I’ve decided to do things a little different. In the past, I used to write an entire blogpost about one book that I recommend. But starting from today (2024, happy new year!), I want to write one post a year in which I recommend the books which I read the year before and think are worthwhile to share. It’s a whole lot of information all at once, but I usually like this better when I read other people’s blog, so I think you’ll like this better on this blog too. Here are my book recommendations from 2023.
1 Dat zou jij nooit toelaten by Tessel ten Zweege (2022)
This list starts off with an extreme heavy (Dutch) book (in English it would say: you would never allow that). One about domestic violence. It’s a book that’s the personal story of Tessel ten Zweege, but she combines her own story with valuable knowledge that she gained after her violent relationship was over (she was lucky to survive). This helps you recognize toxic and dangerous behavior and makes you learn more about the broader picture of domestic violence. The book is extremely hard to read, but I think it’s important to do so, as it makes you realize that it can happen to anyone (this prevents victim blaming).
2 The top five regrets of the dying by Bronnie Ware (2012)
Bronnie Ware has been taking care of people during the last period of their life for a long time. And along the way, she has learned a lot. That’s because people reflect on their life when the end is near and they shared their regrets and lessons with her. Ware kept hearing the same advices and it seemed like people kept making the same mistakes in life. And so, she started a blog, listing the life lessons she learned from the dying. This blog was so successful that it was turned into a book. The book is a little floaty sometimes, but I recommend it to anyone who wants to have a meaningful life. It can make you question everything.
3 Zorg by Lynn Berger (2022)
Ah, a book by De Correspondent. My favorite Dutch publisher. Zorg is a Dutch book, the English translation is Care. It’s a book about all sorts of care. It describes how care is the basis of everything we do in society. And it shows us that women do most of this care, making our society rely so much on women. But at the same time, we don’t appreciate care. Most jobs in care are paid the lowest, household work or taking care of the children isn’t even seen as work and caregiver work isn’t recognized either. It’s a tough burden to carry. And all that while the need for care keeps increasing more and more. We can’t keep up with the demand. It’s time to recognize how important care actually is.
4 Ouder worden in de praktijk by Rudi Westendorp (2015)
Another Dutch book (I’m sorry). The English translation would be: Getting older in practice. This book has one very clear message to tell: if you want to get very old, in a healthy way, you have to change your environment. Westendorp shows how you can transform your environment in order to transform your life. He argues that our health relies very much on how healthy our environment is. Are there pavements in your city? Are there bike lanes? Is taking the stairs stimulated in the buildings? And how many fastfood restaurants are there? All those factors play a role in your life. And there are many more, some which you can influence very well.
5 Body positive power by Megan Jayne Crabbe (2017)
This is actually the first and only book so far which has really convinced me to have a positive body image. I mean, I won’t say it’s easy. There are hundreds of companies out there, doing their very best to make us hate ourselves and buy their products. But now that I’ve seen that, and that I know that all they want is to make me feel bad about myself to make me buy their product, I have actually managed to love my body. To love it for what it does for me. But also for what it looks like. I love myself when I look in the mirror. And this book played a huge part in it, which is why I think you should read it too.
6 Invisible women by Caroline Criado Perez (2019)
Onto the first feminist book that infuriated me. If you’re a women reading this book, you’ll get mad. You’ll get mad because you finally see how women have always been ignored in data. How any study on health care is based on men. How cars and offices are designed for men. And how entire cities are designed for men. Yes, it’s infuriating. But I believe that being informed is crucial for us to change things. We have to know what is wrong with the world to be able to set it right. This book helps you with that.
7 Humankind: A hopeful history by Rutger Bregman (2019)
I hate to admit it, but this is my favorite author. My favorite author of all time is a man. Haha, I can’t help it either. Maybe I haven’t read enough books yet. Anyway, I love all books from Rutger Bregman (I wrote an article about Utopia for realists a long time ago), but this is my favorite. This book makes you restore your faith in humanity. It debunks all myths that make you have a negative world-view: about humans being selfish, having lust for power only, wanting to have war, etc. It really changes your perspective, makes you hopeful and kind. And that last thing for me is the most important. This book makes you look at other people with kindness.
