Short reviews of audio books

 

I started listening to audio books regularly in 1997. After a few years, Iíd listened to so many that I thought I should start keeping track. So, in about May of 2001, I started writing one-line reviews of each one as I went. Starting from that date is pretty complete. But, before that its pretty sketchy. Iím sure I left out a bunch; I forgot a lot of the authors, and some of what I thought; and the order is uncertain. Not that anyone should care what order I read them. Actually, I donít see any reason why anybody else would what to read this, but as long as I have it, I thought Iíd post it just in case.

Audio books appeal to me because Iím a poor reader, and I have to do a lot of reading for my academic work. I donít have much time to do any general reading. One book will take me several months to read But I find with audio books, if you listen wherever you go, and whenever youíre doing something that leaves your mind free, you can read a lot of books in a short time. Gone with the Wind took only 10 days. War and Peace took a month. The Bible took four months; that was on and off listening. I love audio books. I feel literate for the first time in my life. People make literary references, and I get them.

 

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Thoughts

667

8/07

Star Trek: Spok vs. Q: The Sequel

Fannon, Cecelia

There are some of us who will listen to anything Star Trek puts out. This was OK.

666

8/07

Star Trek: Spok vs. Q

Fannon, Cecelia

See above.

665

8/07

Little Earthquakes

Weiner, Jennifer

I was almost ready to give up on chicklit after listening to so many bad ones, but this one was actually good. Maybe there was some too-easy wrap-ups at the end, but still it was good.

664

8/07

The Last Town on Earth

Mullen, Thomas

At times it readers like a very literary novel with a lot to say, but it has some problems. Itís the story of a town in Washington that cuts itself off from the world to avoid the Swine Flu Epidemic in 1918. It has problems of the big unasked question. This happens a lot in novels, when there is an obvious question that the reader will ask herself, but that the book doesnít explain for many chapters. Once the flu hits town, why donít they lift the quarantine. Many chapters go by before they begin to examine that question. Then when they lift the quarantine, does that help? Chapters go by before they begin to examine that question. Finally the end is implausible and unnecessary. So, despite itís good points, it was a disappointment.

663

8/07

The One Percent Doctrine

Suskind, Ron

Good.

662

8/07

Finn

Clinch, Jon

I didnít enjoy this as much as I thought I would.

661

8/07

Storm from the East

Voirst, Milton

A very basic history, and not very sympathetic to Moslems. I donít feel like I learned much that I didnít already know.

660

8/07

Collapse

Diamond, Jared

It was worth a second listening, but I only listened to the parts about the past. His modern-day solutions arenít radical enough for me.

659

8/07

The Weather Makers

Flannery, Tim

Good. Really documents whatís happening.

658

8/07

Live at Carnegie Hall

Sedaris, David

Good, but too short.

657

8/07

Match

Phillips, Susan Elizabeth

Hated it.

656

7/07

Red Mutiny

Bascomb, Neal

Good story and well told. I was sad that the leader decided to go back to Russia voluntarily after heíd escaped.

654

7/07

The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty

Alexander, Carline

Takes an inherently interesting story and makes it dull by giving you too many irrelevant details. There are three or four very good stories in the Bounty story. The mutiny itself, Blyís boat ride, the fate of the mutineers on Pitcairn Island, and how the mutiny affected the other survivors and the accused. Some interesting information about each of those stories is in the book, but it also answers questions you donít want to ask. For example, the ship that brought accused sailors back from Haiti, which ports did it stop in? Which foreign dignitaries visited the ship? How many gun salutes did they receive? Who were the character witnesses for the accused sailors? How much did the government pay to dispose of the bodies of the executed?

653

7/07

The Road

McCarthy, Cormac

It was a post apocalyptic story of a father and sun. It tried to have a hopeful ending, but it didnít give any basis for hope. It made it look instead like the whole human race should have died out already.

652

7/07

Founding Brothers

Ellis, Joseph

This was very good. It started where most books about the revolution end, covering the period of roughly 1789-1804.

651

7/07

Puppetmaster: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover

Hack, Richard

I didnít like this as much as I thought I would. I donít think the author was critical enough of Hoover. He barely mentions Hooverís lack of interest in organized crime, and doesnít explain why Hoover had that disinterest. He doesnít explain why Truman and Kennedy couldnít fire Hoover even though they feuded with him.

650

7/07

Uncensored

Bukowski, Charles

I liked this better than I expected to. Itís just two hours of a couple people talking to Bukowski and getting him to read his stuff. If you edited it down to just the readings, it would be very short, but the whole conversation with false starts and everything was kind of interesting.

649

6/07

Things Fall Apart

Achebe, Chinua

It couldnít hold my attending and I gave up after about 3 CDs.

648

6/07

The Age of Napoleon

Horne, Alistair

It wasnít really about the age of Napoleon. It was about Napoleon. It was OK.

647

6/07

Coal Run

OíDell, Tawni

Very good.

646

6/07

The Constant Princess

Gregory, Philippa

A good story, but it skips some of the most interesting parts of Catherine of Argonís life. It ends with the birth of her daughter and doesnít do the part where Henry throws her over for Anne Bolin.

645

6/07

Magic Street

Card, Orson Scott

I listened to the whole thing, and I was very disappointed by it.

644

6/07

The History of Ancient Rome, Part II

Fagan, Garrett G.

I only got the chance to listen to one or two cassettes of this before I left New Orleans and had to return it to the library. Didnít get to parts II or IV at all. But what I managed to get through was great.

643

6/07

The History of Ancient Egypt, Part IV

Brier, Bob

Excellent series. Unfortunately, Part III was missing from the library collection.

642

6/07

The History of Ancient Egypt, Part II

Brier, Bob

This series is one of the best sets of lectures Iíve listened. Very interesting, detailed, well-delivered history of Egypt.

641

5/07

Thomas Jefferson: American Visionary

Staloff, Darren

Good review of Jeffersonís life. I didnít realized how bad he was on the slavery issue. He was nominally for phasing it out, but actually supported it more than he opposed it. And of course, he enslaved his own children.

640

5/07

The Strange Orchid

Wells, H.G.

Very short, but the stories were OK.

639

5/07

Genesis: A living Conversation

Moyers, Bill

I only listened to bits and pieces of this mostly while I was going to sleep.

638

5/07

General George Washington, A Military Life

Lengel, Edward G.

I had to skip a lot of the early CDs because they somehow got screwed up, but it was good. It was a little too detailed about battlefield chronology for my tastes, but the overall picture was good. Washington was very lucky.

637

5/07

The History of Ancient Rome, Part I

Fagan, Garrett G.

Very good.

636

5/07

Is Anyone Really Normal? Perspectives on Abnormal Psychology

Westen, Drew

Deceptive title. Itís just an introduction to abnormal psychology. He never even poses the question of what it means to be normal and whether anyone is normal. It also had a large overlap with the Great Ideas of Psychology, which I listened to recently. Turns me off on listening to any more introductory psychology soon.

635

5/07

The History of Ancient Egypt, Part 1

Brier, Bob

Very good, I would like to listen to the rest of the set but some of them are missing from the Jefferson Parish library.

634

5/07

The Wisdom of Crowds

Surowieck, James

It had some good information about the conditions under which a group can make a better decision than any of its members, but he also digresses. I would have liked at least a chapter on how we can use this knowledge to build better decision-making institutions.

633

5/07

Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper Case Closed

Cornwell, Patricia

The 10th cassette was missing, and so I didnít get to hear the ending. Sheís got some evidence, but she just assumes itís convincing rather than presenting for your consideration.

632

5/07

The Great Principles of Science, Part 5

Hazen, Robert M.

Itís largely a review of every science class youíve ever taken, but I enjoyed it and learned stuff.

631

5/07

The Great Principles of Science, Part 4

Hazen, Robert M.

See above.

630

5/07

The Great Principles of Science, Part 3

Hazen, Robert M.

See above.

629

5/07

The Great Principles of Science, Part 2

Hazen, Robert M.

See above.

628

5/07

The Great Principles of Science, Part 1

Hazen, Robert M.

See above.

627

5/07

The Mirror

Millhiser, Marlys

This was a good listen, but it seemed like a missed opportunity to deal with a lot of issues. The reader did the worst Cornish accent imaginable in a profession production. This almost made me quit listening.

626

5/07

Dao De Jing, ďMaking Life Significant:Ē A Philosophical Translation

Ames, Robert T. and Hall, David L. (translators)

It was difficult to get through, but I got through it. I got through it, but it didnít change my life. It didnít change my life, but it occupied several hours of my life. It occupied several hours of my life, but not exclusively even during those hours.

625

5/07

The philosophy of religion, Part 3

Hall, James

Good. He goes much more deeply into philosophy than I expected. He makes a good case that the existence of God cannot be ruled in or out logically, but he doesnít give reason to believe it either.

624

4/07

The philosophy of religion, Part 2

Hall, James

See above.

623

4/07

The Art of Mending

Berg, Elizabeth

This was a very good book about a woman who finds out that her sister was abused by her mother.

