The Books I Read in 2017

At the end of each year I list the books that I have read during that year. Earlier years were 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012. Below you will find the list of books that I’ve read in 2017. Every year I also include an overview of my other media consumption habits (magazines, RSS feeds and podcasts).

Last year I wrote that I would be happy if I would manage to read one book every two weeks. I did manage to read a little bit more: 36 books for the year. Unfortunately the percentage of female writers is still stuck at just under 25%. However, I did manage to read less from the US and the UK than usual (about 40% this year).

I’ve ordered the list of books into categories that make sense to me. These are the books that I’ve read and what I thought of some of them:


I spent a lot of time studying the republican ideal of freedom (see my bachelor thesis) and I am convinced that the world would be a better place if more people would read Philip Pettit’s books. Matthew Crawford wrote a must-read cultural critique of our current attention economy and Svendsen helped me articulate why I believe that the current focus on anti-terrorism is creating its own victims.

  • Matthew Crawford — World Beyond Your Head (link)
  • Robert Kane — A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will (link)
  • Lars Svendsen — A Philosophy of Fear (link)
  • Quentin Skinner — Hobbes and Republican Liberty (link)
  • Quentin Skinner — Liberty Before Liberalism (link)
  • Daan Roovers — Mensen maken (link)
  • Philip Pettit — Republicanism (link)
  • Paul Scheffer — De vrijheid van de grens (link)

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The book club is slowing down. In the past year we always managed to read seven books, this year we got stuck at five. The Dutch are privileged to have such a sharp novelist writing about our technological predicament as Maxim Februari. Cixin Liu’s science fiction was very entertaining and Nir Eyal was mostly irritating with his disingenuous concern for the ethics of his dopamine based approach.

  • Maxim Februari — Klont (link)
  • Adam Greenfield — Radical Technologies (link)
  • David Golumbia — The Politics of Bitcoin (link)
  • Cixin Liu — The Three-Body Problem (link)
  • Nir Eyal — Hooked (link)

The black struggle and black experience

This is of course a slightly uncomfortable category (the books are way too diverse to all be put on the same pile), but I wanted to get a better understanding of black experience in the last year and these are the books which helped me do that. Most of the books on this list are incredible. Yaa Gyasi’s novel was the best piece of fiction I read this year and it were the words of James Baldwin who hit the hardest. Chinua Achebe is the favourite writer of one of my favourite writers (Ngozi Adichie) and I now understand why. Tommie Shelby’s radical black liberalism is a convincing philosophical argument for the abolishment of the American dark ghetto and Gloria Wekker has managed to put the finger on why I often feel so uncomfortable with how we deal with race here in the Netherlands.

  • Tommie Shelby — Dark Ghettos (link)
  • Yaa Gyasi — Homegoing (link)
  • James Baldwin and Raoul Peck — I Am Not Your Negro (link)
  • Chinua Achebe — The African Trilogy: Things Fall Apart/No Longer at Ease/Arrow of God (link)
  • James Baldwin — The Fire Next Time (link)
  • Angie Thomas — The Hate U Give (link)
  • Gloria Wekker — White Innocence (link)
  • Anousha Nzume — Hallo witte mensen (link)
  • Robert Vuijsje — Kaaskoppen (link)
  • Colson Whitehead — The Underground Railroad (link)

The war in Vietnam

While spending a few weeks in Vietnam I wanted to dive deeper into the war. Bao Ninh’s book will continue to haunt me for a while, while Dang Thuy Tram gives a glimpse into the Vietnamese psyche. Swain writes beautifully about both the horrors and the pleasures of Indochina during the late 60s and early 70s.

  • Bao Ninh — The Sorrow Of War (link)
  • Dang Thuy Tram — Last Night I Dreamed of Peace (link)
  • Jon Swain — River Of Time (link)


It isn’t the only fiction that I read over the last year (there is some in the other categories), but it is fitting that Atwood’s book stands by itself. What a formidable writer and what an incredible book.

  • Margaret Atwood — The Handmaid’s Tale (link)


Goodwin and Bach made a great comic about how the economy works and Ould Slahi’s account of his rendition and his time in Guantánamo is shameful for the US. Ecott’s book is a joy for any diver and Puett has inspired me to try and read some of the Chinese classics in the coming year. Fumio Sasaki has convinced me (once more) that a minimalist mindset is a wonderful thing, but I think that my physical books will continue to be part of my minimalism.

  • Michael Goodwin and David Bach — Economix (link)
  • Mohamedou Ould Slahi — Guantánamo Diary (link)
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie — Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions (link)
  • Fumio Sasaki — Goodbye, Things (link)
  • Tim Ecott — Neutral Buoyancy (link)
  • Frans Osinga — Science, Strategy and War (link)
  • Michael Puett and Christine Gross-Loh — The Path (link)
  • Edgar H. Schein — Humble Inquiry (link)
  • Henk van Houtum and Leo Lucassen — Voorbij Fort Europa (link)

My consumption of other media

Not much has changed on this front. I am still a member of De Correspondent and subscribe to Wired Magazine and the New York Review of Books. New is a subscription to the Amsterdam-based (and focused) newspaper Het Parool.

Cory Doctorow, Stephen Downes and Audrey Watters have been with me for years and they are still my favourite curators. My RSS feed has barely changed: I read the news from other digital rights organisations, read Coates and Bogost in the Atlantic and Morozov in the Guardian, follow the Facebook newsroom and Google’s research and won’t miss anything that Kashmir Hill or Maciej Cegłowski writes. A new find is Ben Thompson who writes very insightfully about the tech industry on his on blog, Stratechery. My other tech news comes from the Guardian, Tech, Tweakers and Wired’s security blog. The Intercept is still on my list of feeds, but is becoming nearly formulaic in its approach.

In podcasting I continue to listed to every episode of This American Life, Dipsaus, 99% Invisible, Een Podcast over Media, Radiolab (and their More Perfect series), Reply All and This Week in Tech. New and not to be skipped is Ear Hustle, a podcast from inside a US jail. I’ve listened to quite a few of Lex Bohlmeijer’s interviews on De Correspondent and can usually get to the Rudi and Freddie Show from the same outlet. If I can find the time I listen to some of the Guardian’s long reads, Note to Self, Planet Money, Strangers, Team Human, The Tim Ferris Show, Freakonomics Radio and Security Now.

What will I be reading in 2018?

2018 will be another year where I will have to spend a lot of time studying and writing and so will have less time for reading. I will read some books about fundraising, expect to be reading about the philosophy of justice and hope to get to some more fiction than I usually manage.