stars

Rat­ing: 4 out of 5.

Review: Tur­tles All the Way Down

Turtles All the Way Down
Tur­tles All the Way Down by John Green
My rat­ing: 5 of 5 stars

“There’s an expres­sion in clas­si­cal music. It goes, ‘We went out to the mead­ow.’ It’s for those evenings that can only be described in that way: There were no walls, there were no music stands, there weren’t even any instru­ments. There was no ceil­ing, there was no floor, we all went out to the mead­ow. It describes a feeling.”
— TOM WAITS

I know she’s read­ing this right now. (HI.) I felt like we went out to the mead­ow tonight, only we weren’t play­ing music. In the best con­ver­sa­tions, you don’t even remem­ber what you talked about, only how it felt. It felt like we were in some place your body can’t vis­it, some place with no ceil­ing and no walls and no floor and no instru­ments. — John Green, TATWD

After fol­low­ing John Green’s work for many years, I had nev­er got around actu­al­ly read­ing one of his books.
For me it was a feast of recog­ni­tion, due to many of its real life coin­ci­den­tal coun­ter­parts! Know­ing how he is as a per­son, and see­ing how you show your own char­ac­ter­is­tics and traits in your own work was a big eye-open­er for me. I guess, since I pre­ferred non-fic­tion for its objec­tive­ness, this book showed and taught me and what good fic­tion can do, what it can make me feel — me as a reader.

I give “Tur­tles All the Way Down” five stars.

View all my reviews

Review: The Philoso­pher and the Wolf: Lessons from the Wild on Love, Death, and Happiness

The Philosopher and the Wolf: Lessons from the Wild on Love, Death, and Happiness
The Philoso­pher and the Wolf: Lessons from the Wild on Love, Death, and Hap­pi­ness by Mark Row­lands
My rat­ing: 5 of 5 stars

After read­ing the book Run­ning with the Pack, I was delight­ed to find that there was a book that dived even deep­er in the bond between wolf and man. For me this is the best type of phi­los­o­phy book, one that is inter­spersed with more light-heart­ed moments from the author’s life, con­trast­ed with con­struc­tive and deep­er mus­ings on the events in his or her life. I noticed that it took me a lot longer to get through the book, just because it took a while for the mes­sages to sink in and under­stand them. There­fore, this is def­i­nite­ly a book that would not be bet­ter as an audio­book, because I think I would miss things because there’s no time to mull them over. One thing that hap­pened dur­ing the read­ing of this book, is that all the notes and high­lights I took on my e‑reader got delet­ed, due to me shuf­fling around some set­tings. This felt like a set­back, one that tem­porar­i­ly makes you not want to be remind­ed of your mis­take and dis­con­tin­ue read­ing the book. How­ev­er, because I was so close to fin­ish­ing it, it would have been sil­ly not to. It made me think that the mem­o­ries and lessons we gain from read­ing a book, if they are for­got­ten and we can no longer rely on our (dig­i­tal) mem­o­ry. Of course that is not the case, but it showed me how eas­i­ly your brain del­e­gates the task of remem­ber­ing to a third par­ty. Not sure if this top­ic is men­tioned in the oth­er book from this author about exter­nal mem­o­ry, but it made me look for­ward to read that one as well!

View all my reviews

Review: Ik drink niet meer

Ik drink niet meer
Ik drink niet meer by Loïs Biss­chop
My rat­ing: 5 of 5 stars

A per­son­al and relat­able account what it means to give up alco­hol in your life and how it impacts ones rela­tion­ship with oth­ers. The sub­tle humor in this book was great and made the whole book a page­turn­er for me. The most impor­tant les­son in this book was the impact of a relapse after a pro­longed peri­od of absten­tion. Real­iz­ing the impact it can have, makes it so that you do not need to make this mis­take your­self to learn from it. Anoth­er great les­son was that of just bluff­ing, even though you have not fin­ished writ­ing the book, men­tion­ing that you want to pub­lish one can help you make it hap­pen, even if you don’t expect it. All in all, I would rec­om­mend this book to every young per­son read­ing and doubt­ing their own intake of emo­tion-sur­press­ing drugs. 