622

4/07

Scandalmonger

Safire, William

This one started to lose me before it started. The preface included biographical information about the author saying he was a former Nixon speech writer. Why would I want his take on scandal ďmongering?Ē Then when it got dull, I gave up very quickly, maybe too quickly, but I donít want to go back to it, and you canít make me.

621

4/07

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Finney, Jack

Completely different than the movie I saw. Good story, but I thought the ending was too easy.

620

4/07

Reviving Ophelia

Pipher, Mary

Itís very good but itís got one big omission. It mentions how girls are pressured into sex by both boyfriends and by peer pressure from other girls, but it never mentions that girls might have their own awakening sexual desires.

619

4/07

Nicholas Nickleby

Dickens, Charles

I couldnít stay interested, and quit after four cassettes. I felt guilty for quitting on Dickens. Maybe Iíll try again

618

4/07

Victorian Britain, Part III

Allitt, Patrick

This was very good history. I learned a lot.

617

4/07

Victorian Britain, Part II

Allitt, Patrick

See above.

616

4/07

Victorian Britain, Part I

Allitt, Patrick

See above.

615

4/07

Stark Trek: Probe

Bonanno, Margaret Wander

Although I did finish it, it didnít capture my attention very well.

614

4/07

Nine Minutes, Twenty Seconds

Pomerantz, Gary M.

This was a true story of the crash of a small plan. In the style of the Perfect Storm. It wasnít as good as that, but it was good.

613

4/07

Six Armies at Normandy

Keegan, John

I listened to about half of it, but I quit. I felt I was getting some vignettes, but not a full picture.

612

4/07

Chalktown

Haynes, Melinda

I gave up on this one after a cassette and a half. It hadnít got going by then, and I was really annoyed by the readerís cartoonish southern accents.

611

4/07

Philosophy of Religion, Part I

Hall, James

I kept putting off starting this one, but I really liked it. Iím looking forward to parts II and III.

610

4/07

The Tailisman

Scott, Sir Walter

I gave up on this in less than two cassettes. I could have given it more of a chance, but it didnít capture my interest.

609

4/07

Blue Light

Mosley, Walter

I hated this book, but I stuck with it until the end. Actually the ending was pretty good, but I found it disjointed and hard to get into.

608

3/07

Massachusetts, California, Timbuktu

Rosenfeld, Stephanie

Very good. Really drew me in. The ending leaves you hanging a bit. I know thatís where itís supposed to end but I still have that kidís reactionóbut then what happened.

607

3/07

That Hideous Strength

Lewis, C. S.

This is the third installment of a trilogy. I only liked the first one.

606

3/07

The Tortilla Curtain

Boyle, T. Coraghessan

Great. I listened to this during a 15-hour drive across northeastern Mexico. It is a story of a yuppie California family and an illegal immigrant couple, and it shows you that very often itís not the people but the situation that makes things go wrong. But people blame each other. I was a little disappointed by the happy ending.

605

3/07

The Gunslinger

King, Stephen

I had a hard time paying attention to it, but this could be because I mostly listened to it while I was going to sleep.

604

3/07

Stuart Little

White, E. B.

OK, but he opens up a lot of stories and doesnít carry them through. I chose this book because Iíd heard about the ending and it seemed really appealing to me. But it wasnít the ending that was the problem, it just opened up a bunch of plot lines and didnít resolve them.

603

3/07

The History Man

Bradbury, Malcolm

OK.

602

3/07

Erewhon

Butler, Samuel

Not as good as Iíd hoped for a utopian classic. I found these Erewhon people to be annoying and totalitarian. I donít think it was meant as a utopia or a dystopian but more as a mirror-topia. I think he was trying to say that they were bad in the way we were good and good in the way we were bad, but Iím not sure.

601

3/07

Start Trek: Yesterdayís Son

Crispin, A. C.

Not the best Star Trek novel. Turns out itís abridged.

600

3/07

History of Science: Antiquity to 1700, Part III

Principe, Lawrence M.

Good but a little western-centric. He spends a lot of time on Medieval science in the Islamic word, but Ancient Egypt and Ancient Mesopotamia get 1/3 of a lecture each, grouped in with the pre-Socratic Greeks. The world outside Europe and the Middle East is not mentioned. But he handled what he presented very well, and I liked the amount of time he devoted to the Middle Ages.

599

3/07

History of Science: Antiquity to 1700, Part II

Principe, Lawrence M.

See Above

598

3/07

History of Science: Antiquity to 1700, Part I

Principe, Lawrence M.

See above

597

3/07

As Nature Man Him

Colapinto, John

Great. The true story of a boy who was raised as a biological female. A botched circumcision destroyed his penis, and they believed that they could just turn him into a girl and use conditioning to make him believe he was a girl. At the age of 14 he refused to live as a girl anymore. The story is compelling and well told.

596

3/07

The Runes of the Earth

Donadson, Stephen R.

I gave up on this one. Bad fantasy, with a character named Lord Foul the Despiser. Think heís the villain? I listened to something like 6 of 20 cassettes.

595

3/07

Ethics and Public Policy

Beiser, Edward

Good, but introductory.

594

3/07

Prelandra

Lewis, C. S.

Not as good as the first story in this trilogy. A guy goes to Venus and meets the Venusian Adam and Eve. They manage to avoid the fall.

593

3/07

From the Dust Returned

Bradbury, Ray

Couldnít hold my attention. I gave up after one cassette.

592

3/07

Star Trek: Faces of Fire

Friedman, Michael Jan

I think I listened to this before in the pre-2001 period. Not the best Star Trek Novel.

591

3/07

Poeís Heart and the Mountain Climber

Restack, Richard

Itís a nonfiction book about anxiety, but I didnít find it very valuable.

590

3/07

Crazy Horse

McMurtry, Larry

Very good, but very sad.

589

3/07

A Song for the Asking

Gannon, Steve

An eventful story, but I didnít get much of a point to it. The father is a somewhat abusive. Four children and in one summer one gets raped, one shoots a man, one dies in a climbing accident, and one wins a prestigious piano competition.

588

3/07

The Natural History of Love

Ackerman, Diane

OK

587

2/07

The Innocents Abroad

Twain, Mark

It was good, but I didnít feel like listening to the whole thing. I got maybe halfway through

586

2/07

The Great Ideas of Psychology IV

Robinson, Daniel N.

The guy is a great lecturer notwithstanding his bad habit of often saying, ďdo you see?Ē Itís a very interesting history, but it leaves out some of the things lay people are most interested in. Such as what is schizophrenia, what is psychosis, etc.

585

2/07

The Great Ideas of Psychology III

Robinson, Daniel N.

See above.

584

2/07

The Great Ideas of Psychology II

Robinson, Daniel N.

See above.

583

2/07

The Great Ideas of Psychology I

Robinson, Daniel N.

See above.

582

2/07

The Ethics of Aristotle

Koterski, Joseph (The Teaching Company)

Itís a series of lectures on Aristotleís Ethics. Itís good, but itís not substitute for actually listening to Ethics, which I havenít done yet.

581

2/07

The Battle of New Orleans

Remini, Robert V.

This is the first audio book Iíve listened to almost exclusively while drifting off to sleep at night, and so Iím sure itís not nearly as disjointed as it seems, but I can say a few things about it. Itís rather nationalistic. Makes a hero out of Jackson and says thins like even the slaves united in celebration of the U.S. victory (when a loss might have freed them).

580

2/07

Fox Evil

Walters, Minette

This just sucked.

579

1/07

The Family

Kelly, Kitty

It brings out the dirt of the Bush family, which is a topic of interest to me. But Iím not sure how much I can trust it. Some of it was substantive, but some of it was who was sleeping with whom.

578

1/07

Mr. Timothy

Bayard, Louis

Boy did this book suck. If a book sucks right from the start you can just put it down, but if it doesnít really suck until the end, you waste a lot of time on it. Thatís what happened with this one. It asks the somewhat interesting question of what happens to Dickensís Tiny Tim when he grows up after having uncle Scrooge pour so much money into doctors and education for him. How will he seek to fulfill that promise? Well, turns out heíll have a thrilling adventure breaking up a child prostitution ring in London.

577

1/07

Slaughterhouse Five

Vonnegut, Kurt

Itís excellent. He works in a lot of ideas. I like the stuff about war and the American view of wealth. Iím not as interested in his fatalistic ideas.

576

1/07

The Presence

Saul, John

I gave up on this one real quick. Maybe I didnít give it a fair shot.

575

1/07

The Hours

Cunningham, Michael

Confusingly told. I should maybe listen again. But I liked what I got.

574

1/07

Typee

Melville, Herman

Itís written in a 19th Century Style with a lot of description and not much dialogue or action. But It was still very good. For a mid-18th-Century Westerner, heís got a lot of sympathy for the Polynesians.

573

1/07

Finding God in the Questions (abridged)

Johnson, Dr. Timothy

Iím not that interested in theses kinds of religious questions, but I might have found it more compelling if it wasnít abridged.

