God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

Probably not one for your religion loving friend’s Christmas hamper, but if you want to know exactly why religion is a crock of crap, and poisons everything, dragging us into the stone ages and making the world worse for everyone, then this is book for you.

A bit difficult to follow in some places, there are so many references that the audiobook version is maybe not the best way to go. Enjoyed the first three chapters more than the fourth.

Be warned, may just make you hate the world and all the idiots in it.

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What If: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

I really like xkcd and the What If? section Randall does on there, so this being the same, but in book form seemed like an easy win.

There are lots of interesting scientific answers to questions that just must be asked, like “What would happen if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90% the speed of light?” or “If every person on Earth aimed a laser pointer at the Moon at the same time, would it change color?”

I enjoyed this one, but wouldn’t say it blew me away.

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Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography

Another day, another book finished.

I’ve been a fan of NPH since the Doogie Howser days, and with those Audible credits needing to go somewhere (picking books is hard!) I thought I’d see what he had to say for himself.

This is an autobiography in the vain of those Choose Your Own Adventure books that even I did as a kid. As an audiobook, that doesn’t work too well, so it’s been adapted to fit the medium… and it still doesn’t work too well. Not that I think it would work well in paper form either. It’s an interesting idea, and I can see why he wanted to do things a little differently, but the jumping around his timeline just becomes annoying. Descriptions of stories are mentioned that you don’t then hear for another 2 hours.

The content on the whole is strong, and Neil’s narration (I always prefer when autobiographies are narrated by the actual person) does make it a much more personal listening experience. There are many good stories, and lots of things I didn’t know. I would have liked to hear more about How I Met Your Mother because I was a fan of that show for so many years, and I can’t believe that nothing happened throughout the run that was book-worthy. Apart from the casting process and the description of a typical week on that show, nothing else is mentioned.

What comes across most is how down to earth he is. Despite the rocketing career trajectory he’s been on over the past 5-10 years, he comes across as a genuinely affable family man. So don’t expect a salacious tell all, just prepare to learn something about the life of somebody who would make a great dinner companion.

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Minecraft: The Unlikely Tale of Markus ‘Notch’ Persson and the Game that Changed Everything

Now that’s a long book title for a not particularly long book.

Finished this one last week. There’s no true revelations, and the co-operation with Notch himself seems minimal. I didn’t know much about his family history, so I did learn something from that, as well as the fact he was inspired by an existing game called Infiniminer. Neither of these things is likely to be news to anyone paying proper attention though.

But it was quick, it was easy, and I have to use those Audible credits somehow.

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The Martian

Every podcast I listen to was recommending this, so I picked up the audiobook a couple of months ago. It took me until a couple of weeks ago to actually start listening to it though, and what a shame I didn’t start listening to it earlier. This is a great book, and an especially well read audiobook.

I was concerned (knowing nothing about it going in) that it was going to diverge into some serious alien bullshit sci-fi, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover how it was actually the complete opposite, and was instead a distinctly human story. It is closer to Apollo 13 than Independence Day.

Highly recommended, and I look forward to the upcoming movie adaptation. It certainly plays out like one, although it is going to be a challenge to distill all the real science down to a two-hour cinema experience.

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