Books

Me at a book signing with my favorite biographer Walter Isaacson.

I used to blog about just the interesting books I read, but as of 2019 I blog about every book I read. I try to keep these blogs deliberately short (max. 250 words), as an exercise to get to the point.

Partly because of this limit, I also TRY not to go into detail about the book plot or subject — whether it’s fiction or non-fiction. Instead I try to focus on if this is a book worth reading*. And I focus more on style, approach and form.

I take this approach for the same reason that dissecting a movie plot is only a small part of a movie discussion. Movies work (or don’t) because of the techniques used in the storytelling, so those are usually more interesting to look at than the plot.

And lastly, I try to love every book I read. Writing books takes time and dedication. I may not agree or like everything I read, but still someone poured part of themselves in there. So I try to respect that.

* The definition of “worth reading” is of course something you could write a book about. Worth reading for me heavily depends on “what you can take away” or “how it alters your views”. The best books have the ability to change your perception. 

Churchill – Sebastian Haffner

Writing a Churchill biography is not an easy assignment, even though it would be difficult to butcher the job. Churchill lead an unprecedented rich and varied life and just writing down the bare facts would already be enough for a great story. But it would also be a massive undertaking. Haffner took a different route. He chose the high-level helicopter approach. And he managed to produce an impressive sketch and… Read More »Churchill – Sebastian Haffner

Capitalism without brakes – Maarten van Rossem

In his highly distinctive ‘tone of voice’, Maarten van Rossem provides the most succinct available lecture on the root causes which lead to the 2008 financial crisis. From the change in Keynes thinking (after the 1920s) to the Hayek and Friedman ideology — embodied by the neoliberal policies of Reagan and Thatcher. Van Rossem explains how culture and ideology shifted and, combined with technology and humanity’s never-ending greed, provided the… Read More »Capitalism without brakes – Maarten van Rossem

Dream Dare Do – Ben Tiggelaar

Dare Dream Do (Dromen Durven Doen) is one of the all-time bestselling Dutch self-management books. Tiggelaar is a popular figure and he has a charming, personal and pragmatic writing style. There are few new concepts in the book (at least for me). Practices like visualisation, goalsetting, checking goals, taking responsibility and being grateful. These are all familiar concepts, shared by many other similar well-known management theories. And with that, Tiggelaar… Read More »Dream Dare Do – Ben Tiggelaar

The Unicorn Project – Gene Kim

When I read The Phoenix Project last year, I was smitten. I loved the combination of using fiction to describe how to apply — management and DevOps — theory to true to life situations. So when the publisher asked if I wanted to review the follow-up, I didn’t hesitate. And I can safely say The Unicorn Project is just as much fun as its predecessor. This fiction book takes place… Read More »The Unicorn Project – Gene Kim

Foster: how to build your own bookshelf management web application

foster/ˈfɒstə/verb 1. Encourage the development of (something, especially something desirable). “the teacher’s task is to foster learning” TLDR: I made a personal bookshelf management web application and named it Foster and you can find it here. Here’s what I did — with gifs–, so you might build your own. Name I named it Foster. Because of *this* blog post — it accompanies the application, so it’s self-referential. And also, because… Read More »Foster: how to build your own bookshelf management web application

Iedere dag vrij – Bob Crébas

I remember exactly where I was when, in 2004, I heard that Dutch ad site marktplaats.nl was sold for a staggering 224,5 million euros to eBay. A polder Cinderella story. This success was, however, no accident. Of course, luck was involved, but this is true of all successful businesses. A few years after this deal Bob Crébas (don’t forget the acute accent), wrote down his experiences that lead to this… Read More »Iedere dag vrij – Bob Crébas

A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway, the writers’ writer, is famously known for having spent his early years in Paris. Freshly married, this struggling and then unknown writer was honing his craft and subsequently defining what it means to be a writer in a vibrant post World War I Paris. Where he wrote his first big novel. In later life Hemingway wrote up his 5 year experience in a couple of loosely related stories. Which… Read More »A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey

When I started college in 1998 this was literally one of the first books I had to buy. It was part of a — cheaply thrown together — five-pack of paperback management book ‘classics’. And my particular copy is printed on recycled paper, with boring frugal typesetting, and even has a Dutch translation error on the back. Not normally a book you would hold on to for 21 years. Management… Read More »The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey

Een Mooie Jonge Vrouw – Tommy Wieringa

I have written about Tommy Wieringa before. And this little book is once again a clear example of the mans’ writing ability. Effortlessly and thoughtfully he creates a small story — a tragic love story between two people. And this story, of course, unfolds dramatically almost to the point of derailing and then just staying in the tracks. And Wieringa brings it down to a human level. While never overdoing… Read More »Een Mooie Jonge Vrouw – Tommy Wieringa

Glove Pond – Roger Thorpe

Roger Thorpe is just as good a writer as Douglas Coupland is. As a matter of fact, he is also as real as a Douglas Coupland character. Glove Pond is his first novel. I got this book bundled with The Gum Thief, and I was thrown off guard by the high praises on the backcover by Coupland himself. How come I had never heard of this writer? But as soon… Read More »Glove Pond – Roger Thorpe

Gomorrah – Roberto Saviano

When Gomorrah came out in 2007, apart from spawning a popular TV series, it shook the world. The workings of Italy’s lesser known ‘other mafia’ — the Camorra — are laid bare and Saviano subsequently signed his own death certificate. He has been in hiding ever since. It’s a gut-wrenching mosaic of stories, of how this organisation operates from Naples — mind you, a modern West-European city — and their… Read More »Gomorrah – Roberto Saviano

Sex, Blogs and Rock-‘n-Roll – Ernst Jan Pfauth

The rather sensationalist title would normally be a reason to not want to read this book. But since this book came out in 2010, the author E.J. Pfauth has become known for more than just this book. He is the co-founder of the Correspondent (a journalism platform), has written other books and he hosts a rather entertaining podcast. So I thought it would be fun to see where his head… Read More »Sex, Blogs and Rock-‘n-Roll – Ernst Jan Pfauth