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If you are on the fence about whether to buy this book, then skip it. Don't bother. The book contains very few insights.
If you were a fan of Gödel Escher Bach and are hoping for an equally insightful book, then look elsewhere. This book is nothing like that previous book.
I'm sold on the author's main thesis, that analogies underlie much of human thought, and that analogizing and categorization are the same process. I have no argument with that notion.
However, the author doesn't really investigate analogies or categorization very deeply, in spite of the book's length. What exactly is categorization? The authors never really investigate this question.
I'm not fan of narrator Sean Pratt. Pratt injects too much intonation and too much feeling into each sentence. Pratt wants each sentence to deliver a bit of drama. His sing-songy delivery distracts from the authors' train of reasoning, which develops over paragraphs and pages, and not in each sentence.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
I didn't listen to the whole book. I listened to about 9 hours of it. The book is clearly for lovers of words of which I'm not. I do like the authors overriding theme that we think by categorization through analogy. I just didn't want to sit through a countless stream of analogies and word play examples.
Some people (especially lovers of words) will love the book. I just prefer less examples and more facts.
(I bought this book because I absolutely loved the senior author's book, "Godel, Escher and Bach", and suspected that this word book would not be for me, but was willing to give it a try. I'm only writing this review to warn people who prefer science and mathematics type books that this book might not be suitable for you).
11 of 14 people found this review helpful
I love Hofstadter, but this book shouldn't have been written. First chapter is good example of my problem with this book. It labours painfully and embarrassingly over an idea that I (and I imagine most people) have had, and understood completely and utterly, in the past, namely that some words have different levels of granularity and that some languages have more granularity than others. Yes, we could use different verbs for when a man *eats* to when a woman *eats* or even different words depending on what is being eaten. But we just use "eat". So what?! But there's not even a discrete set of categories and it's in fact fluid? So what! Not interesting.
I am not sure if it is the narrator or the content but this book just drags and drags and drags on and on and on in the first few hours and has made no startling revelations to keep me on the edge of my seat waiting for the next chapter. Douglas Hofstadter seems like an interesting man but if I am going to listen for 33 hours, it needs to be way more entertaining than this. If I was doing a PhD in Analogy perhaps it would be riveting? But alas and despite being a listener with above average intelligence I am bored to death. Maybe it is fascinating later? I'll give it three stars just in case. Or perhaps this work is from a paradigm so alien in concept that my mind simply can't deal with it and I keep falling asleep listening to it. I will not be finishing the book and I am going to return it and get a credit. If I ever get insomnia...
2 of 6 people found this review helpful
This book starts well and I was enjoying a complex and interesting explanation of language and the development of concepts.
Unfortunately, the book contains incredibly long lists of examples for every concept, even the most obvious ones. For example, the chapter on acronyms contains a full 10 minute long (and it feels longer) list of well-known acronyms, when 3 or 4 examples would have sufficed. The narrator does his best, but there's little that can be done to make that material incredibly dull. Most chapters contain these incredibly long and monotonous lists of figures of speech, I found them totally distracting and annoying.
I honestly can't understand why these lists have been included, it really marrs what would otherwise have been an interesting listen.