Hurray for Brunetti, even if the books are getting thinner and more melancholy (and less food-obsessed, boo!) as we move on in the series. I still love reading about Venice and Brunetti's family and the delightful dynamics at the police headquarters though, and I was very happy for my short holiday with Drawing Conclusions.
In other news: Italy still going to hell in a hand basket.
A re-read of Twisted, a sweet, fast-paced YA-novel about making the right choices, even in the face of peer pressure and family circumstance and stupid dysfunctional school systems. The dad was a little bit too one-dimensionally awful for me (I'm getting sort of tired of the oodles of daddy-issues in American culture), but Tyler and his friend Yoda are great.
Hormann teaches you how to get rid of you mortgage in "Hypotheekvrij!". That's all there is to it, really. But this simple and liberating message might change a lot of lives.
He's converted me (oh alright, maybe I was thinking of this already) and has many great and chilling tips. Particularly if you have an interest-only mortgage. People! That means you will NOT be rid of your mortgage until you have paid the damn thing off. You will go on paying interest in perpetuity, not just the thirty years on your papers. And it is Such A Lot Of Interest...
Read this one, if you're Dutch and have a mortgage. Seriously.
I am so completely jealous of Alain de Botton. He's insufferably smart, a great stylist, a deep thinker, has his finger on the zeitgeist's pulse - urgh. His new book Religion for Atheists is a smasher again, much deeper I think than the ones about status and architecture, but this may just be because religion (and atheism) are dear to my own heart.
This isn't just a very smart and erudite book, it's also very kind and compassionate, a great, level-headed look at what religion could teach atheists qua life skills. Really good. I expect I will re-read this one a couple of times.
Lovely picture book with photographs of and by Paul Smith, including some fine thoughts about business and creativity. I'm so glad Paul Smith is a smart, nice man - I wear lots of his clothes and it would have been such a deception to find out he's a bastard. Watch this excellent documentary if you've got a chance.
Oh man. I'm NOT going to move to the American Mid-West. Such ridiculously extreme bad weather. I knew a little bit about it because I read Laura Ingalls Wilder's The Long Winter several times, but The Children's Blizzard brings it all home that much more. The book is a thorough look at how one terrible snowstorm in 1888 raged over the country and killed thousands, many of them small children who were on the way home from school.
The meteorological bits are a bit long and boring, the office politics of the weather service weren't that interesting to me, but the human suffering! That was excellent. I mean fascinating. Also increased my admiration for the amount of grit people used to have back then by another 100%.
More striking, hard, involved images in this novella than in many huge books. Silently and Very Fast takes you on a rollercoaster trip trough time and super-complicated ideas, and I feel like I've only gotten about half of what it was saying. But in a good way. An "I want to re-read this" way. So if you like very complex, thinkity science fiction, this would be great for you.
Oh Jonah Lehrer - I love your books and your columns and everything you write and your segments on Radiolab. And Imagine is no exception. Really good, well-researched, engaging look into how creativity works, from a solid scientific point of view. Really enjoyed this one.
Not very good, I'm afraid. This may partly be because Calico Joe is a book with a lot of baseball talk, and I don't know first thing about baseball (though when Stephen King does this I'm happy to follow along). It's just very sappy and predictable and the bad guy is so hopelessly bad that I want to yell "oh come *on*" at Grisham. I don't recommend it. Sorry.
Stellar. You should read this book. 1493 is a wonderful look at the historical impact of Columbus' discovery (or "discovery") of America: plants and foods that made their way around the world, diseases, people on the move, the rise of world trade... I learned things I had no clue about on almost every page, and I don't consider myself a recluse from world history. Awesome. Get it.
We're writing a book in the office, and I'm the Designated Editor. Without being overly hindered by actually knowing anything about how you write and edit a non-fiction book. If you find yourself in the same position, I can recommend this clear, knowledgeable book. Jack Hart describes the process of researching and writing a journalistic narrative beautifully, and also drills his readers on the ethics of such stories (useful!). He's given me at least a bit of faith in my ability to do this, so yay.
Hugely entertaining - Maureen Johnson is my favourite Twitter person, and she's also a pleasant, funny, and original YA-writer. The Scarlett series describes the life of Scarlett Martin and her family, who live in a hotel and have rather a lot to do with theatre in New York. And I love these books. But Scarlett Fever is definitely YA, so I don't know whether you will love it too. You could try it, though. Bring this one or one of Maureen's other books with you on vacation. Lovely beach reads, better that most Dutch "literary thrillers", ha!
An odd book. On the one hand, I really Like Tony Hsieh, his chatty, enthusiastic style of writing and his business philosophy of trying to make his customers really happy. On the other, I'm not at all fond of those crazy macho dot-com bubble "look at us working 24/7" stories, particularly when he keeps patting himself and Zappos on the back about what a close-knit family of workers they are and how they are such a good place to work. It all sounds a bit cult-like to me.
Quite an achievement to build a business like Zappos, but I had expected a little more actual insights into how you make customers happy, and the nitty-gritty of improving customer service. We now get a lot of detail about financing and investors and incubators & such stuff, but that was not the part I came for.
Read it if you want an entertaining chat with Tony about his tiger mom-childhood and the good old days of the dot com boom, but if you're looking for ideas on how to help your own customers you'd probably be better off with some Seth Godins.
I really enjoyed the first, oh, 80 percent of this book, about an older guy who is suddenly confronted with a grown-up son he didn't know was his. The son is a right bastard, of the type we're dealing with a lot in Holland at the moment: right-wing, rude, violent, petty, jealous. He and his cronies and the family dynamics he causes are hugely funny and entertaining.
But I'm not so sure about the last bits of the book, where an entirely new plot line from-the-past suddenly turns up. I can see why the author needed it, and I don't know how he should have solved the story in the absence of this bit, but still - it sort of fizzled. For me.
Still, I'd recommend this book to my lefty pinko Dutch friends who want a quick, entertaining read, I think.
Well, this year's 50.000 words are done. At the moment it's a terrible, terrible, novel: horribly disjointed, part-English, part-Dutch, full of placeholders and lame dialogue, with plot holes you can drive a truck through, filled to the brim with unbearably cute kids - just terrible. This is going to need a LOT of work.
But for the very first time I actually have a plot, and, more importantly, I have written an ending, a genuine ending, so I feel good about this one. Even if it is still a ridiculous pile of zero-eth draft nonsense.
This was a very relaxed NaNo, with a steady, sustainable pace, no tantrums and not that many doubts. I had fun with it, fun with coming up with characters I wanted to put in danger and do terrible things to (even if I've sort of forgotten to actually name them - two of my main characters still go by the monikers The Writer and The Old Man, and my heroine goes by Cayce, short-hand for Make Her Awesome, While Figuring Out What To Call Her).
Who cares if the plot is very Michael Chrichton at the moment. I did it again! Yay.