Books

Winter 2017 Book Reviews

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In the winter of 2017-2018, I didn’t read nearly as many books as I did last season. I’m afraid I might have gotten into another reading slump… Still, I managed to read 1 book in December, 3 in January, and 3 in February.

I’m okay with that. One of my goals for 2018 was to read more consciously. When I first discovered young adult fiction, I read between seventy and a hundred books a year, and I barely remember anything from those books. It’s too early to tell now, but I hope that in a year from now, I’ll still remember enough to be able to talk about them with people. I’m also reading more non-fiction, with the goal to learn something new every once in a while.

Turtles All The Way Down

by John Green

I can’t tell you whether it was the book or my state of mind that was the problem, but I didn’t love Turtles as much as I love (most of) John Green’s other books. I’m a little underwhelmed, but maybe my expectations were too high.

I didn’t care about the characters at all, with every ‘Holmesy’ I got more annoyed, and I didn’t feel like I read a book that was complete. What I did like was the way OCD was handled in the book: it was written very realistically, which is no surprise if you know that John Green himself suffers from OCD. I could very much relate to Aza’s thought spirals and germaphobia.

Together at Midnight

by Jennifer Castle

I received a copy of this book for review, so you can read my full review here. The basics? It’s a dual point-of-view contemporary YA about random acts of kindness in New York City. The main character has ADHD, which I haven’t read much about, but I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t get a better idea of what that is like.
It’s not the best-written book, but it’s fun, and sometimes that’s exactly what we need.

Paaz 🇳🇱

by Myrthe van der Meer

I almost never read Dutch fiction anymore, but I’ve been so interested in this one ever since I first heard of it, I just had to give it a go. I’m sad there isn’t an English translation because it’s the kind of book that I’d like to recommend to certain people who, like me, could relate to this book.

It’s about a young woman who voluntarily signs into the mental ward of the hospital. Her depression and suicidal thoughts were the most realistic I’ve ever read, especially her surprise when she found out that not everyone wants to die on a daily basis.

Because the book is very character-driven, it was a bit of a slow read, which is why I gave it only three stars. There is a sequel (Up) that I will probably pick up at some point this year!

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Illustrated Edition

by J.K. Rowling and Jim Kay

Just like the previous two illustrated Harry Potter books, this one was gorgeous! Prisoner of Azkaban is one of my favorites in the series (because I’m a little bit in love with Remus Lupin, don’t tell anyone) and I was excited to see what Jim Kay was going to do with it. Spoiler alert: Lupin is still hot. (No, I do not have a werewolf fetish.)

I can’t imagine how they’re going to do this from book 4 onwards, since that’s when the books get really big. These illustrated editions are already difficult to hold! (But very much worth it to make your re-reading experience better.)

Goodbye, Things

by Fumio Sasaki

Because it’s one of my favorites of 2018 so far, I’ve already written an in-depth review of this book. With its short chapters and simple writing style, it’s a book that could be consumed very quickly, but took me a while because I kept taking breaks to declutter or question every purchase I’ve ever made. (In a good way.)

Although the author is an extreme minimalist, I think this book is a great read for minimalists, ‘maximalists’, and everything in between.

Meer rust en minder stress bij autisme 🇳🇱

by Marja Boxhoorn

In my autumn book reviews, I wrote about ‘Overprikkeling voorkomen’, a practical book about dealing with sensory overload if you have autism and/or ADHD. This is another one of those books, but more focused on dealing with stress in general.

Just like with the other book, I had a hard time getting through it because it required action. It did turn out to be useful as inspiration for a list of things I’m hypersensitive to.

I think I’m going to take a break from practical autism books for a while, at least until I feel ready to tackle one with a carer that can help me actually take some steps. I don’t think self-study works for me in this aspect of my life.

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning

by Margareta Magnusson

After finishing Goodbye, Things, I was looking for something similar (short chapters, simple writing, minimalism) to continue the high I was on. I expected this to be at least a 4-star, but it ended up deeply disappointing me. The writing is awkward (may be due to translation or bad editing) and I don’t feel like I learned anything new.

Example of bad editing: “These days I now only have two cookbooks left.” Either remove the ‘now’ or the ‘these days’. It reminds me of my writing style when I was in high school, trying to get the word count up.

Throughout the book, there are small black & white doodles by the author (who is an artist) that I thought weren’t very good, at least not my style. The book’s only redeeming qualities are the gorgeous cover and some interesting tidbits about Swedish culture.

Everything worthwhile to know about death cleaning can be found in articles on the internet. The main things to take away from it are: 1) don’t be an asshole and burden your family with mountains of stuff, and 2) if you death clean early in life, you might actually get to enjoy the serenity of minimalism for a while.

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