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Anthony

Sydney, Australia
  • 89
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  • 216
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  • 150
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  • The Diary of a Bookseller

  • By: Shaun Bythell
  • Narrated by: Robin Laing
  • Length: 9 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 391
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 356
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 358

Shaun Bythell owns The Bookshop, Wigtown - Scotland's largest second-hand bookshop. In these wry and hilarious diaries, Shaun provides an inside look at the trials and tribulations of life in the book trade, from struggles with eccentric customers to wrangles with his own staff. He takes us with him on buying trips to old estates and auction houses, recommends books and evokes the rhythms and charms of small-town life, always with a sharp and sympathetic eye.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A gentle pleasure

  • By Flint on 11-12-17

Interesting and amusing

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

Reviewed: 15-10-18

As a lover of second hand book stores, and bookshops more generally, I found it interesting to hear about the challenges that have accompanied book-selling over the years. The rise of Amazon is welcomed by us, the buyers: we love the access, the low prices, the front-door deliveries, the scouring of bookshops across the land for sought items; the algorithms generating likely likes... For the bookshop owner, however, it brings the frustrations of being competitive at all times, the resources required to offer both an online and physical presence, the frustrations of dealing with distant purchasers who demand a quality service and readily take advantage of the power they wield through feedback and ratings.

It is indeed fascinating to hear what drives the bookseller on: the odd comments of odd customers; being offered a themed collection for purchase and onsale (usually after a death of a family member); the thrill of finding a valuable first edition or a signed copy by a much wanted writer; the satisfaction of selling a valuable book at a reasonable price to a purchaser who appreciates the inherent value. Also interesting are the pet hates of the booksellers - customers taking advantage; crooks erasing prices and replacing them with ridiculously low alternatives; ex-library books that are marked and covered with plastic and sellotape; cheapskates who demand discounts on already marked down items; free-riders who settle in for a day of reading and then walk out without making a purchase. These insights give one pause to consider. [Lucky there's no mention of audiobooks - where would that leave us?!]

The somewhat interesting but somewhat irritating element is the daily tally of how many customers came into the shop (remarkably few), what the totals were at the till (remarkably low), and what proportion of books requested online were found and orders fulfilled (remarkably high). It might be possible to gloss over this feature - interesting as it is - if reading the hard copy, but on audio one has to suffer these details far too frequently. I'd rather have seen the monthly tally than hear the daily details. That said, the bookseller has to deal with them line by line; perhaps we need to respect and appreciate such daily challenges in providing a much loved site and purpose in an ever more competitive environment.

Informative and worth a listen.

  • Trumpocracy

  • The Corruption of the American Republic
  • By: David Frum
  • Narrated by: David Frum, James Anderson Foster
  • Length: 7 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 89
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 72
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 71

Best-selling author, former White House speechwriter, and Atlantic columnist and media commentator David Frum explains why President Trump has undermined our most important institutions in ways even the most critical media has missed, in this thoughtful and hard-hitting book that is a warning for democracy and America's future. Quietly, steadily, Trump and his administration are damaging the tenets and accepted practices of American democracy, perhaps irrevocably.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • P45 warts and all

  • By Paul Muers on 14-06-18

Interesting but needs updated edition

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

Reviewed: 14-07-18

An interesting and informative book, well researched, but already out of date given he pace of #Trumpocracy disruption. The author makes no secret of his views of Trump as a self-interested corrupt narcissist but who is nevertheless the leader of the world's most powerful country.

David Frum explores the challenge to liberal democracies that result from the election of Trump and similar other leaders. Their insidious, and often direct, attacks on democratic institutions and moral values, are well presented and convincingly argued.

The book, however, is already somewhat out-of-date given the pace of Trump's ongoing efforts to disrupt and unsettle (or perhaps dismember) USA governance structures, institutions, and public policy programs.

Excellent but a next edition is already required, and probably edition 3 by the end of 2019 too...

