De stilte en de storm review

Countries need collective stories to shape their identity. ‘De stilte en de storm’ tells about the history of the Dutch Remembrance Day (4th of May) and Liberation Day (5th of May). We take for granted how the fourth of May remembers war victims of all kinds, and that the fifth of May celebrates the freedom […]

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The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning review

It’s nice to inherit certain things from someone, but it’s not nice to inherit everything. Often, those left behind are left in a mess, with thousands of things to sort, pass on, sell or dump. It begs everyone to take responsibility for his or her own death. If you don’t have the time or will […]

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Trees of Shanghai

Two out of three trees in Shanghai are London plane trees. City planners call it a super tree. Its secret is its peculiar camouflage-patterned bark, which peals off in quick succession, allowing the tree to ‘clean’ itself from pollutions. As a result, it has a high tolerance to pests and diseases, and captures smog and carbon […]

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Street of Eternal Happiness review

Rob Schmitz writes about the residents of Changle Road and personifies modern day Shanghai (and to an extend, China) through these different generations and backgrounds. The focus on a single street is clever, and the stories are compelling. Street of Eternal Happiness is also both a good history lesson as well as a context-provider of […]

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Wish Lanterns review

This book combines the stories of six Chinese, born across China in between 1985 to 1990, and follows them in their lives until 2015. At times, Ash’s writing is incredibly sharp, but his style alternates as if the blend of six into one isn’t a seamless one. The book tells through inner personas, and provides context […]

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Replacement versus imitator

Next March in the Netherlands, there’s an offline and online event called ‘The National Week Without Meat’, with 43 brands participating. Most of those brands produce or sell meat substitutes, and aim to sell those through the week-long PR machine. The most visible absentee is the brand ‘De Vegetarische Slager’ (‘The Vegetarian Butcher’), yet it […]

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Never stop playing

School, sports, piano lessons, homework, career, a bigger house, new smartphone, like, share, tag, share. Kids need to do more and more, and we play less and less. But playing is not only fun, it’s also very important. Jantje Beton thinks it’s time to wake up the Netherlands with a message to both young and […]

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Wild Swans review

Wild Swans tells the story of three generations in China, starting when the country was still an empire, then being occupied by Russians and Japanese, and the battle between the communists and the Kuomintang, and ultimately the communist era and the chaos caused by Mao. The pace slows down massively as the book progresses, to […]

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The Geography of Thought Review

This book is a true gem, and I’m surprised it’s not more known. Written in clear language, it compares the dominant thinking structures of Westerners (e.g. US & Europe) with that of East Asians (e.g. China & Japan). It goes back to Aristoteles and Confucius, but also using ecology, economy and culture to rationalise it, […]

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