About My Books

I like reading. For some time I didn’t read that much and was unhappy about this. Now I try to read one book a week but the growing pile of unread books makes me realize I am falling further and further behind this target.

A Dutch writer once said he organized the books on his shelves in the order he had read them. Because you are influenced by each book you read, the order in which you read them has a certain importance. This was, I believe, his explanation. I must have heard this 40 years ago and always thought it was an interesting idea. Never implemented it, though and the organizing of our books remains a constant struggle. As result of moving house a year ago the problem has become worse and I am having more and more difficulty finding the books I am looking for. Organizing them in the order I have read them is not possible, I can’t reconstruct this order. Besides, Valeria, my wife, also reads a lot and not necessarily in the same order as I do.

Keeping a list of the books I read is however possibe, it might even help me to find the book I am looking for. So, here it is.

At the moment I am reading:

  • Cultures and Organizations, Geert Hofstede a.o.
  • Good to Great, Jim Collins
  • After Tamerlane, John Darwin
  • Godenslaap, Erwin Mortier

List of Books Read (last one first)

Hella S. Haasse 118 pages, December 2012

Hella Haasse is one of the best and most appreciated Dutch writers. These 4 stories were first published after her death last year.

The Pendant In The Kitchen
Julian Barnes, 136 pages, November 2012

I picked this book up in a bookstore in the Netherlands. Whenever I have to wait for someone to finish her shopping I make it to the nearest bookstore and look around. I had to wait a long time on the last occasion and  I walked out with a pile of books, including this one.

A very funny book, with witty observations about cooking that will appeal to anyone that likes cooking and owns cookbooks.  A few friends will get this as a gift from me.

De Grote Barribral
Maarten Toonder, 64 pages, October 2012

One of the adventures of the  gentleman bear Ollie. B. Bommel, a household name in the Netherlands.  Written in 1965, this edition was re published on the occasion of the recent Dutch elections.  The theme, the danger of populism, is as actual as it was almost 50 years ago.

They Were Divided, Book 3 of the The Writing on the Wall, The Transylvanian Trilogy
They Were Fond Wanting, Book 2 of  The Writing on the Wall, The Transylvanian Trilogy
Miklos Banffy,  Janury 2012

The second and third part of the trilogy are as good as the first part. Excellent writing about the lives of the main characters against the backdrop of politics. Very good description of the life of -mostly- the nobility in Transylvania before the first world war. The pace is leisurely but I found it hard to put down. 8 flights in 2 weeks helped.

Een Vlucht Regenwulpen, (Flight of Curlews)
Maarten t’Hart. 186 pages,  January 2012

A Dutch classic, on the book list of many students in the Netherlands for their Dutch language exams (at least it used to be). For some reason I never read it and picked up a copy last time I was in the Netherlands (I can’t resist bookstores). It is translated in English and German. Interesting read and insight in the psychology of the main character, a biologist struggling with the mental baggage of his upbringing and isolation. Written in 1971 but not outdated (for me).

They Were Counted, Book 1 of  The Writing on the Wall, The Transylvanian Trilogy
Miklos Banffy, January 2012, 596 pages

A total surprise for me. A wonderful book that I found hard to put down. The story of the life of 2 cousins, both counts, in Transylvania against the backdrop of the social and political life of the nobility of 1905 in Transylvania and Hungary. Miklos Banffy was the last Banffy who lived in the Banffy castle in Bontida, near Cluj. It was first published in 1930 (he died in 1950). Highly recommended reading for anyone who is interested in the history of Transylvania or just a fascinating story.

After reading about the trilogy in the book Kamaraad Baron (see below), I ordered it immediately. Amazon sent me part 2 and 3 and afterward a message that part 1 was no longer available. I tried to buy the electonic version from Amazon UK, but this was only available for UK readers. Fortunately Amazon.com had no such problems and I could read the first part on my iPad. I need to find a second hand copy. This book may not be missing from the bookshelves in our guest room, where I keep all our books that have some sort of link to Romania.

Fasting and Eating for Health
Joel Fuhrman, 226 pages, december 2011

This is the second time I read this book. The reason I decided to read it again was a six days water fast I undertook. Reading about it make it easier and helped my motivation. As the title indicates, the writer, a medical doctor is op the opinion that fasting is good for you and I decided to try it. I believe him.

Steve Jobs, de biografie
Walter Isaacson, 678 pages, November 2011

Someone brought me the Dutch version before I could buy the original. Very interesting to read about the life of a person about whom I had created somehow an image based on all sorts to snippets of information. Interesting to see it all put together. Well written by Walter Isaacson, now the director of the Aspen Institute in the USA.

