Ready Player One Review

My formative teenage years coincided mostly in the 2000s, and feverishly playing World of Warcraft, Fable and Diablo — so even though I didn’t get most of the references to the Eighties, I totally understood and felt what they stand for. Ready Player One is a fantastic mixture of nostalgia and sci-fi, aptly labelled by […]

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The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck review

It’s entertaining and at times insightful, but this is hobbyist-psychology at best. What gives it away is Manson’s generalisation of all Russians; how they’re blunt and not trying to be nice, and how that proves they’re more trustworthy then American citizens — or the plethora of random anecdotes followed by “That’s basically how our brains work” […]

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Young China review

Dychtwald’s writes well and his sentences have a neat flowing rhythm to them, although he jumps from topic to topic — back and forth — and does so even within the twelve loosely-bundled chapters of the book. ‘Young China’ feels like a loosely weaved net of anecdotes, which are rich in detail and probably representative for […]

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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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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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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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Politics and the English Language review

Orwell comes across as frustrated and angry, and rightly so. He outlines how clear writing can be achieved: “Let the meaning choose the word, not the other way around”, and “Probably it is better to put off using words as long as possible and get one’s meaning as clear as one can.” Orwell also makes clear […]

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