Sammy’s Next Move

Sammy’s Next Move

Sammy the snail is none too chuffed when his parents announce they are moving to Japan. He'Ž“s only just got used to living in Italy and he'Ž“s really going to miss his playmates, so the prospect of having to make new friends in yet another country is distressing and upsetting. But thankfully young Sammy iŽ“s an accomplished traveller and when his mum reminds him about their previous postings and how much he'Ž“s enjoyed living in different countries, he warms to the idea of moving again. Sammy'Ž“s Next Move is written by seasoned expat and mother of two Helen Maffini and tells the story of what it feels like to be a Third Culture Kid, in a way that children will identify with. It'Ž“s a simple tale, engagingly written and very nicely illustrated and at less than 20 pages long, it's ideal bedtime reading for children and their parents. With two pages of tips and project ideas for parents of TCKs, this is the perfect little book for any expat child about to embark on a new adventure. Buy this book Shelley Antscherl  More >




Amsterdamming

Amsterdamming

Three years in Amsterdam and counting! Daily journeys through the streets of this cosy and beautiful city. More >



Kristen in Clogland

Kristen in Clogland

'Kristen in Clogland' is a blog about an Aussie discovering the Netherlands and adjusting to life in another country More >


Invading Holland

Invading Holland

The adventures of an accident-prone English man who arrived in the Netherlands in 2001 for a six month stay. More >




24 Oranges

24 Oranges

Dutch things pressed for your pleasure: oddball Dutch news and photographs. More >





I love Noord

I love Noord

North Amsterdam is described as the Brooklyn of the Dutch capital. If you want to know why, read this blog. More >


Dutched Up! Rocking the Clogs Expat Style

Dutched Up! Rocking the Clogs Expat Style is an anthology of expat essays written by 27 smart, sassy and observant women, who have all relocated to the Netherlands.   This collection of 49 essays, technically blog posts, details their personal experiences and observations gathered while attempting to find a place in Dutch society. The essays are arranged under 12 topics including - Culture Shock; Eating and Shopping; Biking; the Dutch Language; Working in the Netherlands; Marrying a Dutchie; Having Babies; Raising Your Kids; ending with, Leaving the Netherlands. For many expats, this arrangement is a familiar and logical transition through the Dutch expat experience. Essentially this is a book for women by women. The bloggers originate from different parts of the world and this influences how they experience what is going on around them. A good example can be found in the essay: How High Do Parents Raise the Bar (Lana Kristine Jelenev), with the author frustrated by an educational philosophy and program that many foreigners see as teaching children to be complacent with “voldoende” (or good enough) rather than encouraging children to push themselves to try and do their best (p82). This is a common topic frequently discussed by new expat parents sending their children to Dutch schools. Similarly, being considered a prostitute by staff at your Dutch doctor's surgery because you have followed recommendations in your home country and had an annual pap smear examination makes: That’s a Helluva Exam for a very funny essay. (Molly Quell) Overall, this collection of essays about life in the Netherlands will resonate with many readers. Growing in popularity are expat blogs, books and magazines as the number of people becoming ‘global citizens’ increase. Reading the experiences of other expats, such as in Dutch Up! Rocking the Clogs Expat Style promotes acceptance that the unfamiliar and strange experiences that shake the confidence of new expat residents, are just part of the process of settling in to your new Dutch home. Buy this book Ana McGinley  More >


Holland Handbook

This richly illustrated handbook offers 256 full-color pages of essential information for the expatriate on all aspects of living and working in the Netherlands such as: career, fiscal issues, health care, housing, insurance, international education, registration and telecommunications.  More >


Amsterdam Slavery Heritage Guide

The Amsterdam Slavery Heritage Guide is a walking guide to Amsterdam that focuses on the history of slavery in the city. The guide, published in 2014, is part of the VU University 'Mapping Slavery Project' which also covers Utrecht and Haarlem. As it notes in the forward, little is taught in Dutch schools and known generally about the history of slavery and the slave trade in the Netherlands. The book opens with an overview of the history of slavery in the Netherlands, as well as the Dutch overseas holdings. It focuses on four overall themes: Trade and profit, black in the city, resistance and abolitionism, and museums and archives. The book starts with a fold out map, showing 115 different locations that it discusses in further detail in the rest of the book. Though it doesn’t highlight a specific walking route, most of the locations are in the city centre and it's fairly easy to create your own route. It’s a small book and easy to carry during your walking tour. Each number on the map gets a page or two, with images, to describe the location and its history. Popular Amsterdam locations are featured, from the palace on the Dam to the Nieuwe Kerk. But obscure locations are also included, like the two busts of Moors on a building on the Herengracht. Even without walking a route, the book is filled with lots of interesting tidbits about history. For example, the official residence of the city's mayor was once home to slave trader Paulus Godin. The entire book is published in both Dutch and English. This is useful, but occasionally it creates a confusing layout which makes it hard to find the texts in the language of your choice. The book also uses a number of photos which are without captions and thus leave the reader wondering who the people are and what they were doing to warrant inclusion. Overall, however, the book is immensely informative and easy to use. Buy this book  More >


