Guus Bosman

software engineering manager


Books & literature

Classics

books

A few weeks ago I installed book shelves in our living room. Finally a place to put our books, and finally an opportunity to get a copy of some of my favorite Dutch books in print.

It’s relatively easy to buy electronic Dutch books — but for some of the great books it is great to have a physical copy.

The package with books included Hersenschimmen, De ontdekking van de hemel, Kruistocht in spijkerbroek — a childhood favorite — and De kellner en de levenden.

Also, the Dutch version of the Lord of the Rings. I have a “rule” for myself that I will read books only in their original language, but for Tolkien I make an exception. When I was little my father read The Hobbit and the Ring to me, in Dutch obviously, so Dutch it is.

The package also included several books I haven’t read, so that will be fun for the next months and years.

Meneer en mevrouw zijn gek

books

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.



Book details:

   Meneer en mevrouw zijn gek by Yvonne Keuls.
   I read this book in Dutch.

Out of Order

books

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.



Book details:

   Out of Order by Sandra Day O'Connor.
   I read this book in English.

De Koperen Tuin

books

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.



Book details:

   De Koperen Tuin by Simon Vestdijk.
   I read this book in English.

Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West

books

This was a terrific book, and what a story! I didn’t know anything about Lewis and Clark, except the fact that they made a big journey to the West Coast. This book does a great job bringing that experience to life, and place it in its historic context. Highly recommended.



Book details:

   Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West by Stephen Ambrose. ISBN: 978-1847397638.
   I read this book in English.

The old man and the sea

books

It’s one of those famous titles that I’ve always wanted to read, and this book didn’t disappointed. I enjoyed this short story of a man who goes out fishing — and the risks he took. Beautiful prose.



Book details:

   The old man and the sea by Ernest Hemingway.
   I read this book in English.

The Alchemist

books

After our visit to New Jersey I caught a cold and I was looking for some easy reading. Yesterday I read The Alchemist after seeing it mentioned several times in a Quora thread.

It was a nice book to read and brought me into another world for a few hours.

I didn’t care much for the life-philosophy described in the book. Not only is it a scientifically lazy way of looking at the world, with seeing “omens” everywhere, but it was also presented in a fairly obnoxious way. Too much speechifying, too much elaborating by various characters in the book. It reminded me of the Celestial Prophecy that I read years ago, although The Alchemist at least has some literary qualities which compensates for the medieval worldview.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading the descriptions of the life of the shepherd boy and his travels through Spain and Africa and I can see why it is such a bestseller.



Book details:

   The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.
   I read this book in English.

Dutch books translated into Bulgarian

books

For our Bulgarian-Dutch-American family, hunting for translated books is a fun past-time. I’ve been trying to find Dutch literature and children’s books in Bulgarian.

Literature

  • Simon Vestdijk’s De Koperen Tuin is available for sale as Медната Градина.
  • Славата на Холандия - Ян Де Харток, Holland’s Glorie by Jan de Hartog
  • Нещо Сладко - Ян Волкерс Turks Fruit by Jan Wolkers
  • Задната Къщата - Ане Франк Het achterhuis by Anne Frank
  • Скитникът - Adriaan van Dis De Wandelaar

Райна Стефанова has translated several books into Bulgarian.

Children’s books

  • The Kikker books by Max Velthuis (Макс Велтхаюс). I ordered several of them through http://www.helikon.bg/
  • In 2012 three Dick Bruna books were translated in Bulgarian. I was able to order them from the Utrechtse Kinderboek winkel, who have a dedicated page to translated Dutch children’s books.
  • In 1997 Annie MG Schmidt’s Minoes was translated and published in Sofia as Минуш - момичето-котка. It is no longer available.
  • In 2004 Annie MG Schimdt’s Pluk van de petteflet was translated as Малкият Плюк от голямата къща. It is no longer available.

Nooit meer slapen

books

After reading De donkere kamer van Damokles I was looking forward to this book, the 2nd one by WF Hermans on the list with 10 most popular Dutch books, and the book did not disappoint.

The style of the book was quite different than the magic realism in the previous one. This one felt like a biography at times and was very realistic. The main character makes a trip through Norway and the cold and rain are palpable. It serves as a good reminder never to visit the northern part of Norway.

The book became quite a page-turner in the end. Enjoyable.



Book details:

   Nooit meer slapen by WF Hermans.
   I read this book in Dutch.

De grote zaal

books

The book has obvious parallels to Hersenschimmen, the story of a man with Alzheimer’s. De grote zaal precedes it — it was published in the 1950’s but then somehow forgotten. It’s good that the book got more attention in 2010 again, it is worth reading.

The text is very clean, very straight which makes a pleasant read.



Book details:

   De grote zaal by Jacoba van Velde.
   I read this book in Dutch.

About me

I’m a software engineering manager in Arlington, Virginia. I love technology and working with people to build great software.

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Random facts

I was quoted in The Economist and my site was posted on Slashdot. I speak English and Dutch fluently, and pretty decent German, French and Bulgarian. I founded Dutch in America.com which has more than 3,300 Facebook fans.

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