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Audiobook Review: “A Curious Mind,” by Brian Grazer (Read by Norbert Leo Butz)

22669010Genre: non-fiction; self-help; motivational

Story Review: I picked this audiobook up on a whim while on a trip to my local library.  The very first thing that attracted me to it was the title: A Curious Mind.  I think the word curiosity describes me.  Even when I’m disgusted or repulsed by something, curiosity drives me in further to explore.  I love to learn!  I love anything interesting.

I tend to gravitate toward non fiction when it comes to audiobooks. I don’t have as much time to listen to fiction on audio, I get bored when I do, and I envy the reader because I want to vocally create the story myself.  Non fiction is different.  If it’s interesting it has my attention from the beginning, and I’m an avid note-taker.

I had never heard of the name Brian Grazer (Hollywood film producer and self-called ‘storyteller’) before, but I was surprised that I was familiar with some of his films. Some of them include A Beautiful Mind, 24, and In the Heart of the Sea. I wasn’t really sure what his book would be about, but it turned out to detail Grazer’s technique on how he approaches life.  In a word, with curiosity.  It wouldn’t hurt any of us to take a few tips on staying open to learn new things, taking opportunities as we come across them, and being humble and grateful in this world.  There are so many interesting things to learn and people to meet!  I liked Grazer’s reasoning that curiosity leads to success, and his list of benefits stemming from curiosity.

I probably would have appreciated a little more practical advice on how to apply curiosity to one’s everyday life. Not all of us have the leverage or opportunities to meet the kinds of people Grazer has (which have included Princess Diana, Isaac Asimov, and Fidel Castro).  But I took six pages of notes, so I think I enjoyed the book!

Thoughts on the Narrator: The preface is read by Brian Grazer himself, but the rest of the book is narrated by Norbert Leo Butz.  I’d never heard of him, either, but his reading never lost me or bored me.  His voice was clear-cut and stage-practiced.  Since this was non-fiction, I have no idea how he would do performing fiction with voices and dramatic emotions.  I am very picky when it comes to narrators (another reason why I listen to so few), but his was a presentation I could well tolerate.

I think it would be hard to listen to this without at least a pen and notebook. This is for anyone who desires to achieve goals in life!

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2017 in Book Reviews

 

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Book Review: “The Club of Queer Trades,” by G. K. Chesterton

18834844Genre: mystery; classic

Plot Summary: [from Wikipedia:] “The Club of Queer Trades is a collection of stories by G. K. Chesterton first published in 1905.  Each story in the collection is centered on a person who is making his living by some novel and extraordinary means…  To gain admittance one must have invented a unique means of earning a living and the subsequent trade being the main source of income.”

My Book Review: If you’ve come to this blog post thinking you were going to read something on sexual identities, sorry to disappoint.  Once upon a time the word ‘queer’ was used to mean ‘peculiar’.  (I suppose ‘peculiar’ means something else now, too.  We’re so creative as to assign a double meaning to every word that already exists.)

There are ordinary men who lead ordinary lives with their chosen ordinary careers. And then there are others who take a different route in life.  They are the eccentrics, the colorful, and the crazy.  …Or are we, as ordinary citizens, the crazies?

If someone asked you to invent a whole new career that had never been thought of before, do you think you could do it and make money from it? Not merely recycling an existing career, substituting one thing for another, but actually coming up with a line of trade that’s never been done before.  It’s harder than it at first seems.  Of course, there would have to be a market for it.  And in the case of many of the extraordinary tradesmen in this collection of short stories, their careers are kept secret either because of the nature of their work, or because they would be thought insane.

As one would guess, this leads to many bizarre circumstances of ordinaries encountering these oddbodies (or geniuses) in society. The facts are there in front of their noses, but they can’t make sense of them.  It takes a remarkable fellow straddling the best of both worlds to make sense of the mysterious cases brought before him.  It makes for a curious read.

4b4f62db81ff23d0d0a99f7b0870ecddAlthough I usually dislike short story collections, I was glad this was written as it was. I didn’t particularly feel in the mood for a novel-length Chesterton at the time.  Sometimes he’s best taken in ‘doses’ because he can be so thick in his nonsense.  🙂  Really, G.K. was such a Mad Hatter!  Chesterton is never for those wanting a nice little story.  And it definitely isn’t my favorite book of all time.  But I enjoyed reading it anyway, because he picks you out of the mundane and makes you view the world at a different angle.  It gives the brain a good exercise!

