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: 

Faust I & II

What a fantastic story! I can't believe I have never read Faust before. I had always assumed this to be a dry and boring book but I loved it. In a review in a Dutch newspaper: "Faust is much loved but not often read", haha, that was true for me to.

A tragic story of course, especially the storyline about Gretchen, but lots of humor too and very modern in its outlook. I liked the explanation for the introduction of paper money in act II: Mephistopheles argued that the money is backed by all the undiscovered gold buried under the ground (which by default belongs to the Emperor), and that it's not really necessary to dig it up!

Act II reminded me of Dante, a story where many famous people make their appearance. Much to my amazement I saw a reference to Galatea, a character from a Dutch book I'm currently reading to the kids, De Kleine Kapitein. Both Goethe and Paul Biegel referenced a Greek story.

Two funny quotes:

The new burgomaster will raise taxes

Grumphy Nereus 8095

I read the book in English. Somewhat against my own rules -- but reading this in German would have taken me many weeks, and the translation by Stuart Atkins was excellent. I used Wikipedia and several other online sources to get more background on book.

Goethe
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English
Topic: 

Gilgamesh

After reading The Case For God I wanted to read some ancient literature, and Gilgamesh fit the bill nicely. It was a beautiful story to read.

The translation by Stephen Mitchell is considered an easy one, it is written in contemporary English. It was indeed easy to read and the introduction was very good. But why the references to the Iraq war? Very strange and it dates the book unnecessarily.

Stephen Mitchell
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English
Topic: 

Het huis van de moskee

A beautiful, mellow book about several generations of a family going through the upheaval of Iran during the revolution. It reminded me of Geert Mak's stories, where people are nostalgic for the old times.

Lovely written. It's fascinating that a book about Persia and Iran was written in Dutch. The language is simple, not always very smooth, but a beautiful style.

I read this book in December 2019, a nice book to read during the holidays.

Kader Abdolah
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Dutch
Topic: 

Winterbloei

It's been many years since I read something by Jan Wolkers. In high school I read a few of his works and didn't like it -- vulgar, coarse, not beautiful. The coarseness is still there, but this book, Winterbloei was a nice book to read. I loved the story of his stay on the Rottumerplaat; the full book about that might be worth a read.

Jan Wolkers
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Dutch
Topic: 

De levens van Jan Six

Geert Mak is an master storyteller and this topic, the story of the Six family over the past 400 years, is a perfect match for Mak's skills. I loved this book.

Jan Six
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Dutch
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

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