Friday, March 8, 2013

Book Review: Don't Know Much About Mythology by Kenneth C. Davis, narrated by John Lee and Lorna Raver

I listened to this audio because I thought that it would be a good one for my boyfriend and I try listen to together on a long car trip, since in college he studied ancient Greece and Rome. He, however didn't like it. I will agree with him that the Introduction was overly long and explained things a bit too much about how the book was structured and all, but he didn't have the stamina to get past that to the meat of the book. Which he likely still wouldn't have liked, but I enjoyed immensely.

I really love knowing tons of useless facts, and a big-picture overview of a topic is a great way to know a little bit about a lot of things. For the Greece and Rome section, understandably the longest, it was mostly a review, as well as the Middle Eastern myths related to the Old Testament, but pretty much everything else was all new, although with some bits I did already know about like Gilgamesh in the Mesopotamian section, and the story of Siegfried (naturally!) in the Norse section (although to my dismay, he didn't call him Siegfried, because it was from the Norse, not German, point of view, but Sigfrud was close enough.) It was neat to see certain trends and stories repeat themselves across different cultures and great distances, like a flood myth which almost every culture has, and trickster gods which occur across the Pacific from China to North America to New Zealand. I could have used a little less of the straight-up history, as I didn't think things like that Australia was colonized to become Britain's biggest penal colony, actually had anything to do with the Aboriginal myths, and the book was already chock-a-block full of facts that I was having trouble retaining.

That said, I did very much enjoy it, and I think I will check out another Don't Know Much About book. The narration was just fine, although I am baffled as to why the narrator was British, yet the book was written from a distinctly American point of view, using American cultural reference points, occasional American slang, and a Brit didn't add anything to the narration. I liked that the "Mythic voices" sidebars were narrated by a different narrator, as it helped keep things straight. Neither lists of gods and goddesses, nor timelines, translate terrifically well to audio, but they weren't bad as presented here. Plus I often will skim those in books (if not outright skip) and I probably shouldn't, so it's kind of nice that in an audio you can't easily skim those parts. Thoroughly diverting.

This book is a part of the Audiosynced roundup of audio book reviews at Stacked and at Abby the Librarian. They alternate hosting the monthly post.

I checked this book out of the library.

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