Guus Bosman

software engineering director


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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: 

Year Zero: A Novel

I really wanted to love this book, and it started very strong, but ultimately it was a bit disappointing.

The copyright aspect is nice and the lawyers are witty and funny, but the aliens are disappointing -- not really funny.

Still, I read this right after I reread the Hitchhiker's Guide and it was nice to have references to modern pop culture for a change, as opposed to 1970 references. That was cool.

Overall, I'd probably rate it 3 stars.

Robert Reid
Robert Reid
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English
Topic: 

The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Five Novels in One Outrageous Volume

I've read the Hitchhiker's Guide several times in my life. The first times were in Dutch, when Arthur Dent was living in the Wieringermeer, the area were I grew up, as a translation to a Dutch audience of a boring area where not much ever happened.

Sasha and I saw the movie years ago.

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, the 2nd novel, is a great read to and I know it well. But the 3rd through 5th were new to me. I was very disappointed in part three, part four was fine and only part five became somewhat interesting again.

Douglas Adams
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English
Topic: 

De onzichtbare jongen

Bernlef is becoming one of my all-time favorite authors. This is another powerful book by the author of Hersenschimmen.

The story is about the friendship of two little boys, in the teens and later.

He makes me nostalgic for a time I never knew -- the main character is about the age of my father.

I guess it's a sign that I'm a father that I caught myself wondering about the friendship my boys will have in the future.

I read this book on the train to and from New York.

Bernlef
9789021443522
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Dutch
Topic: 

Enlightenment Now

This is a great book, with a wonderful subject: how live has gotten better over time.

But it's a follow-up to a Pinker's book from 7 years ago, the Better Angels of Our Nature. Was it worth another 350 pages? Well, I enjoyed reading the book and it made a solid case for how enlightenment has been the driving force for all the improvements in the past few hundred years.

I'd say the answer is 'yes' -- this was worth another re-read. And the book does have new material, and a reflection of future developments.

The one thing I didn't like was the attention to Trump's election. First of all, that's just one data point in a very long history, and more importantly, a book that writes about the ages should not try to be too current.

Steven Pinker
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English
Topic: 

De Ziener

It took me a while to get into this book; it had a slow start. But as always, Vestdijk is a pleasure to read and oh my what a beautiful story line. Subtle.

Simon Vestdijk
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Dutch
Topic: 

Fire and Fury

Well, I couldn't resist -- this book has been in the news for several days now and I wanted to check it out.

I read the book with a good deal of skepticism, since the author is known to take liberty with the facts at times, and some of the more salacious details in the book are contested. Nevertheless, this is a intriguing insider story of the first year of the Trump White House.

I won't mince words on my opinion of the Trump White House. Needless to say, the book did not improve my opinion.

Fascinating read.

Michael Wolff
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English
Topic: 

White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class

Similar to the People's History of the United States -- but not as interesting. White Trash just wasn't written very well and could have been half it's size.

In particular all the detailed descriptions of films and novels do not add to the book. They seem to be fairly randomly selected.

Nancy Isenberg
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English
Topic: 

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

This was ultimately a disappointing book. The first chapters were interesting enough, and it good to see the timeline of human development, but after the initial good start there was very little new information in the book.

It rehashes stories and anecdotes from Guns Germs and Steel, 1491 and similar books, without adding much original content.

I had hoped that this would be a nice introduction to Homo Deus, Yuval Harari's new book, but now I'm not so sure that I want to read that.

Yuval Harari
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English
Topic: 

Makkelijk leven

Entertaining read by the author of Het Diner. Both books share similarities, though this is just a short novelle. Interesting turn at the end.

Joost and Ankie gave us this book.

Herman Koch
Topic: 

Hillbilly Elegy

I read in the New York Times about "6 books for the Trump era", and I thought it would be good to get a larger perspective on Trump's election win.

The first of these, Hillbilly Elegy, is a gripping memoir of a man who grew up in Kentucky and Ohio, in a dysfunctional family. He describes his live and that of the people around him, and how there is a feeling of despair, of "our choices don't matter" that holds people back from succeeding.

J.D. Vance
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English

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