Uit Kijk Punten/ Scenic Points Amsterdam

If you'Ž“ve ever stood on top of a building looking out over a big city and wondered what you can see in the distance then Uit Kijk Punten might tickle your fancy. Eelco van Geene and Marijke Mooy have created an alternative guide book that instead of leading you around the city at ground level, views Amsterdam from above and nicely presents it in photographs. Uit Kijk Punten shows panoramic shots of the Amsterdam skyline in every direction from 30 different vantage points around the city like Westerkerk, Centraal Station and even Schiphol Airport (!), and all the main landmarks and interesting sights are indicated on the horizon. Each photo is accompanied with practical information in Dutch and English, ensuring it appeals to residents and tourists alike and _Ž•Visitor info_Ž“ includes transport advice, entry costs, wheelchair access (or lack of it) and nearby refreshment outlets. An especially nice touch is the photography tip for amateur snappers on every page. At just over 200 pages and A5 size, Uit Kijk Punten is quite chunky, but it'Ž“s still small enough to fit in a rucksack and it makes a refreshing change to traditional fact-laden and touristy city guides. And if you enjoy photography, then this provides a new and unorthodox view of the capital. If you'Ž“ve lived here for years or you think you'Ž“ve seen everything in Amsterdam then Uit Kijk Punten offers a great opportunity to explore this wonderful little city from a whole new panoramic perspective. Buy this book Shelley Antscherl books@dutchnews.nl  More >


Complete Dutch

If you can master a combination of some basic English, German and a guttural noise akin to clearing your throat, then you'Ž“ve taken your first steps to learning Dutch. With this in mind, you will also need some patient tuition, but in the absence of that, you could do a lot worse than Complete Dutch and the two accompanying CDs. It covers a range of topics that most people new to these shores will find useful and chapters are set out in an easy to read format that include a mixture of dialogue, grammar, vocabulary, short tests and useful information. It'Ž“s so reader friendly that you will find yourself getting the gist of the lingo quite quickly especially in the first section which is all about greeting people and introducing yourself. Later chapters include learning to speak in the past tense and discussing your emotional and physical state as well as making and receiving simple telephone calls. As you sit and read through the book you can listen to the CD of people acting out the dialogues, bringing the accent to life and providing perfect examples of how Dutch should sound. And herein lies the rub because although the language itself is not overly complicated, the pronunciation of any word with one or more Ž•gsŽ“ in it will have you sweating with vocal exhaustion - as anyone who haŽ“s ever tried to say Ž•Gefeliciteerd!Ž“ quickly, and for the first time, will know. Complete Dutch is supposedly for beginners with no previous language experience, but anyone who falls entirely into this bracket might find it intimidating as it romps along heartily from the beginning. Having said that, it's an excellent language guide and certainly worth investing in if you are serious about learning to conquer this gloriously throaty vernacular. Shelley Antscherl books@dutchnews.nl  More >


In My Father’s Garden (novel)

This successful novel from Dutch author Jan Siebelink, In My Father's Garden, is now available in English. The book, which won the 2005 Literatuurprijs, follows Hans, a father and gardener who becomes more and more obsessed with Calvinism as the story progresses. The book starts with Hans Sievez as a child and follows him to adulthood, where he marries his childhood sweetheart and they develop a flower nursery together. However, a man from Hans past brings him into devout Calvinism which ultimately tests his relationship with his wife and his children. Set in several parts of the Netherlands, the book does a wonderful job depicting the Dutch countryside and living conditions of the time. Siebelink develops interesting characters whose stories you genuinely become involved in. The story can become convoluted, however, especially as it jumps ahead in time. In all, an interesting read, both for the characters and for live in the Netherlands in the post-WWII era. Buy this book  More >


