Suriname Bokmal

I'm special....but I fall withinn a Bell curve.

Bad Pharma Review

Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients - Ben Goldacre

One of the best books I've read this year.


A lot of sometimes pretty dense information, but to me at least very useful, with a lot of insight and new information.


The most I've got out of this book was an insight into the internal workings of medical academia as well as the pharmaceutical industry.

The fact that it focused on actual systematic problems, and gave reasonable solutions for many of them was highly enjoyable to read, especially in contrast to the usual "oh the big bad I mean pharmaceutical industry, is bad, because, well it's bad" rhetoric that makes my skin crawl.


How to Psychoanalyze yourself Review

Comment se psychanalyser soi-meme - Roberti/Andree

A terrible book written by a cynical person, with no references or sources, and some pretty outdated and outrageous claims.

The Psychology of Lying Review

Psychologie Du Menteur - Claudine Biland

An interesting topic with a very boring execution.
In places it is very repetitive, and the extremely short (3-4 sentence long) sections in each chapter aren't helping either.

It is not a good non-fiction book, or a how-to-guide, but rather like a written course material for an undergraduate level course on the topic.


The author mentions some experiments (not in much detail), including some that she and her research partners themselves have done, but these are also presented way too short, without enough interpretation and presentation, especially for a lay audience for whom I assume this book is intended.


Various Pets Alive and Dead

Various Pets Alive and Dead - Marina Lewycka

I read this because of a recommendation and a synopsis.

It sounded really promising.

Former hippies and their capitalist children and family drama/conflict because of this difference in values. Sounds interesting? Well it isn't.

The style itself is enjoyable enough, it isn't badly written and the use of British slang was a huge part of my enjoyment of this book, but still it turns out to be a pretty boring read.

There is a lot of build-up, and very little resolution.

At the start we get incredible detail, almost an hour by hour account of the lives of the characters, and by the end, the epilogue (!) the story suddenly jumps like a year and recounts in a few pages way too many events.

This is the major fault of the book. In the beginning it builds up a lot of potentially tense and funny situations, but it never amounts to anything. We have multiple lines of possibly good stories, for example the son, Serge is worrying for a brokering company and is keeping this a secret from his parents, especially his mother. There are a few situations were he comes close to this fact being revealed to his mother, but alas this never happens.

The daughter, has, as far as I can tell, because it's extremely subtle, a crush on one of the teachers in the school where she works. In the epilogue we find out they got together, but during 98% of the book, there were hints at the possibility of her being attracted to him but the guy appears like once maybe in the entire book and then on the last few pages, yup they’re together. But the actual interesting part of such a story, the how and when is entirely left out.

This is about the attitude of what could be the interesting parts of the lives of these characters.

For some strange reason the author decided instead of presenting us interesting characters, and their conflicts and as a moral perhaps, a potential resolution to said conflicts, she decides to spend page after page repeating herself and drawing out the tension while never solving it in the end, and adding instead only mind-numbingly boring and sometimes disgusting details about the characters.

And by disgusting I'm referring to the bogey flavoured bread that the mother and the step-sister of the main characters, who has Downs Syndrome are baking.

That was seriously useless and incredibly gross.

What did I as a reader gain from reading about that? Some deep insight to the behaviour or inner life of a fellow human being with a mental disability? An increase in compassion? Maybe a laugh? Because this is supposed to be a funny book by a hilarious author.

Oh and about that idea that this is supposed to be a funny book somehow. There is a terribly cliché scene when Serge, his mother, and his step-sister go on a boat ride and Serge manages to flip over the boat because he thinks he sees the woman from work who he has a teenage boy like crush on and of course the woman turns out to be someone else. That is the closest this book comes to being funny.


All in all I don't recommend this book to anyone.

Boring, badly plotted and told, and nothing like it is marketed as.

The wisdom of psychopaths review

The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success - Kevin Dutton

A nice concise introduction to the topic of psychopaths with a lot of references to other authors and research.

The language is very easy, not heavy on psychology lingo and what is used is explained in footnotes. Some very famous and basic research in psychology are presented and linked to the topic of psychopaths.

Reading this is like watching a documentary where the presenter is himself a scientist, but he mostly goes around and talks to other scientist about a certain topic, in this case psychopaths.

All in all it's a good introduction and an informative read.



Terrorist - John Updike

Well this was pretty disappointing.

The premise was interesting, it wasn't the typical first person, Mary-Sue fantasy, taking place in a tween's head, and this from a famous (and supposedly great) contemporary American author, but the execution was not up to the minimal expectation I had for such a story.


