Book Reviews: My Year in Books (pt. 3)

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My year in books – links to all 3 parts
Part 1 // Part 2 // Part 3

We’re continuing to review (and maybe recommend) the list of books I read in 2018, and this round covers a couple of danish books, and epic fantasy read, a book to throw at instagrammers and a thought-provoking read.


Bad science

– Quacks, Hacks and Big Pharma Flacks

By: Ben Goldacre
Pages: 370
Published: April 6th 2009
Publisher: Fourth Estate
Genres: Science, Nonfiction, Health, Medicine

Have you ever wondered how one day the media can assert that alcohol is bad for us and the next unashamedly run a story touting the benefits of daily alcohol consumption? Or how a drug that is pulled off the market for causing heart attacks ever got approved in the first place? How can average readers, who aren’t medical doctors or Ph.D.s in biochemistry, tell what they should be paying attention to and what’s, well, just more bullshit?
Ben Goldacre has made a point of exposing quack doctors and nutritionists, bogus credentialing programs, and biased scientific studies. He has also taken the media to task for its willingness to throw facts and proof out the window. But he’s not here just to tell you what’s wrong. Goldacre is here to teach you how to evaluate placebo effects, double-blind studies, and sample sizes, so that you can recognize bad science when you see it. You’re about to feel a whole lot better.

This is a book I wish was mandatory reading for all the #fitnessinfluencers and people who sell miracle health cures (*cough* expensive placebo). There’s so many people who I want to throw this in their face. This book explains the basics of science and how evidence is created (and is manipulated). I admire how Ben Goldacre handles the trouble he gets in for calling people out for BS (and actually dangerous) health advice/products.

Please read this – learn when Bad Science is right in front of you.

My rating: ★★★★★

Like most things in the story the natural sciences can tell about the world, it’s all so beautiful, so gracefully simple, yet so rewardingly complex, so neatly connected—not to mention true—that I can’t even begin to imagine why anyone would ever want to believe some New Age ‘alternative’ nonsense instead. I would go so far as to say that even if we are all under the control of a benevolent God, and the whole of reality turns out to be down to some flaky spiritual ‘energy’ that only alternative therapists can truly harness, that’s still neither so interesting nor so graceful as the most basic stuff I was taught at school about how plants work.

Ben Goldacre, Bad Science

Homo Deus

– A Brief History of Tomorrow

By: Yuval Noah Harari
Pages: 450
Published: February 21st 2017
Publisher: Harper
Genres: Nonfiction, Science, History, Philosophy, Anthropology

Over the past century humankind has managed to do the impossible and rein in famine, plague, and war. This may seem hard to accept, but, as Harari explains in his trademark style—thorough, yet riveting—famine, plague and war have been transformed from incomprehensible and uncontrollable forces of nature into manageable challenges. For the first time ever, more people die from eating too much than from eating too little; more people die from old age than from infectious diseases; and more people commit suicide than are killed by soldiers, terrorists and criminals put together. The average American is a thousand times more likely to die from binging at McDonalds than from being blown up by Al Qaeda.

With the same insight and clarity that made Sapiens an international hit and a New York Times bestseller, Harari maps out our future.

I used to hate history in school (partly blaming the teacher), but my fascination sparked when I began to see and learn about how history has shaped the present. How it can explain traditions and structures that doesn’t make sense at first sight.

How history can let you realise that phenomenons that seem static, are actually dynamic. Like when it comes to the ideal body, it feels like thin is the only way to be. But the ideal body has changed throughout time, and continues to change. Seeing it for the social construct it is makes it possible to reject it, if you want to. Harari gives a good explanation of this in the beginning, using perfect green lawns as an example.

Harari helps us understand how history has shaped the present, and follows the tracks from the past, via the present, to the future.

Where Homo Sapiens blew me away (it’s huge book and I read it in no time), Deus did not live up to its predecessor. While I feel Sapiens should be mandatory reading, Deus is optional. Where Sapiens is very factual, Deus is very speculative – I suppose that’s an unavoidable problem when writing about the future, but it also means it doesn’t have the same effect.

My rating: ★★★★☆

This is the best reason to learn history: not in order to predict the future, but to free yourself of the past and imagine alternative destinies. Of course this is not total freedom – we cannot avoid being shaped by the past. But some freedom is better than none

Yuval Noah Harari, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow


Only available in Danish.

By: Helle Helle
Pages: 157
Published: April 13t 2018
Publisher: Rosinante
Genres: Fiction

de is a depiction of a mother-daughter relationship. It’s a story of illness and love and about being in high school in the early 80s. About language, that isn’t enough, yet it is.