View all my reviews

Review: Caf­feine: How Caf­feine Cre­at­ed the Mod­ern World

Caffeine: How Caffeine Created the Modern World
Caf­feine: How Caf­feine Cre­at­ed the Mod­ern World by Michael Pol­lan
My rat­ing: 5 of 5 stars

The pac­ing of this sto­ry was quick and kept the atten­tion eas­i­ly, even if one’s recent­ly abstain­ing from caf­feine. Talk­ing about the his­to­ry and impact of soci­ety’s most accept­ed and wide­spread drug. Michael Pol­lan did a great job in relay­ing his expe­ri­ence with tem­porar­i­ly abstain­ing of cof­fee and lat­er on using it as a tool, but insin­u­ates it will creep back to an every­day ordeal. For the com­ing weeks I would like to fol­low his plan and just drink cof­fee on Sun­day morn­ings and only then. Per­haps Sat­ur­days could work as well, but I usu­al­ly tend to do my long run on Sun­days, so it would ben­e­fi­cial for that too. I appre­ci­at­ed the appear­ance of Matthew Walk­er and his view on caf­feine’s effect on the sleep qual­i­ty. I do notice, that even when I drink cof­fee in the morn­ing that my sleep is impact­ed, so that would be a good moti­va­tion. One of the more insight­ful bits was about the dif­fer­ence in spot-focus and can­vas focus, the lat­ter would enhance cre­ativ­i­ty by loose asso­ci­a­tion. Caf­feine enhances the spot-focus and there­fore lin­ear think­ing and might thus reduce one’s cre­ativ­i­ty. Know­ing what it can and can­not do, might help one use it for the right use cas­es. With­out cof­fee, there would­n’t be this cat­a­lyst for the age of rea­son. The fact that it was a replace­ment for alco­hol in the sev­en­teenth cen­tu­ry was new to me and that the cof­fee-hous­es played a big role in the enlight­en­ment by exchang­ing ideas, so much so that the first mod­ern ency­clo­pe­dia found its ori­gin in one of the cof­fee-hous­es in France. 

View all my reviews

Review: Dit was mijn laat­ste marathon .…., toch?

Dit was mijn laatste marathon ....., toch?
Dit was mijn laat­ste marathon .…., toch? by Ger­ard Legerstee
My rat­ing: 4 of 5 stars

As allud­ed to in my pre­vi­ous review, I fig­ured out a way to copy my notes of the book to my com­put­er. Which will make the process of writ­ing reviews of ebooks a lit­tle eas­i­er in the long run. Talk­ing about long runs, this book was a great sum­ma­ry of the jour­ney into run­ning not all that dis­sim­i­lar to mine. Let me list some of the things in the book that I liked; First, there was the term ‘wild run­ner’, used for a run­ning not affil­i­at­ed with any ath­let­ics club, which amused me quite a lot. Sec­ond­ly, the fact that you can run with any weath­er, except when the road is cov­ered in black ice. Which is very true, because I have ran in all weath­er times and the most dan­ger­ous one was while it was slip­pery as hell. Let me add though that run­ning in the mid­dle of a field with thun­der­ing clouds above is some­thing that also needs to be avoid­ed. Third­ly, the les­son that if your per­sist long enough, even­tu­al­ly you’ll gain the strength and the skill that is required. Fourth­ly, that noth­ing is as frus­trat­ing as see­ing some­one run while you are injured your­self, that is a weird kind of jeal­ousy, that makes me feel super sor­ry for the peo­ple that are per­ma­nent­ly dis­abled. Last­ly, the fact that you need to warm up cold water in your mouth to pre­vent diges­tive issues. I do know that cold wind can play a role in how the bow­els feel, but I nev­er made the con­nec­tion with tem­per­a­ture of the water I con­sume. Luck­i­ly, my run­ning back­pack has a water blad­der that warms up through the heat of my back, so even to the water in the drink­ing tube might cool down out in the cold, it will always be fol­lowed by warmer water. In the end, the book describes the life of an aver­age run­ner and is there­fore maybe more relat­able than the sto­ries of the accom­plished run­ners. The fact the book was writ­ten in Dutch, the exam­ples used were rather famil­iar so that must have helped as well. All in all, an enjoy­able quick read!

