Size Doesn’t Matter (204): Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy; The Written World; A World Without “Whom”

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (204): Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy; The Written World; A World Without “Whom”Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy by Tim Harford
Narrator: Roger Davis
Length: 9 hrs, 15 mins
Published by Penguin Audio on August 29, 2017
Genres: Nonfiction, Economics
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible

A lively history seen through the fifty inventions that shaped it most profoundly, by the bestselling author of The Undercover Economist and Messy.

Who thought up paper money? What was the secret element that made the Gutenberg printing press possible? And what is the connection between The Da Vinci Code and the collapse of Lehman Brothers?

Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy paints an epic picture of change in an intimate way by telling the stories of the tools, people, and ideas that had far-reaching consequences for all of us. From the plough to artificial intelligence, from Gillette’s disposable razor to IKEA’s Billy bookcase, bestselling author and Financial Times columnist Tim Harford recounts each invention’s own curious, surprising, and memorable story.

Invention by invention, Harford reflects on how we got here and where we might go next. He lays bare often unexpected connections: how the bar code undermined family corner stores, and why the gramophone widened inequality. In the process, he introduces characters who developed some of these inventions, profited from them, and were ruined by them, as he traces the principles that helped explain their transformative effects. The result is a wise and witty book of history, economics, and biography.

Before this, I’m pretty sure I’ve never read a book about economics (and I know I’ve been bored to tears by fantasies more focused on economics) for fun before. And, actually, Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy was a lot of fun.

Harford goes through fifty inventions that have had effects on the modern economy, be they good or terrible. It’s part economics and part history, and it was really, really interesting. Often, sadly, it’s the ones that worked to our detriment long term that were the most fascinating. The book’s short, funny, and concise with a lot of information that was new to me. There’s a little bit of repetition, but less than is often the case in these sorts of list-y nonfiction titles.

If you enjoy history or nonfiction presented in a highly engaging way, but with a bit less detail and focus, absolutely check out Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:


I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (204): Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy; The Written World; A World Without “Whom”The Written World: The Power of Stories to Shape People, History, Civilization by Martin Puchner
Narrator: Arthur Morey
Length: 12 hrs, 3 mins
Published by Random House Audio on October 24, 2017
Genres: Nonfiction, History
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible

The story of literature in 17 acts: how represntative works of literature had a powerful impact on history, from Alexander the Great to JK Rowling.

Great stories of people, history, and literature are combined to show how the power of the written word has influenced civilizations throughout time.

Puchner writes about Ezra and the Old Testament, a young woman in 9th century Japan who wrote the first novel, a wild story about Cervantes and pirates, how Benjamin Franklin became the father of print in the United States, and more.

Over this remarkable, engaging book, Puchner tells stories of creative people whose lives and beliefs led them to create groundbreaking foundational texts, and how those texts affected the world they were born into. Puchner offers a truly comprehensive and worldwide literary perspective, spanning time and cultures, from the first written story--The Epic of Gilgamesh--to the wordsmiths of Mande in Africa, to Harry Potter.

He also focuses on writing technologies, including the invention of paper, the printing press, and the modern book, and how they shaped not just writing, but religion and economy, too. Taking us from clay tablets and ancient scrolls, all the way to internet tablets and scrolling down on computers today, Puchner will change the way you view the past, present, and future of literature.

Listeners will find new discoveries about old texts they love, and new stories they hadn't known before, as Martin Puchner tells the story of literature in 17 acts: how stories shaped history, and gave us THE WRITTEN WORLD.

Though I don’t do a ton of nonfiction, I’ve been getting into nonfiction on audiobook, and obviously this was totally up my alley.

The Written World is less of a focused book on one subject as of a collection of essays on a similar topic. Puchner doesn’t focus solely on the written world, as the title would suggest. The subtitle is closer to the actual book, but there’s also a lot about nonfiction. He spends most of his time focusing in on one specific famous person and looking at the impact a writing had on them or that they had on writing (or both). I learned some cool new stuff from it, but the style wasn’t as engaging as some of the other nonfiction books I’ve listened to, and I didn’t come away with a strong take away.

Oh, also, there’s a lot of insert of Puchner in here. The book’s part travelogue almost, because he traveled to every place mentioned pretty much. I’m pretty sure he mentioned adding more of his experiences in at the advice of his editor, but personally I didn’t feel like these little snippets added a whole lot to the book. And I could definitely have done without his commentary on Harry Potter, which he also read just for the book. (He didn’t think it was bad, but it was kind of patronizing and I am not here for it.)

Very much worth a lesson but this one really didn’t stick with me.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:


Size Doesn’t Matter (204): Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy; The Written World; A World Without “Whom”A World Without "Whom" by Emmy J. Favilla
Published by Bloomsbury USA on November 14, 2017
Genres: Nonfiction
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book Depository

A World Without -Whom- is Eats, Shoots, & Leaves for the Internet age, and Emmy Favilla is the go-to expert of Internetspeak.

As language evolves faster than ever before, what is the future of -correct- style? With wry cleverness and an uncanny intuition for the possibilities of Internet-age expressiveness, Favilla argues that rather than try to preserve the sanctity of the written language as laid out by Strunk and White, we should be concerned with the larger issues of clarity, flexibility, playfulness, and political awareness. Her approach to the new rules--as practical as they are fun--will fascinate and delight believers and naysayers alike.

This engaging, provocative book about how language changes is as full of humor and charm as it is full of useful advice. Featuring uproarious emoji-strings, sidebars, quizzes, and style debates among the most lovable nerds of the Web copy world--of which Favilla is queen--A World Without -Whom- is essential for anyone invested in the future of words and writing.

In trying to quantify how much of a nerd I am, I feel like one item on the list would be how much genuine fun I had reading A World Without “Whom” and Word by Word this year. I want both Stamper and Favilla to just continue talking about what it’s like to work for a dictionary and as a copy editor pretty much forever, because it is almost endlessly fascinating to me. New dream job: copy editor. A World Without “Whom” is funny and engaging; it’s sure to delight word nerds everywhere.

Reading this book took me a surprisingly long time, because I really wanted to absorb the information. I didn’t want to miss a word about words, when usually I consume words very quickly. I am actually deeply fascinated about debates about how when to use a hypen or not. I have strong feelings about punctuation.

Something I’d never really given a ton of thought to before (though I was aware of it) was the war between prescriptivists and descriptivists (this war is solely with pens and judgmental witticisms) and precisely where I fall. Like Favilla herself, I fall somewhere in the middle; while I love a lot of the ways in which language is changing and evolving, sometimes I am that pedantic person who just cannot get over the figurative “literally.” There’s literally already a word for that, MY GOD. It was also very enjoyable that on most grammatical questions, my opinions match with Emmy’s, which is always satisfying, because I feel as vindicated as Dashboard Confessional. Except, of course, that I have totally embraced the non-literal lol, which is more sardonic and less I-just-fell-out-of-my-chair-laughing-rn.

If you’re the type of person who would enjoy sitting down and reading about the swift evolution of language in the internet era, you should absolutely read this book. Unless you hate Buzzfeed, in which case it might annoy you. I don’t, and it was awesome.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:


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