Guus Bosman

software engineering manager


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Here I keep track of some of the books that I've read, often with a short review and some personal thoughts. These are only a selection since I read a lot more books for work.

I like to read book in their original languages where possible: French, German, Dutch, English and I even read three books in Bulgarian. Here is the list of books I'd like to read. See also books about technology or management, and my all-time favorite books.

I'm an engineer, and enjoy science fiction novels. Some of my favorite authors are Vernor Vinge, Terry Pratchett and LE Modesitt Jr. No overview of my reading habits would be complete without mentioning The Economist -- I love that magazine.

Books below are in order of date read; this overview starts in October 2002.


Topic: 

Government bullies

Rand Paul

This is the second book I read in my effort to learn more about all major candidates for the Presidential elections.

I'll be honest -- Rand Paul was never going to win me over, our differences are too big. But this was an interesting read.

Sometimes it is as if Mr. Paul is just willfully ignorant of the whole story. Many of the cases of "EPA overreach" where he described "a landowner moving some soil from one side of his property to the other" are much more complicated then that. I found myself searching the names of these "victims" on Google and every time it is clear that there is much more to the story than what's described in the book.

I do understand his mindset, but he is taking it way too far. There are clear examples of grievous violations of the law and environmental rules in his book, for example by the Dutch immigrant who blatantly ignored the warnings and orders by the EPA and Corps of Engineers not to build on wetland. That's not government bullying: that's government doing its job.

Mr. Paul is also disingenuous about what he wants. He'll say that the definition of "wetlands" is unclear, and "wants to clarify it". Yet the proposal that he offers don't just "clarify" the definition -- they severely tighten the restriction and just majorly reduces the power of the Clean Water Act. Abolishing the EPA, as he wants, won't be very good for the environment either.

978-1455522774
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English
Topic: 

License to Pawn

I came across an older interview with Rick Harrison on NPR.org, by chance. It sounded like an interesting book and I borrowed it electronically from our library.

The book is about the owners of a big pawn shop in Las Vegas. It describes their business and rise to fame after they became subject of a TV show.

It's an entertaining book. I wasn't sure what to expect, honestly, but the guys running the store and very smart and great observers of humanity.

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English
Topic: 

The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings

By the end of November, when we were scared about a possible premature birth of the boys, I badly needed a good book to read. On November 30rd I borrowed The Hobbit from the library, and yesterday I finished the final book of the Lord of the Rings. Two solid months of wonderful reading -- and of wonderful progress with the pregnancy, now at 35.5 weeks.

There is not much too say about these books: they are phenomenal. My father read them to me when I was a child -- something that must have taken several years -- and I read them again in high school, even used them on my literature reading list. I think Sasha and I saw one or two of the LOTR movies also. Definitely not the third one -- and I enjoyed that the most of all actually. Very satisfying ending.

This was the first time I read the books in English, interesting enough. But I kept hearing my father in my mind, talking about "Sam Gewissies".

Tolkien
English
Topic: 

Wat ik nog weet

A sweet little book. Memoirs by a highly acclaimed Dutch children's book author, describing her life until the 1950's and in particular her childhood in Zeeland.

She was born in 1911 and World War I even plays a small role. One of the events is a visit to Den Haag by the family where they see electricity-powered lights and appliances for the first time. While she is growing up, she's looking forward to wear the traditional costume but once she turned 16 it had completely gone out of fashion.

She is a very gifted author and this is a lovely book. My grandmother grew up in Zeeland -- she was born in 1926 -- and it was nice to read about that area.

This was one of the books I bought in October 2014 from the Netherlands.

Dutch
Annie M.G. Schmidt
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Topic: 

A fighting chance

This is the first book I read in my effort to learn more about all major candidates for the 2016 Presidential elections.

I don't often read autobiographies but this book came up in a conversation over the summer and Ginny kindly lent me her copy.

Ms Warren is passionate, down-to-earth yet very knowledgeable. She is probably not going to run for the presidency yet -- but who knows? After Tuesday's mid-term elections she might think a little more about giving it a try -- her main potential competitors Clinton and Biden didn't do very well with their endorsements. At the other hand, she is really focused on financial reform and consumer protection but doesn't have much of a reputation in other fields. I don't mean to diminish that: her role is very valuable, but she is less of a politician and more of an expert. Probably not the most logical match for running for President.

In any case, I enjoyed reading this book.

English
Elizabeth Warren
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Topic: 

De dokter en het lichte meisje

The main character is interesting. A world-wise, almost cynical young doctor at the start of his career in the 1950's.

The book is obviously well written but lacks the brilliance of some of other Vestdijk's works.

Dutch
Simon Vestdijk
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Topic: 

Meneer en mevrouw zijn gek

Interesting book about live in a mental institution in Bloemendaal, the Netherlands. The author spent many months with real patients and weaved their real stories into fictional narratives. Gripping.

I bought this book at a flea market at the Dutch school. I didn't realize this is the author of a book that made a big impression on me when I was younger: het verrotte leven van Floortje Bloem, about a young drug user. Mrs Keuls was famous when she wrote this book and several times characters in the book treat her differently because of who she is.

The author has a talent for telling deeply personal stories. It is scary to read about these people's inner-lives -- some seem almost normal, but with deep and sad problems. The last few chapters, about patient with depression, are particularly tough.

Dutch
Yvonne Keuls
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Topic: 

Out of Order

This is a short book by the first female Judge on the Supreme Court. It was interesting to read a little bit how things work behind the scenes, and to read more on the Court's history.

I read this book on the flight from DC to San Francisco.

English
Sandra Day O'Connor
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Topic: 

Tension City

I borrowed an electronic book from our library this weekend when I was waiting for Nora to fell asleep in the other apartment.

English
Jim Lehrer
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Topic: 

De Koperen Tuin

When I was in my last year of highschool, or the year before that, I read De Kellner en de Levenden. I was very impressed by the book and the author.

A few years ago I brought a pile of second-hand books from the Netherlands in my luggage; mainly Vestdijk novels. I just finished De Koperen Tuin and I loved it.

Made me nostalgic for a time I never knew. Very impressive.

English
Simon Vestdijk
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