Stefan Knapen

PhD-student – Co-assistent


I read books. I read them on a Kindle and I can make highlights/notes this way. I want to share those. Click on a title to see the highlights/notes on this book.

So Good They Can’t Ignore You – Cal Newport

So GoodA great book. It focuses on a generation which is told to ‘follow their passion’ in order to be happy. And according to Cal, this is not the advice we should be hearing. ‘Passion’ is a very vague term, and seems very daunting, because it is supposed to be the Holy Grail when it comes to living a fulfilling life. People around us are stressing out because they cannot find their passion. Well, maybe that is not what we need to look for.


The Obstacle is the Way – Ryan Holiday

81SLYRdcbaLThis is a great book for everybody with interest in personal development and Stoicism as a philosophy. Ryan Holiday translates century old Stoic wisdom to applicable, current practices. A great read, highly recommended.

It works especially well with reading “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius, one of the classic Stoic works by one of the greatest emperors Rome ever had.


Deep WorkDeep Work – Cal Newport

This is a very good book for people working primarily with their heads, for the knowledge workers. Who always can be distracted and seem to always be distracted and about how you can distinguish you from the rest of the people on the job market: with an ability to focus.

The Art of Learning – Josh Waitzkin

Great book. My three sentence summary:

You can learn whatever you want, you can be better than you are now, no matter how bad you are (growth mindset vs fixed mindset). You can do so by going in deep, very deep to understand fundamentals of whatever you are learning. By going deep, you learn patterns, these patterns allow you to think in patterns, instead of the building blocks they consist of.


Turning Pro – Steven Pressfield

turningpro_bookThis short book is a follow-up on the War of Art, another book by Steven Pressfield. This book shows you what the differences between the amateur and the pro and it shows you what you can gain from turning pro. More importantly, it shows you HOW to turn pro and how you will experience it.

As it is only a short read I can highly recommend picking up this book, it will help you grow as a person.


The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – Mark Manson

Probably one of the more popular (non-fiction) books from 2016. The book is basically Mark Manson, the author, telling us we shouldn’t worry that much about everything and choose what we give a fuck about more carefully. Doing so enables us to focus on the right values in your life.This is a very good book, very appropriate for 20-somethings who are overthinking every move and have some sense of self-awareness. It taught me about how a positive outlook is not necessary, about choosing the right problems and values and that taking action is often most important to get working.

Gorilla Mindset – Mike Cernovich

Gorilla MindsetThis is a book about how to improve yourself, in all different aspects of your life. Mike digs into mindset, but also health and finances. Interesting read, especially for guys. Mike is a lawyer by trade, but is running a successful podcast about mindset for years. Gorilla Mindset has been one of the most successful book launches in 2015, so probably worth a read.

Show Your Work – Austin Kleon

ShowYourWorkThis is a lovely little book. It is easy to read, it looks great (especially on an e-reader) and the content is inspiring. Good backstories, applicable quotes and a lot of shareable information. The writer also wrote “Steal like an Artist”, a book I haven’t read (yet). Definitely worth your time and money.


How to tame your PhD – Inger Mewburn

How to tame your PhDThis is a great book to read for PhD students. I loved the practical tips. As it is written by a blogger and mostly the best articles from the blog curated it reads pretty easy. The only problem I found with the book is that the writer is a PhD in Architecture. That is something completely different compared to doing a PhD in the medical/biology field.


Mentally Strong13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do – Amy Morin

I got this book after reading a blogpost on a website. The basic premise of the book is in this blogpost, if you want a little more backstory, it is in the book. Not a recommended read though, I think the blogpost was enough.