Audiobooks – May 2024

Oscar Wars: A History of Hollywood in Gold, Sweat, and Tears by Michael Schulman

The evolution of the awards sprinkled with lots of stories of campaigns and shows in a changing Hollywood. A fun read. 4/5

The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires by Tim Wu

A chronicle of the America’s Radio, Phone, Film and TV industries and how they all ended up as monopolies or cartels. 4/5

Nuclear War: A Scenario by Annie Jacobsen

A minute by minute account of a present-day nuclear war with other chapters explaining background to what is happening. Pretty good 4/5

The Shadow Puppet by Georges Simenon

After a businessman is robbed and murdered, Maigret is convince one of the residents of an adjoining apartment building is responsible. 3/5

My 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
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Audiobooks – April 2024

The Time Traveller’s Guide to Regency Britain by Ian Mortimer

England 1789–1830 written as a guide on what a visitor would see and should know and do. Quite fun. 4/5

Charles III : The Inside Story by Robert Hardman

Covers the death of the Queen through to the first year of the new King’s reign. Semi-authorised. Recommended for those with interest in the topic. 4/5

Nuts and Bolts: Seven Small Inventions That Changed the World (in a Big Way) by Roma Agrawal

Cover the development of 7 inventions their spinoffs and refinements. An easy and interesting read. 4/5

My 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
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Audiobooks – March 2024

Surely You Can’t Be Serious: The True Story of Airplane! by David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker

Covers the career of the makers (ZAZ) and the long path to writing, pitching, pre-production and making of the classic movie. As well as reactions to it. 4/5

All these worlds by Dennis E Taylor

3rd book in Bobverse trilogy . Worth it if you liked the others. The Bobs deal with deaths of their human friends and most plots are wrapped up. 3/5

The Two-Penny Bar by Georges Simenon

Following a cold case Maigret gatecrashes the weekend gathering of a group of friends when one is unexpectedly murdered. Felt a little unrealistic at times. 3/5

The Car: The Rise and Fall of the Machine That Made the Modern World by Bryan Appleyard

A general history of the car with a bit of speculation about it’s future. A smooth and interesting read. 4/5

My 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
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Audiobooks – February 2024

Hollywood and the Movies of the Fifties: The Collapse of the Studio System, the Thrill of Cinerama, and the Invasion of the Ultimate Body Snatcher—Television by Foster Hirsch

Excellent. Highly recommend. 4/5

Flying Blind: The 737 MAX Tragedy and the Fall of Boeing by Peter Robinson

Covers the plane and the corporate culture at Boeing that lead to the failure. Well sourced and Interesting. 3/5

1177 B.C. The Year Civilization Collapsed by Eric H. Cline

An overview of the civilisations of Eastern Mediterranean before and possible causes of the Late Bronze Age collapse. 3/5

The Spice Must Flow: The Story of Dune, from Cult Novels to Visionary Sci-Fi Movies by Ryan Britt

Pretty good history of the books and TV/Movie adaptions including a little on the 1st Villeneuve movie. Fun with lots of quotes and seems well researched. 4/5

How to Fight a War by Mike Martin

Uses simple language it works though the complexity of modern warfare, addressed to an imaginary political leader. Recent enough to include lessons from Russian’s invasion of Ukraine. Highly recommend 5/5

My 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

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Audiobooks – January 2024

Valley of Genius: The Uncensored History of Silicon Valley (As Told by the Hackers, Founders, and Freaks Who Made It Boom) by Adam Fisher

Weaves around 500 interviews into stories of People and Companies. Well put together and a great read 4/5

Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning by Peter C. Brown

A review of scientifically prove learning techniques concentrating on what really works vs what feels good. Useful 3/5

The Downloaded by Robert J. Sawyer

Two very different groups of people are unfrozen into a post-apocalyptic Earth. A group of Astronauts and a group of Convicted Murderers. Good Sawyer story although a bit on the short side 3/5

How Infrastructure Works: Inside the Systems That Shape Our World by Deb Chachra

A tour of various pieces of Infrastructure that supports our everyday lives. Mostly an introduction but with some strong opinions on funding and sustainability. 3/5

Apollo 1: The Tragedy that put us on the Moon by Ryan S. Walters

Bios of the Astronauts and the US space programme leading up to the accident and various problems that made it inevitable. Good but not extremely detailed. 4/5

The Dancer at the Gai-Moulin by Georges Simenon

The plan by two wayward youths to rob a Belgian nightclub goes awry but how does it connect to a murdered man? Interesting story that avoids Maigret’s point of view. 3/5

My 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
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Audiobooks – December 2023

The Grand Banks Café by Georges Simenon

After an ill-fated voyager a ship’s captain is killed and Maigret is asked by a friend of the accused to investigate. 3/5

How to Educate a Citizen: The Power of Shared Knowledge to Unify a Nation by E. D. Hirsch Jr

The author argues for better structured teaching to improve education and citizenship. Controversial but seems backed by evidence. 3/5

The Heat Will Kill You First: Life and Death on a Scorched Planet by Jeff Goodell

A book about how Global Warming will make many areas unlivable & descriptions of recent heat events. Showing how the affects are here already. 4/5

How Music Got Free: The End of an Industry, the Turn of the Century, and the Patient Zero of Piracy by Stephen Witt.