Dear Mr M

Herman Koch is widely acclaimed for his 2009 novel Het Diner (The Dinner) – a book that sold over 1 million copies in Europe, was translated into 21 languages, and has been produced as a play and film. In addition, Koch’s biography of work includes eight novels, seven short story collections, newspaper columns, and acting roles or collaborations with various Dutch film, television and radio programmes. Two years ago Koch published his latest novel Geachte heer M in Dutch. The book has been translated to English and released by Picador, a UK publishing house, under the title Dear Mr M In short, Dear Mr M is about a once famous writer (Mr M) adjusting to his decreasing popularity with the reading public. After an illustrious career, he is now reduced to book signings at village libraries and literary dinner events diminished by budget cuts matching the reduced earnings of the invited authors. Mr M is being stalked by someone who believes that he is a character in the author’s most famous murder mystery, and is seeking a different outcome to the tale. Thriller The book cover blurb describes the novel as a 'literary thriller', and indeed it is both literary (main character is an aging author; main plot is based on a real event shaped by the confabulations of the author without regard to facts; an abundance of criticism of the literary world) and a thriller (a missing person, many possible suspects and motives). Yet, 'literary thriller' is somewhat misleading and may disappoint readers seeking the excitement of a novel that demands to be read in a single sitting, like The Dinner. Nevertheless, Dear Mr M is a clever story. The narrative comes from the perspective of five characters covering several decades. Koch insists that the reader stay focused, offering the occasional red herring to the plot that disappears as the next clue box is opened. This technique continues to the last few pages. Not likeable The Dutch Foundation for Literature describes Herman Koch as 'an ironic-realistic writer relating dramas worth telling', who writes about characters '… burdened by their empty existence…'. Given his cast in both The Dinner and Summer House with Swimming Pool (2011), the description rings true. Koch does not create likeable people. At almost 450 pages it is a long, slow read with a cast of characters who don’t elicit reader empathy. Herman Koch exposes the underbelly of the Dutch upper class, a perspective not usually given, but perhaps one to be expected from the boy once expelled from Amsterdam’s Montessori Lyceum. Buy this book Ana McGinley  More >


I am Amsterdam

The ones who would like to have a daily confirmation that Amsterdam is beautiful should loyally follow the weblog of the photographer Thomas Schlijper. He posts a new photo of the every-day Amsterdam: of a window washer on an insanely high ladder, of a homeless person with a flower pot on his head, of the canals in the evening light, of a comical traffic situation or simply of nice people. The light is especially extraordinary in his photos. He manages to catch an enchanting lighting in the centre of Amsterdam. Buy this book    More >


The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old

Hendrik Groen is an 83-year-old resident of an aged care home in Amsterdam. He begins a diary recording the daily tribulations of life in an institution surrounded by his peers and confronted by the health challenges that come with being an octogenarian. He starts the diary with the telling line, 'Another year, and I still don’t like old people.' The residents of The House of the Setting Sun are a mixed bag of stereotyped elderly people, many of whom spend their days waiting for mealtimes, seeking opportunities to moan about their constipation, or discussing family members who appear to have forgotten them. Not wanting to be part of this group, Hendrik and a small coterie of similarly rebelling residents form the Old-But-Not-Dead Club with the goal '…to increase the enjoyment of advanced age by arranging outings’, and the clearly stated rule, 'No whining allowed.' Soon, the club comes to the attention of management staff and other residents who are clearly irked by the fact that the club members are enjoying life and not behaving as institutionalised old people are expected to. The club members include Evert (rude, sarcastic, smoking, drinking diabetic who refuses to change his ways even as his extremities turn black and require amputation), Eefje (the woman Hendrik wishes he’d met half a century earlier), Grietje (who believes she has Alzheimer’s disease), Edward (a stroke survivor with residue speech difficulties), and Hendrik (exhibiting a multitude of age-related wear and tear issues that have slowed him down and added a leak to his bladder). Getting old: fact over fiction? This funny and touching novel questions how we see the elderly, especially old people in care facilities. The author offers the notion that relocating to an aged care home does not have to mean surrendering all activities people have previously enjoyed, and replacing these pleasurable engagements with a contentment to stare at the walls and play bingo on a Monday evening while counting down your remaining days. Although Dutch readers may get more pleasure from this book due to insider knowledge of the local politics and age care policies, The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 ¼ Years Old does have universal appeal and the novel has been taking the world by storm. Incorporating issues of euthanasia, advanced care directives, funding for aged care, family support availability and the broader question of what to do with older people who lose their independence – gives the book international relevance. In addition, these issues are covered with humour from the older person’s perspective, a voice not usually heard but one that should be central to the discussion. Who is the real Hendrik Groen? Originally published in Dutch in 2014, the author of this book remained a mystery until recently, leaving readers with the question of whether the diary was indeed the work of Hendrik Groen, and hence a biography rather than a novel, although the nod to Adrian Mole should have been the giveaway. In April 2016, NRC Handelsblad revealed Peter de Smet, a 61-year-old librarian with no previous published written work, as the book’s author.  The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 ¼ Years Old was translated by Hester Velmans. It is published by Michael Joseph, an imprint of Penguin Books. A great read with characters who will remain in your thoughts long after you have finished reading. Not belly-aching funny, yet very enjoyable. Ana McGinley Buy this book  More >


Cloudless Amsterdam – City in Motion

An unexpected and beautiful view of a changing city From the wonderfully undulating Zeedijk and the monumental Westertoren to the copper-green Nemo in the Eastern Docks and the Water District of IJburg: Amsterdam has a wealth of striking places with impressive nuildings, fascinating streets and delightful squares. Photographer Peter Elenbaas took around seven thousand aerial photographs - most in the summer of 2012, but some of them decades ago - and chose his favourites for Cloudless Amsterdam: A City in Motion. Together they provide an unexpected view of the changing city. Journalist Lambiek Berends wrote a brief history to accompany them. Buy this book  More >