8 I hate men by Pauline Harmange (2020)
The title of this book is controversial. And the book was almost banned in France, the country were Harmange was born. But if you read it, you get it. You have to give this book a chance in order to understand it. What it comes down to is this: hating men is a logical reaction. It’s a logical reaction to all that is done to women, by men. Harmange explains that it is justified to hate men, as it is a reaction to men hating women. Men who hate women have no reason to do so (they are better off in general and have no reason to fear women). But we do have reasons (femicide, domestic violence, the pay gap, the orgasm gap, the unequal division of care, and the list goes on and on and on).
9 Hallo witte mensen by Anousha Nzume (2017)
I have to admit that it’s been some time since I read this book, so I don’t remember the details too well. But I do remember the main message. Anousha Nzume is not afraid to tell white people how it is. It’s white people who are the problem when it comes to racism and we don’t see it. And so, Nzume tells us very clearly what we’re doing wrong and how we can fix it. Because it’s up to us to fix the problem, as we are the problem. It’s time to see our white privilege.
10 Wit huiswerk by Anne van der Ven (2020)
When you’ve learned more about white privilege it’s time to put that knowledge to action. And that’s where Wit huiswerk comes in perfectly. Of course this books also describes the basics about racism and white privilege. However, it is mostly a very practical book. The title means ‘White homework’ in English. It provides a whole lot of sources for you to do your homework into racism and white supremacy. This way white people can do the work, instead of people of color having to educate us about our own problems.
11 Het zero waste project by Jessie Kroon en Nicky Kroon (2018)
Ah, zero waste. The subject where it all started for me. When I started this entire sustainability journey, I started it by trying to live zero waste. That’s an aspect of sustainability which is nicely visible and practical. Right now, about 8 years later, I think I have found out just about anything about zero waste. However, if you’re new to the subject, this book is perfect for you. It tells you literally anything you need to know to live a zero waste lifestyle. From the 5 R’s to the details. And jeez, this book is aesthetically pleasing as well. It make a zero waste lifestyle extremely accessible.
12 Doe het zero by Jessie Kroon en Nicky Kroon (2020)
Once you know everything about zero waste after you’ve read Het Zero Waste Project, it’s time to add the recipes to it. Because if you want to live 100% waste-free, you need recipes to make things yourself. For vegan wraps for example, or a vegan cheese-sauce or vegan body scrub. Not everything can be bought zero waste (and we shouldn’t want that either, because DIY is cheap!). That’s why you need this book. After reading this book you can make just about anything yourself zero waste. Saves you money ánd waste. I still use a bunch of recipes from this book.
13 Dieren kunnen de pest krijgen by Esther Ouwehand (2021)
This book is written by the leader of the political party for the animals in The Netherlands. She wrote this book after COVID-19 happened. Because when it did happen, we finally had some attention for an issue that’s been concerning her (and many scientists as well) for a long time: zoonotic diseases. The book tells us how we likely could have prevented COVID-19 if stopped eating animals. But not only COVID-19, many more deaths could have been prevented. In the past and in the future too. As long as we keep eating animals, we’re facing a high risk for seeing a pandemic again.
14 Eet win-win by Janneke van der Meulen (2017)
Janneke van der Meulen. I have mixed feelings on her views. Sometimes I agree with her, sometimes I don’t. But with this Dutch book, Eet win-win, I agree. Van der Meulen describes in this book how, based on the best of the best science (meta-analysis), there actually is an ideal diet for humans. Surprise, surprise, it’s the vegan diet. But her take on a vegan diet is actually quite special. She’s in favor of eating as much fruit as you want, to name one thing. And she highlights the importance of seaweeds. It’s controversial for most people. But I agree with everything she says in this book.