572

1/07

Shock

Cook, Robin

Hated it. Rather surprised I finished it.

571

12/06

Founding Mothers

Roberts, Cokie

It wasnít really so much about founding mothers, but about the women who were near the founding fathers. Some had impact; others were included because they were involved with a scandal that also involved a founding father. Large parts of the book focused on the men. It would probably be better if it didnít try also to recount the story of the revolution.

570

12/06

Against All Enemies

Clarke, Richard A.

Very good. The Bush administration is worse than I thought.

569

12/06

Ragged Dick

Alger, Horatio

There are so many available opportunities that if you donít have a place to sleep and enough food to eat, itís your fault, even if youíre a child.

568

12/06

The Borgias

Johnson, Marion

I couldnít finish this before I had to take it back to the library.

567

12/06

Theodore Roosevelt: A Strenuous Life

Dalton, Kathleen

It was a good narrative, but itís clear that the author is a fan. She mentions his racism and some bad things, but--Iím not sure--I think she played down his war mongering.

566

12/06

The Know-It-All

Jacobs, A.J.

This is the story of a guy who decides to read the entire encyclopedia and the year of his life while heís trying to do it. Itís a book with a lot of fun facts, but interesting some of the novel facts he learns in the encyclopedia are some of the same novel facts youíve already heard like the coincidental deaths of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. The author becomes a little bit too competitive about is quest for knowledge. He even competes against school children.

565

12/06

Voltaire and the Triumph of the Enlightenment

Kors, Alan

He was an amazing guy, but according to this book he never said his most famous quote, ďI disagree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.Ē That was actually made up 100 years later by a biographer.

564

12/06

Evaís Cousin

Sibylle, Knauss

A good listen

563

11/06

A History of the Middle East

Mansfield, Peter

It was like medicine. You finish it because itís good for you, not because itís enjoyable going down. Most histories that make it as far as the audio book donít have this problem.

562

11/06

The Stranger Beside Me

Rule, Ann

This is a very interesting true story involving the coincidence of crime report who accepted a book contract to write about a serial killer in Washington State not knowing that it had anything to do with her friend, Ted Bundy.

561

11/06

Losing America

Byrd, Senator Robert C.

Heís got a lot of hard facts, and he tells the truth about Bushís America, but he can get bogged down on tedious points.

560

11/06

The Man Who Fell to Earth

Tevis, Walter S.

Good story.

559

11/06

The Plot Against America

Roth, Philip

It really kept me listening, but I thought the ending was too easy.

558

11/06

The Unknown Soldier

Seymour, Gerald

Some good parts, but this was a thriller that bored me.

557

11/06

Ridley, John

The Drift

The setting among homeless railroad hobos was great, but the plot was just a boring thriller.

556

11/06

Collapse

Diamond, Jared

Very good connection between the collapse of past civilization and the current environmental problems. His solutions didnít interest me as much

555

11/06

The Ha Ha

King, Dave

Good listen, but easily forgettable.

554

10/06

Plan of Attack

Woodward, Bob

Some insights into the Bush administration, but I didnít think it was critical enough.

553

10/06

Small Town

Block, Lawrence

It has some good parts but it becomes a very predictable thriller.

552

10/06

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

Barris, Chuck

Good.

551

10/06

The Hobbit

Tolkien, J. R. R.

Not as good as I remembered it, and harder to concentrate on than I expected, but still work listening.

550

10/06

The Mysterious flame of Queen Loana

Eco, Umberto

Worth listening.

549

10/06

Small Wonder

Kingsolver, Barbara

A book of essays, not as good as her earlier one. A lot of it I agree with, but some of it is banality that she seems to think sheís saying in a new way. She has the audacity to say in the same essay both ďStrangely, I like fiction for the truth it contains,Ē and ďI wonít read an author who nothing new to tell me.Ē (paraphrased, I canít remember the exact quotes.)

548

10/06

Leonardoís Mountain of Claims and the Diet of Worms

Gould, Steven Jay

Good, but not that memorable. It wasnít until I got to the last cassette that I realized Iíd listened to this before. But it had to have been before 2001 when I started keeping track.

 

9-10/06

(several books missing)

 

 

547

9/06

The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan

Shorto, Russell

A very good history of a period I knew little about.

546

9/06

From a Buick 8

King, Steven

I liked it. There really wasnít that much too it, but when it was over, I missed the characters. He should have called it ďcuriosity.Ē

545

9/06

Modern Hebrew

Pimsleur Language Program

These programs are great. I got through less than half of it in five weeks, but I learned a lot.

544

9/06

Bushwhacked

Ivins, Molly and Lou Dubose

Good info, and funny, but sometimes her attempts to make tragic situations funny are almost travesties.

543

9/06

Middlesex

Eugenides, Jeffrey

Couldnít stick with it.

542

9/06

The Nature of Alexander

Renault, Mary

Interesting, but a little too much on his side. A lot of generous interpretations of the available information.

541

9/06

I know this much is true

Lamb, Wally

A very good listen, but I was disappointed by the ending. He gets back together with his wife, returns to his old profession, adopts his dead ex-girlfriendís baby, discovers heís an Indian and becomes a casino millionaire.

540

9/06

A Slow Burning

Pottinger, Stanley

Heís trying to discuss some interesting issues, but the thriller premise of this book just got dumber and dumber, so I finally gave up after about 6 cassettes.

539

9/06

The Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant, Part Three

Grant, U.S.

Much of it was boring when he gets bogged down in the dullest parts of inherently interesting situations, but some tidbits are very interesting. He talks about the political situation more insightfully than I would have expected.

538

8/06

The Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant, Part II

Grant, U.S.

See review of Part Three.

537

8/06

The Year of Jubilo

Bahr, Howard

Uninteresting, I gave up about half way.

536

8/06

No-time French

Audio-Forum, Jeffrey Norton Publishers

This was awful, and I gave up almost immediately.

535

8/06

Nazism and War

Bessel, Richard

It was more of a history of Nazism than an examination of its ideology as it claimed to be, but it had some interesting takes on its ideology, such as making the case that war was central to the Nazi plan.

534

8/06

Last Citadel

Robbins, David L.

Can one person write three interesting novels about the eastern front in World War II? Apparently not, I gave up halfway through.

533

8/06

They Marched Into Sunlight

Maraniss, David

A nonfiction account of a Vietnam war protest and a battle in Vietnam during the same three-days period in 1967. It was good, but it went into too much personal detail that was too far removed from what the book was really about. The best thing about it was its description of how poor the ďsearch and destroyĒ strategy was. Basically, they went out and walked around until they got ambushed. It left the Vietnamese able to choose all of their battles.

532

8/06

Arrowsmith

Lewis, Sinclair

It began very slowly, and stayed slow for a long time, but eventually I loved this book.

531

8/06

A Treasury of Deception

Farquhar, Michael

I gave up almost immediately.

530

8/06

Whose Bible Is It?

Pelikan, Jaroslav

Focuses on the less interesting bible controversies.

529

8/06

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Age 13 3/4

Townsend, Sue

Didnít like it. But it explains the naivety of the character Adrian Mole from the Weapons of Mass destruction comes from. Heís just as naÔve there as he is in this book in which heís only 13. She never lets the character grow up.

528

8/06

Rubicon

Holland, Tom

It was more about the day-to-day events that brought an end to the Roman Republic. It didnít instill me with a feeling that I should care whether Rome was a republic or an empire.

527

7/06

Before the Fallout: From Marie Curie to Hiroshima

Preston, Diana

Interesting, but with a lot of dull bits.

526

7/06

The Anatomy Lesson

Roth, Philip

I didnít get it. Maybe I didnít pay enough attention, but he was trying to tell me something, and I didnít get it.

525

7/06

The Society of Others

Nicholson, William

Not what I expected. Itís a Surrealistic story of a western man in a totalitarian eastern European state. I would guess that heís been influenced by Kazuo Ishiguro.

524

7/06

A Big Boy Did it and Ran Away

Brookmyre, Christopher

Some of his observations are interesting, but it turns out to be an extremely formulaic action story.

523

7/06

Persian Fire: The First World Empire and the Battle for the West

Holland, Tom

This is the most Euro-centric history of the Persian Empire imaginable. 90% of it is about Greece.

522

7/06

Something Rotten

Fforde, Jasper

I couldnít get into it and gave up after few cassettes. I just thought it was an uninteresting premise.

521

7/06

Narrow Dog to Carcassonne

Darlington, Terry

I skipped a few cassettes, but got through it. His observations can be interesting and funny, but he seems to that succeeding at a foolhardy venture means that the venture wasnít foolhardy.

520

7/06

Tolkien, A Biography

White, Michael

Interesting. I was surprised to hear that he had a falling out with C. S. Lewis.

519

7/06

The Night of the Triffids

Clark, Simon

I enjoyed listening too it, but it didnít have much of a message.

518

6/06

Carry on, Jeeves

Woodhouse, P. G.

I couldnít get through it.

517

6/06

Iím Sorry, Iíll read that again

Brooke-Taylor et al

One out of the two tapes malfunctioned, but what I heard was funny.