My major problem with it was, that the character development was barely there, instead the book was dominated by similar, repetitive descriptions of derelict parts of today's America.Or better yet what would modern America would look to an old man, longing for the good old days.

And even though that could be a valid point of view, considering that one of the main characters is an man in his fifties, it comes across as a cheesy, semi-parody version, like the representation of the "though part of town" that you usually see in C or D class action movie.

All in all that's the impression I got from this book, that I was watching a mediocre movie that was trying to be deep and talk about current events. Instead it came out exceedingly preachy and corny.


I might give Updike another chance and read some of his (based on other reviews) better books, about middle class white people, because that was much better done even in this book, so that may be better, but this was just a collection of clichés and lacking in empathy and knowledge about what would make someone become the scariest thing that post 9/11 Americans can imagine: a terrorist that was born and raised in the US. The terrorist of this book is not convincing at all, and that is confirmed by the fact that he changes his mind in 3 pages.


Ourania - J.M.G. Le Clézio

Kind of disappointed.


I bought this on a whim, based on the description on the back. The premise sounded great, plus the author received a Nobel prize for Literature, so I thought it would be much better, and much more interesting.


Maybe the author's other books are more interesting, but this started out with an interesting idea, but the main character and narrator becomes really dull, and doesn't really develop during the story.

The other thing that bothered me was the changes in the person of the narrator. There are a few chapters where two of the secondary characters write letters. These sound exactly the same like the narration before it. Maybe it's just me, but I have a problem from the start if a story is in first person.

This was especially bad in the case of this book for the last few chapters. The narration suddenly changes to third person and to an omniscient narrator. And then back again to first person for the main character Daniel's narration. There is also an appendix with a description of the trip that the main character Daniel takes at the end of the book. And a series of rules of the cult. These are entirely out of context. These may have been useful at the start of the section with the cult and maybe right after Daniel goes on the trip. But at the end of the book? Why?


All in all it's not terrible, and it's not great either, but very much mediocre. There are a few (very few and very short) passages and ideas that are interesting, and I would have loved to further explore them, but sadly that didn't happen. This would have been much better if it was a bit more detailed and a little longer.


But hey, I'm not the writer.

The Road

The Road - Cormac McCarthy

There is some quite good worldbuilding in this story, as well as probably the best representation of what it would be like to live in a post-apocalyptic world that I've ever read, but alas some elements in it are just too on the nose, and too preachy to ignore.


Especially the ending.


And all the god talk.


And the child being practically called mini-Jesus by his father.


I get it, it may be one way to cope with (the never really revealed) end of civilization as we know it, but still. It's too forced for my taste. Especially at the end where the father outright tells his son to pretend to talk to him after he's dead, pretend really hard and then he'll talk back. I'm sorry but that's not ok.

But who knows, maybe that was the whole point of putting it there. But if an author telling a story from a third person's perspective can't get it through to the reader if this is just a delusion of the character, or the actual moral of his story (the good guys aka those who believe in god, I'm sorry, who pretend to talk to god aka a dead guy and actually believe that the dead guy talks back, just because they really want to), well I think that deserves a few less stars that a story that is actually understandable by anyone besides the author.


Maybe I'm expecting too much but I would think that's a basic requirement of a novel, or of any good story: to at least try and get a point across to the reader or audience, instead of just spouting a few long and a few nice descriptions and metaphors but at the end still keeping the moral or the essence of the story to yourself.

English Patient

The English Patient - Michael Ondaatje

The story itself isn't that interesting or complex, but the writing makes up for it with some very nice prose here and there, as well as, at some points very moving descriptions of the various relationships.

On the other hand there is this part towards the end, when the focus suddenly is shifted to the description of trivia from the training days of the soldier/sapper Kip. At this point I almost gave up on the whole book, because the title character's story arc is complete, we know what happens to him, the only detail that is not revealed is why is he burned (but that doesn't get revealed at the end either, or maybe I was not paying enough attention, but I never found out), and maybe what happens to Kip and Hanna. But that's about it.

And then the author suddenly decides to dedicate about a chapter's worth to Kip's training days, and the description of some really-really boring details of bomb disposal techniques.

My problem with this was that there is zero tension in any of this because we already know that Kip makes it out unharmed out of each of these situations because he is telling these stories to Hanna, we get to find out very little about his character, and none of this helps us understand his decision in the last chapter (at least as far as I am concerned) and lastly, all those descriptions are not even informative, because they are not well written enough to be interesting from a technical point of view and as mentioned before they do not ad to the story from a tension point of view or a character building point of view either. That middle section is honestly a mystery to me. What was the point there? And how can someone who has written non-fiction books before this be so amateurish in presenting that information?


