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. 

Giacomo Joyce – James Joyce

A couple of years ago I stranded about half-way into Ulysses. It did not click. One of the greatest novels ever written, but I had little use for it. So I put it aside for another time. Recently I came across a rather insightful video (highly recommended) about Joyce and his work, and all of a sudden a lot of things clicked! But not to rush into it too fast,… Read More »Giacomo Joyce – James Joyce

The Death of Murat Idrissi – Tommy Wieringa

Tommy Wieringa is of course famous for his novel Joe Speedboot. A tremendous novel, where Wieringa demonstrates heaps of writers’ finesse. This book — the Death of Murat Idrissi — is no different. Even though this is a short and easy read, it touches on a lot of subjects and themes and has the Tommy Wieringa flair all over it. He is a master is describing brooding situations, internal struggles… Read More »The Death of Murat Idrissi – Tommy Wieringa

The Trumpet of Conscience – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. was only 39 years (and 2 months and 19 days) old when he was murdered. Thirty-nine. I never realised this — until I am 39 myself now. When he died he had already received a Nobel prize and over 100 honorary degrees from all over the world, but more importantly, he had changed America forever. Much has been written about MLK and by MLK. And it… Read More »The Trumpet of Conscience – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again – David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace could write. And not just write, he could really write extraordinarily well. In related news: water is wet. Wallace’s writing struck me as an epiphany, a beacon of light, a clear and unmistakable differentiator between merely good writing and exceptional writing. I have known about DFW for some time now, and I have seen his famous commencement speech several times. It strongly resonates with me. As some… Read More »A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again – David Foster Wallace

Thomas Dekker: The Descent (Mijn Gevecht) – Thijs Zonneveld

I finished this book in one sitting. Partly because Zonneveld has a pleasant writing style. But also because the rather recent story of a hugely talented and (very) young cyclist who early on in his career got involved with dope and raced towards destruction is fascinating. It’s the (auto)biography of Thomas Dekker but it is just as much the biography of the cycling world in the early 2000s. And this… Read More »Thomas Dekker: The Descent (Mijn Gevecht) – Thijs Zonneveld

Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse Five is a well-known classic. And I had been wanting to read it for quite some time now, and now that I finally did, I must say it was absolutely not what I expected. In a good way. The book is a sort of autobiographical non-chronological story about the bombing of Dresden, but it is also about time travel, space travel and aliens and different thoughts on philosophy. So… Read More »Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut

The Fall (De Val) – Matthias M.R. Declercq

Matthias M.R. Declercq pulled of two remarkable things. Not only did he manage to find this extraordinary story about friendship, ambition and sacrifice, he was also able to write it down in exceptional fashion. The events described in ‘The Fall’ (‘De Val’) are real, but the book is not necessarily a biography. The story revolves around a group of five Belgian riders (flandriens) who are pretty well known in the… Read More »The Fall (De Val) – Matthias M.R. Declercq

Why We Sleep – Matthew Walker

Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker is one of the most profound books I have ever read. It has directly impacted my attitude towards sleep and subsequently altered my behaviour. Books that change your behaviour are rare and this is one of them. You should read it. We all know that sleep is important. But Walker dissects study, after study, after study to describe how important sleep exactly is, and… Read More »Why We Sleep – Matthew Walker

Humor schept evenwicht (Humor creates balance) – Jaap Bakker

Jaap Bakker, a local storyteller from a small rural town in the Netherlands (Urk), has written down anecdotes and jokes from the last hundred years or so. Either things he experienced first hand or that were told to him. So expect hundreds of fun little stories. Stories anyone can identify with, about human interaction and small town life, that make you smile, laugh or even burst out. Needless to say,… Read More »Humor schept evenwicht (Humor creates balance) – Jaap Bakker

The Effective Executive – Peter Drucker

Pick up any good management book and chances are that Peter Drucker will be mentioned. He is the godfather of management theory. I encountered Drucker many times before in other books and quotes, but I had never read anything directly by him. I have now, and I can only wish I had done so sooner. The sublime classic The Effective Executive from 1967 was a good place to start. After… Read More »The Effective Executive – Peter Drucker

Getting Things Done – David Allen

For some reason I had never read the David Allen classic Getting Things Done. But I found out that 18 years after its release it’s still a good introduction to time and action management. David Allen tries to make the natural, systematic. He does so by introducing a 5 step workflow: capture, clarify, organize, reflect, and engage. Allen does a great job of explaining these steps with real world examples… Read More »Getting Things Done – David Allen