516

6/06

General Ike: A Personal Reminiscence

Eisenhower, John S.

Strangely organized. A book about Eisenhower in which every chapter is a mini-biography of someone that Ike interacted with. But I enjoyed it.

515

6/06

Adrian Mole & the Weapons of Mass Destruction

Townsend, Sue

It was OK. The main character and some of the others are surrealistically naÔve. She uses that to make some points, but most of it seems just to be easy.

514

6/06

Califiaís Daughters

Richards, Leigh

I thought it was a missed opportunity. It created the post-apocalyptic setting, but didnít make much of a point.

513

6/06

The Other Side of the Story

Keyes, Marian

It kept me interested, but I felt like it petered out at the end.

512

6/06

Those Who Save Us

Blum, Jenna

This was very good.

511

6/06

Freakonomics

Levitt, Steven D with Stephen J. Dubner

Ayelet and I listened to this over breakfast at various times throughout the last two months. Sometimes it was spurious, but it was mostly good and worth listening to.

510

6/06

My Friend Leonard

Frey, James

A very unusual story. Nonfiction about a manís friendship with a mobster. I liked it a lot.

509

6/06

At Paradise Gate

Smiley, Jane

Didnít like it. Gave up after two cassettes

508

6/06

Of Human Bondage

Maugham, W. Somerset

A very captivating story, but I was a little disappointed by the end. So thatís all itís about.

507

5/06

The Confessions of Max Tivoli

Greer, Andrew Sean

I can suspend my disbelief about scientific matters, but not about human motivation. This is the story of a person who looks 70-years-old when he is born and gradually looks younger throughout his life. I can accept that as make belief, but the entire plot is driven by this guys unexplained desire to keep his condition a secret and be what people think he is. Thereís no reason for him to do it, and it causes most of the problems in his life. Yet, I enjoyed the world he created.

506

5/06

Out of the Silent Planet

Lewis, C. S.

Very good. Itís an anti-colonial novel. Itís very funny when the main character tries to translate the colonialistís justification into language the natives understand and it comes out completely hollow. He says they should rule because they are able to make big huts.

505

5/06

A Short History of Byzantium

Norwich, John Julius

This was a second listening, and I canít say that I got much more out of it the second time.

504

5/06

Hesterís Story

Geras, Adele

It is interesting enough, but it didnít do much for me.

503

5/06

(un)arranged marriage

Rai, Bali

Good.

502

5/06

The Reading Group

Noble, Elizabeth

It wasnít meaningful to me.

501

5/06

Badger Boy

Masters, Anthony

Didnít like it.

500

5/06

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Thompson, Hunter S.

Interesting and fun.

499

5/06

Another Part of the Wood

Bainbridge, Beryl

Didnít hold my attention and I gave up before the end of the second cassette.

498

5/06

Big Fish

Wallace, Daniel

Very good.

497

5/06

The Portable Door

Holt, Tom

Like Harry Potter only with adult characters who say fuck.

496

4/06

Baudolino

Umberto, Eco

Good.

495

4/06

The Rule of Four

Caldwell, Ian and Dustin Thomason

It was entertaining, but not well told. Students get killed and then the focus goes back to normal college life.

494

4/06

Truth and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code

Ehrman, Bart D.

Interesting.

493

4/06

Elizabeth I CEO: Strategic lessons from the Leader Who Built an Empire

Axelrod, Alan

Not very memorable.

492

4/06

Scott of the Antarctic: A Concise Biography

De-la-Noy, Michael

Two cassettes, the first cassettes was dull but the second was interesting.

491

4/06

The Six Wives of Henry VIII

Fraser, Antonia

It was probably better written than other stuff Iíve listened too, but Iím getting really bored with books about the private lives of the Tudors.

490

3/06

Francie

Robinson, Joe

I was afraid it was be similar to Rory and Ita, but it was very good. Well told, interesting. This nonfiction book reads more like a novel than just about any Iíve read. I expect maybe itís a little embellished. I got a little annoyed at this womanís extreme naivety. She lets a lot of people walk all over her, but I expect that part was true.

489

3/06

Rory & Ita

Doyle, Roddy

It was boring and I gave up after 3 cassettes.

488

3/06

Tigers in the Snow

Matthiessen, Peter

Worth a listen. It really shows what bad shape the environment is. We hardly have an territory remote enough that tigers have a good chance of survival. Butut it had too many small facts about widely dispersed tiger populations.

487

3/06

The Pope in Winter

Cornwell, John

It was a little too much of an internal Catholic critique for my interests, but it was well written and interesting. I didnít realize how much of the centralization of the Catholic Church under the infallible authority of the Pope happened in recent times. The big dates he gives are 1870, 1917, and under JP II. If people in the Dark Ages werenít dumb enough to believe some guy could be infallible, how can modern people believe it?

486

3/06

The Hummingbird Saint

MacDonald, Hector

I wouldnít say it was a masterpiece, but it hit a lot of big issues and made me think about them. Also, I like stories where the villain is sincerely convinced heís doing the right thing.

485

3/06

The Wreck at Sharpouse Point

Seal, Jeremy

It was boring and I gave up after a few cassettes.

484

3/06

How Will I know?

OíFlanagan, Sheila

OK. Listenable. But it hit a lot of big issues without making me think deeply about any of them.

483

3/06

The Simarillion: Of Elves and Men in Middle Earth

Tolkien, J. R. R.

Too dry. I gave up quickly.

482

3/06

Mourning Ruby

Dunmore, Helen

Hard to follow

481

3/06

The Siege

Dunmore, Helen

Good

480

3/06

Open Secrets

Munro, Alice

Boring. I gave up after three cassettes.

479

3/06

My Sisterís Keeper

Picoult, Jodi

Not perfect, but very good. It was captivating, and it had something to say. I listen through a lot of bad books looking for a good one like this.

478

2/06

A Journey to the Center of the Earth

Verne, Jules

Why is this a classic? Not well done at all. For example, the leader is a reckless pompous jerk, but the narrator praises him without any hint of irony.

477

2/06

Donít Letís Go to the Dogs Tonight

Fuller, Alexandra

Good, but very much from the white personís point of view.

476

2/06

The Six Shooter Rides Again (2)

Charles Michaelson, Inc.

I chose not to finish the first cassette.

475

2/06

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Foer, Jonathan Safran

Very good.

474

2/06

Bringing down the House

Mezrich, Ben

Very good.

473

2/06

A Lesser Evil

Pearce, Lesley

After a cassette and a half nothing had happened that was not a clichť, so I gave up.

472

2/06

The Iron Man

Watson, John

Implausible at every turn.

471

2/06

A Plague of Angels

Finny, Patricia writing as P. F. Chisholm

Couldnít get into it and gave up.

470

2/06

The Food of Love

Capella, Anthony

Cyrano as a modern chef. I couldnít be bothered so I gave up.

469

2/06

The Witch of Exmoor

Drabble, Margaret

People wonít give up their privileges for anything we can put behind Rawlsís vale of ignorance, but thatís hardly his original position.

468

2/06

The Beautiful and the Damned

Fitzgerald, Scott F.

Great. Like a review I read about Crime and Punishment, I was glad to finish. It was like having an illness. But he completely made me sympathize with these vacuous people as their lives deteriorate, and then brought it all toward an interesting assessment of class at the end.

467

1/06

Oh, Play that Thing

Doyle, Roddy

Sequel to ďA Star Called Henry.Ē Didnít like it as much. Heís amoral about some things and very moral about others, and I donít know why, or what exactly itís supposed to mean. He does a good job of making you like this completely selfish man.

466

1/06

The Africa House

Lamb, Christina

Makes the story of a not terribly significant man interesting.

465

1/06

The Da Vinci Code

Brown, Dan

Finally, I got to listen to the book that people have been talking about so much. And itís just an action novel with a bunch of annoying narrow escapes. A very small amount of subversive theology.

464

1/06

One Flew Over the Cukooís Nest

Kesey, Ken

Great. Takes you in right from the start.

463

1/06

A Pacifistís War

Partridge, Frances

I skipped a few cassettes, but it was good. She mentioned the holocaust, but I didnít hear her address whether it could provide a justification for using violence against the Nazis.

462

1/06

The Wild Blue

Ambrose, Stephen E.

Very good.

461

1/06

The Closed Circle

Coe, Jonathon

Good. He covers a lot of issues well, but he leaves some things dangling.

460

1/06

Hard Times

Dickens Charles

Hard to follow

459

12/05

The Gates of Rome

Iggulden, Conn

Worth a listen. Iím not sure if it was intended for me to feel the pointlessness of what people claimed they were fighting for, but I did.

458

12/05

The Idea of Perfection

Grenville, Kate

I couldnít get into it, and gave up about halfway through.

457

12/05

Beyond Belief

Roy Johansen

Mostly just an action crime novel, but I liked his take on paranormal debunking. He sets it up like the debunker has finally met somebody real and then he debunks that one too.

456

12/05

Notes From a Big Country

Bryson, Bill

Good.

