Hi Guys! I started this post off with some mini-thoughts on several audiobooks, but then ended up having more to say than I thought I did. I’ve been listened and reading a lot of good books lately, but sometimes I find that when I’m done with them I don’t have a ton to say. Or too much time passes and I forget what I want to say. But here are some sorta quick thoughts on two recent audiobooks.
In Short: After becoming a new mother, Biss seeks to learn all she can about the vaccinations her son will receive.
Thoughts in General: This is such a hot topic in parenting groups and Biss makes no qualms about specifically addressing her book to mothers of young children. She is clearly pro-vaccination and while she doesn’t necessarily try to sway her readers in one direction or another, her preference is very clear. For the record, I am pro-vaccination and many of my beliefs are in-line with Biss’s. I discovered recently that some friends assumed I was an anti-vaxxer. Is this because I’m a blogger? I didn’t ask specifics.
Couple of things that really struck me while listening to On Immunity–privilege is so prevalent in Biss’s story and her researched information. It was tough to ignore her financially successful white woman stance. Second, I had hoped that there would be a little bit more science and history involved in the book. She discussed a lot of the cultural movements throughout time and did discuss some history, but a lot of this was left to the Notes section. The Notes actually answered a lot of the questions I had while listening but I would have loved more detail in the actual bulk of the book.
Bottom Line: On Immunity was a worthwhile listen for me, especially as it was so short, but it didn’t provide me with quite what I was looking for. I did learn that “vac” is derivative of cow in latin–one of the first inoculations was against cowpox in the 1700s.
Notes on the Audio: I’m glad I listened to On Immunity, though I did have to speed up Marston’s slow narration. On a quicker speed, she was well paced and her soft-spokenness reflected the matronly image I have of Eula Biss.
Title: The Know-it-All
Author: AJ Jacobs
Narrator: Geoffrey Cantor
Published: 2004; Pages: 400
Audio Duration: 15 hrs, 24 min
Genre: Nonfiction (Narrative/Random)
Rating: Information Overload
In Short: “One man’s humble quest to become the smartest person in the world” by reading the Encyclopedia Britannica A-Z.
Thoughts in General: I would call The Know-it-All part memoir and part narrative nonfiction. Each chapter/section focuses on a letter of the alphabet (though some letters are combined), and Jacobs provides the random things he learned in each of the letters. And when I mean random, I mean random. Did you know that strawberries aren’t really berries? But bananas are? I know, right? In the end, my own retention of the things Jacob discussed wasn’t very high. There was just so much information.
Throughout his mission to read the entire Encyclopedia, Jacobs also discusses how learning and knowledge have played a role in his life and how he was affected by reading through the entire volume of books. Let’s just say, the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know. It was a very entertaining and quirky journey and I love learning about random bits and bobs. A small qualm–throughout the book Jacobs freely discusses his wife’s infertility. All ends happily in the end, but I having gone through my own struggles with miscarriage and pregnancy, I couldn’t help but feel very uncomfortable by how opening Jacobs discussed his wife’s reproductive troubles. I’m guessing she allowed him the full disclosure.
Bottom Line: The Know-it-All was a very fun listen, but by the end I couldn’t have care less about approximately Q-Z. Maybe even K-Z.
Notes on the Audio: Especially good on audio! As is common for me, I did speed up the narration a bit (maybe 1.5 for this one), but I loved the conversational tone of Geoffrey Cantor and his style made this book very easy to listen to.
What awesome nonfiction audiobooks have you listened to lately? Have you listened to either of these yet?