Kameraad Baron (Comrade Baron)
By Jaap Scholten, November 2011,

A fascinating book, in Dutch, by the Dutch writer Jaap Scholten, about what happened to the Transylvanian nobility after 1945, based on many interviews and laced with the stories of his own travels in Transylvania, starting immediately after the revolution. It is always interesting when a book also is about people you know and places you have visited. In this book even the house that is now our home is briefly mentioned. The writer stayed there when visiting his uncle, who was Dutch ambassador to Romania during and after the revolution. It won an award in the Netherlands for history books. Apparently there will be no Hungarian or Romanian translations for at least 10 years in order to avoid potential negative consequences for those that were interviewed.

De Slijtmijt
Marten Toonder, 87 pages. november 2011

An illustrated, cartoon like story from the famous Ollie B. Bommel series. Cult status in the Netherlands, difficult to explain to non Dutch. This book, written in 1970, is about consumption and the interests of the industrialists. An enjoyable read with as many messages as you care to find.

Sofokles, in the Dutch translation, August 2011

After naming our foundling cat “Oidipous” I felt like reading the play again, also helpful preparation for the opera Oedippe at the upcoming George  Enescu festival.

The Odyssey
By Homer, in the translation of Imme Dros,

I had been planning to re-read the Odyssey and already bought a new Dutch translation years ago. It seems the logical choice for a boat trip in Greek waters and indeed read most of it on a boat in Greece. As Oscar Wilde said ” If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again there is no use in reading it at all.”

Charisma. Odysseus, van held to schurk.
By Imme Dros, 63 pages, August 2011

A survey of the personage of Odysseus in literary history. Interesting read. I received this booklet in a bookstore in the Netherlands. It was not for sale but a promotion for classical literature. It is time to read the Odyssey again.

De man die even wilde afrekenen
By Maj Sjowal & Per Wahloo, August 2010

One of the best in the Martin Beck series. The English title is Murder at the Savoy . I have read most of the Sjowall and Walloos a long time ago, Some in Dutch, some in English. I picked this one up in a Dutch bookstore. Enjoyed re reading it thoroughly. I gave it to one of my sons who is reading it now. Police work in a time without computers and mobile phones written by a couple that was very critical of the society they described.

Een Pleidooi voor Echt Eten (In Defense of Food)
Michael Pollan, 196 pages, june 2011

Gift from my sister, which explains the Dutch version. A very interesting book, explaining what is wrong with our food  and the food industry. A must read for anyone who is interested in what he or she consumes and the impact this has on health.

Beyond the Iron
By Wayne Kurtz

I bought this book from the author himself. He was selling it at the Limassol marathon. Basically it is a guide for those that want to do triathlon races that are longer than an Ironman (3,8 km swim, 180 km bike and 42 km run) I learned there are people that do double, triple and deca Ironman distance races. If that is what you are after, this is  the book for you. Personally I find the Ironman distance long enough (I have done two Ironman races). Still it is interesting reading and it had some useful information also for normal Ironman distance racing.

The Blind Watchmaker
By Richard Dawkings, 340 pages, March 2011

Brilliant book, I had missed this somehow. Evolution explained in a very  elegant manner. Not always easy reading, but very rewarding.

What I Talk about when I Talk about Running
By Haruki Murakami, 179 pages, December 2010

This book was recommended by a Facebook friend. Very enjoyable reading and very recognizable for me. I could relate to a lot of the content of the book. About  running, about aging, triathlon, life. Very inspiring, just what I needed for my next marathon.

Ruhm, Ein Roman in neun Geschichten
By Daniel Kehlmann, 203 pages, 24 November 2010

I bought this in Vienna when I was looking for something to read while waiting for my wife. A good read. 9 well written, somewhat linked short stories. I like the name of the publisher, RORORO.

Blink, The Power of Thinking without Thinking,
By Malcolm Gladwell, 296 pages, 5 November 2010

Ordered this after reading about this in Obiquity (see below). As good, if not better, as “The Tipping Point” and “Outliers”. The idea of snap judgement is facinating. Many interesting cased and explanations when judgement works and when not. Including and interesting story about Sergiu Celibidache hiring a female trombone player in Munich “by accident” because he had to rely on his hearing only.

