Books i’ve read with a four-star rating. Links lead to Goodreads.

2021

  • Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language by Gretchen McCulloch (2019)
    McCulloch writes about how the internet is changing the English language and social communication. Writing digital means writing informally, and for the first time in history this is happening on a global scale. How people communicate online has everything to do with you growing up with ICQ, MSN or WhatsApp. When you read this book you will finally understand why your mother uses emojis lavishly but always messes up her punctuation. (★★★★)
  • The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory by John Seabrook (2016)
    Seabrook describes the process of making the major hits by artists such as Katy Perry and Rihanna using the Swedish invasion as the main narrative. That started in the early 1990s with track and hook producers like Denniz PoP and Max Martin. It never stopped, thanks to the rise of Spotify at the beginning of the last decade. Thanks to a generous sprinkling of witty anecdotes the book is a delightful read. (★★★☆)
  • The expedition by Bea Uusma (2013)
    In 1897, three Swedish men attempted to reach the North Pole by hydrogen balloon. They did not return. It took 33 years for their bodies to be found. Bea Uusma spent fifteen obsessed years writing this book, tracing all the steps that led these men to their mysterious end. Sometimes a tad too artistic in form, but nevertheless a very strong personal account of her quest. (★★★☆)
  • Uncanny Valley by Anna Wienier (2020)
    Memoirs in the form of a novel by Anna Wiener, who gave up an underpaid job at a New York publisher for a career at various startups in San Francisco. As an outsider (being non-technical and a woman), Wiener writes revealing, sharp and witty about the prevalent bro culture that has hints of a religion. Mandatory for everyone who works in this business, or who wants to understand it better. (★★★☆)

2020

  • Apollo’s Arrow by Nicholas Christakis (2020)
    The coronavirus has not even reached its first birthday, but this American physician and sociologist already managed to write a book about it. It honestly contains little news if you’ve been following some of the better news outlets. The focus of this book is also pretty US-centric. But it does provide an excellent overview, and a proper reminder that the strange things happening right now have all happened before. (★★☆☆)
  • In the City of Bikes (De Fietsrepubliek) by Pete Jordan (2013)
    An excellent overview of the history of cycling in the Netherlands, particularly in Amsterdam. Littered with delightful anecdotes, gathered from a plethora of sources. Nicely interwoven with a personal history of integrating in Dutch society as an American. (★★★☆)