience to help make good parenting choices was attractive to me and as a parenting book this is not a preachy, judgmental, or excessively ideological one. It emphasizes twelve strategies for helping kids develop good mental health maintenance and self-reflection skills that are related to integrating the various parts of the brain together so kids can learn to make good choices, manage big emotions, process difficult experiences, and overall feel in control of their thoughts and state of mind. The tools they provide are practical and are designed to complement other parenting strategies, not become the One True Parenting Way as is presented by many books on how to raise a well-rounded child.

While I liked and agreed with the integration aspects of the book, and to some extent with the implicit/explicit memory sections, once the topic turned to the authors' pet theory, called "mindsight", I found it much less credible. The metaphor of the bicycle wheel gets stretched pretty far, and despite being a pretty introspective person, I honestly found it hard to follow or visualize. It seems much better suited to use in formal therapy, if it works for the patient, rather than in parenting. How many parents are going to be able to rattle off a long guided visualization about the rim and the spokes and the hub and choosing different rim points... it was too complicated and too contrived to be useful. Unlike the rest of the book, which gave much more believable exchanges between parents and kids, the mindsight-related topics sounded contrived and the examples were from one author's therapy experiences, not from parenting moments, which is telling. I also felt like the message of "you can choose to feel differently/think about other things and that will solve your problems!" message to be not just unrealistic, but also potentially harmful for a young person struggling with a more serious mental health issue.

This audiobook is narrated by the authors. They are competent narrators, if a little slow-paced for my taste.

Four stars might be too generous but it is so much better than the average parenting book that I can ignore the less realistic parts and take away the most useful tools, which are good enough to make it worth rounding up in my opinion.

20 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Rabid

  • A Cultural History of the World’s Most Diabolical Virus
  • By: Bill Wasik, Monica Murphy
  • Narrated by: Johnny Heller
  • Length: 8 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,279
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1,141
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,145

The most fatal virus known to science, rabies kills nearly 100 percent of its victims once the infection takes root in the brain. From Greek myths to zombie flicks, from the laboratory heroics of Louis Pasteur to the contemporary search for a lifesaving treatment, Rabid is a fresh, fascinating, and often wildly entertaining look at one of mankind’s oldest and most fearsome foes.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • My favorite science read this year.

  • By Sparkly on 10-06-12

Totally Fascinating

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

Reviewed: 08-24-15

This book was excellent. It was detailed enough to interest someone who knew some about rabies beforehand, yet clearly presented so anyone could follow and understand it. It did have some gory details, but they weren't such a focus that the gross-out factor overshadowed the story. Although it is informative about a serious subject, it also does a good job of telling a series of stories. The development of the vaccine was a particularly great one, but the historical perspectives on cases and the modern medical story of the rabies survivor were also very interesting. I found the pop culture angle sort of thin, but the rest of it was much more substantial and engrossing.

There is something about the narrator that I don't like, but I can't quite put my finger on it. It may just be that he narrated another audiobook I didn't enjoy, but it wasn't exceptional.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys popular science writing, medical nonfiction, or social/cultural histories. It would appeal to a much larger audience than it may appear at first glance.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Periodic Tales

  • A Cultural History of the Elements, From Arsenic to Zinc
  • By: Hugh Aldersey-Williams
  • Narrated by: Antony Ferguson
  • Length: 12 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 431
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 393
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 392

Like the alphabet, the calendar, or the zodiac, the periodic table of the chemical elements has a permanent place in our imagination. But aside from the handful of common ones (iron, carbon, copper, gold), the elements themselves remain wrapped in mystery. We do not know what most of them look like, how they exist in nature, how they got their names, or of what use they are to us.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Interesting but Rambling

  • By Carolyn on 08-24-15

Interesting but Rambling

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

Reviewed: 08-24-15

I enjoyed this audiobook, for the most part. It had lots of good stories about discovering elements in particular, as well as a wide range of connections to real-life uses for elements that made them more real and accessible to a general reader. I am a science teacher and I still learned a few new things, which I appreciated.

That said, while I found the individual stories interesting, the book as a whole doesn't hang together well. It feels disjointed in general and at times seems to ramble on about a topic that is honestly not that interesting. There isn't enough of an effort to keep everything connected to the (honestly pretty flimsy) underlying story so it is hard to keep track of which element is being discussed if you stop and start, especially with the sometimes-arbitrary categorization method used (by author-determined category rather than something related to the periodic table). I can understand why it made no sense to do the elements in order but jumping all over the place was often hard to follow.

Overall, I would say this was worth the listen and definitely made the elements more concrete and relatable to the average person, but it wasn't cohesive or consistent enough for me to give it five stars. Even the narration was somewhat inconsistent.

103 of 110 people found this review helpful

  • The Ascent of Money

  • A Financial History of the World
  • By: Niall Ferguson
  • Narrated by: Simon Prebble
  • Length: 11 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,640
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1,597
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,585

Niall Ferguson follows the money to tell the human story behind the evolution of finance, from its origins in ancient Mesopotamia to the latest upheavals on what he calls Planet Finance. Bread, cash, dosh, dough, loot, lucre, moolah, readies, the wherewithal: Call it what you like, it matters. To Christians, love of it is the root of all evil. To generals, it's the sinews of war. To revolutionaries, it's the chains of labor. Niall Ferguson shows that finance is in fact the foundation of human progress.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • An informative grind

  • By Sigil on 01-08-12

Fascinating History of Finance

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

Reviewed: 04-14-15

This is an accessible yet detailed history of finance. The historical content was engaging and was the sort of thing that you've probably never heard about, even if you are a history buff (as I am). Even with extremely limited background knowledge, I had no trouble following along and yet it was in-depth enough to hold my attention. Despite the subject matter, it doesn't get wrapped up in numbers so that it gets tedious to hear in audio format, unlike many other books about financial matters.

The narration was truly excellent. Easy to understand and I can't remember even a single pronunciation error, which I cannot say about almost any other audiobook I've listened to.

Overall, I would highly recommend it - the historical aspect is interesting regardless of the level of interest a person may have in financial systems and the details about stocks, bonds, currency, etc. are there for those who are already knowledgeable about the subject.

A small note is that the writing on the book was completed in May 2008, so the parts about the late 2007/early 2008 subprime mortgage problems are sort of strange and feel incomplete, seeing as he didn't know that the crisis would escalate just a few months later. He doesn't make any predictions, but it is still a bit strange to read an assessment of the situation just before the worst of it really hit. If you know more about that crisis than I do (I am admittedly not very knowledgeable about it), you may find those discussions particularly interesting.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Inside Scientology

  • The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion
  • By: Janet Reitman
  • Narrated by: Stephen Hoye
  • Length: 15 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,967
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1,688
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,703

Scientology, created in 1954 by a prolific sci-fi writer named L. Ron Hubbard, claims to be the world's fastest-growing religion, with millions of members around the world and huge financial holdings. Its celebrity believers keep its profile high, and its teams of "volunteer ministers" offer aid at disaster sites such as Haiti and the World Trade Center. But Scientology is also a notably closed faith, harassing journalists and others through litigation and intimidation, even infiltrating the highest levels of government to further its goals.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • My cup of tea.

  • By Matt on 08-09-11

In-Depth and Enlightening

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

Reviewed: 03-24-15

This was a very educational look at the inner workings of Scientology, which most people think is just weird. In reality, it is actually much scarier and more dangerous to the people in it than you would think. This book gives a very detailed history and in-depth depiction of the cult and is seriously eye-opening. Truly engrossing and yet informative and detailed, after listening to this you will never see Scientologists as harmless weirdos ever again.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful