Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Books I read in 2015

This year I read 20 books. Ten of these books were fiction and ten were non-fiction. The Game of Thrones books were a re-read, I already read book 4 and 5 of this series before..

Here  are all the books I read in 2015

A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire) by George R. R. Martin
The most boring book of the series, not much happens, this is also the reason HBO decided to combine book 4 and 5 into one season.

A Feast for Crows: A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) by George R.R. Martin
This is better than book 4, but it's not even close to book 3.

The Confident Speaker: Beat Your Nerves and Communicate at Your Best in Any Situation by Harrison Monarth
Got this from work, this book is pretty good, I used some of the techniques from this book to help me prepare for some presentations I had to give.

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

The weirdest book I have ever read
One part of this book is about a house which is always changing and somehow the measurements inside are larger  than the outside measurements. There is are video recordings of what happens inside the house to the Navidson family as well as some people who are trying to help. The other part of this book is about Johnny Truant who discovers the manuscript written by Zampanò about the videos mentioned earlier, the Navidson record. I don't want to give you more info about the story, this way I won't spoil anything for you
This book has pages with text in circles, braille, upside down text, mirrored text and much more. Here is also a short video with some of the weirder pages of the book

There are also hidden messages in the book, the word house is always colored blue, some of the references are real, some are made up

To the Last Man: A Novel of the First World War by Jeff Shaara
This is a historical fiction book focusing on World War I. This book is very very good, I would recommend this to anyone. A big part of the book deals with air warfare, you will learn a lot about Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen and Raoul Lufberry. Another thing you will learn when reading this book is how the soldiers experienced trench warfare.

Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader by Brent Schlender
This book is different than Isaacson book, plenty of quotes and anecdotes that have not been seen before, this book was also more focused on Steve Job's growth over the years.

George Washington's Secret Six: The Spy Ring That Saved the American Revolution by Brian Kilmeade
Learned a lot from this book, for someone who grew up in the Netherlands, this stuff is not taught in school.

Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain by Steven D. Levitt
Similar to freakonomins

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance
The Edison/Tesla of our time.... This book tells you how Musk grew up, started a bunch of companies and finally wants to be the first human who will travel to Mars. very fascinating character.

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
Excellent book, a non-fiction book that reads like a novel, I couldn't put it down. Amazon's best book of the month for March 2015. Here are just some highlights of what reviewers had to say.

Larson is one of the modern masters of popular narrative nonfiction...a resourceful reporter and a subtle stylist who understands the tricky art of Edward Scissorhands-ing narrative strands into a pleasing story...An entertaining book about a great subject, and it will do much to make this seismic event resonate for new generations of readers."
—The New York Times Book Review

"Larson is an old hand at treating nonfiction like high drama...He knows how to pick details that have maximum soapy potential and then churn them down until they foam [and] has an eye for haunting, unexploited detail."
—The New York Times

"In his gripping new examination of the last days of what was then the fastest cruise ship in the world, Larson brings the past stingingly alive...He draws upon telegrams, war logs, love letters, and survivor depositions to provide the intriguing details, things I didn't know I wanted to know...Thrilling, dramatic and powerful."

"This enthralling and richly detailed account demonstrates that there was far more going on beneath the surface than is generally known...Larson's account [of the Lusitania's sinking] is the most lucid and suspenseful yet written, and he finds genuine emotional power in the unlucky confluences of forces, 'large and achingly small,' that set the stage for the ship's agonizing final moments."
—The Washington Post

"Utterly engrossing...Expertly ratcheting up the tension...Larson puts us on board with these people; it's page-turning history, breathing with life."
—The Seattle Times

"Larson has a gift for transforming historical re-creations into popular recreations, and Dead Wake is no exception...[He] provides first-rate suspense, a remarkable achievement given that we already know how this is going to turn out...The tension, in the reader's easy chair, is unbearable..."
—The Boston Globe

Finders Keepers: A Novel by Stephen King
Typical Stephen King story, you can't go wrong with Stephen King.