454

12/05

Girl With a Pearl Earring

Chevalier, Tracy

Very good.

453

12/05

A Treasury of Royal Scandals

Farquhar, Michael

Superficial but interesting.

452

12/05

Being a Green Mother

Anthony, Piers

Not worth a read.

451

12/05

Dead Air

Banks, Iain

Disappointing.

450

12/05

Births Without Wings

De Bernieres, Louis

Very good.

449

11/05

The Autograph Man

Smith, Zadie

It was interesting, but some parts of it were hard to get. I could use a second listening.

448

11/05

Mrs. Dalloway

Woolf, Virginia

I gave up halfway through. Maybe itís hard to listen to listen to stream of consciousness on audio.

447

11/05

Dark Matter

Iles, Greg

Good sci-fi. It was a little heavy in the action, but the theology-philosophy bits were very well done even if I disagreed with them.

446

11/05

The Fourth Hand

Irving, John

Started out good, interesting, and told with an unusual voice after halfway through it developed the stock chic-lit ending where the main character loses their job gets married has a kid and lives happily ever after. But the main character was a man, so he gets a new job. Also very strange how this woman who selfishly used him turns out to be the perfect woman.

445

11/05

Code to Zero

Follet, Ken

It was really just an action novel about cold war spies, but they got in some politics about why an American might want to work against the U.S.

445

11/05

The Smiling Country

Kelton, Elmer

Fluffy.

444

11/05

Krakatoa

Winchester, Simon

Good.

443

11/05

Roses from the Earth: Biography of Anne Frank

Lee, Carol Ann

Very good. Very sad.

442

11/05

Losing Nelson

Unsworth, Barry

I learned more about Nelson from this book than from the biography of Nelson I listened to. But I missed some of the authorís point.

441

10/05

Astonishing Splashes of Colour

Morral, Claire

Not really that much color in it.

440

10/05

The Lighthouse

Woolf, Virginia

I couldnít get into it, and gave up after two cassettes.

439

10/05

Game Over

Parks, Adele

Another feminist novel showing us that women only work hard at their careers as a substitute for what they really want the love of a good man and the chance to have his children.

438

10/05

The Master

Colm Toibin

I think you need to have read more Henry James to really enjoy this.

437

10/05

Nelson: A Personal History

Hibbert, Christopher

Maybe a little too personal. I really felt for his x-wife.

436

10/05

Pompeii

Harris, Robert

When youíre dealing with Pompeii you donít need to exaggerate to make it interesting. For example, you donít need to have one guy on top of the volcano when it starts to erupt who makes it to a safe town, comes back with a navy, goes back and gets the girl, and makes it back out when most of the navy doesnít.

435

10/05

The Kid

Lewis, Kevin

Itís hard to avoid comparing it to The Child Called ĎItí, but itís good on its own.

434

10/05

Interview with the Vampire

Rice, Anne

I liked it a lot and will look for more of her books.

433

10/05

Jaguars Ripped my Flesh

Cahil, Tim

Very good.

432

10/05

The Crazed

Jin, He

Tale of life under corrupt totalitarianism. The narrator character keeps asking the questions most authors leave implied, ďwhy did he tell me this?Ē ďWhat did he mean by that?Ē I think this is meant to show you the naÔve character of the narrator, but it amounts to a lot of extra words that get annoying.

431

10/05

Big Stone Gap

Trigiani, Andriana

Contemporary feminist novel: Successful 36-year-old career woman finds happiness when she gets to know her biological father, gets rid of her business and her house, marries a good man, moves into his house, and has a baby.

430

9/05

The God of Small Things

Roy, Arundhati

It had a lot of disjointed stories and pieces of family history. It was hard to follow how it fit together.

429

9/05

The Witches of Chiswick

Rankin, Robert

OK

428

9/05

Kowloon Tong

Theroux, Paul

I canít say it was bad; I just didnít enjoy it.

427

9/05

Fatherís Race: A book about paternity

Jennings, Charles

Heís willing to tell stories that donít make him look very good. But he puts a lot of the blame for his frustration with fatherhood on his children.

426

9/05

Dissolution

Sanson, C. J.

I thought it was going to be a book about Henrey VIIIís England, but it was just a crime novel with a 16th Century background. Gave up less than half way through.

425

9/05

The Prague Orgy

Roth, Philip

Good, but short.

424

9/05

The Algebraist

Banks, Ian M.

It was hard to follow, and when the protagonist figured out the mysterious formula the answer was so simple that its makers need never have made a formula for outsiders to figure out.

423

9/05

Affinity

Walters, Sarah

Gave up after a few cassettes.

422

9/05

Planet of the Blind

Kuusisto, Stephen

Similar to Pelzer in that itís about growing up and overcoming adversity, but surpasses Pelzer only in his ability to laugh at himself. Not as good at putting you in his shoes. Although the book is full length it reads like an abridgement.

421

9/05

A Man Named Dave

Pelzer, Dave

Heís very good at making his autobiography read like a novel. He puts you in his shoes. Ties up some of the loose ends from the earlier books, but opens up one or two more.

420

9/05

The Meaning of Everything

Winchester, Simon

I learned stuff.

419

9/05

A London Girl of the 1880s

Hughes, Molly

Although it was a glimpse at how people lived in a different age, it still wasnít that compelling to listen to.

418

9/05

The Map that Changed the World

Winchester, Simon

Itís really a biography of the Mapís maker, Williams Smith, and only mentions in passing how the map changed the world. It would have been more interesting if it had more of that.

417

8/05

The Adventure of English

Bragg, Melvin

Very good.

416

8/05

A Home at the End of the World

Cunningham, Michael

The book really drew me in, but it had the worst writing on the back of the book, Iíve ever read. It makes it sound like the 7/8ths of the book are merely the premise, so it gives away almost everything thatís going to happen making you think thatís the preface to whatís really going to happen, and then nothing else happens.

415

8/05

In the Wake of the Plague

Cantor, Norman F.

This was my second listening. Still learned a lot, but I wished heíd focused more on the direct results of the plague.

414

8/05

Zorba the Greek

Kazantzakis, Nikos

Although the book has something to say, itís thin on plot and itís mostly Zorba spouting platitudes about how to live your life. Anybody who thinks he knows everything is annoying, but annoyingly, the narrator-character never gets annoyed with Zorba.

413

8/05

The Lost Boy

Pelzer, David

These two books tell a very compelling story, you donít want to stop listening. And itís very powerful. But heís willing to leave unanswered questions. His brother becomes the object of his motherís abuse, after his rescue, and he promises his brother heíll help him get out. But his brother is never mentioned again. He says that his was acknowledged to be one of the worst child abuse cases in California history, but at the end of the book, his mother is still free and raising three other children. Was there ever an attempt to prosecute her? Why not? He doesnít say. Thatís really annoying.

412

8/05

A Child Called ĎItí

Pelzer, David

See above

411

8/05

Other Peopleís Children

Trollope, Joanna

It was OK.

410

8/05

The Fourth Queen

Taylor, Debbie

A few months ago, I didnít know that Moroccans had held European slaves from about 1600 to about 1815. Now Iíve listened to two books on it. The similarities between this one and the court described in The Last Empress are very striking. Can they really have been that similar that far apart? Audacious of Moroccoóa small country at the tip of the Moslem world to capture slaves both from the Christian north and the black African south.

409

8/05

Bell, Martin

In Harmís Way

Also a journalistís story of a war zone, but not as compelling as 101 days.

408

8/05

A Hundred and One Days: A Baghdad Journal

Seierstad, Asne

Very good. A journalistís life in a war zone, before, during, and after the war. She really shows you all sides of the situation in depth.

407

8/05

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Kundrea, Milan

This one answered the questioned I asked myself reading ďDog Days.Ē Books like this are worth it. It reads somewhere between novel and essay. But the essay is more integrates with the story than in War and Peace. It almost reads like an essay with an extended example. It breaks all the ďshow, donít tellĒ rules, but it reads great, and makes points that make you think. When a charter in ďDog DaysĒ says the journalists made whatever groups of bandits into democrats and authoritarians, Iím thinking it would have been much more interesting it show me that. But when Kundrea gives a 20-minute essay on the meaning of kitsch, I donít imagine thereís any better way to tell it.

406

8/05

Dog Days

Lee, Jeffery

Makes very serious indictment of war journalists, but I didnít like the story very much. Why listening to it I thought, ďwhy do I listen to so many books and give so many of them bad reviews?Ē Itís not that I disliked listening to it, I just wasnít that impressed with it. (See 407)

405

8/05

Fire

Junger, Sebastian

Disconnected essays that have very little to do with each other. But the telling is so much more interesting than ďWomen Who Lived for Danger.Ē I canít put my finger on why.

404

8/05

A Son of War

Bragg, Melvyn

Gave up after three cassettes.

403

8/05

The Women Who Lived for Danger

Binney, Marcus

Inherently interesting story. I wasnít that crazy about how it was told.

402

7/05

Great Tales from English History, Volume II: Chaucer to the Glorious Revolution

Lacey, Robert

Again, good.

