Introduction:

This is my bookshelf late one evening.

I am an avid reader of books, all kinds of books, anything I can get my hands on. Books, books, books and even more books. Also, I firmly believe that you can learn alot about a person by simply knowing what kind of books he has been reading recently, the last year, when he was a teenager and during his entire life time. Whenever I visit a person's house and make my way to his personal study, bedroom or wherever his collection of books can be found, I gain many insights by glancing over the bookshelves. Not only the titles concern me, but the condition of the books, how they are arranged, in what order, and how old and dusty they are. Have a look at my bookshelf here to the left to get an idea. Note the smelly shirts hanging (top left) and the reading lamp next to by bed (bottom right). I have also included a picture of the Buddha statuette below. He provides me with lots of inspiration, especially when I am aware of its presence. When I was little, I remember the one my parents had. It was much larger, and as I recall his belly was bulging out more and the smile on his face was much greater. Also it had a large crack down the middle of his belly starting at his head.


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My library:

Now I am not going to bore you with the details of someone else's library, but I think it worthwhile to note some interesting characteristics of my own library:

Original drinking cup
Very first drinking cup, extremely oxidized after all these years.
Buddha statuette
The Buddha statuette, just sits there but emanates lots and lots of positive energy.
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Book list:

These are the books I have read most recently, say in the last year or so, not in any special order. I have given ratings from 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest) with a summary and defense of my review. The type abbreviations have the following meanings:

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Books I am reading:

These are the books I am now reading. I seldom read just one book at a time, and usually read up to five books at the same time (perhaps switching too quickly). It seems that while I am pleasantly reading through one novel, I am distracted quickly, wondering what I am missing in the other book.

Title Author Type Rating Review (so far)
CGI Programming with Perl Guelisch et al. COM 8 This is an excellent source for creating dynamic web pages using the Common Gateway Interface, including explanations for most of the Perl modules.
XML in a Nutshell Harold and Means COM 7 This is a pretty technical treatise covering XML for really serious programmers. Not really what one would call a readable course as it is more an essential lookup guide.
Programming Perl Wall, Christiansen & Schwartz COM 9 Everything you need to know about this popular scripting language, from the basic syntax upwards. Also covers the most important library modules, debugging and Perl 5. Excellent and very readable. Difficult and technical at times but very complete.
Caesar, A Novel Colleen McCullough HIS
FIC
7 A thick book (900 pages) covering the history of Roman conquest during the period of Caesar's military expeditions. Heavy going at times filled with historical details, tens of different Roman characters which is difficult to follow at times, but if you have the patience it is very educational.
Programming Perl Wall, Christiansen & Schwartz COM 9 Everything you need to know about this popular scripting language, from the basic syntax upwards. Also covers the most important library modules, debugging and Perl 5. Excellent and very readable. Difficult and technical at times but very complete.
The Java Programming Language, 3rd edition Ken Arnold, James Gosling, David Holmes COM 8 This book provides a nearly indispensable guide to basic and advanced features in today's hottest programming language. Perfect for the intermediate or advanced developer, this book delivers a wealth of information on how to do more with Java.
Effective Java Josh Bloch COM 7 Covers the most essential and effective Java rules, providing comprehensive descriptions of techniques. The essays address practical problems that all Java programmers encounter and need to know about.
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Books I have read:

Here is a (long) list of books I have read in the recent past, say within the last year or two. I have also attempted to give a short synopsis and review for those interested in my opinion.

