THE TWIRLING TRAVELER
In this section I will gather all the book recommendations that I have included in blog posts. I will write book recommendation blogs four times a year, so you will find your quarterly update here. I read about forty books a year, if you like my recommendations, you can also follow me on goodreads.
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee: This book was already published in 2017 and had been on my reading list for quite some time and I only recently got to reading it. This is a Korean family chronicle that spans from about 1930-1990. During this book a Korean family migrates to Japan, where they are treated like outcasts. I found it very interesting to read how they were discriminated against by the Japanese and I learned a lot about the Korean culture. I found it easy to connect to the characters and intensely sympathized with the family and their heartbreak.
Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld: You might think: another Hilary Clinton biography? But this is a fiction book about how Hilary's life could have been had she not married Bill. I went from loving to loathing Bill and loved reading about all of Hilary's insecurities as well as her political rise. What makes this book really fun is that you already sort of know the characters, sometimes they behave like you expect and other times not at all. At times the book was very humorous and scandalous and it took me along a wild ride.
Sisters first by Jenna Bush: This is a memoir by the daughters of former president Bush: Jenna & Barbara Bush. I always love getting an inside look into the white house and I liked that this book was written from the "kid perspective". The Bush daughters are only slightly older than I am and I found them surprisingly relatable. They share a very special bond with their father, even though they don't share his political views. The book left me very jealous that the Bush daughters still have their father for support, but not in a bad way.
The end of her by Shari Lapena: I love everything written by Shari Lapena. She always writes thrilling books with twist and turns. This book is about a couple who are very sleep deprived with twins, when a woman from the husband's past enters their life telling that he killed his first wife. It is up to the wife to figure out who is telling the truth to keep her babies safe.
Verliefd op Europa by Roell de Ram: If you are looking for travel inspiration for this summer, this is a very nice book with chapters about almost every European country. We are still hoping on an European getaway and this book definitely had some interesting recommendations. I must honestly admit that I preferred Verliefd op Nederland, which Roell released last year. She had very original recommendations for NL of which I have visited several because of her.
The last thing he told me by Laura Dave: This is a book from Reese Witherspoon's bookclub. It is a thriller in which a husband disappears and leaves his wife Hannah a message "protect her". Hannah now has to protect her stepdaughter who she does not have a good relationship with. It is best not to know too much before starting this book. I read it in very high speed, though I didn't love the ending I did love the way the book got there.
De nieuwe rafelrand van Europa by Ivo van de Wijdeven: As always I have included at least one non-fiction informative book. This book describes the history of Great-Britain in the context of its relationship with the EU and explains how the UK got to (Br)exiting the EU. I am very interested in geopolitics and this book is no short of it, I definitely learnt many new things. Let's keep the rest of Europe united!
The authenticity project by Clare Pooley: Again, a romantic book that I loved! I guess pregnancy makes me more mushy than usual 😉 This book is about a few people that live in the same neighborhood that find a notebook that challenges them to live an authentic and honest life. They meet each other because of the notebook and they all end up having a life changing experience. This book gave me fuzzy feelings, just like Love Actually did. It's the perfect feel good book to take your mind off the news.
The guest list by Lucy Foley: This book is a thriller about a wedding in Ireland, where all the guest seem to have something to hide for each other. It is a very fast paced, don't think too much about it book, but the characters and surroundings were well described and the ending was satisfying.
Maybe you should talk to someone by Lori Gottlieb: This is a book about a therapist who decided to visit a therapist herself after she gets dumped by the love of her life. The chapters alternate between flashbacks of stories of clients and chapters in which she goes to therapy herself, a plot device that works very well and keeps you engaged. If you are interested in therapy this is definitely an interesting book as it reads like fiction, but also explains a lot of psychological theories behind therapy.