Bad Science,
by Ben Goldacre, 370 pages, 16 October 2010

I picked this up at Waterstones in London. Is it a coincidence that this is the third book in a row that criticizes an industry ? The China Study deals with the unhealthy interest of the food industry, Born to Run deals with the running shoe industry that sell shoes that do more harm than good only and Bad Science takes the food supplements and pharma industry to pieces. Anyway, a very interesting book that explains step by step how we are misinformed by the press and the industry, based on non scientific data. Most cases are UK based but still a good read.

Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall

Very interesting book and a good read. Made me try barefoot running. Where the China Study criticized the food industry, Born to Run does the same for the running shoes industry. I ordered a copy after reading about the book in a triathlon magazine. The whole idea is that the human body was made for running and is much better at it than most animals.

The China Study, by T. Colin Campbell, 417 pages

This is a must for everyone who is interested in nutrition. We changed our diet, already healthy, significantly and try to eliminate animal protein as much as possible. The book was quoted in another book I read, about fasting by Joel Fuhrman, but only decided to read it after one of my sisters recommended it.

Getting Things Done, by David Allen

Thankful to Dragos Roua who recommended this to me. Very useful and structured method to deal with the endless flow of things to do. I seem to be making progress in organizing my life.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer

Very good and original book about the way a boy deals with the loss of his father who died in the 9/11 attack on the WTC.

The Piero Della Francesca Trail, by John Pope-Hennessy

A series of descriptions of the works of Piero della Francesca. Also contains ” The Best Picture” by Aldous Huxley. Very good. I’ll take it with me next time I succeed visiting Tuscany.

Train to Trieste, Domnica Radulescu

Read something about the book and picked up a copy. Story about life in Romania under Ceausecu, flight to the West and life in the West. Interesting read.

The Girl who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, Stieg Larsson, April 2010
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larson, April 2010
The Girl who Played with Fire, Stieg Larson, April 2010

I read the three book of the millennium series by Stieg Larson in 2 weekends. I picked up a copy of one of the books and could’t put it down and read the others the next weekend. Didn’t get a lot done those weekends.

Obliquity, Why Our Goals Are Best Achieved Indirectly, by John Kay

This is a great book and I have given copies to a number of people in the bank. So true and applicable to a lot what we see around us. One of those book that makes things you were aware of but had not fully realized, fall into place. I ordered a copy before it came our after reading about it in Values, by Stephen Green, or maybe in an article about this book in the FT.

A Distant Mirror, The Calamitous 14th Century, by Barabara W. Tuchman

A classic book on the 14th century, an absolute must read. I wonder how distant the mirror is sometimes. One of her many sources in the bibliography is “Philippe de Mezieres,1327-1405, et la croisade au XIVe siecle”, by Nicolas Jorga (Nicolae Iorga), Paris 1876. I’ll try to find a copy. Plans for a visit to Nicopolis, the site of the defeat of the crusaders, 200 km from Bucharest are taking shape in my head. I was aware of the book for some time but finaly decided to read it after it was referred to by Patrick Leigh Fermor in Between the Woods and the Water, a must for whoever is interested in Romania

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Calin November 12, 2010 at 10:42

Heard about Gladwell some years ago, read Outliers already (in Romanian) and found it interesting. I bet the English versions are even more interesting.

It would be interesting if you will post a list with 20-30 books that influenced you most.

A tip for other book readers: I buy books in English via Amazon, used books, having Amazon sent them to someone in USA and then that person is sending them in Romania. Still at a very good value overall.


Andra November 19, 2010 at 12:55

Can you tell me if there is a little more simple alternative for purchase on amazon.com? I am interested by one of the books!
Thank You!


SvG November 22, 2010 at 14:53


I buy most of my books at amazon.co.uk, not at amazon.com. I find it easy enough, once you are registered. You can even buy them second hand. If you buy from the US you need to go through customs, when buying form EU not. There are other online retailers that sell books, I use bol.com also. Probably easiest is to buy them in electronic format and download them. I do this also, but still like to have the paper version. I read books from amazon on the kindle app for iPad.


ama January 20, 2011 at 23:08

Amazon.com is 30% cheaper. No tax to be paid for books in


capricornk13 January 24, 2011 at 11:53

Ce ma bucur ca scrieti si despre carti! Daca aveti vreodata timp (desi ma indoiesc) va invit sa aruncati o privire pe blogul meu, la care am pus link – acolo scriu (aproape) numai despre carti, poate va dau vreo idee :) Mult succes in continuare cu blogul, e foarte reusit pana acum… (rodica g)


Victor January 26, 2011 at 17:13

Stiu ca apreciati sportul,ca participati la maraton,sunt singurul maratonist roman care am peste 100 maratoane,in total 109,facute din banii proprii.Nu am reusit sa fac maratonul din Antarctica.Donez,parte din medaliile mele,munca mea la care tin enorm,pentru o sponsorizare de indeplinirea visului meu.Multumesc.Date de contact ;victor_ilie2007@yahoo.com.


