Book Review: Uitgerekend Wij – Monika Peetz


Uitgerekend Wij is een typische romcom met een eenvoudig plot: wiskundenerd Tom is op zoek naar een vriendin en gebruikt daarbij een datingsite gebaseerd op algoritmes; iets wat perfect bij hem past. Hij ontmoet de liefde van zijn leven Lisa en na kort gecorrespondeerd te hebben spreken de twee af. Op de date is het echter niet Lisa die hij ontmoet, maar haar moeder Penelope. Zij is wanhopig op zoek naar een man voor Lisa, en hoopt in Tom de ideale schoonzoon gevonden te hebben. Ontzettend teleurgesteld gaat Tom weer naar huis, waar hij overtuigd wordt door ex-zwager Joshi om een nieuwe levensstijl te adopteren: 28 dagen lang elke dag iemand een cadeau geven. Hij begint deze levensstijl bij een sollicitatie gesprek. Als resultaat is hij een van de twee overgebleven kandidaten met wie hij moet strijden om een baan: de andere is Lisa. Tom’s nieuwe levensstijl zorgt ervoor dat hij telkens weer in de problemen komt, en dat terwijl hij ook nog Lisa voor zich moet zien te winnen.

Uitgerekend Wij is een boek dat precies doet wat ik verwacht van een romcom: het leest lekker weg, heeft enkele grappige momenten erin zitten, en is over het algemeen een feiten afleiding van het dagelijks leven. Over het algemeen was het niet echt verrassend, alleen het einde was niet wat ik verwacht had. Toen ik de synopsis op de achterkant las was ik een beetje ongerust: een mannelijke hoofdpersoon in dit soort boeken irriteert mij normaal gesproken al snel, maar daar was hier helemaal geen spraken van. Ik vond Tom erg sympathiek en had vaak met hem te doen.

Over het algemeen is dit boek precies wat ik verwacht had, met een leuke twist aan het einde. Zeker een aanrader voor fans van romantische komedies.


Book Review: Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything – Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner


I listened to an audiobook

I will keep it short and (not so) sweet: I didn’t like this book at all.

Freakonomics is a book about economics. At least, that’s what economist Steven Levitt and journalist Stephen Dubner said. To me, this was simply a book about sociology. There was nothing economic about the various unrelated stories and “research”. They range from corruption in the sumo wrestling industry to baby names to real estate.

First off, as I’ve mentioned, the subjects Levitt and Dubner have nothing to do with economics. I am most certainly not an economics expert, but when I think about economics I’m thinking about, well, money. This was all about sociology, how people behave in certain situations.

Second, I was very annoyed by the fact that they are trying to turn the reader agains experts. Everything they say about experts are bad, and you shouldn’t trust them because they are only trying to make themselves better and you can research everything yourself on the internet anyways. Levitt and Dubner avoid accountability by saying that this is not a scientific work, and that there is no theme that connects the subjects mentioned, but that only makes it more interesting. Alright it may not be scientific, but when you say using data that have been discovered, we can draw a conclusion. I know it isn’t scientific and doesn’t require a full list of works cited, but I would like to know what data he is talking about. Otherwise he could be making up a story for all I know. Levitt and Dubner also do not even care about other research that says something they do not agree with. If there are 100 researchers saying one thing, Levitt goes through great lengths to come up with something else. Of course this is not a bad thing in itself, but just because he found something else he disregards all other research and says that’s all wrong (and most likely corrupt).

Lastly I wanted to draw attention to some smaller issues that annoyed me throughout the book:

  • I can’t be a racist because I am such a nerd! Haha look at the way I dress, racists don’t dress like this!
  • Levitt really loves himself, and Dubner really loves Levitt. We get it, you’re the best economist who has ever lived.
  • Just because the book is not ment to have one theme, does not make it edgy and ok. This was just throwing random facts. Why should I care?
  • “I invented a new form of economy!” No you didn’t, it’s called sociology (I know I’ve mentioned it before but it’s just so annoying to me).
  • Assumes the reader is an idiot. Levitt and Dubner keep repeating what they said 5 pages before. Just because we’re not economists doesn’t make us stupid.
  • The book is also very contradictory: experts are evil and have an agenda, but I back up my arguments with research done by experts.

All in all, this book was simply annoying. The only reason why I gave this book an extra .5/10 is because sometimes I went “oh, that’s pretty interesting”. Sometimes there was a fun fact, mostly it just felt like bollocks.

Book Review: Mister Pip – Lloyd Jones


This is not the first time I’ve read Lloyd Jones’ novel Mister Pip. For a class called Dead or Alive: the Novel, we had to read Mister Pip with this question in mind; is the novel dead? Although we never did answer the question, I could not get this novel out of my mind. It has stuck with me for two years now. Since I felt like I had so much to say about it, I eventually chose it as the main subject of my dissertation, which I will not bore the reader with.

Mister Pip is the story of a girl called Matilda. She lives on the island of Bougainville during the civil war. All the teachers have fled the island, so the children have nothing to do all day, until the only white man still left in the little village decides to start teaching. During his lessons, he reads the children Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. In the world of Victorian England, the children find a way to escape the struggles of daily life, even when the war comes closer and closer to the village.

Setting: 8/10
I did some research on the civil war the story is set in (and with “doing research” I mean I’ve read the Wikipedia page). The opening of a mine in Bougainville caused a flood of immigrants from Australia and Papua New Guinea to come to the island. A group of Bougainville natives saw tensions surrounding the mine as results of racial issues. A civil war broke out between the black natives of the island, and the “redskins” of Papua New Guinea, who were supported by the white Australians. It was a very bloody war, as it was the cause of death for 25% of the Bougainville population. At the start of the novel the war is not as explicitly depicted as it will be later on, but the tension is always there.

Writing: 7/10
The novel is beautifully written. At times I almost felt like I was on the island, in the little village myself. However, there was one element that wasn’t quite right with me. It is made clear from the beginning that the narrator of the story is an older Matilda, recalling her experiences on the island. However, the story was narrated as if by an 11 year old, even though it is clear Matilda is much older at the time. This was more of a conscious critique on the novel after reading, although it wasn’t bothering me while I was reading.

Characters: 10/10
The characters are what eventually really sold me on this novel. I was absolutely in love with Matilda. Like Matilda who identifies with Pip, even though he is a white boy from Victorian England and they seemingly have nothing in common with each other, I identified with Matilda in the same way. While I was reading, she was such an approachable character, I felt like we could have been friends in some other life. The main factor in this being that she, like me, escaped real life in stories.
The other characters in the novel, Mr. Watts, Matilda’s mother, the other children, they all felt so approachable and so real, it was clear that this was the result of beautiful storytelling.