"Sad"

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • American Pastoral

  • By: Philip Roth
  • Narrated by: Ron Silver
  • Length: 15 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 163
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 152
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 150

Philip Roth presents a vivid portrait of an innocent man being swept away by a current of conflict and violence in his own backyard - a story that is as much about loving America as it is hating it. Seymour "Swede" Levov, a legendary high school athlete, a devoted family man, a hard worker, and the prosperous heir of his father's Newark glove factory comes of age in thriving, triumphant postwar America. But everything he loves is lost when the country begins to run amok in the turbulent 1960s. Not even a most private, well-intentioned citizen, it seems, gets to sidestep the sweep of history. American Pastoral is the story of a fortunate American's rise and fall ... a strong, confident man, a master of social equilibrium, overwhelmed by the forces of social disorder. For the Swede is not allowed to stay forever blissful living out life in rural Old Rimrock in his 170 year-old stone farmhouse with his pretty wife (his college sweetheart and Miss New Jersey of 1949) and his lively albeit precocious daughter, the apple of his eye ... that is until she grows up to become a revolutionary terrorist.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Mature, complex, meditative.

  • By J. Neal on 02-12-15

Tragic America

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

Reviewed: 07-07-18

I read this after learning of Roth's death in 2018 and hearing this book cited as one of his greatest. It doesn't disappoint - fascinating, sad, engaging, beautifully written and read... a terrific audiobook.

More than sad, this is a tragic story of a family that have worked so hard to achieve the American Dream - integration and success, despite difference - and of how this all falls apart in the next generation which challenges US engagement in Vietnam. This is a beautifully written novel highlighting the dilemmas in a father-daughter relationship seeking to overcome a range of almost insurmountable difficulties ... childhood stuttering, rejection of community, revolutionary action, adoption of a cult-like faith. Feelings of love and admiration are interface with guilt, despair and deep loss. We, the reader-listeners experience the fluidity and depth of this emotional journey and the powerlessness of the main protagonist, Seymour Levov.

Deeply engaging with no simple solutions to the unfolding personal, family and community tragedy. Wonderful!

  • The Yellow Birds

  • By: Kevin Powers
  • Narrated by: Holter Graham
  • Length: 5 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 36
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 30
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 30

Everywhere John looks, he sees Murph. He flinches when cars drive past. His fingers clasp around the rifle he hasn't held for months. Wide-eyed strangers praise him as a hero, but he can feel himself disappearing. Back home after a year in Iraq, memories swarm around him: bodies burning in the crisp morning air. Sunlight falling through branches; bullets kicking up dust; ripples on a pond wavering like plucked strings. The promise he made, to a young man's mother, that her son would be brought home safely....

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • should be compulsory listening for all politicians

  • By chrissie on 27-01-13

Destructivess of war writ large

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

Reviewed: 10-06-18

Eloquently written and narrated... this is a story of war’s deep cuts into being human...

A young American soldier and his relationships with friends, the military, and the ‘other’ in Iraq are laid bare. Beautifully written - crude evocative language - maps the destructiveness of this conflict on the behaviour and psyches of those engaged. We are drawn into the slow unraveling of a US soldier’s ability to cope with a futile war, the intensity of loyalties that lead to bizarre but credible behaviour, the mechanisms deployed to manage sanity in an insane situation, and the grief of a mother who just wants to know what happened...

We do not learn much about ‘why the war?’ ... but we learn a lot about ‘what the war? ... and it is not pretty.

An impressive short, but deep, anti-war book...

  • The Unconsoled

  • By: Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Length: 19 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 36
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 33
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 34

By the Nobel Prize-winning author of The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go. Ryder, a renowned pianist, arrives in a Central European city he cannot identify for a concert he cannot remember agreeing to give. But then as he traverses a landscape by turns eerie and comical - and always strangely malleable, as a dream might be - he comes steadily to realise he is facing the most crucial performance of his life.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Couldn’t finish

  • By Suzi Telford on 18-02-18

Narcissism, ADD, Kafka, and regret intertwined

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

Reviewed: 24-03-18

Recent to audible, this was written decades ago.

Beautifully written and impressively narrated, but frustrating as one gets sucked into a scenario in which the protagonist, Ryder, a famed pianist, is both victim and fool.

