Audiobooks – August 2022

The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won by Victor Davis Hanson

Compares the Allied and Axis powers in just about every aspect one by one and in the majority find the Allies ahead. Strongly recommend to those interested in WW2. 5/5

The Man with the Golden Gun by Ian Fleming

The final Bond novel by Fleming. Bond investigates gangsters and spies in Jamaica. Readable but not the best in the series. 3/5

The Hammer of God by Arthur C. Clarke

A Hard Core SciFi story set in the year 2109 involving an asteroid threatening to hit earth and the life of captain of the ship sent to stop it. Fans of Clarke and similar authors will enjoy 3/5

More Money Than God: Hedge Funds and the Making of the New Elite by Sebastian Mallaby

A history of Hedge Funds in the US up to just after the 2008 crash. Profiles of people and companies at each stage. Interesting and easy to follow. 3/5

My Audiobook Scoring System

  • 5/5 = Brilliant, top 5 book of the year
  • 4/5 = Above average, strongly recommend
  • 3/5 = Average. in the middle 70% of books I read
  • 2/5 = Disappointing
  • 1/5 = Did not like at all

Share

Audiobooks – July 2022

The Library: A Fragile History by Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen

A general history of the library. Main problems are a bit verbose and skipping Asia but enough to keep my interest. 3/5

Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgement by Daniel Kahneman

Wasn’t able to finish this. Just kept repeating the same thing over and over again. Forgot the “Pop” in “Popular social science”. Just read a summary like the linked Guardian review. 2/5

Who Can Hold the Sea: The U.S. Navy in the Cold War 1945-1960 by James D. Hornfischer

What it says on the description. Covering Nuclear power and weapons, the Revolt of the Admirals the early Cold war and Korea. 3/5

Inside the Star Wars Empire: A Memoir by Bill Kimberlin

Some ILM stories but less than what some people might expect and mixed in with other things. Definitely not film-by-film coverage. But still fun. 3/5

Eccentric Orbits: The Iridium Story by John Bloom

Story of the Space-based phone system. The books concentrates on the complex deals to save it after it’s original failure and Motorola’s plan to de-orbit it. 3/5

The Accidental Scientist: The Role of Chance and Luck in Scientific Discovery by Graeme Donald

A short book of short chapters covering various stories of scientific discovery. Fun Breezy read. 3/5

My Audiobook Scoring System

  • 5/5 = Brilliant, top 5 book of the year
  • 4/5 = Above average, strongly recommend
  • 3/5 = Average. in the middle 70% of books I read
  • 2/5 = Disappointing
  • 1/5 = Did not like at all
Share

Audiobooks – June 2022

Binge Times: Inside Hollywood’s Furious Billion-Dollar Battle to Take Down Netflix by Dade Hayes, Dawn Chmielewski

An account of the last 5 years of the streaming wars as multiple new services were launched. Tries to cover most of the main US services and how they responded to the threat of Netflix. 3/5

Master of the Senate by Robert A. Caro

3rd Volume of Caro’s biography of Lyndon Johnson covering 1949-1960. Large sections on Johnson gaining control of the Senate, the Civil Rights Act of 1957 and 1956 Democratic presidential nomination. 4/5

Write It All Down: How To Put Your Life on the Page by Cathy Rentzenbrink

A short book about who to write a memoir as well as general advice about writing (especially a book). Interesting and nice to listen to. 3/5

My Audiobook Scoring System

  • 5/5 = Brilliant, top 5 book of the year
  • 4/5 = Above average, strongly recommend
  • 3/5 = Average. in the middle 70% of books I read
  • 2/5 = Disappointing
  • 1/5 = Did not like at all
Share

Audiobooks – May 2022

The Penguin History of New Zealand by Michael King

The definitive single volume NZ History book. Publish in 2003 it is still relatively up-to-date. Designed for the general reader, easy to follow and fairly comprehensive. 4/5

Seeing like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed by James C. Scott

A study of ways governments has forced change on their population for the convenience of the state rather than the people. eg forced resettlement. 3/5

Driven: The Race to Create the Autonomous Car by Alex Davies

The story of the Autonomous car industry. Mainly framed around the DARPA Grand Challenge races and disgraced engineer Anthony Levandowski. Pretty good. 3/5

Transatlantic Television Drama: Industries, Programs, and Fans Edited by Hills, Hilmes, & Pearson

A series of semi-academic articles on the exchanges of Television programmes between the US and UK. Felt like 30% introductions but some good bits. 3/5

The Hero Code: Lessons Learned From Lives Well Lived by William H. McRaven

10 short chapters each on a specific virtue & a story to illustrate it. Courage, Humility, Sacrifice, Integrity, Compassion, Perseverance, Duty, Hope, Humor, and Forgiveness. 3/5