View all my reviews

Review: Drink meer koffie

Drink meer koffie
Drink meer koffie by Bertil Mark­lund
My rat­ing: 4 of 5 stars

The title of the book was what trig­gered my curios­i­ty and as the title of the Eng­lish trans­la­tion, it is clear that this book had a good mar­ket­ing team. The book was­n’t bad, the infor­ma­tion about the title’s top­ic was very kept to a min­i­mum. Some blog posts have writ­ten a more con­cise and exten­sive overview on the top­ic. How­ev­er, a lit­tle rep­e­ti­tion nev­er hurts and there were a lot of things I had changed over last two years that made me feel good about my choic­es and the path I am on. Fur­ther­more, the biggest les­son for me was that being opti­mistic has a sig­nif­i­cant impact on one’s life expectan­cy — extend it up to sev­en years — com­pared to more pes­simistic peo­ple. Being aware that cor­re­la­tion is not cau­sa­tion, there is still a lot of mer­it to this obser­va­tion and some­thing I would want to work on the com­ing years if not decades. As a side­note, this was the first book in which I exten­sive­ly used the note-tak­ing fea­ture on my e‑reader to help me improve my vocab­u­lary and high­light the sen­tences that res­onate with me and that I would like to use in the sum­ma­ry. How­ev­er, I find that many of these are in Dutch and not all of them would work well after trans­la­tion. So for now, I’ll leave it at this and in the future I hope to extend this review with those lessons, after I fig­ure out how to export them to a more man­age­able for­mat instead of hav­ing to type it word for word. Even though the lat­ter seems bet­ter for reten­tion of the infor­ma­tion, I think I would be less like­ly to do it for most of the books I read.

View all my reviews

Review: Goed volk

Goed volk
Goed volk by Teun van de Keuken
My rat­ing: 4 of 5 stars

Know­ing more about a per­son­’s upbring­ing helps you bet­ter under­stand their per­son­al­i­ties and traits. As an avid watch­er of the pro­grams that the author presents on Dutch tele­vi­sion; ‘Keur­ings­di­enst van Waarde’ and ‘De mon­i­tor’, I would like to know more about the pre­sen­ter’s per­son­al views. in the for­mer pro­gram the goal is most­ly to dis­cov­er the truth behind all the promis­es that the food pack­ages make, while in the lat­ter, a more broad­er and ide­al­is­tic goal is pur­sued, with the help of the sto­ries from every­day peo­ple that write in. All in all, I was sur­prised at how well it was writ­ten, from a lin­guis­tic per­spec­tive, which makes sense know­ing that he read a lot when he grew up, you pick up on a thing or two while you do so, I like to believe. The main top­ic of the book was the rela­tion­ship with his ambi­tious and artis­tic father, which dif­fers huge­ly from my own upbring­ing, as are the time and place of course. I found it to be a worth­while read, with plen­ty of fun­ny and rec­og­niz­able exam­ples. The only thing that was miss­ing for me, was a bridge between his ear­ly past at pri­ma­ry school and how this affect­ed his bond with his dad. For exam­ple, when he became a father him­self and how this might have changed his rela­tion­ship with his own dad. I doubt there will be a sequel.

View all my reviews

Review: The Song of Achilles

The Song of Achilles
The Song of Achilles by Made­line Miller
My rat­ing: 3 of 5 stars

The myth of Achilles is a sto­ry that has fas­ci­nat­ed me ever since I was younger, so it was time for a deep-dive. With­out spoil­ing too much of the sto­ry, I was a bit dis­ap­point­ed that the expec­ta­tion with regards to his heel were not met. I have come to learn that this was added to the sto­ry at a lat­er moment in time and hence might be imag­ined, but so were many oth­er parts of the sto­ry. Appar­ent­ly, hearsay is dif­fi­cult to cor­rect, once it has spread among the pop­u­lous, almost like a (corona)virus of the mind. Hon­est­ly, I liked the well-known end­ing bet­ter, but I appre­ci­ate this more real­is­tic ver­sion of the death of a half-god. For me there was def­i­nite­ly a part in the mid­dle of the book with which I strug­gled and luck­i­ly the pace picked up lat­er on. The fact that the pro­tag­o­nist was such a wuss from the start out might be the cause. All in all, after this, I am look­ing for­ward to read more sto­ries of mythol­o­gy, both Greek and Norse. 