The Guns of August: The Pulitzer Prize-Winning Classic About the Outbreak of World War I by Barbara W. Tuchman
Very good book about World War I, this book focuses on the first month of the conflict.

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
Loved this book, anyone who travels by plane should read this book, you will appreciate what these two guys accomplished pretty much by themselves

Seveneves: A Novel by Neal Stephenson
Very interesting book, in my opinion way too long, Neal Stephenson could have cut the book in half and still make a very compelling story. I liked the story a lot, the moon breaks apart and there is only a certain time frame in which to save humanity.

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson
Another book I enjoyed a lot. The most interesting part of the book for me was that you could see what life must have been in Chicago during the time period the book takes place in. The first time we had tall buildings, electricity and light bulbs, the first Ferris wheel. This book really contains two stories, one about the world fair, the other about a mass murdered.

Hitler's Last Day: Minute by Minute by Emma Craigie
Was disapointed in this book because it also covered a bunch of stuff that happened at other time...but I think if this wasn't done, then the book would have been 50 pages or so. Some interesting facts about what happened in the bunker and what it must have been like for the people inside that bunker.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
An interesting thriller set in England, this would be a good book to read on the beach or on your commute.

Robopocalypse: A Novel (Vintage Contemporaries) by Daniel H. Wilson
This was pretty good, the robots came alive and decided to eliminate most of the humans. Sounds similar to The Terminator and Skynet but it's nothing like it.

Robogenesis by Daniel H. Wilson
Follows the story of Robopocalypse but I was getting bored towards the end

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick
Probably my favorite book of the year, Moby Dick was based on this disaster. An excellent story about tragedy and survival at sea. I didn't know much about whaling or whale oil, after reading this book I can only appreciate what a tough job that must have been.

And here are the 5 books I like the most from this list of 20 books

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick
Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance
To the Last Man: A Novel of the First World War by Jeff Shaara
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

Monday, December 28, 2015

My 2016 new year's resolutions

I decided to put some of my new year's resolutions down in a post. These are non professional goals, here is what my goals are

Learn a new language
I want to learn a new language in 2016. I already know Croatian and Dutch, in addition to those I can understand most of German, I also have some knowledge of Italian and Spanish. The more languages you know, the easier it is to learn another language. To make it more difficult for me, I am picking a non European language. I decided to try to learn Chinese this year. 
When I say learn, what I mean is that I must be able to communicate with a person in Chinese as well as being able to watch a movie in Chinese while understanding 80% of the movie. By Chinese, I mean Mandarin, it would be really funny if I picked a movie in Cantonese and then couldn't understand anything. 
I work with a bunch of people from China and Taiwan, so I can always check with them to see if I am pronouncing words correctly.
If learning the Chinese language goes well, I want to then learn these 4 languages the next 4 years following 2016: Greek, Japanese, Portuguese, Korean. 

Read 30 books
In 2015, I read 20 books, this year I want to read 30 books. I want 5 of those books to deal with American history, I have been living in the US for 20+ years and most of the history books I read were about European history or World War i and World War II history. I also want to read more technical books, so 6 of those books should be technical.

Do a handstand, walk 30 feet on my hands
I can barely hold a handstand for 2 seconds, this year, I want to try to improve on that. My goal is to be able to do a handstand and hold it for 30 seconds. I also want to be able to walk 30 feet on my hands.

Improve on lifts
I would like to be be able to bench press 200 pounds, squat 300 pounds and deadlift 400 pounds by the end of the year. All of the lifts should be raw.

Blog more
I want to write 100 blog posts in 2016, this should not be that difficult, it is only 2 fricking posts per week, but sometimes I don't write anything for 6 months straight. In 2016 this will change, one thing that will make this easier is I will document the progress of my goals, this will be mostly focused on my progress learning the Chinese language.

So there you have it, that is my list, seems very doable and I will keep you and me posted on the progress of these lofty goals.......