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.


Twee Vrouwen

Twee Vrouwen (Twice a Woman) is a book by Dutch author Harry Mulish, who recently passed away. It had been a while since I read a book in Dutch. It's so much easier than reading in French! Harry Mulish is one of my favorite Dutch authors, but there are many books of him that I haven't read.

My grandmother gave us a copy when I visited the Netherlands a few weeks ago. The book is from 1975 but it was republished in 2008 for the promotional Nederland Leest event.

I greatly enjoyed the book; it's a straight forward story but with many different layers and a lot of symbolism.

Harry Mulisch

HTML5 for Web Designers

Jeremy Keith

HTML5 for Web Designers is a short and pleasant introduction to HTML5.

The book, 87 pages long, is published by the folks of A List Apart, a blog about website design that I follow. It's a quick read -- the book probably took me no more than 30 minutes -- and it gives you the highlights of HTML5 quickly. The introduction, with the history of the development of HTML standards, was interesting.


Web Forms 2.0 is very useful. I think the micro-format like elements such as mark and time are good additions, but I'm not so sure about the new structure elements. The article vs section is a little confusing, and I'm not sure what their added value is. I'm not so convinced of the benefits of the more flexible nesting and outlining that the author describes.

Obviously, the standardization of video and audio playback is huge (as long as we can all agree on the encoding...).

For my work, the Web Forms 2.0 elements are probably going to be the most useful: marking fields as required, specifying that input fields can take numeric input only, etc. Today we use JavaScript libraries for this. A library like ExtJS already allows you to specify this declaratively but native browser support would be even better.

The book purposely did not go into the new standardized JavaScript APIs that are part of HTML5, that would be a nice topic to read on.

English for work


L'étranger de Albert Camus.

La texte n'était pas très facile, naturallement, mais je suis très content que j'ai le compris.

Albert Camus

Salut et Liberté

Fred Vargas

"Salut et liberté" est le deuxième livre que j'ai lu en français.

Ce livre de Fred Vargas a deux nouvelles policiers, "Salut et liberté" et "La nuit des brutes".

Je ne lis pas souvent des policiers en anglais, mais ces nouvelles m'ont beaucoup plu. On veut lire encore et encore, pour savoir qui est le meurtrier! C'est très bon pour la motivation.

Il y a des personages intéressants. Les personnages principaux sont le commissaire Adamsberg et lieutenant Danglard. Madame Vargas a écrit plusieurs nouvelles dans lesquelles ils figuraient. Il y a aussi des personnages anormaux, comme l'homme qui veut un citre dans la prison, ou l'homme qui s'assoit toute la journée sur un banc devant le commissariat avec un porte-manteau...

Un très agréable livre; je voudrais lire encore de Madame Vargas.

(Cette critique de livre a était corrigée avec Lang-8).



C'est mon première livre en Francais pour quince années.

Ceci n'est pas le livre complète; c'est un adaption en 1400 mots. Mais, c'est très utile.

L'histoire est très beau.

Émile Zola

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Pretentious and stuffy -- this was not a fun book to read. But it's on my list of books I wanted to read, so I struggled through it.

An example of the gratuitous pompous language:

"Its alternation of sad human ineffectualness with vast inhuman cycles of activity chilled him, and he forgot his own human and ineffectual grieving."

The long description of hell was interesting -- clearly, this was on the author's mind a lot.

I could hardly wait until I finished this book. This is the second coming-of-age book that I really didn't like, the other was The Catcher in the Rye.

In any case, I know now that I will not try to read Ulysses.

James Joyce

Of the farm

Nice novel by John Updike. Paul, the main character, has a difficult relationship with his mother:

"My heart was thudding; my tingling fingers felt swollen around the cold core of the wine-glass stem. My mother's silences, in which her soul plunged backwards from her eyes and mouth and revisited the darkness in which, but for her grace, I would be buried unborn, were as terrible as ever."

The book deals with divorce, 'toxic mother', etc. Not really my style of story, but beautifully written. Read the last pages in Georgetown.

John Updike

Im Westen nichts Neues

What a beautiful book... very well written. I bought the book in Zwickau, Germany on a business trip. I'm so happy that I can read German. How would you translate a beauty such as this:

"Wir fahren ab als mürrische oder gutgelaunte Soldaten, --wir kommen in die Zone, wo die Front beginnt, und sind Menschentiere geworden."

It's easy to understand why the book was banned in Nazi Germany in the 1930's.

Erich Maria Remarque

American Creation

I needed a book for when I was moving back from Somerset to Durham and since I couldn't use the library anymore I allowed myself a book from Barnes & Noble. Sasha and I visited the store in Georgetown where she is staying. I really enjoyed Founding Brothers so when I saw this book by Joseph Ellis the choice was easy.

The book is really a continuation of Founding Brothers, and describes the Louisiana Purchase among other things, in the same very readable style as the first book. Highly recommended.

Joseph J. Ellis

Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

When Jonathan and Irena visited us in Haarlem, the Netherlands in 2002, Jonathan was reading this book and I thought I wanted to read it once. Years later I bought the book but for some reason I left it unread for a long time. Finally I got to it, and what a great read.

Really enjoyed reading about the complex person Thomas Jefferson was. Over the years I've learned quite a bit about the revolutionary war but the author made a great job displaying the humans behind the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Joseph J. Ellis


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