401

7/05

Great Tales from English History: Cheddar Man to the Peasants Revolt

Lacey, Robert

Very good, and here is a history of England that doesnít skip over most ancient times and the dark ages.

400

7/05

Samurai William

Milton, Giles

The first have was very interesting, but once other English people started showing up in Japan it got very boring. It was like reading a history of company commerce.

399

7/05

Haroun and the Sea of Stories

Rushdie, Salman

I first wrote, ďMaybe I should have given it more of a chance, but it wasnít my thing and I gave up.Ē Then I gave it more of a chance and gave up again. It really wasnít my thing

398

7/05

Seizure

Cook, Robin

The author presents it as being about important issues, but it only touches on them and most of itís entertaining fluff.

397

7/05

White Gold

Milton, Giles

Itís a history I knew nothing about before this.

396

7/05

Puddínhead Wilson

Twain, Mark

Not his best.

395

7/05

Fierce People

Wittenborn, Dirk

The story grabs your attention, but the ending is pure fantasy. I donít think it really has anything to say more than an entertaining story.

394

7/05

The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread

Robertson, Dan

Great story. But itís caught right between childrenís lit and adult lit. Most of it reads like a childrenís story until you get to the refinery explosion when people start getting incinerated or horribly maimed.

393

7/05

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Wilde, Oscar

Good, but too many platitudes, like ďmen love with their eyes and women with their ears.Ē Itís great, but I think it would be better without them.

392

7/05

Brief Lives

Deeds, W. F.

Good, but I didnít have time to finish it before it was due back.

391

7/05

Little Women

Alcott, Louisa May

Very episodic. I couldnít get into all of the episodes.

390

6/05

Eight Feet in the Andes

Murphy, Derula

One of the most amateur recordings Iíve ever hear. Thatís the sound engineerís fault not the author, but I gave up after a few cassettes. Could find the story.

389

6/05

To War with Witaker: The wartime diaries of the Countess Ranfury, 1939-45

Ranfury, Countess

Although a tangential story of the war, it was interesting.

388

6/05

The Outsider

Camus, Albert

Camus says that he wanted to show that a man could be sentenced to death for not crying at his motherís funeral. Maybe the man wouldnít have been sentenced to death if heídíve cried at his motherís funeral, but he was a sociopath who committed a rather brutal murder.

387

6/05

The Bookseller of Kabul

Seierstad, Asne

The author is pretty harsh in judgment of the family that let her write about their lives. But she paints society thatís very oppressive against women.

386

6/05

Me Talk Pretty One Day

Sedaris, David

Very funny.

385

6/05

Adam Bede

Eliot, George

I gave up after three cassettes.

384

6/05

A Star Called Henry

Doyle, Roddy

Very good. It shows the connection between people who are heroís for their country and people who are just criminals without being too judgmental.

383

6/05

The Day of the Triffids

Wyndham, John

Now that Iíve listened to three of this guyís books, the theme of nature cruelly pitting one species against another really comes out.

382

6/05

The Time Travelerís Wife

Niffenegger, Audrey

This one really held my interest. But some of it is sort of a womanís of making a bad boy good and always sitting and waiting for him.

381

6/05

The Midwhich Cuckoos

Wyndham, John

Itís really about nature and how it pits species with a similar niche against another, and not about cultures at all. But something about the cultures snuck in. These children are planted all over the world, but only the group planted in England is allowed to live to the age of 9. The implication is that the English are more civilized or more kind than other nations. Iím not sure how intentional that is but itís there.

380

5/05

Sophieís World

Gaarder, Jostein

I enjoyed it, but I have no way of knowing whether it succeeds in its goal of interesting 10- to 15-year-olds in philosophy.

379

5/05

Chronicles: Volume One

Dylan, Bob

This book is written for people who have already read three or four other biographies of Dylan. If you donít already know a whole lot about his life, youíre completely lost.

378

5/05

Night Watch

Pratchett, Terry

What plot there was didnít interest me by the middle of the second cassette, so I gave up.

377

5/05

The Crysalids

Wyndham, John

Captivating. Really kept me listening, and Iíll listen to his other stuff. But it seemed somehow flawed. The new people were rather unfeelingóeven about their own kind. But if that was the point, it wasnít fully brought out.

376

5/05

Dead Menís Wages

Pizzichini, Lilian

Reads like a dirty laundry list without insight that I could find.

375

5/05

Catch-22

Heller, Joseph

I didnít like the ending. Heís so iconoclastic about how Americans are not what we like to think of ourselves, but he ends with the classic American ideal of the individual finding a way to heroically challenge the system at great self-sacrifice. I thought that weakened everything somewhat.

374

5/05

When We Were Orphans

Ishiguro, Kazuo

ďThe remains of the dayĒ used realism. ďThe UnconsoledĒ was almost entirely surreal, like a bad dream. This one was a weird combination. It was realistic with one interlude of the bad-dream style of surrealism in a very large and crucial section of the book. I donít think the combination worked very well. It made me step back from the book and take the characters and the story less seriously.

373

4/05

The Seven Daughters of Eve

Sykes, Brian

Very interesting. The part where he digressed into fiction wasnít as good. I donít know how true this one guyís perspective is, but regardless I liked it.

372

4/05

Leonardo: The First Scientist

White, Michael

Good bibliography. I learned a lot. I would have liked to know more whether any of his scientific writings actually impacted other scientists.

371

4/05

Favorite Short Stories

Asimov, Isaac

I think Iíd already listened to this before I started keeping a list. Some good stories. Thereís something about him I find superficial, but I canít put my finger on it. But I always liked him for his history ďthe Dark Ages,Ē which I read when I was about 12 or 13 and really enjoyed.

370

4/05

The Three Musketeers

Dumas, Alexander

I know itís a classic and everything, but I just couldnít get into it. I tried for over a week and was only about half way through when I finally gave up.

369

4/05

Second Glance

Picoult, Jodi

I liked the parts that on eugenics that took place in the 1930s best. The ghost story with the 105-year-old Indian in 2002 was not as good. First thing Iíve read that discussed the connection between eugenics and gene therapy. That thought occurred to me as well, would have liked more on that.

368

3/05

Darwinís Radio

Bear, Greg

See review of Blood Music

367

3/05

Blood Music

Bear, Greg

I thought both of these books were interesting but flawed. This one for example is just two quick. It brings up all kinds of issues and then doesnít deal with them very deeply. This one did a lot of set up for the problem of fighting an intelligent plague, but then never actually had people fighting the intelligent plague as it took over North American overnight.

366

3/05

Einsteinís Relativity and the Quantum Revolution: Modern Physics for Non-Scientists

Wolfson, Richard

Borrowed this while I was in New York, and unfortunately didnít have time to finish it.

365

3/05

Salt: A World History

Kurlansky, Mark

Sounds like the kind of thing Iíd like, but I was board by it and didnít finish it.

364

3/05

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time

Haddon, Mark

Very good.

363

2/05

Rachelís Holiday

Keyes, Marian

Something like what if Bridget Jones had to go to drug rehab? But itís still pretty good.

362

2/05

Ulysses, Volume 2, episodes 15-18

Joyce, James

Well, I finished it. I could understand every sentence, but not the order in which the sentences appeared. I got something out of it, but thereís so much more I missed. Why does he make it so hard to follow?

361

2/06

Carthage

Leckie, Ross

There is something incomplete about his books. Itís supposed to be historical fiction, but the whole siege and downfall reads like nonfiction with little characterization and too much overview.

360

2/05

Brixton Rock

 

Crap

359

1/05

The pleasure of my Company

Martin, Steve

There are often quirky, crazy people in humorous books, but in this one the guys symptoms are so real that it becomes less funny and more creepy and sad. However, it gets better at the end.

358

1/05

Empress Orchid

Min, Anchee

Good story, but poorly recorded. There were pauses and background noises. Thatís very unusual.

357

1/05

Selected speeches

Einstein, Albert

Didnít finish

356

1/05

Ulysses, vol. 1, episodes 1-14

Joyce, James

Difficult on first listening.

355

1/05

Perfume

Suskind, Patrick

Very good.

354

12/04

Molloy

Beckett, Samuel

Couldnít follow it, and it didnít make me want to try again.

353

12/04

The Crimson Petal and the White

Faber, Michel

This books is 45 hours longóonly about 10 hours shy of War and Peace and if you take out the essay portions of W+R, this book is longer. At that length I expected an epic, but it has only 5 major characters and takes place in less than 18 months in 1874-1876. So, it goes into a lot of detail about everyday life. Yet it doesnít get boring and she has a lot to say.

352

12/04

Jude the Obscure

Hardy, Thomas

Depressing but good.

351

12/04

Dubliners

Joyce, James

Stories of people with bleak lives. Iíve listened to it before, and Iíve both read and see the movie of ďthe Dead.Ē ďThe Dead,Ē at least, is hard to concentrate on because itís so thought provoking. If a book provokes thoughts, you stop and think, but if a book on tape or a movie provokes thoughts, itís easy to find youíve let it go on without you. I had to go back to several of the stories more than once. I had to read ďthe DeadĒ after seeing the movie, and then still needed to read the last bit a couple times before I got it. This time I wanted to give the main character a copy of ďthe remains of the day.Ē Heís not dead yet, and he and his wife have lot of living they could still do do.