View all my reviews

Review: De nieuwe warming-up

De nieuwe warming-up
De nieuwe warm­ing-up by Tjitte Kam­min­ga
My rat­ing: 4 of 5 stars

The main sell­ing-point of this book is the idea that (sta­t­ic) stretch­ing is worth­less as a warm-up for your run. Bet­ter would be to dynam­i­cal­ly stretch, as many oth­er sources online rec­om­mend, but what was new to me was the fact that it focused on joint exten­sions. Basi­cal­ly, mov­ing through the whole range of joint move­ments that will be used in the exer­cise there­after, and that sim­ply start­ing from walk­ing, to brisk-walk­ing, a slow tred and jog to prop­er run­ning. That this build-up can real­ly help prepar­ing the mus­cles and ten­dons for the motions to come. Since I could pick up this book for a cheap price, I won­der if there’s any­thing wrong with its advice, but to me the evi­dence seems to hold up.

The oth­er part of the book talks about the phys­i­ol­o­gy of the human mus­cu­loskele­tal sys­tem and what goes wrong when you are injured. The impor­tance of scar tis­sue is dis­cussed, and when you take com­plete rest, the scar tis­sue grows in ran­dom direc­tions and when you move with­in your lim­its, that you can force this tis­sue to grow in the cor­rect direc­tion, which will help increase the chances of a full recov­ery. So that is def­i­nite­ly some­thing to keep in mind for the future, and seems to hold true for the two times I have been injured myself, first ful­ly rest­ing, sec­ond­ly rest­ing while mov­ing. Note: The sec­ond injury was a lit­tle less severe, so that might skew the data.

The last les­son I learned was about the syn­ovia, the flu­id inside the joints and how it feeds the car­ti­lage of the joints. And with inac­tiv­i­ty, this flu­id does­n’t move and the car­ti­lage dete­ri­o­rates. Con­trary, to com­mon believe, it is this mov­ing of the joints that helps it keep in good shape and there is no wear and tear of joints, only this type of rust­ing, so to speak!

View all my reviews

Review: Filosofie van de duurloop

Filosofie van de duurloop
Filosofie van de duur­loop by Mark Row­lands
My rat­ing: 5 of 5 stars

Fas­ci­nat­ing book, it is clear that the author spent a lot of time think­ing while run­ning with his dogs/wolf and is equal­ly deter­mined to write down and clar­i­fy his thoughts. There were a few big learn­ings for me, that put run­ning in a new per­spec­tive for me. Main­ly, in the Dutch ver­sion, he talks about “run­ning is remem­ber­ing”, remem­ber­ing what we have lost along the way. A sec­ond, unex­pect­ed les­son was a way to humbly face the inevitable decay that will set in, soon­er or lat­er. The final per­spec­tive that stuck with me was its focus on run­ning being a form of play, not of work and how unique that is.

The one thing that would take away half a star, would be the penul­ti­mate chap­ter in which there is just too much philo­soph­i­cal chitchat on his iden­ti­ty and what he is not, to exem­pli­fy Sartre’s view on the con­scious­ness. Per­son­al­ly i found it to be just a lit­tle con­fus­ing and not help­ing fur­ther his main argu­ment of his phi­los­o­phy on run­ning and its intrin­sic value.

I was sur­prised by the many words I did­n’t know the exis­tence of, these real­ly stretched my vocab­u­lary, but again, makes the book less acces­si­ble to the read­er and pre­vents the deep­er under­stand­ing of its contents.

View all my reviews