In 2019 I set myself another Reading Challenge: 24 books!
In a previous blog post I gave you a mid-year update where I had made it to 10 books. That meant 14 books to read in 6 months time but *spoiler alert* I made it!
So let’s see what I’ve read (and my thoughts on it) between July and December 2019:
11. How to Build a Girl (Caitlin Moran)
A friend gave me this book after she read it and told me it was hilarious. I’ve read How to Be a Woman by Moran in the past and though I didn’t love every chapter, I did enjoy the book overall. I could see several parallels between both books, and unfortunately How to Build a Girl reminded me mostly of the parts in How to Be a Woman I didn’t like. How to Build a Girl is about a teenage girl and all the foolish, awkward and puberesque things teenage girls think and do. That overarching sense of awkwardness, whether in books or films or television, just isn’t for me. But I’m stubborn, so I did finish the book.
12. Geluk – The World book of Happiness (Leo Bormans)
This book was a gift by another friend. The topic of happiness is one I find quite interesting. It’s a large book, not easy to commute with, so I only read it in the evenings before going to bed. It’s a collection of advice on happiness from 100 experts in what is called ‘positive psychology’. They share their views and learning from different cultures across the world. However, some of these were poorly written and/or translated into Dutch. It didn’t read very easily but maybe that is because I tried to read it all in one go? So perhaps one to read a chapter of, put away and dig back up a little later for another chapter.
13. Praten met Reuzen (Noël Slagen)
In April I started a new job in communications, but for the very first time in Dutch. So that took (and still takes) quite a lot of adaptation, as outside of work I primarily still speak and write in English. In June I attended a workshop about writing more comprehensible and coherent texts. One of the books mentioned during the workshop was this one, so I picked it up from the library. The book is about working and communicating with leading figures in politics or business. It was a quick read, not uninteresting but I haven’t really retained anything that I can think of now.
14. Good Omens (Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman)
As the previous 3 books weren’t the most captivating of reads I was really glad to get suck in Good Omens. One of my best friends sent me the book when I was off sick for a couple of days and I had been eager to start reading it. I’ve read Stardust and Neverwhere in the past and really liked being sucked into those stories. It was a really good book, but I think the hype last summer about the upcoming TV series sparked my expectations a little too much (David Tennant <3). Nonetheless I think it’s a gem and I couldn’t be happier Good Omens is now coming to BBC2 so I can watch it as well!
15. Rituals for Every Day (Nadia Narrain &Katia Narrain Phillips)
Another book gifted by a friend. I was a bit sceptical at first because when I had a look through the book I saw stuff about stones and energy and that just isn’t for me. But when I finally got round to reading it I actually quite liked it. It’s an easy read, with short chapters and a lot of images. The authors are very modest in the sense that they give advice by sharing their own personal stories. They don’t imply that they know best or that what is proposed is the best way forward, which I liked.
16. Georgia / Bradt Travel Guide (Tim Burford)
As you might have guessed, we made a 2-week trip to Georgia (the country) last year – a dedicated blog post is coming soon! That required a good bit of preparation, so I did what I usualy do: I went to Waterstones and bought the Lonely Planet. However, the one I got was the combo one for Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. It’s alright, but it doesn’t go into that much detail. Luckily/randomly quite a few of my friends also planned a trip to Georgia last year, and one of them lent me her Bradt travel guide. I had never heard of Bradt but will for sure check if they have travel guides for future trips as it was indispensable! Very informative, a lot of detail and up-to-date.
17. The Silkworm / Cormoran Strike #2 (Robert Galbraith)
I read this one digitally on my e-reader as it was my holiday read wilst in Georgia. And what an ideal book to read on pretty much any vacay if you ask me! I read the first book in the series a good few years ago, but have had this one lying around for ages. It wasn’t a very difficult read I thought and I found the story quite intriguing. So much so that at one point during our holidays I decided not to join my boyfriend on a big climb he wanted to do and only went along for the first part of his journey. Afterwards I walked back to the village where we were staying and enjoyed an afternoon of lounging on the balcony and reading this book.