350

12/04

The Floating Madhouse

Fullerton, Alexander

Not really a floating madhouse; rather ordinary sailors. Most of the book is actually about a love triangle in letters

349

12/04

I, Robot

Asimov, Isaac

Good, but the fact that the three laws of robotics imply that robots will eventually take over is not told as dramatically as it could be

348

11/04

A History of Britain 3: 1776-2000

Schama, Simon

He tells history with biographies, which has a plus and a minus. It makes for very compelling reading, but it makes for a very selective history. Whatís told is told very well, but World War I is told as little more than how it affected the development of Churchill and Orwell. And the second half of the Twentieth Century is glossed over in a half a cassette.

347

11/04

Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books

Nafisi, Azar

She tells a story of the Islamic Republic of Iran as being much more totalitarian than I thought. Itís really fiction because sheís changed details and combined characters to hide their identities, but it reads like nonfiction.

346

11/04

The End of War: A Novel of the Race for Berlin

Robbins, David L.

Very good. Makes you want to listen, makes a point. Although I donít agree with all his points, especially in the interview at the end.

346

11/04

A Grue of Ice

Jenkins, Geoffrey

Crap

345

11/04

The Girl in the Red Coat

Ligocka, Roma

A good book, less about the holocaust than it was sold as. Although it spans 50 years of time, itís told entirely in the present tense.

344

10/04

What she Wants

Kelly, Cathy

So this is chic lit. I donít think itís the best chic lit. The story draws you in, but the ending is pointless and a little too much like a fairy tale

343

10/04

William Shakespeare

Holden, Anthony

I learned a lot, but I just donít know Shakespeareís work well enough.

342

10/04

David Copperfield

Dickens, Charles

I canít see why itís a classic. Interesting story about his child wife though, she dies saying itís best because he would have gotten board with her. But heís real wife lived and he got board with her. Is this his way of saying it would have been better if you were dead?

341

10/04

Jonathan Livingston Seagul

Bach, Richard

Apparently this was an abridged version, too short.

340

10/04

The Mammoth Hunters

Auel, Jean M.

Very dull. Most of the plot is drive by a loversí misunderstanding, and the main character adopts a puppy.

339

9/04

The Secret History

Tartt, Donna

A good thriller.

338

9/04

Seeking Robinson Crusoe

Severin, Tim

It linked together a lot of unrelated stories, but most of them were interesting. He was making the case for a different person as the model for Crusoe (rather than the one thatís usually mentioned), but he did not make much of until the very end.

337

9/04

David Copperfield

Dickens, Charles

Iíve been able to listen only to Volume 1 so far

336

9/04

The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression

Solomon, Andrew

It was great to hear a heartfelt, sympathetic, inside-story of depression by a patient rather than a doctor. The drawback is that he tries so hard to show both sides of issues that you often canít tell what his point is.

335

8/04

Heroes of History

Durant, Will

I didnít finish this one either. Each biography was so superficial that you couldnít learn anything from it. Also, I didnít like his attitude about history ďmanĒ did this and ďwomanĒ did that as if his theories about gender roles in evolutionary history are proven facts.

334

8/04

Donít Sweat the Small Stuff with your family

Carlson, Richard

It was only two CDs, but I didnít bother to finish even one of them. It was a string of homespun clichťs.

333

8/04

Crome Yellow

Huxley, Aldous

I didnít finish it. It didnít give it my full attention, but it didnít command my attention either.

332

8/04

Isaac Newton

Gleick, James

Newtonís life is inherently interesting, but this biography doesnít bring it out well.

331

8/04

The Travels of Marco Polo

Polo, Marco

This is a 700-year-old book. It doesnít stand the time. Itís mostly a catalogue of facts (many questionable) about places that are hard to place on todayís map. It would be much more interesting to read about Marco Polo from another source.

330

8/04

Eaters of the Dead

Creiton, Michael

OK

329

7/04

1215: The Year of the Magna Carta

Danziber, Danny and Gillingham, John

Interesting

328

7/04

3001: The Final Odyssey

Clarke, Arthur C.

This story was not well told. It read like an abridgment even though it was full length.

327

7/04

Wilful Murder: The Sinking of The Lusitania

Preston, Diana

Good history. There wasnít a broad conspiracy to create the sinking to get the U.S.A. into the war, but there were conspiracies on all sides to avoid blame.

326

7/04

Sushi for Beginners

Keyes, Marian

I good story.

325

7/04

Pride and Prejudice

Austen, Jane

A tale of a rich family with daughters. Will the daughters manage to marry other rich people so that the family can remain rich? You bet they can.

324

7/04

Adamís Curse

Sykes, Brian

Some of it is good science, and itís well written, but he wonders off on his historical theories that are not well supported by his genetic theories.

323

7/04

My East End: Memories of Life in Cockney London

OíNeill, Gilda

The author is a little too close to this too nostalgic.

322

7/04

The Life of Pi

Martel, Yann

A good book. The message seems to be that religion is worth believing even if itís not true. But I donít understand what the man-eating island is supposed to symbolize.

321

7/04

George Orwell

Bowker, Gordon

I listened to this one twice even though itís 24.75 hours. I did this partly as an experiment, partly because I finished the first listening on a Sunday, and partly because Orwell is my favorite author. Although I got more out of it with two listenings, I donít think Iíll repeat the experiment soon. I have very many attitudes similar to Orwellópro-poor libertarian not enough interest from womenóbut enough differences that I canít feel like heís my alter-ego.

320

6/04

Stalingrad

Beevor, Antony

A compelling account.

319

6/04

The Age of Innocence

Warton, Edith

Itís about relationships among the upper class, and itís interesting. Although it recognizes their privileged position, it ignores everybody else. Iím really annoyed by books about the emotional lives of the rich that ignore the poor. The House of Mirth was much better in that respect. Also, the problems that create the drama seem so easily avoided.

318

6/04

Elizabeth the Queen, (also titled) the Life of Elizabeth I

Weir, Alison

A good history.

317

5/04

Oryx and Crake

Atwood, Margaret

An apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic story of creating paradise by creating race of very naÔve humans who are able to eat grass.

316

5/04

Ramses 5: Under the Western Acacia

Jacq, Christian

He doesnít know whether he wants to write a historical novel or a magical fantasy. He writes something thatís neither an educated guess about what Ramses was like nor an interesting story of magic. It really goes down hill after God intervenes in book 3 to make Ramses win the Battle of Kadesh, which my history book says he lost. Itís also a white wash saying that the Pharos were good leaders, making Ramses out to be completely unselfish, explain how he made his daughter his queen without committing incest.

315

5/04

Ramses 4: The Lady of Abu Simbel

Jacq, Christian

See Ramses 5

314

5/04

Ramses 3: The Battle of Kadesh

Jacq, Christian

See Ramses 5

313

4/04

Dark Star Safari

Theroux, Paul

Good stories, but occasionally his attitude toward the locals gets a bit colonial. Blaming them and their attitudes for problems that are actually outcome of a long relationship with the North in which the North was dominant.

312

4/04

White Teeth

Smith, Zadie

Very good characters, and very good at putting individual family members actions in the context of a long family history.

311

4/04

Jack Maggs

Carey, Peter

ďA variation on ĎGreat Expectations,í in which Dickenís tale is told from the viewpoint of the Australian convict.Ē Didnít hold my attention, or I didnít pay enough attention. You be the judge.

310

4/04

Das Boot: The Boat

Buchheim, Lothar-Gunter

Itís a compelling story, but only the narrator is a well developed character.

309

4/04

A History of Britain 2: 1603-1776, The British Wars

Schama, Simon

Much more well-rounded than part 1. A good history of a period I donít know enough about.

308

3/04

English Passengers

Kneale, Matthew

It says some really good things about how genocide can happen even though the perpetrators think theyíre doing good things, but the last two cassettes suddenly become a festival of shortcuts, coincidences, and unbelievable behavior.

307

3/04

The Way We Live Now

Trollope, Anthony

A good look at what the silly Victorians thought was important, but the authorís lack of knowledge of finance really shows.

306

3/04

The Prophet Mohammed: A Biography

Rogerson, Barnaby

It was a well-written and sympathetic biography. Some of it seemed to conflict with other accounts Iíd heard. Even though the account was sympathetic, it was hard for me to get sympathy for Mohammed from it. He was the aggressor in war, who killed unarmed prisoners, and wrote the Koran to give himself special privileges.

305

3/04

Goon Show Classics 1

Milligan, Spike, Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe, and Wallace Greenslade.

I didnít get it.

304

3/04

Warlock

Smith, Wilber

Crap.

303

3/04

Ramses 2: the Temple of a Million Years

Jacq, Christian

The cliff-hanger endings are annoying, especially when the library gets rid of episodes 3 and 4. See Ramses 5.

