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: 

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.

English
James Joyce
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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
9780141189024
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English

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
German
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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
978-0307276452
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English

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
978-0375705243
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English
Topic: 

Rework

Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

A small book with great ideas. It describes an 'agile' approach to business -- how to think small and be effective.

It's an inspirational book, written with a great mindset: keep it simple, release early, be nimble.

9780307463746
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English for work
Topic: 

Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software

In my first job at Chess patterns where just coming in fashion in the mid-1990's. Can't say that the GoF is a book that's great to read but it has a wealth of knowledge distilled.

English for work
Gang of Four
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Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid

This book needs no further introduction. I read it when I was 14, 15 and this helped me decide to take on a degree in Computer Science.

Douglas Hofstadter
English for work
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Topic: 

Operating Systems: Design and Implementation

My first introduction to large scale development.

When I was 16 years old I borrowed this book from our neighbor next door. I brought it on vacation in France, and still remember the smell of fresh cut grass when I was reading this book in France, over and over again. The Appendix contained the entire source code of Minix.

Years later when I did my Master's Degree in Amsterdam I followed two courses by the author, Andrew Tanenbaum.

English for work
Andrew S. Tanenbaum
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The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google

I especially enjoyed the first part; the history of electricity and how technology transformed entire industries. The book makes the case that a similar revolution will take place in computing; where providers of cloud computing facilities will serve a role like electricity producers do today.

Nicholas Carr
English for work
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