Cover art for How Not to Be Wrong

How Not to Be Wrong

52 ratings

Summary

The Freakonomics of math - a math-world superstar unveils the hidden beauty and logic of the world and puts its power in our hands. The math we learn in school can seem like a dull set of rules, laid down by the ancients and not to be questioned. In How Not to Be Wrong, Jordan Ellenberg shows us how terribly limiting this view is: Math isn’t confined to abstract incidents that never occur in real life, but rather touches everything we do—the whole world is shot through with it. Math allows us to see the hidden structures underneath the messy and chaotic surface of our world. It’s a science of not being wrong, hammered out by centuries of hard work and argument. Armed with the tools of mathematics, we can see through to the true meaning of information we take for granted: How early should you get to the airport? What does “public opinion” really represent? Why do tall parents have shorter children? Who really won Florida in 2000? And how likely are you, really, to develop cancer? How Not to Be Wrong presents the surprising revelations behind all of these questions and many more, using the mathematician’s method of analyzing life and exposing the hard-won insights of the academic community to the layman—minus the jargon. Ellenberg chases mathematical threads through a vast range of time and space, from the everyday to the cosmic, encountering, among other things, baseball, Reaganomics, daring lottery schemes, Voltaire, the replicability crisis in psychology, Italian Renaissance painting, artificial languages, the development of non-Euclidean geometry, the coming obesity apocalypse, Antonin Scalia’s views on crime and punishment, the psychology of slime molds, what Facebook can and can’t figure out about you, and the existence of God. Ellenberg pulls from history as well as from the latest theoretical developments to provide those not trained in math with the knowledge they need. Math, as Ellenberg says, is “an atomic-powered prosthesis that you attach to your common sense, vastly multiplying its reach and strength.” With the tools of mathematics in hand, you can understand the world in a deeper, more meaningful way. How Not to Be Wrong will show you how.

©2014 Jordan Ellenberg (P)2014 Penguin Audio

Available on Audible
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The Apostle

16 ratings

Summary

Every politician has a secret. And when the daughter of a politically connected family is kidnapped abroad, America's new president will agree to anything - even a deadly and ill-advised rescue plan - in order to keep his secret hidden. A new administration and a new approach to dealing with America's enemies have left covert counterterrorism operative Scot Harvath without a job. But when American doctor Julia Gallo is kidnapped in Afghanistan, the terms of her ransom leave the president with only one course of action. In a dangerous assignment that the United States government will deny any knowledge of, Scot Harvath must secretly infiltrate Kabul's notorious Policharki Prison and free the man the kidnappers demand as ransom -- al-Qaeda mastermind, Mustafa Khan. But when Harvath arrives, he quickly learns that there is more to the kidnapping than anyone dares to admit. And as the subterfuge is laid bare, Harvath must examine his own career of hunting down and killing terrorists, and ask himself if he has what it takes to help one of the world's worst go free. Brimming with the kind of ripped-from-the-headlines authenticity Brad Thor's internationally bestselling novels are known for, The Apostle doubles down on the blockbuster success of The Last Patriot and reaffirms Thor's status as the master of the political thriller.

©2009 Brad Thor (P)2009 Simon & Schuster

Length: 10 hrs and 24 mins
Available on Audible
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The Flying Troutmans

24 ratings

Summary

In this completely captivating book, Miriam Toews has created some of the most engaging characters in Canadian literature: Hattie, Logan and Thebes are bewildered, hopeful, angry, and most of all, absolutely alive. Full of richly skewed, richly funny detail, The Flying Troutmans is a uniquely affecting novel.  Days after being dumped by her boyfriend Marc in Paris - "he was heading off to an ashram and said we could communicate telepathically" - Hattie hears her sister Min has been checked into a psychiatric hospital, and finds herself flying back to Winnipeg to take care of Thebes and Logan, her niece and nephew. Not knowing what else to do, she loads the kids, a cooler, and a pile of CDs into their van and they set out on a road trip in search of the children's long-lost father, Cherkis. In part because no one has any good idea where Cherkis is, the traveling matters more than the destination. On their wayward, eventful journey down to North Dakota and beyond, the Troutmans stay at scary motels, meet helpful hippies, and try to ignore the threatening noises coming from under the hood of their van. Eleven-year-old Thebes spends her time making huge novelty cheques with arts and crafts supplies in the back, and won't wash, no matter how wild and matted her purple hair gets; she forgot to pack any clothes. Four years older, Logan carves phrases like "Fear Yourself" into the dashboard, and repeatedly disappears in the middle of the night to play basketball; he's in love, he says, with New York Times columnist Deborah Solomon. Meanwhile, Min can't be reached at the hospital, and, more than once, Hattie calls Marc in tears. But though it might seem like an escape from crisis into chaos, this journey is also desperately necessary, a chance for an accidental family to accept, understand or at least find their way through overwhelming times. From interwoven memories and scenes from the past, we learn much more about them: how Min got so sick, why Cherkis left home, why Hattie went to Paris, and what made Thebes and Logan who they are today.

©2008 Miriam Toews (P)2018 Vintage Canada

Narrator: Amy Rutherford
Author: Miriam Toews
Length: 6 hrs and 22 mins
Available on Audible
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Summer of My Amazing Luck

11 ratings

Summary

A novel by the Governor General’s Literary Award-winning author of A Complicated Kindness

Lucy Van Alstyne always thought she’d grow up to become a forest ranger. Instead, at the age of 18, she’s found herself with quite a different job title: single mother on the dole. As for the father of her nine-month-old son, Dillinger, well...it could be any of number of guys.