You Only Live Twice by Ian Fleming

After falling into a funk Bond is sent to Japan on a difficult mission. I felt this didn’t age very well and was below average for the Bond books. 3/5

My Audiobook Scoring System

  • 5/5 = Brilliant, top 5 book of the year
  • 4/5 = Above average, strongly recommend
  • 3/5 = Average. in the middle 70% of books I read
  • 2/5 = Disappointing
  • 1/5 = Did not like at all
Share

Audiobooks – April 2022

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service by Ian Fleming

Bond tracks Blofeld to a Swiss hideout. He infiltrates it and must discover and foil Blofeld’s plot. A romantic subplot adds interest. 3/5

The years of Lyndon Johnson 2 – Means of Ascent by Robert Caro

LBJ dodges the war, makes serious money from radio stations and steals the 1948 Senate Primary. Easy to follow and fascinating. 4/5

Blood, Sweat & Chrome: The Wild and True Story of Mad Max: Fury Road by Kyle Buchanan

The book is 90% interviews and talks to a wide range of people involved with the movie. A wealth of interesting stories. 4/5

Vaxxers: The Inside Story of the Oxford AstraZeneca Vaccine and the Race Against the Virus by Sarah Gilbert and Catherine Green

Mainly covering early 2020 to mid-2021, Each author writes alternating chapters covering the development and rollout of the vaccine. 3/5

Becoming Trader Joe: How I Did Business My Way and Still Beat the Big Guys by Joe Coulombe

A story of the author taking the chain through various stages. Keys ways they did business compared to other firms and stayed profitable. 4/5

How Innovation Works: And Why It Flourishes in Freedom by Matt Ridley

Examples of how innovation works in the real world followed by the characteristics of innovation, how to promote it, and how it can go wrong. 4/5


My Audiobook Scoring System

  • 5/5 = Brilliant, top 5 book of the year
  • 4/5 = Above average, strongly recommend
  • 3/5 = Average. in the middle 70% of books I read
  • 2/5 = Disappointing
  • 1/5 = Did not like at all
Share

Audiobooks – March 2021

The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute
by Zac Bissonnette

The toys, the bubble and the crazy guy behind it all. Fun roller-coaster of a read. Second review. 4/5

Overpaid, Oversexed and Over There: How a Few Skinny Brits with Bad Teeth Rocked America by David Hepworth

A bunch of amusing stories and observations of the British Invasion and it’s followups. I love Hepworth’s style but your mileage may vary. 3/5

This is Not Normal: The Politics of Everyday Expectations by Cass R. Sunstein

A fairly short book that packs some interesting ideas. Mainly concentrating how societal norms change. Worth a read. 4/5

Post Wall, Post Square: Rebuilding the World after 1989 by Kristina Spohr

An analysis of the upheavals of 1989 and the 3 years that followed them. Especially following the actions of Bush, Gorbachev and Kohl, it is mostly a history of the leaders and their policies. 3/5

A Naturalist at Large: The Best Essays of Bernd Heinrich by Bernd Heinrich

Around 35 short ( main around 10-20 minutes ) essays on plants, insects and birds. A delight to listen to. 4/5

My Audiobook Scoring System

  • 5/5 = Brilliant, top 5 book of the year
  • 4/5 = Above average, strongly recommend
  • 3/5 = Average. in the middle 70% of books I read
  • 2/5 = Disappointing
  • 1/5 = Did not like at all
Share

Audiobooks – February 2022

No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram by Sarah Frier

A fairly straight story about the company, lots of fun anecdotes. A little biased towards founder Kevin Systrom, probably due to more access to him (and none to Zuckerberg). 3/5

A Walk Around the Block: Stoplight Secrets, Mischievous Squirrels, Manhole Mysteries & Other Stuff You See Every Day (And Know Nothing About) by Spike Calsen

Short chapters about various bits of infrastructure and the people who manage them. Not huge amounts of detail but a few gun facts on each. An okay quick listen. 3/5

Yeager: An Autobiography by Chuck Yeager

A well written account of an aviation legend’s life. Interesting stories of World War 2 service, test pilot and other parts of his career and life. 4/5

The Spy Who Loved Me by Ian Fleming

A first person account by a young women. Fleeing some unfortunately love affairs via a road trip she meets Gangsters and James Bond. Different feel from most Bond books. 3/5

The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson

After a heat-wave kills 20 million in India. A UN Agency (The head of which is the main character) and others start getting serious to reverse climate change. Interesting and engaging. 4/5

The years of Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power by Robert Caro

The first volume of the series covers Johnson from birth through his unsuccessful bid for a Senate seat in 1941. Detailed, entertaining and easy to follow. 4/5

My Audiobook Scoring System

  • 5/5 = Brilliant, top 5 book of the year
  • 4/5 = Above average, strongly recommend
  • 3/5 = Average. in the middle 70% of books I read
  • 2/5 = Disappointing
  • 1/5 = Did not like at all
Share

Audiobooks – January 2022

Termination Shock by Neal Stephenson

In the near future, a Texas billionaire starts a geoengineering project to counteract global warming. International intrigue results. Similar feel to his other books. 4/5

An Economist walks into a Brothel: And Other Unexpected Places to Understand Risk by Allison Schrager

Examples of how people in unusual situations handle risk and how you can apply it to your life. Interesting and useful. 4/5 – Accidental reread from July 2020.