Hadrian Lupu February 4, 2011 at 15:16

I am delighted to see that I am not the only runner in
Romania who has read “Born to run” by Christopher McDougall. It is
a magnificent story and in-depth analysis, which changed my way of
thinking about running. The reasoning is also quite logical, it is
easy to believe and understand, so that I have embraced and
practised the idea of barefoot running since Christmas 2010. I am
now the happy owner of a pair of a self-made Huaraches from a thin
Vibram sole, which have already made first contact with the streets
of Brasov. I will not be a purist of barefoot running but barefoot
and huaraches shall definitely be the main options.


SvG February 7, 2011 at 12:29

I didn’t make my own running sandals (yet), but run regulary using Virbram 5 fingers. I also ran my last marathon on my oldest shoes with the thinnest soles. Made automatically smaller steps at increased cadence. I am converted. Amazing how a book can change the conventional wisdom. Keep running !


Hadrian Lupu February 7, 2011 at 14:06

Yes, and just as amazing how efficient long-term advertisment is (in our case the running shoe industry). When I introduced my sandals to my colleagues/family, most of them said: “You are insane, you will damage your feet”. Well, I cannot blame them, I used to think the same way. So I tell them: judge properly before you prejudge (in German it sounds even better “beurteilen statt vor- oder sogar verurteilen”).
I believe one most be mentally ready to accept such ideas which can totally change your life. If the proper piece of information reaches you when you are not ready to understand it, it won’t have the desired effect. It’s like planting: plant the seed only when the soil is ready.
For my part, I will gradually build up and am pretty confindent that I will be able to run the Bucharest marathon either in huaraches or barefoot (or a combination of both).
See you there!


Adrian February 22, 2011 at 14:32

If you don’t mind,I recommend you to read Inside Steve’s brain. He is my all time business model and you are my all time romanian business model.


SvG April 1, 2011 at 09:37

Thanks you ! I am reading now “Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs” great reading. I have been a big Apple fan for as long as I can remember.


Luminita February 28, 2011 at 14:14

Ati ales un subiect foarte drag mie! felicitari! cum se cumpara de pe amazon.com? o intrebare de gaga, scuze!


Parmalat June 3, 2012 at 16:12

I have a friend working for a bank (not the one working for Raiffeisen that I was about to bribe, that’s another person) and his schedule runs between 9 to 11 hours a day.

To that he’s got to add about an hour which he spends in traffic every day. Lucky for him that he lives with his parents and his parents take care of the home, bills and everything else.

I wonder how many books had this guy read lately.

Did you notice that foreigners brought their companies in office buildings to the North of the city, close to where they live? And then they ask us why we don’t walk or ride a bike to work. In their countries they have showers and locker rooms at work. In Romania – nothing. But they ask Romanian employees to maintain a business dress-code.

I asked this friend of mine, “Since they request you to dress in a suit – have they ever paid for your suits? Not to mention the shoes and shirt…”

No, they haven’t.

“And did you ask them how you are supposed to dress like that when a pair of nice shoes costs more than your salary?”

No, he hasn’t.


Michael Karandikar June 16, 2013 at 17:30

Hi, I saw one of your interviews on you tube. I am inspired by your accomplishments, but more inspired by the manner in which you have accomplished them. I recently finished my neurosurgical training and have started practicing (in America). There are so many things I want to now accomplish as a practicing surgeon. As I progress, I have learned to value success only in the context of high ethical and personal standards. When I look at successful people with that view, there are few that have managed to do that. My wife (we dated since high school) also is finishing up her neurosurgical training and we would like to someday collaborate on a research project. The successful people I admire and want to emulate have also maintained high ethical standards and maintain humility. Here are some of them: Steve Jobs, Robert MacDonald (P&G), Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger, and others I may not know. Now I can add you to this list! Best wishes for a prosperous and healthy future! (Sorry for the length)


Cosmin Cordos October 11, 2013 at 12:15

it’s a pleasure to read your blog. Yesterday I watched 3 interviews with you on Youtube. Keep on doing good job in banking and promoting sport and healthy life.
I am curious how you manage your time, how can you be involved in so much activities?
Greetings from Baia Mare, Maramures


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