His narcissism leads him astray; his attention deficit disorder (not mentioned but certainly appears to be the case!) make it difficult for him to stay on task, and despite narrowing time frames and increasingly important decisions he is unable to perform ethically or effectively. Kafka seems omni-present, it is all somehow absurd and we never determine what exactly is going on, why, or who are the winners and losers and in whose interests they are operating. Ryder is not a likeable person and his return to the town of his youth to share his celebrity is clearly manipulated by local elites and others each wanting to a portion of his fame and time for often unclear but seemingly devious agendas.

As with much of Ishiguro's writing, the relationships are interesting and unfold in their complexity; and tales of regret and what might have been. weave their way across the pages.

A compelling read, frustratingly entertaining ... Somehow I still recommend it!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Nepal - Culture Smart!

  • The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture
  • By: Tessa Feller
  • Narrated by: Anna Bentinck
  • Length: 4 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 4
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 4
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 4

Nepal - Culture Smart! provides essential information, ensuring that you arrive at your destination aware of basic manners, common courtesies, and sensitive issues. These concise guides tell you what to expect, how to behave, and how to establish a rapport with your hosts. This inside knowledge will enable you to steer clear of embarrassing gaffes and mistakes, feel confident in unfamiliar situations, and develop trust, friendships, and successful business relationships.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Informative but somewhat shallow

  • By Anthony on 14-03-18

Informative but somewhat shallow

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

Reviewed: 14-03-18

Useful quick read or listen if you are visiting Nepal. Helps understand what a wonderful country this is with its diverse cultures and communities. Always useful to get some quick tips to help navigate places and people, but having visited Nepal several times I wanted more depth to understand issues of ethnicity, caste, politics, history... even the food, natural environment. This book is pitched at first time visitors and tourists, and certainly covers some useful background, information, and insights.

Such guides need to be kept pretty up-to-date to serve this purpose... hope there are plans to do so @audible and associated publishers.

  • Fire and Fury

  • By: Michael Wolff
  • Narrated by: Michael Wolff, Holter Graham
  • Length: 11 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,772
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,459
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,440

The first nine months of Donald Trump's term were stormy, outrageous - and absolutely mesmerising. Now, thanks to his deep access to the West Wing, best-selling author Michael Wolff tells the riveting story of how Trump launched a tenure as volatile and fiery as the man himself. In this explosive audiobook, Wolff provides a wealth of new details about the chaos in the Oval Office.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • A Whirl of Staff and Ideas

  • By Ricci on 22-03-18

How dysfunctional can Trump's White House be?

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

Reviewed: 19-02-18

The answer... as dysfunctional as one might expect, and much much more...

This book chronicles, from the inside of the White House, the people, relationships, utterances and tweets of Trump and his 'team'. The latter are a collection of people vying for power, attention and influence, and willing to stab each other in the back to do so. Wolf outlines the challenges of engaging a White House that contains sycophants, a few ''ádults' (late recruits...), a range of out-of-their-depth family members and others attempting to help maintain Trump in office and give his Presidency a semblance of normality and coherence. A difficult task by any measure!

The book offers an up-close encounter of so much that is so wrong and so dysfunctional that even those who have been critical since he threw his hat in the Republican ring, will close the book (indeed almost every page and certainly every chapter) wondering how the hell did it come to this? Perhaps therein lies the weakness of Fire and Fury - we gain great understanding of what happens in the White House and how it [does not] function, but we learn relatively little about how the American system threw up Trump nor what can be done to get rid of him.

Well worth a read if you want to exercise your shaking head and reflect on all this as just Year 1 with lots to worry about and some gleeful possibilities [bring them on!] still ahead...