302

3/04

Ramses 1: the Son of the Light

Jacq, Christian

Part of a series of five. See Ramses 5.

301

3/04

Holy Bible: the New Testament, New International Version

Various

Canít sum it up in a paragraph.

300

2/04

The Center of Everything

Moriarty, Laura

Itís about a girl growing up in Kansas whoís betrayed by her friends, and not well treated by many of the adults in her life. Thereís a line at the end to the effect. ďI walk through a cloud of months, but I donít disturb them.Ē Thatís supposed to sum it all up. But the narrator never takes responsibility for anything, like sheís just better than everyone else.

299

2/04

Breakfast at Tiffanyís and other stories

Capote, Truman

The other stories werenít as good as breakfast. I wonder why they gave the movie the same title; it bears little resemblance. They could have saved all that money they paid for the rights.

298

2/04

Doctor Zhivago

Pasternak, Boris

This one didnít get a fair listening. I was preoccupied with other things. Listened to most of it while drifting off to sleep.

297

2/04

Race of Scorpions

Dunnett, Dorothy

Boring. I didnít bother to finish it.

296

1/04

The Gunpowder Plot

Fraser, Antonia

Too many small details and not enough big picture.

295

1/04

The Remains of the Day

Ishiguro, Kazuo

Excellent. It all comes together at the end and it says a lot. One of my all-time favorites

294

1/04

The Terminal Experiment

Sawyer, Robert J.

Opens up a forum to discuss big issues, but doesnít discuss them very deeply. And for a book about morality, it has a really twisted sense of it.

293

1/04

The Veteran

Forsyth, Frederick

Empty

292

1/04

Blast from the Past

Elton, Ben

Disappointing.

291

1/04

A Time of Changes

Silverberg, Robert

Good.

290

1/04

The Seashell on the Mountain Top

Cutler, Alan

Nice brief history lesson.

289

1/04

The Unconsoled

Ishiguro, Kazou

Surreal, confusing, disconnected and frustrating with a lot of symbolism not all of which seems to mean something like a bad dream thatís not a nightmare. I guess thatís what he was going for. As surreal as it was, it seemed to parallel my life at the time.

288

1/04

My Life as a Fake

Carey, Peter

This could be the only book in the world to mention both a product invented in my hometown (Kitty Litter) and my college at Oxford (Lady Margaret Hall). But, I didnít like it. Failed to communicate what it was trying to say. Lost in digressions and loose ends.

287

1/04

The Grapes of Wrath

Steinbeck, John

I wish I could write like that. Excellent.

286

12/03

Braking the Chains: African. American Slave Resistance

Katz, William Loren

He convinced me. There was a lot more slave resistance than is generally believed. In some ways, slaves were in a state of constant rebellion.

285

12/03

On a Pale Horse

Anthony, Piers

Interesting premise, but not that much to it.

284

12/03

In the Wake of the Plague

Cantor, Norman F.

Disappointing

283

12/03

Star Trek Avenger

Shatner, William

So unmemorable that I was almost halfway through before I realized Iíd listened to this before.

282

12/03

Gone with the Wind, Part 2

Mitchell, Margaret

Better than War and Peace? Well, itís obviously inspired by W&P, and I donít think W&P is as good as itís made out to be, so I can ask that. You see the influence during the civil war when itís about peopleís lives with the war, the retreat, the burning of the city, the last minute escape, and the authorís defense of the defending general. Tolstoyís characters represent ideals and virtues, but only the minor characters here have virtue, and the virtuous without exception devote themselves to a morally moribund cause. Maybe youíre not supposed to think itís moribund. It is a racist novel. The blacks in the book, at best, need to be led, and the narrator defends the inception of the KKK. Perhaps, the message (aside from like should marry like) seems to be ethical egoism: to see truth unclouded by notions of honor. Scarlet is selfish, and does horrible things, but not because sheís selfish. She does them because sheís too naÔve to know itís not the best way to get what she wants. Ret is the only character set up to emulate. Heís as selfish as Scarlet but doesnít do terrible things (Mitchell doesnít seem to want you to count murdering a black who deserved it as bad), because he knows how to get what he wants without doing terrible things. But the book is so well told that it brings up the issues and helps you think about them differently even if you completely disagree with her conclusion.

281

12/03

How to be Good

Hornby, Nick

This book made me question my commitment to BIG more than anything Iíve read in some time. It wasnít the recipients, it was the people giving the stuff away that wasnít thereís. The arguments that occurred to me against them was that they werenít working for what they were giving away, implying an obligation to contribute to the well-being of others.

280

12/03

High Tide in Tucson: Essays from now or never

Kingsolver, Barbara

You listen to her tell you about her life, then you wanía sleep with her. But sheís best on the life and the biology stuff. Not some much the travel writing.

279

12/03

Eleanor of Aquitaine

Weir, Alison

I guess Iíve listened to one to many biographies of monarchs. Collectively they portray the entire history of the middle ages as if nothing happened beside the palace intrigues of elite families.

278

11/03

High Fidelity

Hornby, Nick

Very good. Heís really got this character down. Itís a very self-absorbed guy telling a story in first person, and the other characters are all minor, but he does a very good job in way he describes the single life with all these musical references from just my generation.

277

11/03

Gone with the Wind, part one

Mitchell, Margaret

Just before I returned part one the library sent part two back to the manufacturer for repair. I really want to find out what Scarlet does next.

276

11/03

A Short History of Nearly Everything

Bryson, Bill

Itís interesting, but a bit disjointed. From the big bang to botany to human evolution.

275

11/03

Pole to Pole

Palin, Michael

He doesnít bring his Monty Python humor, but itís still funny and interesting.

274

11/03

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Rowling, J.K.

Another page turner, or cassette changer, or whatever youíd call it.

273

11/03

Something Fresh

Woodhouse, P.G.

I listened to this on Douglas Adamsís recommendation. It was OK.

272

11/03

The Salmon of Doubt

Adams, Douglas

Itís a posthumous collection of unpublished writings, including his unfinished novel. Some of it was pretty good, but it was pretty annoying when the unfinished novel just stopped before it was finished.

271

11/03

A History of Britain I: At the Edge of the Word, 3000BC - AD1603

Schama, Simon

Although I learned a lot, the title is a lie. Itís really a history of England 1066-1603 with some back-story tacked on. The first two cassettes cover 3,700 years, and the last two cassettes cover about 50 years. They give huge details about the English Monarchs, but the Scots and the Welsh are only mentioned when they interact with England. Heís also selective in what he covers. The English reformation gets huge attention, but the loss of British holdings in France during the 100 years war gets barely a mention.

270

10/03

Elizabeth

Starkey, David

He says itís subtitled apprenticeship. It covers up to the early part of her reign. So you learn more about her personality than her effect on history.

269

10/03

French with Michel Thomas

Thomas, Michel

I think I learned a lot from it. It does give you confidence, but he does a lot of speaking in English. Iíd like to see a second version where he goes over the same level of material, but speaks only in French

268

10/03

Silent Night: The Remarkable Christmas Truce of 1914

Weintraub, Stanley

I bit disjointed in that itís a story here and a story there. But the author is right that this was a hugely significant event because it began from the bottom up despite the actual opposition of the commanders at the top on both sides, who took steps to ensure it wouldnít be repeated.

267

10/03

Life Before Man

Atwood, Margaret

Shit happens. Why this book starts when it does and stops when it does is a mystery. Some of the shit that happens in between is interesting, but I donít see that much meaning in it. This was no ďBlind Assassin.Ē

266

10/03

Sons and Lovers

Lawrence, D. H.

I found it tedious and boring.

265

10/03

Pimsleur French I

Pimsleur

Now that Iíve tried this and several other ways of learning French, Iím convinced this is a very good way to do it, and Iím thinking of buying the whole course, which is something like 100 tapes.

264

9/03

The World Owes You a Living

Fair, Matt

Very good. Itís not academic case, but itís a very good artistic case for BIG. See my review of issue 23 of the USBIG newsletter

263

9/03

Mistress Anne

Erickson, Carolly

There wasnít very much in here that wasnít in ďGreat Harry.Ē Some parts of it read like theyíd been lifted right out of her other book.

262

9/03

Great Harry

Erickson, Carolly

A biography of Henry VIII. I learned a lot of history from it. He really was a catholic, who accidentally reformed the British church. He didnít even want a divorce he wanted an annulment justified under catholic doctrine. It could be a case study against absolute power. He was the most brilliant and capable leader of his age, but paranoid and drunk with power he eventually executed many of the people who were closest to him. But it annoyed me as so many biographies do by ending exactly at the death of the subject without a word about his legacy.

261

9/03

Bad Heir Day

Holden, Wendy

It was a coincidence fest, although it made you want to keep listening and it wasnít quite as predictable as I thought it was going to be (but close).

260

9/03

Atticus

Hansen, Ron

The last tape screwed up so I couldnít finish it, but I didnít bother to try to get it working because it just wasnít very interesting.

259<