The books follows a Music Exec, A CD Pirate and The Inventors of the mp3 though the overturning of the Music industry as music went online. 4/5

The Children’s Blizzard by David Laskin

The story of the January 1888 blizzard that killed 2-500 people on the US Great Planes. A mix of personal stories and overviews of the storm. 4/5

The Little Book of Exoplanets by Joshua N. Winn

A great book on histories of discoveries, various techniques, types of planets, planetary formation, etc. Great introduction to the field for interested armatures. 4/5

For We Are Many by Dennis E. Taylor

The 2nd Bobverse book. The Bobs try deal with Primitive Aliens, Hostile Advanced Aliens and Hostile humans. A fun listen 4/5

My 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
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AudioBooks – November 2023

Convoy escort commander by Sir Peter Gretton

A memoir of the author’s WW2 Naval service culminating commanding North Atlantic convey escort groups. Descriptions of shipboard life and battles. 3/5

Making It So: A Memoir by Patrick Stewart

A good autobiography of the actor’s personal and professional life. Lots of details of early life and career but more selective thereafter. Interesting throughout. 4/5

Moon Shot: The Inside Story of America’s Apollo Moon Landings by Alan Shepard, Deke Slayton & Jay Barbree

A fairly standard account of Apollo but with Shepard and Slayton adding some extra first-person accounts and insights. Skip the tacked-on chapter from 2009. 3/5

Grinding It Out: The making of McDonald’s by Ray Kroc

Autobiography of the McDonalds founder. The earliest bits of the book are probably the best but even later there are still a good mix of stories and advice. 3/5

We Are Legion (We Are Bob) by Dennis E. Taylor

A present-day nerd dies and is uploaded into computer hardware and is slated to be the controlling AI in an interstellar probe. Feels a bit like Andy Weir. Recommended. 4/5

The Longest Minute: The Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906 by Matthew J. Davenport

A detail account of the earthquake and fire, following participants and drawing our 100 years of sources and science. Great read. 4/5

My 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
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Audiobooks – October 2023

Paved Paradise: How Parking Explains the World by Henry Grabar

Parking, it’s history and economics, land use and zoning. A fun, accessible book that might be good introduction to those new to the topic. 3/5

American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin

The source of the recent film. Comprehensive although not straying far from the subject and an easy read. 4/5

How 1954 changed History by Michael Flamm

A short series of lectures about major (mainly US) events during 1954 from medicine to politics to popular culture. A nice quick read. 3/5

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull with Amy Wallace

A combination memoir, company history and management advice book. Works well for all 3. 4/5

My Rating 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
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Audiobooks – September 2023

When the heavens went on sale: The Misfits and Geniuses Racing to Put Space Within Reach by Ashlee Vance

Covers 4 rocket companies trying to follow SpaceX: Astra, Firefly, Planet Labs, and Rocket Labs. Good overview companies and their founders. 4/5

A Crime in Holland by Georges Simenon

Inspector Maigret travels to the Netherlands to assist a French professor who is suspected of murder. He is hampered by language barriers & lack of jurisdiction. 3/5

The Ultimate Engineer: The Remarkable Life of NASA’s Visionary Leader George M. Low by Richard Jurek

The biography of a senior NASA administrator during the Apollo era. Interesting although a bit less technical than most NASA books 3/5

Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War by Mark Harris

The story of five legendary Hollywood who joined the US military in World War 2 to make films for the armed services. Great book, definitely recommend. 4/5

  • 5/5 = Brilliant, top 5 book of the year
  • 4/5 = Above average, strongly recommend
  • 2/5 = Disappointing
  • 1/5 = Did not like at all
  • 3/5 = Average. in the middle 70% of books I read
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Audiobooks – August 2023

America, Empire Of Liberty by David Reynolds

90 * 15 minute episodes covering US history. A fun listen although obviously not a huge amount of detail. 3/5

The Night at the Crossroads by Georges Simenon

When a perplexing murder occurs outside Paris, Inspector Maigret arrives at an isolated intersection marked only by two houses and a dingy garage. 3/5

Outlive꞉ The Science and Art of Longevity by Peter Attia

Lots of advice on how to extend your [healthy] years well above the average. Plenty of good advice even if you can’t follow it all. 3/5

Tehanu by Ursula K. Le Guin

The forth Earthsea Book, it follows Tenar (from The Tombs of Atuan) with Ged as a secondary character. Less fantasy and action than the previous books. But still interesting. 3/5

My Rating 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
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