The Devil’s Candy: The Bonfire of the Vanities Goes to Hollywood by Julie Salamon

A start-to-finish tale of the making of the 1990 big-budget Hollywood bomb. The writer embedded in the production and talked to just about everyone from the director down. fascinating amount of behind-the-scenes detail and insight into people making the film from the director down. 4/5

Leonardo da Vinci: The Biography by Walter Isaacson

Covering what little we know of his life but with analysis of his major works and notebooks. Helps if you have the PDF with all the pictures but listenable if not. 3/5

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Thought I’d try this new version. I think I still prefer Rob Inglis. My general feelings are:

Pro: He does distinct voices for each character and generally good ones. The voice are influenced by actors in the movies.
Con: His voice is a little indistinct. Not to bad since he’s an actor but separate words are not always clear. He’s not the best with the songs/poems, I’ve heard similar about his LOTR presentation. 4/5

Footprints in the Dust: The Epic Voyages of Apollo, 1969-1975 edited by Colin Burgess.

Covering all Apollo, Skylab, Apollo-Soyuz and Soviet programs. Mostly tries to take different angles from other books so some new stuff even if you’ve read a few of them. 3/5

My Audiobook Scoring System

  • 5/5 = Brilliant, top 5 book of the year
  • 4/5 = Above average, strongly recommend
  • 3/5 = Average. in the middle 70% of books I read
  • 2/5 = Disappointing
  • 1/5 = Did not like at all

Share

Audiobooks – December 2021

How Smart Machines Think by Sean Gerrish

An introduction to Machine learning, covering advances of the last 10 years or so via stories about self-driving cars, the Netflix prize etc. 3/5

Harrier 809: Britain’s Legendary Jump Jet and the Untold Story of the Falklands War by Rowland White

Covering the Sea Harrier’s part in the Falkland’s as well as other parts of the air war like operations in Chile and Argentinian units. Well research and written. 4/5

Caroline: Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller

A retelling of Little House on the Prairie from the perspective of Caroline Ingalls. Interesting re-reading events though an adult’s eyes. Second external review. 3/5

My Adventurous Life by Dick Smith

Autobiography by Australian Entrepreneur and Adventurer. Well packed with interesting stories of both business and other endeavors. 3/5

Nuclear Folly: A History of the Cuban Missile Crisis by Serhii Plokhy

Draws on Soviet and Ukrainian sources to give more details from the Russian side than previous books. Emphasizes the role of luck as both sides misread the other. 3/5

999 – My Life on the Frontline of the Ambulance Service by Dan Farnworth

Stories from the author’s career plus their personal struggles and advocacy for better mental-health support for Ambulance officers. 3/5

The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race by Walter Isaacson

As well as profiling Doudna it covers others in the field as well as the technology. Some early responses to the Covid19 pandemic. 3/5

Thunderball by Ian Fleming

James Bond travels to a Health Camp(!) and then to the Bahamas to investigate stolen Nuclear Weapons and Blackmail. Usual action ensues 3/5

See also: Top Audiobooks I’ve listened to

My Audiobook Scoring System

  • 5/5 = Brilliant, top 5 book of the year
  • 4/5 = Above average, strongly recommend
  • 3/5 = Average. in the middle 70% of books I read
  • 2/5 = Disappointing
  • 1/5 = Did not like at all

Share

Donations 2021

Each year I do the majority of my Charity donations in early December (just after my birthday) spread over a few days (so as not to get my credit card suspended).

In 2021 I cut down donations to random open source projects but donated $100 each to The Software Freedom Conservancy and Software in the Public Interest.

I do a blog post about it to hopefully inspire others. See: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015

All amounts this year are in $US unless otherwise stated

General Charities

My main donations was $750 to Givewell (to their Maximum Impact Fund). Once again I’m happy that Givewell make efficient use of money donated. I decided this year to give a higher proportion of my giving to them than last year.

Software and Internet Infrastructure Projects

$100 each to the Software Freedom Conservancy and Software in the Public Interest . Money not attached to any specific project.

$51 to the Internet Archive
$25 to Let’s Encrypt

Others including content creators

I donated $103 to Signum University to cover Corey Olsen’s Exploring the Lord of the Rings series plus other stuff I listen to that they put out.

I paid $100 to be a supporter of NZ News site The Spinoff

Patreon

I support a number of creators via Patreon

Share