Mini Book Reviews: Q1 of 2019

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I’ve been so disorganized lately and stuck in a reading slump, so I wasn’t very motivated to work on my mini book reviews. I’m on a catch-up spree, though, so get ready:

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Service Dog

Frequently Asked Questions About My Service Dog

International Assistance Dog Week (August 4-10) came and went and I didn’t have the energy to post this in time, but here it is anyway: the answers to the most frequently asked questions I get about my service dog.

Keep in mind that the answers to these questions are specific to me and my dog, the organization I work with, and the country I live in (the Netherlands). So things might not be the same for you! If you live in the US and need advice on service dogs, please contact somebody else as I have limited knowledge on how things work overseas.

The Basics

  • Nugget is a Golden Retriever. Her breeder is Bentivar.
  • She’s in training to become an autism service dog.
  • I got her when she was 7.5 weeks old. She is now almost 10 months old.
  • I train her myself with the help of a service dog trainer (more on that later). We work with Stichting SAAC.

Make sure to follow Nugget on Instagram to stay up-to-date on our adventures and training progress!

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Autism Books

Book Review: The Rosie Project

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author & publisher. In no way does this affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Rosie Project

by Graeme Simsion

Genre: General Fiction
Publication date: January 30, 2013
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 368
Format: Paperback

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Love isn’t an exact science — but no one told Don Tillman. A handsome thirty-nine-year-old geneticist, Don’s never had a second date. So he devises The Wife Project, a scientific test to find the perfect partner. Enter Rosie — ‘the world’s most incompatible woman’ — throwing Don’s safe, ordered life into chaos. Just what is this unsettling, alien emotion he’s feeling?


I wouldn’t have picked this up if it wasn’t for the plethora of ‘autism fiction’ lists this book is on. As an autistic person with opinions, I knew that I had to read it for myself. It’s been a while since I read it, so excuse my lack of detail.
I’m not going to write much about the actual story because there are plenty of reviews about that and I don’t have much to add, but I am going to tell you what it’s like to read this book as an autistic person.

It’s never explicitly stated in the text that Don is autistic, but it’s hinted at. In the beginning of the book, Don, being a professor, gives a lecture on Asperger’s Syndrome and continues to think about it throughout the book, but does not realize he himself is autistic. I find this highly unrealistic, as any adult, especially one as intelligent as him, would put together the pieces (the puzzle pieces, if you will), and pursue an official diagnosis in order to get answers. This shows that the author probably thinks autistic people are a bit naive, and that irks me.

The depiction of autism wasn’t at all well done, but I didn’t feel that it was highly offensive either. Don is a straight white man with (undiagnosed) autism who shows all the signs that the general public knows (or think they know) about Asperger’s Syndrome; difficulty with basic social interaction, touch-averse, little to no empathy, lack of emotion, intelligent. Although these stereotypical autistic people do exist (but they do have emotions, they just express them diffferently), I can’t help but feel disappointed that yet another popular novel only shows this part of the autism spectrum.

I’ve done a bit of my own research on the research Graeme Simsion has done for this book, and to be completely honest, I think I spent more time reading interviews than he read anything about autism spectrum disorders. I found out that his research into Asperger’s Syndrome consisted of having worked in IT for 25+ years and knowing some parents with autistic kids. He has explicitly stated that “nothing of Don comes from a textbook”. As if that’s a good thing.
Don Tillman is a walking stereotype, exactly what you’d expect from an author who knows nothing about autism and hasn’t bothered to read up on it in order to represent this vulnerable group of people in a positive way.

When people tell me how funny they thought The Rosie Project was, I can’t help but be a bit wary. I worry that they find my autistic traits, like Don’s, something to be laughed at or to be pitied. I can laugh at myself, but when non-autistic people (who aren’t my close friends) do, I feel a bit uncomfortable. Also, at the end of some of the editions of this book there is a link to Autism Speaks, so fuck that shit.

I didn’t like Don, I didn’t like Rosie, but somehow, I still sort of liked this book. It reads like a rom-com, so if you’re into that, it’s not a bad read. Just read around the terrible representation!



“I asked you here tonight because when you realise you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

“Fault! Asperger’s isn’t a fault. It’s a variant. It’s potentially a major advantage. Asperger’s syndrome is associated with organization, focus, innovative thinking, and rational detachment.”

“You’re unbelievable,’ said Rosie. ‘Look at me when I’m talking.’
I kept looking out the window. I was already over-stimulated. 
‘I know what you look like.” 

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Secrets of Adulthood

If you’ve read my book review of The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, you may already know how much I love habits and personal growth. In her book, Gretchen writes about a thing called ‘secrets of adulthood’, which are lessons she’s learned growing up that would be good to remember for later.

Today, I turned 24 years old and figured it would be fun to share with you 24 things I’ve learned in 24 years.

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Mini Book Reviews: Q3 and Q4 of 2018

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First of all, my apologies for neglecting my seasonal book review posts these past few months. I’m going to assume that getting a puppy is a good enough excuse to be off the radar for a while. My pup is now 7 months old so I’m finally getting some more time for myself, and that means more blog posts! Here’s a catch-up post of the books I’ve read since my last seasonal book review post.

Starting with this post, I will be changing things up with my mini book reviews. Anything I read from now on will be collected in posts that cover a quarter of the year, so the next one will be Q1 (January, February, and March of 2019), rather than the season. This will make it easier for me to have an overview of the year. Hope you don’t mind the change!

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Books Lifestyle

Book Review: The Happiness Project

A paperback copy of The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin on a table with triangles in wood, yellow, black, and red in a geometric pattern

The Happiness ProjectYellow block letters that say "The Happiness Project" with a blue bird flying to the right

by Gretchen Rubin

Genre: Non-Fiction, Self-Help
Publication date: 2009
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 331
Format: Paperback

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Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon in the unlikeliest of places: a city bus. “The days are long, but the years are short,” she realized. “Time is passing, and I’m not focusing enough on the things that really matter.” In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project.

In this lively and compelling account, Rubin chronicles her adventures during the twelve months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. Among other things, she found that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness; that money can help buy happiness, when spent wisely; that outer order contributes to inner calm; and that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference.

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Books Lifestyle Minimalism

Read Fewer Books

Two books on a pile on top of a white dresser. The background is light grey. The books are 'Tiny Houses' and 'Dit is een goede gids'.

For years, my Goodreads reading challenges have been set to goals like 100, 80, 50 books (depending on how much I had going on that year). In 2019, my challenge is set to 25 books. And for the first time in my adult life, I don’t feel bad about it at all.

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