Author: Alfie Kohn
Title: The Myth of the Spoiled Child: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom about Children and Parenting
Narrator: Alfie Kohn
Publication Info:Tantor Audio (2014)
Summary/Review: The current generation of children are often described by the media, politicians, and even parents as entitled and narcissistic. Alfie Kohn shows through his research that 1. similar statements have been applied to children for centuries, 2. there’s no evidence to show that these statements are true for any generation, and 3. strategies and policies for parenting and education formed by a belief that children are particularly “spoiled” today are actually harmful to children. This is a fascinating book that offers a lot of research that shows that parents and teachers are actually too controlling. There’s an idea that life is all about competition and the kids “better get used to it now” which forces children to experience everything as a competition rather than a learning experience. As Kohn succinctly states “Competition undermines achievement,” which is something our leaders and policy makers fail to understand especially when it comes to children. Definitely a must-read book!
Recommended books: Reign of Error by Diane Ravitch, Huck’s Raft: A History of American Childhood by Steven Mintz, and Free Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy.
Posts Tagged ‘Audiobooks’
Author: Alfie Kohn
Another sprawling, epic novel by John Irving. I haven’t read one in a long time. This one tells the story of Dominic, the cook at a logging camp, and his son Daniel, who grows up to be an author. Irving frequently refers to them as the Cook and the Writer. After an accidental murder at the camp, the father and son are forced to flee and the novel follows them throughout their lives from Boston’s North End to Iowa City to Brattleboro, VT and finally to Toronto. All through this time they keep in touch with the gruff logger Ketchum, who looks out for their pursuer. Along the way there are common Irving themes of coming of age, sexuality, unhappy relationships, and unpleasant people. Daniel’s life as an author strongly parallels Irvings, and Irving seems to be trolling his readers to make one think that this is autobiographical. But there’s also a lot of insight into creativity and the writing process as well. Despite being the putative central character, Daniel isn’t particularly interesting or well-defined (perhaps purposefully). Dominic and Ketchum and various minor characters provide a number of entertaining scenes and tangents. Overall this is an enjoyable novel, but like many of Irving’s works could deal with some heavy pruning and more of a sense of purpose.
Title: Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt
Narrator: Dylan Baker
Publication Info: Simon & Schuster Audio (2014)
Previously read by same author: Moneyball : the art of winning an unfair game, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, and The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game.
This book focuses on the contemporary financial trading practices of high frequency traders or “flash traders” seeking to gain advantage in fractions of seconds by having more direct cable connections to the markets. This is emphasized by an effort to lay a cable from to New York to Chicago through the mountains of Pennsylvania as directly as possible. Many financial intermediaries are taking advantage of the high frequency trading to basically rip-off their customers and by proxy making the whole financial system susceptible to collapse. The heroes of the book are the quirky iconoclasts who create the Investors Exchanges (IEX) to counteract this effect. Lewis can get bogged down in technical details and traders’ talk at times, but mostly keeps things moving along to be entertaining and informative
Author: Erik Larson
Title: In the Garden of the Beast
Narrator: Stephen Hoye
Publication Info: New York : Random House Audio : Books on Tape, p2011.
Books Read by Same Author: The Devil in the White City and Isaac’s Storm
This history and biography book explores the rise of the Third Reich from the perspective of one American family. Specifically that is the family of William E. Dodd, appointed to be ambassador to Germany by Franklin D. Roosevelt. Dodd and his adult daughter Martha are the main characters of the book. Dodd initially is supportive of Hitler and shares in some antisemitic beliefs. Martha, recently separated from her husband, enjoys the social life of Berlin and liaisons with several men including Soviet intelligence operative Boris Vinogradov. Over time the Dodd’s became more aware of the violence and oppression of the Nazi state, and the ambassador begins to become more vocal in calling on the United States to oppose Hitler’s regime (which in isolationist America proves to be an unpopular stance). This is an uncomfortable book to read. The Dodd’s are not very likable people, but then they’re contrasted with Nazis. No one comes off looking good. Still this is an interesting glimpse into a troubling time in history.
This fantasy novel set in the magical land of Earthsea introduces Ged, a boy whose magical ability shines in a society with numerous witches and practitioners of magic. After saving his village from an attack, Ged is taken as apprentice by a wise wizard and then sent to wizarding school. Despite his talent and proclamations that he may become the greatest wizard, Ged is headstrong and impatient and unleashes an evil shadow that follows him around and tries to possess his body. Ged thus has to face many quests and challenges to learn how to face down the shadow creature and understand himself. It’s a good novel, and apparently pretty influential as many of the tropes and ideas are picked up by other fantasy novels. Harlan Ellison’s reading of the audiobook is a dynamic performance that captures Ged’s anger and uncertainty.
Author: Eoin Colfer
Title: Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian
Narrator: Nathaniel Parker
Publication Info: New York : Listening Library, p2012.
The final installment in the Artemis Fowl series or so it would seem. Opal Koboi has her biggest take over the world plot, Mulch Diggums has his biggest flatulence, and Artemis has his ultimate moment of genius. And sacrifice. Colfer’s humor stands out as Koboi raises an army with her minions occupying the bodies of the dead with comic results. It’s a nice distraction from the grim reality of a story that puts the entire world in peril. This is a strong finale the series.
The penultimate volume in the Artemis Fowl series has the titular hero suffering the titular disease. The Atlantis Complex is alleged to be brought on by feelings of guilt in recovering criminals leading to symptoms such as paranoia and multiple personality disorder. This means of course that Artemis’ alternate personality emerges at the worst possible time leading to some chuckles, although I think Colfer overplays the joke. The story has a different villain than Opal Koboi and this leads to some interesting variations in the adventure. Also, Foaly is on the scene with Artemis, Holly, Mulch, & Butler making for a nice twist as well. All in all, a solid story and an addition to the ongoing story arc of the series. I look forward to reading the final installment.