I would say my favorite chapter story was “The Adventures of Major Brown”, in which a man is caught in an awfully good escapade, but doesn’t realize how much fun it was until it was over! How often are we the same in life?  We read novels for “escape” or to pseudo-live other “experiences”, but when some adventure happens in real life we are too overwhelmed to enjoy it in the moment.  Then of course, there’s the debate over modern-day video games.  Guys are so eager to play at fantasy games because it feeds something deep in their souls- the need for adventure.  But what happened to living real life?  Life is full of exciting experiences if only we accept its opportunities.

You can listen to the audiobook on Librivox by clicking here.

If you liked this book, I also recommend…:

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2017 in Book Reviews

 

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On Librivox: The Story of King Arthur and His Knights

I hope everyone had a great Easter!

Is anyone in the mood for great adventures full of mystical maidens and chivalrous knights?  Librivox just recently catalogued a new narrated project by the author Howard Pyle: The Story of King Arthur and His Knights. This is a story that never ceases to interest people because of it’s classic characters.  Along with some other great readers, I got to take part in reading these tales (Sections 22-24).  My sections particularly documented the downfall of Merlin.  I had originally hoped to narrate the whole story of Merlin but the commitment became a little daunting and I passed it on to reader dominictreas.  However, it was fun to have flexibility in reading different character voices which is something I feel I’m good at.

I am currently in the process of narrating and editing my first solo!  Title to be revealed in due time…

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2017 in LibriVox

 

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Librivox: “Imaginotions” short stories

“Imaginotions: Truthless Tales,” by Tudor Jenks has lately released on Librivox!  This collection of interesting short stories are not necessarily children’s stories, and not all have an obvious moral.  But I enjoyed reading two of them, in partnership with other volunteer readers.  The two I narrated were (14) Professor Chipmunk’s Surprising Adventure, and (19) The Statue.  I loved coming up with different voices for man and furry animals!  🙂

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2017 in LibriVox

 

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Librivox: Birds & All Nature

birdsandallnature_nov1899If you’re a bird watcher and/or nature lover, you may enjoy one of Librivox’s recently catalogued audiobooks in the public domain– “Birds & All Nature.” This particular project is Vol. 4 from 1899, of which I narrated a small section (#21).  Since I narrated the kids’ version of The Kalevala in an earlier project, I knew how to pronounce the mythological names of in “Bird Lore of the Ancient Finns.”  I don’t often narrate non-fiction, but I thought I’d try something new here.  Other sections are on various topics such as ‘The Why and Wherefore of the Color of Birds’ Eggs’; ‘Tea’; and ‘When Animals are Seasick’.  Hope you enjoy it!

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2017 in LibriVox

 

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Richard Adams’ Passing

12148Not long ago I discovered that Richard Adams, the author of “Watership Down”, passed away this last Christmas.  I was surprised, probably because I had assumed he’d died years ago.  His book is such a classic and dearly loved by many.  I remember staying up late at night while on vacation in Florida when I was fifteen, trying to convince myself to go to bed but too much on the edge of my seat to let go of reading about the adventures of rabbits.  I remember being a little bit afraid (and maybe this is why I was intrigued by it) that it was partly evil because of the worship of the sun-god El-Ahrairah and Fiver’s prophetic visions.  But I pressed on anyway because I couldn’t stop.  This is debatable, but I personally never liked the animated version.  It just didn’t look and feel like it did in my head.

I tried recommending the book to my sister years later, but she disdainfully said she didn’t want to read about “bunnies.”  Oh, how erroneous an assumption!  Only readers (and they must be lovers) of the story know that it is much more than about little fluffy animals.  As author Jeffrey Overstreet says about the novel, there is nothing ‘cute’ about it.  I am posting a link to a lecture piece Overstreet wrote and read at the 2016 Hutchmoot, which I thought was excellent.

I don’t think I grasped at fifteen how much of a spiritual story “Watership Down” is.  Probably one of those that is best not to be consciously appreciated in that sense, but is soaked in through the subtle influence of good storytelling.

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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The Return of thestorygirl!

little_book_profitable_tales_1701That’s right!  After a two year hiatus I, booklearner (aka thestorygirl on Librivox) am back in the ‘recording studio.’  This time, I have plans to stretch my recordings beyond anything I’ve done before.  There are many short projects currently in the works, but I plan to begin my first solo shortly.  Stay tuned!

In the meantime, here is a collaborative project I helped work on featuring many Librivox volunteers lending their reading voices to ‘profitable tales’ for children from the 1800’s.  I participated in two short stories in the project: The Mouse and the Moonbeam (loads of fun!), and The Robin and the Violet.  I hope you enjoy!

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2017 in LibriVox

 

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