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • City of Thorns

  • Nine Lives in the World's Largest Refugee Camp
  • By: Ben Rawlence
  • Narrated by: Thomas Judd
  • Length: 11 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 24
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 22
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 23

To the charity workers, Dadaab refugee camp is a humanitarian crisis; to the Kenyan government, it is a 'nursery for terrorists'; to the Western media, it is a dangerous no-go area; but to its half a million residents, it is their last resort. Situated hundreds of miles from any other settlement, in the midst of the inhospitable desert of Northern Kenya where only thorn bushes grow, Dadaab is a city like no other.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Insights into tough refugee life

  • By Anthony on 23-12-17

Insights into tough refugee life

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

Reviewed: 23-12-17

Insightful view of challenges facing refugees in Dadaab camp; home to over half a million people from central, eastern and Horn of Africa. Rawlence's book provides a way in to understanding day-to-day difficulties and offers the story behind a number of individuals resident in the camp.... how they got there, what they have done or have to do to survive, what and where they aspire to. Of value in understanding the human side to the complexities of forced migration and the roles of the many stakeholders operating in these environments.

  • Thank You for Being Late

  • An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations
  • By: Thomas L. Friedman
  • Narrated by: Mr Oliver Wyman
  • Length: 19 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 88
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 79
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 79

From the Pulitzer Prize winner and number one international best-selling author of The World Is Flat, an essential and entertaining field guide to thriving in the 21st century. We all sense it - something big is going on. You feel it in your workplace. You feel it when you talk to your children. You can't miss it when you read the newspapers or watch the news. Our lives are speeding up - and it is dizzying.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Beautiful book

  • By S K. on 28-08-17

Future needs: Technology, trust and social capital

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

Reviewed: 26-11-17

Excellent commentary, memoir, and analysis from leading New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. The book is filled with insights regarding technology, communication, accelerating change, and how to keep your cool. It highlights the importance of trust, social capital, community and social cohesion. It emphasises personal relationships and engagement and brings a sensitive focus to the the current period of accelerating globalisation and change. It's down-to-earth, genuine and empathetic. Well worth a listen.

  • The Book of Memory

  • By: Petina Gappah
  • Narrated by: Chipo Chung
  • Length: 8 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 40
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 37
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 35

Memory, the narrator of The Book of Memory, is an albino woman languishing in Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison in Harare, Zimbabwe, where she has been convicted of murder. As part of her appeal her lawyer insists that she write down what happened as she remembers it. As her story unfolds, Memory reveals that she has been convicted for the murder of her adoptive father. But did everything happen exactly as she remembers?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A slow-burner, but a real treat.

  • By bookylady on 28-08-16

A Book of Memory - Hardship & humour in Zimbabwe

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

Reviewed: 25-11-17

A beautifully read, lyrical, simultaneously humorous and hard fictional story from Zimbabwe.

Memory, a young albino woman, is on death row in a Zimbabwean prison. She has been accused of murdering her white, gay, adoptive father and awaits execution. Weaving to and fro, current and past, memory and fantasy, she narrates her story and that of the people with whom she interacts.

Much of this novel is beautifully written, with often humorous asides, based in part on misreading accents, which in the most part are well rendered by the excellent narration. An aside on names is hilarious as is an exchange among prisoners highlighting how misinterpretation of legal processes may arise from varying accents and mispronunciation. Petina Gappah's legal background sensitively underplays the serious implications that can, and no doubt do, arise.

A core theme is the experience of marginalisation - most of it portrayed through the eyes, thoughts and experiences of Memory. She is an albino girl brought up in a community seeking to make sense of, and explain, misfortune. It is a story of 'othering' and of resilience and of the challenge of personal agency in ever-changing circumstances.

Memory cannot let go of the day that determined the rest of her life... It started with an unusual trip to the town together, rare in itself, followed by treat after treat - whatever and however many ice-creams she wanted. This was followed by meeting a while man, seeing him pass a wad of notes to her parents, and watching her mother grab and stuff them into her bra. It ended with her parents walking away, and Memory left in the company of a white man who absorbs her into his well-off life. Like many in the community, the reader wonders how this came about, and ponders the relationship between Memory and Lloyd...

Accused of killing her adoptive father (an injustice), Memory relives segments of her life and what we thought we saw becomes increasingly fuzzy.

Zimbabwe - a most beautiful but troubled land - is evocatively presented. Without overemphasising corruption or dictatorship, they lurk in the background shaping the day-to-day hard lives of people. The story, however, focuses on how these lives intersect, justice and truth are pursued, and how memory and recollection intervene.