Stoorzender by Arjen Lubach (Dutch): Arjen Lubach is one of the Netherland's most famous tv-presenters and this autobiography describes a few years of his life. Arjen is incredibly witty and liberal and I loved getting a detailed look into his brain. There is also a little mystery in this book that you can solve yourself: which DJ has gotten world famous with a song that was originally produced by Arjen?
Such a fun age by Kiley Reid: This is a novel about two women: a rich mother and the babysitter that she hires to look after one of her kids. The babysitter is black and gets into an accident in a supermarket when she is being accused of kidnapping, which kickstarts the story. The book is really easy to read, though it deals with difficult topics such as race, privilege and bias. I thought it was extremely well written and the book gave me a lot of food for thought.
21 lessons for the 21st century by Yuval Noah Harari: I don't know what the 21 lessons exactly were, besides the chapters about different topics, but I did find this book very interesting. Yuval Noah Harari is a historian and philosopher and I loved his take on important topics such as technological and biological disruption. He gives many great examples of philosophical dilemma's regarding for example self-driving cars and how they should be programmed. I found the book incredibly relevant and was surprised about how easy to read it was (compared to a book by his colleague Philipp Blom that expects you to have a lot of knowledge about philosophy before you start reading his books). If you are very religious you probably will not like this book, as it offers quite some criticism of religion.
Japan in honderd kleine stukjes by Paulien Cornelisse (Dutch): I love Japan, I love language and I love Paulien Cornelisse, so this book was a straight up winner. The book is full with cute little anecdotes, some of which are surprising and others are a trip down memory lane when you have been to Japan. Only downside to this book is that is was so short!
Untamed by Glennon Doyle. This book is all the rage in the US and I can understand why. I expected this book to be in the self-help category, but I found it more of a biography. I did not find this book as deep and liberating as others reviewed it to be, but I absolutely loved the writing style and anecdotes. The book is mainly about her struggles as a woman, trying to get everything right, while actually feeling stuck and underwhelmed with life. Doyle has an empowering life story and at times I found the things she went through very recognizable.
The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary. This book was quite a departure from my usual reads, but I ended up loving this romcom! The love story in this book left me warm and fuzzy for over a week after finishing the book. I personally find this book the perfect autumn read and didn't mind it being predictable at all. The Flatshare is about a man and a woman sharing a flat, but not in the way you expect it. The male lead works nightshifts and decides to rent his flat for the evenings and nights, while he inhabitants the flat while she is at her 9 to 5 job. They start communicating by leaving each other little notes and the build up to their meeting is just incredible!
Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. This is a book written in interview style about the famous seventies band The Six. Apparently it is loosely based on the adventures of one of my favorite bands: Fleetwood Mac. If you are interested in the seventies like me and love biographies, I would recommend this book to you. I thought this book captured the zeitgeist very well, which is the main reason why I really liked this book. I can imagine the writing style not to be everyone's cup of tea, as you really have to scrape through the first chapters trying to learn all the names in the band.
Verity by Colleen Hoover. Colleen Hoover is known for her very romantic writing style and often writes about topics such as relationships, tragedy and abuse. I wasn't a fan of her famous novel "It Ends with Us", but decided to give Verity a go anyway after reading the rave reviews. Verity took me by surprise by being a very different book. It is about a writer, that is asked to finish writing a book, because the original author has passed away. I found the book very disturbing and creepy at times, but I just could not put it away. I would say it is somewhere in between a romantic book and a thriller and you will be in for a crazy ride!
Lock every door by Riley Sager. This is a pretty standard thriller and definitely an entertaining one. In the book the main character is an apartment sitter for one of the most famous apartment buildings in New York. Of course, strange things start to happen that make you wonder whether the building is haunted. There are quite some twists and turns and if you don't want to think too much, this is the perfect weekend read.
De Fontein - Els van Steijn. I am super interested in psychology and why people behave the way they do and this book gave me amazing insights. Els van Steijn has a very matter of fact way of writing how family structures create repeating patterns in your life and how you can break these patterns, without becoming woolly. This book gave me great comfort in my dilemmas regarding who I am and who I would want to be in this world.