Title Author Type Score Review
High Fidelity Nick Hornby FIC 7 Hilarious novel in which the narrator is an early thirtysomething bloke who runs a London record store. If you do not mind the British slang and the music trivia, you will enjoy this first novel of his. Not very deep but entertaining nonetheless with a few good laughs here and there. The perfect vacation book.
A Landing on the Sun Michael Frayn FIC 8 When a conservative civil servant mysteriously falls to his death, rumors abound that this is somehow connected to a top secret defense project. The author, a civil servant himself, is called in to investigate the events leading up to this tragic event. What he slowly and professionally unveils is a complicated and bizarre series of entwined occurrences and coincidences. As it turns out, the esoteric topic "The quality of life" and the research project led by a firm-handed but lovely Russian woman, combined with the blindness of love, is what makes this story no less than remarkable. What at first appears as a mundane, boring and predictable theme, unfolds with elegance and skill. An excellent plot mixed in with just enough philosophy and psychology to keep the reader going until the very end.
Medieval: Total War, Official Strategy Guide Rick Barba COM 8 Offers comprehesive strategy, detailed unit descriptions as well as exclusive tips and inside information. In general, I felt the book was very informative and provided a good selection of hints and tips complementary to the user guide. Perhaps some more experienced gamers out there would find it not detailed enough and lacking in the more advanced game-play features. However, I am a satisfied owner of this guide and would recommend it to everyone.
Freedom From the Known Krishnamurti ESO 7 Conversations with this spiritual master who explains how we can free ourselves from the tyranny of the expected. At times a bit repetitive and predictable. One begins to wonder why one is reading the book when the whole time the author claims that you can learn absolutely nothing from spiritual leaders and their books, but rather need to start from within from the very beginning.
Spies Michael Frayn FIC 9 As usual Frayn writes very refreshingly, with an interesting mix of artistic prose balanced with a solid storyline which always keeps the reader on his toes. This book is about an older man who finally returns to the neighborhood of his youth, in England where he grew up during World War II, in order to deal with some obscure thoughts and feelings about a certain event he has been carrying with him his whole life. Playful enough and well written through the eyes of an adult as seen through the eyes of a child, at least how the man remembers it within the limited perception of childhood memories.
Wild Blue Stephen Ambrose HIS 7 An exciting account of those fearless B-24 crews (eg. George McGovern) who during the last years of WWII flew bombing missions over enemy territories in Europe. Too many short excerpts for my taste that while adding a more personal taste often distracted one from the flow of the story.
Atonement Ian McEwan FIC 8 Intertwined account of English lives all centered around the thirteen year-old Briony whose unjust accusations complicate innocent lives. The force of the novel is moving and works nicely towards the end goal of forgiveness in an unexpected twist. The first fifty pages are tough going, but the heavy reading is needed to set the mood.
From Beirut to Jerusalem Thomas L. Friedman HIS 8 If you have ever wondered what is really happening in the complicated politics of the Middle East, then you must read this book. Provides a complete coverage of historical events and the constantly changing political elements of this area of the world.
How To Be Good Nick Hornby FIC 9 Hilarious story about a woman whose unhappy marriage with an angry and cynical husband is transformed when he decides to become a really good person helping the hopeless and the homeless folks.
About a Boy Nick Hornby FIC 9 Thirty-six year old loser who has got it made discovers that he can meet women at a single parents group. The antics he gets into through trying to cover his lying existence is complicated when he is introduced to the oldest twelve-year-old in the world
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Stephen R. Covey PD 7 Powerful lessons in personal change providing the fundamentals of the keys to success. Through a growth via seven levels of personal development (from within to without), the reader is provided a solid framework for insight and action.
JavaScript, The Definitive Guide David Flanagan COM 9 This book provides an excellent and in depth overview of all the essentials of Javascript and includes an exhaustive reference manual with examples.
Essential CSS & DHTML for Web Professionals Dan Livingston COM 7 This book is a complete introduction to the mysterious world of Cascading Style Sheets and how to manipulate them using DHTML. Much of the book is code examples, too much really. The appendices take up a big portion of the book and are not really necessary as I already have this in reference books. More introductory and not for professionals as the title insists. Too expensive for what it offers.
Cascading Style Sheets 2.0 Eric A. Meyer COM 8 A very complete reference on the latest versions of CSS, how it is supported by different browsers. Lacks examples for explanation which would have been nice. But for a reference book which is by definition not for casual reading it is complete. However, one may wonder if the online help provided with standard HTML-editors is not already sufficient.
The Power of Now Eckhart Tolle ESO 7 Pretty good, easy reading, very light. At times perhaps a bit too off-the-wall and repetitive, the same old ideas of spiritualism and only living in the present.
Beginning JavaScript Paul Wilton COM 8 A good slow-paced introduction to programming in javascript, covering most of the basics as well as getting into more advanced issues like DHTML and ASP. The book is very thick and provides detailed examples and exercises.
The Enneagram Don Richard Riso PSY 7 Ancient system describing the nine basic personality types.
Web Design in a Nutshell Jennifer Niederst COM 9 This is by far the best summary I have read about designing web sites. It covers all of the important aspects, technical as well as non-technical. This is a must reference book for serious web designers at any level, from beginning all the way to advanced. Excellent overview.
Enemy at the Gates William Craig HIS 9 This is the story of the classic struggle during the WWII battle for Stalingrad. From the first person perspective of those who actually fought. Very good.
Eva Luna Isabel Allende FIC 8 About a girl who grows up in a South American country, bizarre and adventurous, psychologically strange.
The Green Mile Stephen King FIC 9 Fantastic book. Tempered use of the paranormal combined with a touching plot. Can't wait to see the film.
Timeline Michael Crichton FIC 3 A letdown compared with most of his other books. The plot of going back in time to the medieval period was boring.
Bag of Bones Stephen King FIC 6 Pretty good, but long-winded.
Hearts in Atlantis Stephen King FIC 7 Reminded me alot of the period when I was a kid, Vietnam etc.
The Celestine Prophecy James Redfield ESO 1 This has to be by far one of the worst books I have ever read. The plot is so farfetched that I could not believe I was reading such junk.
The Thin Red Line James Jones FIC 5 Too long and boring.
A Widow for One Year John Irving FIC 9 Great! The best of his books since Garp. Once chapter takes place in Amsterdam.
Angela's Ashes Frank McCourt FIC 8 I thought this book was moving, but also a bit too depressing at times. The Irish are up-in-arms about it.
Snow Falling on Cedars David Gutherson FIC 9 Excellent entertainment, making one think about how terribly the American Japanese were treated during WWII.
The Rainmaker John Grisham FIC 6 Yawn, pretty much a repeat of his other books, the new lawyer who goes out to beat the odds (and fork up a million dollars on the way).
Hanna's Daughters Marianne Frederiksson FIC 8 Deep and mysterious, life in Sweden. While it kind of died at the end, I still give the book a high rating.
Headlong Michael Frayn FIC 9 Really funny in an intellectual way. Highly recommended for thinkers.
Horse Whisperer Nicholas Evans FIC 9 Really good, kept me on the edge of my chair the whole way.
Consciousness Explained Daniel C. Dennet SCI 8 Tough reading, but tantalizing. A bit technical and long-winded at times.
Unlimited Power Anthony Robbins PD 7 Just another one of those self-help books, but pretty good nonetheless.
The Life of the Cosmos Lee Smolin SCI 7 A new view of existence based on evolutionary principles, the best universe of all possible universes.
Fermat's Last Theorem Simon Singh SCI 9 Did you know that this famous theorem has been solved? Yes it has, and this books tells how.
Conversations with God Neale Donald Walsch ESO 7 The first book was fine, but books 2 and 3 really sizzled out. Tries to encompass every possible aspect of existence, unsuccessfully. Too bad.
How to Win Friends Dale Carnegie PD 9 An old book that is still valid today, many great hints and tips.
The Power of Positive Thinking Norman Vincent Peale PD 10 This is by far the best book I have ever read in my life. Very inspirational, and makes you rethink how fortunate we all are,
The Dilbert Principle Scott Adams PD 8 Funny and entertaining book about working in a modern company, written by the Dilbert comic strip creator.
Born to Win M. James & D. Jongeward PD 9 An excellent overview of Transactional Analysis, not too deeply psychological but rather accessible for people who want more than another beginner's book.
The Prophet's Way Thom Hartman ESO 8 Interesting autobiography of a person in search of meaning in life through his work in setting up the Salem House.
A Sight for Sore Eyes Ruth Rendell FIC 8 This is an excellent psychological thriller. Not much action, but intensively captivating until the very end.
The Blind Watchmaker Richard Dawkins SCI 7 In defense of Darwin, this book provides an extensive and convincing argument in support of natural selection.
The March of Folly Barbara W. Tuchman HIS 7 History of the major blunders in war from the Trojan Horse to the Vietnam War. Heavy, detailed reading.
The Feeling of What Happens Antonio Damasio SCI 6 How our consciousness grew out from the development of emotions. Boringly detailed in scientific terminology, brain anatomy, especially the second half.
Hannibal Thomas Harris FIC 7 Similar to the book Silence of the Lambs, easy to read, some suspense, gory and surprising, but overrated.
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Unread books:

