It was another incredible year of listening on Audible.com. Hear (ha) is the list of 29 books I listened to in 2010.
The Millennium Trilogy from Stieg Larsson:
This series is outstanding. The characters are intriguing, the plot draws you in and you can’t wait to find out what happens next. I saw last week these books are the top 3 in the USA Today 2010 book list. Unfortunately, the author died shortly after publishing the trilogy so we can’t expect more in the near future.
Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
This one made me down right nervous to start. I had heard about the mutilating ‘female castration’ as a young girl in Somalia and it made me cringe to even think about the subject. Also, the book is read by the author which had the potential of being a painful experience fighting through a thick accent. As it turns out, this book was one of the most inspiring I have ever read/heard. I admire this woman for her strength of character and intelligence. She famously gets elected to the Dutch Parliament and is outspoken on the violence towards women infused in the Islamic religion and Muslim culture. This draws the wrath of Islamic fundamentalist leading to death threats and the Dutch government attempting to quiet everything up by revoking her citizenship on a technicality. This is the part of her story that was newsworthy. Her story is inspiring and worthwhile even if she had never been famous. It is truly amazing she was able to un-root herself from her culture and religion and spring forth as inspiration of reason and freedom.
The Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson
Admittedly I’m still listening to this one. So far, it is one of the very best economic books I’ve listened to – and I’ve listened to dozens As such, I don’t know where he ends up but his narrative and technical detail make it as compelling as Milton Friedman.
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
I had been reluctant to listen to Capote because of all the strange impressions I had of him from when I grew up in the 70’s. He seemed so intellectually pretentious I really didn’t want to get talked down to for hours on end. As it turned out, it was one of my favorites for the year. Even though the outcome is known, the story was thoroughly compelling. In fact, foretelling the outcome and leaving hanging on how it gets there is the primary narrative style. It is interestingly an anti-death penalty statement without sugar coating the ruthless anti-social non-redeeming value of these cold blooded killers.
The Historical Novel series by Jeff Shaara and the one that started it all by his father Michael Shaara, The Killer Angels . These Novels comprise one of the greatest narratives of our history. They are written as a novel where the author re-creates scenes and thoughts of the characters that while not ‘pure history’ are as accurate as any known historical treatments of the subject matter. I make a conscious effort to mix my listening with Fiction and non-Fiction. Luckily with these novels I felt the satisfaction of both. This isn’t to say I consider these less the factual. As you can infer from the fact I chewed up 8 of these, I found them to engrossing and entertaining.
A pair of books from Byron Katie was among the most thought provoking and emotionally impacting I have ever experienced. I Need Your Love, Is That True? and Loving What Is have had huge impact on how ‘perceive’ and experience relationships. I won’t even try to summarize them in this short space. I will say that it is an amazing process for questioning thoughts and defusing the pain you are ‘giving yourself’ – usually under the belief that others are giving you. I did listen to Making Your Thoughts Work For You but this one didn’t work as well for me. “Dr. Dyer” dominated the presentation and pretty close to a waste of time.
The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich A. Hayek
Hayek is great. He wrote this book during WWII. He relentlessly refutes the economic premises behind National Socialism, Communism and Socialism. He makes it clear how similar these economic systems are to each other rather than the “extreme right” and “extreme left” taught to us today. Unfortunately the hard lessons he demonstrates are being re-enacted in today’s political environment.
13 Things That Don't Make Sense by Michael Brooks
There were parts that were good. However, it was not one of my favorite of the year. Science is tough enough when your goal is to make sense of things. When it comes to Human Intelligence, I think he could benefit from one of my favorites from another year, On Intelligence by Jeff Hawkins.
The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins
Richard Dawkins comes through on the subject he knows best Evolution. He does a good job of showing how very much WE DO KNOW about evolution. He does spend some time kicking the sand castles of “Creationism” and the efforts to subvert our science education. Sometimes I can find his approach in this regard annoying and unnecessarily intolerant. But with this said, he does a wonderful job discussing what we do know, how we know it, and how the preponderance of evidence leaves no doubt in scientific terms of the validity of evolution.
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
At 63 hours this is a lot of listening. We started listening to this as a family during our trip to Idaho. We didn’t finish and so Samantha and I are listening to it on our drives to and from school. It’s been a lot of fun discussing the ideas with her!
Nullification by Thomas E. Woods
This was an odd but interesting book. He makes a case for States asserting pressure on the Federal Government by refusing to enforce unconstitutional Federal law. Who determines what is “unconstitutional”? State legislatures and petitions by the people. We can’t count on the Federal Supreme Court to protect us from Federal Tyranny. He demonstrates historical arguments by Jefferson and Madison for using this mechanism. Undoubtedly this is a messy way to deal with things but arguably the best way to bring some issues to a head.
Rounding out a number of Fiction novels a really enjoyed this year:
I always have books from Connelly, Kellerman, Child, Grafton, and King in my yearly Audible. Spin was really good but I’m undecided if Wilson’s other books are at the same quality.