Educated by Tara Westover. I had no idea of what kind of book I was going to read, when I started this book. It is a novel about a girl, who comes from an unusual background as she goes on a path towards higher education. Though it is quite literary, the book is really easy to read. At times I was shocked by the events in the book as the book also covers physical and mental abuse.
Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall. Tim Marshall is one of my favorite authors when it comes to books about geopolitics, a very interesting topic of which I did not know it existed until a few years ago. This book gives you a perfect introduction into geopolitics as you will learn how the geographical location of a country can explain a country's history and wealth.
Eyeshot by Taylor Adams. I like to switch up my genre and every now and then I love to read a thriller. This book has an incredibly weird story and the perfect scene for a thrilling book. A couple's car breaks down in a remote part of the Mojave desert, where they discover that a sniper is trying to shoot them from a distance. The story is so bizarre, but definitely addicting.
Dame traveler by Nastasia Yakoub. I don't know why I did this to myself, but I read this book with beautiful pictures, accompanied by stories with experiences of female solo travelers. If you are looking into doing a solo trip, this book provides so many pages of inspiration.
Normal people by Sally Rooney. This is a very popular book and now I have read it I can understand why. The book is about a love story over the years of two teenagers, which is not particularly romantic. The author uses very short and subtle sentences in which she is able to put in a lot of feelings, giving you some room for interpretation. I was strangely captured by this book and could not put it down, despite being very different to the characters.
Skin in the Game by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. I love (socio) economical books that give a lot of examples, so this book was right up my alley. I found Skin in the Game a very interesting concept, it can be seen as having a stake in the result. For example it is better to invest with someone, who also undertakes risk in this investment himself. The author has many interesting theories and examples surrounding this topic.
Where the crawdads sing (Waar de rivierkreeften zingen) by Delia Owens. This was 2019's bestseller in the U.S., but somehow I don't know a lot of people who have read this book. In this book we follow the adventurous and unusual life of Kya Clark, who grows up alone in the marsh. I usually don't read these kind of books, as I tend to go for faster reading material, but I was really impressed by the writing style of the author and felt a real connection with the characters in the book. Kya lives such a different life than I do and the book took me away to another world.
A good neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler. This is a beautifully written novel, that tackles some difficult topics such as racism, class and prejudice without feeling too heavy. The story plays in North-Carolina and the descriptions about the old oak trees and landscapes took me back to our roadtrip in the U.S., offering some escapism in these times. I particularly loved the symbolism in this book, that ties the story together perfectly.
Talking to strangers by Malcolm Gladwell. Besides novels I always love to read biographies and real-life books and Michael Gladwell writes the perfect real-life books. I read this book on our sabbatical and each chapter I was giving Hielke an update of the theories in the book, as it provides a lot of discussion material. The tag-line for this book is “What we should know about the people we don’t know”, which seems even more current during the COVID-19 Pandemic. This book provides interesting theories about Fidel Castro and Adolf Hitler, giving you some interesting historic lessons as well as a good distraction.
The Perfect Wife by J.P. Delaney. I am always fascinated by developments in artificial intelligence and I love a suspense thriller. This book ties these things together with a story about a man that tries to deal with the loss of his wife by rebuilding her as a robot. But what are the real motives behind this?
Becoming by Michelle Obama. Just in case you haven’t read it, it is a must! I found it much more personal and candid than I expected!
The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda. Megan Miranda is one of my most read authors, I am always curious to see where her next story is about. The Last House Guest was another good thriller and I particularly liked the setting of this book, as a girl has gone missing in a fancy beach town. It will definitely take you back to the pre-Covid era, where we had parties and could go to restaurants at the beach 😉
So you want to talk about race by Iejeoma Oluo. Another book I couldn’t stop talking about to Hielke… it explains about privilege and racism in modern times and if you want an educational challenge I would absolutely recommend this book.