And last but not least, the mountain of books I have collected and until time have had no time to read yet. It seems like this list keeps growing, as I have the bad habit of entering bookstores and collecting even more books which tend to receive priority over books that I still have to read. There is nothing more irresistible than a new and shiny book.

Title Author Type Rating Review (so far)
The Essential Jung Anthony Storr (Intro) PSY ? An excellent collection of my hero, spanning all categories through his whole life.
The Western Lands William Burroughs FIC ? A revealing and astonishing meditation on morality, lonliness, life and death.
Wisdom and Where to Find It Barry Long ESO ? A contemporary spiritual master talks to people in search of self-knowledge. Jeanine gave this book to me as a gift.
Touched with Fire Kay Redfield Jamison PSY ? Manic-depressive illness and the artistic temperament.
Descartes' Error Antonio R. Damasio PSY ? Discourse supporting the theory that human reason is affected by logical thinking as well as an underlying emotional basis.
How To Know God Deepra Chopra ESO ? The soul's journey into the mystery of mysteries, says the cover.
The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success Deepra Chopra ESO ? This is a book that you will cherish for a lifetime, making all of your dreams come true!
Men At Arms Terry Pratchett FIC ? Another one of his Discworld comedies. Supposedly funny.
Aarde der Mensen Pramoedya Ananta Toer HF ? Historical fiction about growing up in Dutch Indonesia.
Idoru William Gibson SF ? Bestseller about 21st Tokyo.
Count Zero William Gibson SF ? More technopunk like Neuromancer
Burning Chrome William Gibson SF ? Collection of his best short stories.
The Perennial Philosophy Aldous Huxley PHI ? Jeanine gave me this book for further inspiration.
The Spectrum of Consciousness Ken Wilber ESO ? This is also a gift from Jeanine. Looks tough but I plan to read it.
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Other pictures:

The attic room offers a place of solace where it is usually pretty quiet. Mostly because it is elevated above the world and the neighborhood all around. A place for peaceful ruminations. Sometimes for a slight break, I take a breather and gaze a bit out the attic window. The following two pictures show the view I have, giving a nice comparison between summer and winter.

Attic view during autumn
The nice view from my window in autumn...

Attic view during winter
And the same view in the middle of winter...
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Who is this guy?
Just your regular down-to-earth kind of person who spends most of his time pursuing a pseudo-balanced life in the best of all perfect worlds.
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