The only reason I didn't give this a four star rating was because of those few chapters where the whole tone of the book so far was ruined with this honestly, badly written section. That and the strange ending of the story which I felt was a bit coloured by the authors perspective on the events a few decades later, when the book was written.

I also felt that the ending to the Kip-Hanna storyline was disappointing and rushed. I don't have to have a happy ending each time but this was rushed and not very well explained.

Maybe the idea was to have a more poetic ending, but all it accomplished was that after an entire book of realistic writing it ends on a strange metaphorical note and when you turn the last page you are not really sure what happened to these characters.

I felt a little ripped off because of this, but as I said the story itself is nice and has some great elements to it, so it's worth a read.


Maybe if I re-read this later I'll read it in a different manner, reading the parts that are worth it, but unfortunately when you read this for the first time you won't know how to do that.

Perhaps this book needed a bit more editing or a bit more compromise from the author in the editing process.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson

This book was so over-hyped and it seemed like everyone was reading it so I picked it up too.

Well the start was decent and then it got very bad. Incredibly boring bad. I understood that it was meant to illustrate time passing and the fact that the protagonist wasn't making progress but holly molly was that a boring second half. I almost gave up on it because of that. I'm glad that I didn't though because it becomes pretty good at the end.

The parts with the Wennerström story (especially in the last half of the book) were pretty interesting and you could really tell that the author is a journalist. The final chapters were some of the best. But the affirmation that I read on some ads for the book and some blurbs that oohh the female main character (which also seems pretty much an exaggeration at this point because she wasn't present most of the book) is so unique and such a great female lead etc. is not at all true. The first problem is that she simply drops out of the book after the initial few chapters and does not appear for more than 3-4 sentences at a time until almost half of the book.

And what annoyed me even more was that instead of focusing on the title character (which was what sparked my main interest, a smart and strong female character) the story starts to focus on Mikael Blomkvist. And painfully detailing every dull and boring minute of his boring days in that boring of a bore town of Hedestad. Seriously I do not care that he went for coffee in the café of the town and that he bought the newspaper and then went for a jog. I really don't. I really-really want to read about the title character who was kind of brutally raped a few pages ago. Why is that not more interesting? Or at least relevant to the story? Again I get that it can symbolize time passing and him not advancing in the investigation but that part was incredibly boring. And this after an interesting start with a lot of potential was kind of disappointing.


Also the so much praised title character is presented in a strange manner. So if you fell for the advertising and are hoping for some brilliant character study of a female hacker, this isn't the story for you. Larsson is first and foremost a good journalist. And he writes like one. The parts of the story with the development of the Wennerström case and the final summary of the Harriet case are written very well. But the love story and the characterization of the characters and especially the thoughts of Lisbeth Salander are incredibly weak. I couldn't buy her attitudes and her reactions like those of a well written fictional character let alone someone real. Even if I suspend my disbelief some of those were simply corny as hell and really pulled you out of the story.


And that brings me to the ending. I wasn't a big fan of the instalove but I could go for it after they spent more time together at the end of the book, but the last scene is something out of a bad soap opera and it really spoiled whole the book for me. For this alone it looses at least one star from the rating.


That said it's not a bad story and it's worth a read. But much more for the sake of a good story about the maffia told from the perspective of a journalist and as a moral story about the ethical responsibilities of journalists and the mass-media (and about their corruption) from one journalist to others, but not at all a love story or a character study.


Matilda - Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake

A modern, but very much typical fairy tale. Great fun. Some of the elements are already a cliche but it's still an enjoyable read, especially because of the writing. Loved it even though I'm not a child.

The World According to Clarkson

The World According to Clarkson - Jeremy Clarkson

An entertaining and easy read.

The World According to Clarkson is a selection of articles by Jeremy Clarkson, most of which aren't longer than 3,5 pages and it's topics vary from personal anecdotes, to opinion pieces about everything from world politics to food, child care, and of course engineering. It's a fast and thoroughly entertaining read, that even though it's not up there with the works of Aristotle in terms of depth (neither does it aim to be) I occasionally found myself thinking more deeply about the various problems mentioned.


I also found the writing style enjoyable but that may not be the case for most, but I'm quite sure it will be enjoyed by those who read mostly British authors.


So all in all a worthwhile read, even if you are not a fan of Top Gear because it talks about cars as much as you might find yourself discussing the latest developments in biology. I enjoyed it and will definitely check out other works by Clarkson.