At the Have-a-Life housing project - aptly nicknamed Half-a-Life by those who call it home - Lucy meets Lish, a zany and exuberant woman whose idea of fashion is a black beret with a big silver spider brooch stuck on it. Lish is the mother of four daughters, two by a man on welfare himself and twins from a one-week stand with a fire-eating busker who stole her heart - and her wallet.

Living on the dole isn’t a walk in the park for Lucy and Lish. Dinner almost always consists of noodles. Transportation means pushing a crappy stroller through the rain. Then there are the condescending welfare agents with their dreaded surprise inspections. And just across the street is Serenity Place, another housing project with which Half-a-Life is engaged in a full-on feud. When the women aren’t busy snitching on each other, they’re spreading rumours - or plotting elaborate acts of revenge.

In the middle of a mosquito-infested rainy season, Lish and Lucy decide to escape the craziness of Half-a-Life by taking to the road. In a van held together with coat-hangers and electrical tape and crammed to the hilt with kids and toys, they set off to Colorado in search of Lish’s lost love and the father of her twins. Whether they’ll find him is questionable, but the down-and-out adventure helps Lucy realize that this just may be the summer of her amazing luck.

Miriam Toews’s debut novel, Summer of My Amazing Luck opens our eyes to a social class rarely captured in fiction. At once hilarious and heartbreaking, it is inhabited by an unforgettable and poignant group of characters. Shortlisted for both the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award and for the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour, it also earned Miriam the John Hirsch Award for the Most Promising Manitoba Writer.

©2009 Miriam Toews (P)2018 Vintage Canada

Narrator: Amy Rutherford
Author: Miriam Toews
Length: 7 hrs and 5 mins
Available on Audible
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Irma Voth

6 ratings

Summary

From the award-winning author of A Complicated Kindness comes a heart-wrenching yet wryly funny story about setting out on the road to self-discovery, and finding the strength to survive in the face of immeasurable loss. Nineteen-year-old Irma Voth lives in a Mennonite community in northern Mexico, surrounded by desert and both physically and culturally isolated from the surrounding towns and cities. It’s been six years since her family up and left Canada to escape the prying eyes of the government and preserve their religious freedom, but Irma still misses the minor freedoms she had in their small town. She even misses the cold. This new life has not been an easy one, and Irma finds herself deserted by her husband of one year, who has left to pursue a life of drug-running, instead of working her family’s farm. The most devastating blow for Irma is that he didn’t take her with him, take her away, so now she’s left to live under her father’s domineering rule alone. Things change for Irma when a film crew moves into the empty house next door. They’ve come to make a movie about the Mennonite community, and have made a deal with Irma’s father to stay on their land. The director enlists Irma to work for them as a translator, as she can speak not only Spanish and English but Plattdeutsch, or Low German, the language of her people. At first bemused by the ragged and absurd crewmembers, Irma comes to embrace the passion and creative freedom of their world - but in doing so brings on the wrath of her father, who is determined to keep her from it at all costs. When Irma’s 13-year-old sister Aggie begins to come by and spend time with the crew, their father is sent over the edge with rage, and Irma is forced to make a hard decision to save not only herself, but her younger sister, and to break the dark chain of violence holding her family. The girls flee to the capital, Mexico City, not knowing where they’ll find food or shelter, let alone build a life, but knowing for the first time that they are free to make that choice. And even as they begin to understand the truth of the tragedy that has their family in its grip, Irma and Aggie use their love as a source of strength to help each other move on from their past lives and work toward a future that can truly become anything they want it to be.

©2011 Miriam Toews (P)2018 Vintage Canada

Narrator: Amy Rutherford
Author: Miriam Toews
Length: 6 hrs and 17 mins
Available on Audible
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Girls Need Not Apply

24 ratings

Summary

This inspiring, compelling debut memoir chronicles the experiences of a female captain serving in the Canadian Armed Forces, and her journey to make space for herself in a traditionally masculine world. 

At 18 years old, Kelly Thompson enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces. Despite growing up in a military family - she would, in fact, be a fourth-generation soldier - she couldn't shake the feeling that she didn't belong.

From the moment she arrives for basic training at a Quebec military base, a young woman more interested in writing than weaponry, she quickly realizes that her conception of what being a soldier means, forged from a desire to serve her country after the 9/11 attacks, isn't entirely accurate. A career as a female officer will involve navigating a masculinized culture and coming to grips with her burgeoning feminism.

In this compulsively listenable memoir, Thompson writes with wit and honesty about her own development as a woman and a soldier, unsparingly highlighting truths about her time in the military. In sharply crafted prose, she chronicles the frequent sexism and misogyny she encounters both in training and later in the workplace, and explores her own feelings of pride and loyalty to the Forces, and a family legacy of PTSD, all while searching for an artistic identity in a career that demands conformity. When she sustains a career-altering injury, Thompson fearlessly re-examines her identity as a soldier.

Girls Need Not Apply is a refreshingly honest story of conviction, determination, and empowerment, and a bit of a love story, too.

©2019 Kelly S. Thompson (P)2019 McClelland & Stewart

Narrator: Amy Rutherford
Length: 9 hrs and 48 mins
Available on Audible