18. Reizen in West-Afrika (Mary Henrietta Kingsley)
During summer our local library did a big sale of old books. I cannot remember exactly how much it cost, but it was something like 50 cents per book so I took my time running through them. I think I bought about 4 or 5 books and this was one of them. I liked the idea of reading about this woman who set off by herself to West-Africa in the 1800s to collect botanical specimen. Unfortunately that is as far as the enthusiasm goes. The Dutch translation I read of this book was slow and did require an effort to wade through. I persevered and finished the book but didn’t enjoy it.
19. Don’t Read this Book: Time Management for Creative People (Donald Roos)
So obviously I ignored the title and read the book. My colleague lent me this book and I did take away some very interesting points from it. The book is based on an app that the author developed which helps creatives (and people in general) with time management. It’s a pleasant read, helped by the nice layout which made it an even smoother experience. The book contains some general suggestions about time management, personal examples from the author as well as very concrete tips such as how to structure your emails.
20. Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men (Caroline Criado-Pérez)
This book is, without a doubt, the best book I’ve read in the past year, maybe even longer. I’ve been recommending it to anyone who’s wanted to hear me out, but with one big caveat: it made me really upset. The book is packed full of stats showcasing the data bias against women. With every chapter I got more disheartened and unnerved, wanting to talk about it, eager to change things. So if there is one thing I recommend you read in 2020 (if you haven’t already) it’s this book – whether you’re a man or a woman. But read a few chapters, put it away and then continue. And once you’ve finished the book tell others about it, talk about these issues and let’s try to solve them together.
21. Odes (David Van Reybrouck)
I have read ‘Congo. A history’ (in Dutch) by David Van Reybrouck a few years ago and was really impressed by the book. So when I was looking for a few good books in Dutch last summer David Van Reybrouck very quickly came to mind. This book is a collection of odes to people, things, concepts or places. And every single ode is incredibly beautiful. He captures certain emotions or interactions in such a delicate way, turning each one of the odes into a little gem. I read the book in one go, but really it is one of those books to put aside after reading a ‘chapter’ and let the feeling it evokes linger, until it is time to be enticed by another.
22. Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe (Bill Bryson)
I’ve read two Bill Bryson books last year and have been raving about them ever since! He’s got different books about different destinations, but as this one is about Europe I felt I could relate. It was on my wish-list and I was given it as a present for my birthday last year. It was a nice and relaxing read, but not as good as the previous ones I’ve read. Maybe it’s because he was a lot younger when he wrote this one or whether it was because of the reminiscence of his trip as a teenager, but this one at times is a bit seedy. Then again, there are lovely descriptons and really funny lines. A alright read overall, but I do prefer his later books about the UK.
23. De bekeerlinge (Stefan Hertmans)
You might know Stefan Hertmans from his book Oorlog en Terpentijn/War and Turpentine. He wrote it based on the notebooks from his grandfather and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2017. De bekeerlinge is his most recent book and follows the life and story of a christian young woman who fell in love with a young jewish man in the Middle Ages. She left everything and we accompany her on the tragic journey that follows. I really enjoy the way Hertmans describes the landscapes and the actions and find it very intriguing how he pieced together this story based on limited historic sources.
24. Contagious: Why Things Catch On (Jonah Berger)
Last but not least, I read Contagious. It’s a very interesting book on how and why certain things catch on and others don’t. Why do certain stories go viral? How does one thing trigger another? It’s a book that has a very clear and helpful structure and includes a wide variety of (American) examples. Indirectly it also shows how quickly the field of marketing changes: named the Best Marketing Book of 2014 it doesn’t refer to Instagram (yet). Nonetheless, I found it a very interesting read and if you work or have an interest in marketing then I definitely recommend you to have a look at this book.
And that was it for 2019! What were your favourite books last year?
If you would like some more book recommendations I’d suggest you to check out my previous book posts:
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I tried reading How to Be a Woman and I gave up after 3 chapters. Is it worth a retry? Some great books. I hope you are rocking this years challenge too!
I didn’t like the chapters where she’s a child/teenager, so I can understand giving up during those chapters (and don’t read How to build a girl in that case, cause the whole book is like that). But the later chapters where she is an adult I quite liked – so if you give it another go maybe just skip the first half of the book? And yes, doing the challenge this year as well!