My translation of the blurb.

I don’t quite know how to explain Helle Helle to you who isn’t from Denmark. Because pretty much anyone who’s been in high school will at some point run into her short stories in Danish class. Her style is minimalistic, and her stories mostly happen between the lines.

De (translates to They) is about an ordinary girl in a small town in Denmark and her mom, who is dying. Yet they talk about everything but that fact.

It’s a beautifully sad story, but reading it I felt like an outsider. I felt like I didn’t know enough about danish literature. Like I weren’t smart enough to understand everything happening. It was good, but I didn’t fully get it.

My rating: ★★★☆☆

(Helle Helle’s word are so carefully chosen, her style is so unique, I can’t do a translated quote justice)

Den Glemte triumf

Only available in Danish

By: Hans Krabbe
Pages: 270
Published: 2018
Publisher: Turbine
Genres: Biography, Sport

World cup finale. 115,000 spectators. One dane scores a hattrick, and Denmark takes the trophy.

A happy dream? Not at all. For the year after Brazil with Pelé had won the World Cup trophy at the monstrous Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, it was Denmark’s women. With the hattrick heroine Susanne Augustessen in the lead.

Read the book about the forgotten World Cup, brought home by Susanne, Birte, Bente, Lis, Lene and the other girls who defeated France, Italy, Argentina and Mexico.

My translation of the blurb.

I have ambivalent feelings about this book. On one hand, these footballers and their stories are incredible. But on the other hand, reading about the way they are treated, disrespected for being women in sport, makes me so angry. It lights an angry feminist fire inside me.

Like, when a newspaper covered one of their games, writes about how disappointing it was. Not because the game was bad, but they players weren’t showing enough skin. Others seems to judge their performance based on who’s the prettiest or has the nicest smile.

Another example is the head of the Danish Football Association (DBU) saying they neither can nor will take them seriously.

30 years later I myself started playing football. I was good at it, and on a great team. And yet I still shared some of their experiences.

My team won the Danish Championship for our age group two years in a row. But the boys’ teams were always valued higher in the club. The most frequent response I’ve received after telling someone I play football is: “Girls can’t play football”.

But this is about the book. Hans Krabbe traveled around Denmark to interview these forgotten heroes. The story he tells jumps between retelling the events of the World Cup in ’71 and about the women’s life stories, how they got into football and where they ended up.

This is an important book, and not just for football fans.

My rating: ★★★★☆

After Mexico, team captain Inger Tulle Pedersen asked the president of DBU if was going to watch women’s football soon, to which he just replied: “Not this spring. My calendar is unfortunately full.”

Hans Krabbe, Den Glemte Triumf

The Final Empire

Mistborn #1

By: Brandon Sanderson
Pages: 647
Published: October 1st 2009
Publisher: Orion Publishing
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Epic Fantasy

In a world where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, an evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. The future of the empire rests on the shoulders of a troublemaker and his young apprentice. Together, can they fill the world with colour once more?
In Brandon Sanderson’s intriguing tale of love, loss, despair and hope, a new kind of magic enters the stage— Allomancy, a magic of the metals.

As I read both book 1 and 2, I’ll write the review below.

My rating: ★★★★★

Our belief is often strongest when it should be weakest. That is the nature of hope.

Brandon Sanderson, The Final Empire

The Well of Ascension

Mistborn #2

By: Brandon Sanderson
Pages: 781
Published: December 10th 2009
Publisher: Gollancz
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Epic Fantasy

This is where I’ve inserted the blurb for the other books, but it’s full of spoilers, so instead I’ll only link to it (the description of the third book contains an even bigger spoiler, which I unfortunately read too soon).

I’ve found a new author to add to my list of favorites. Brandon Sanderson is brilliant. You don’t fully realise just how brilliant until the end – in his books, you’re guaranteed a mind blowing twist or 12 by the end of the book (and an even bigger one by the end of the books). At first they can be a bit slow, but that’s when the world is created, little seeds are planted. Then, by the end, when the Sanderson Avalanche begins, you get a plentiful harvest.

Yes, there’s a coined term for how his books end; suddenly we move at breakneck speed, the pieces of the puzzle falls together perfectly for multiple massive climaxes. It’s very satisfying.

Also, I just really love the main character, Vin. She’s incredible.

My rating: ★★★★★

Elend: “I kind of lost track of time…”
Breeze: “For two hours?”
Elend: “There were books involved.”

Brandon Sanderson, The Well of Ascension

What’s the last book you finished reading? Let me know in the comments!

Gif that says lots of love, Anne xx

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