Atlas of Amsterdam

Atlas of Amsterdam

If you like big chunky books packed with illustrations and odd bits of information you can't do better than the English language version of the Atlas of Amsterdam. This weighty tome contains over 250 pages of full colour maps, photographs and diagrams detailing the minutiae of Amsterdam, from the number of bikes to a map of Zorgvlied cemetary, from property values to a guide to the city in Rembrandt's time. Want to know about protected trees, the location of gay bars, where murders and gangland killings take place or simply where you can find a specialist book shop? It's all there. The atlas is divided into clear topics focusing on key aspects of the city's development, from its evolution to the make up of the population, its industries and culture. The final section zooms in on the eight borough regions. It's a coffee table book to pick up and put down rather than something to read in bed. But there is a fascinating fact on every page. The translation is deft if a little clumsy in places, but given the main focus is on the visuals, the odd convoluted sentence is easy to ignore. And at just under €30, the atlas would be a great gift for any Amsterdamophile. Buy this book  More >



Amsterdam Foodie

Amsterdam Foodie

Amsterdam restaurant reviews, seasonal recipe suggestions and all the latest culinary news from a local foodie. More >


European Mama

European Mama

A blog by a Polish mother living in the Netherlands with her German husband and two daughters. More >


Amsterdamian

Amsterdamian

I try to create a relationship with this mysterious city. I love it and can’t get enough of it. More >



Amsterdamming

Amsterdamming

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


Amsterdive

Amsterdive

Amsterdam based actress invites you to dive with her into the cultural life of the city. 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 >



Neamhspleachas

Neamhspleachas

Molly Quell is an American journalist who blogs about everything she finds shiny. More >


At Home in Holland

A practical guide for all new arrivals, At Home in Holland has been published since 1963 by the American Women's Club of The Hague, a non-profit organization and registered Dutch charity. website  More >


Dutch Cooking: The New Kitchen

If the idea of authentic Dutch cuisine fills you with horror, then you're not alone. Even the authors of The New Kitchen admit that, 'Dutch cooking does not, to say the least, have a very good international reputation.' Amsterdam based writers Manon Sikkel and Michiel Klonhammer have penned numerous articles about their passion for traditional food and have enthusiastically updated some authentically rustic dishes in Dutch Cooking: The New Kitchen. You could be forgiven for thinking that there is little appeal in modernizing recipes that include culinary gems like cheese soup or salsifies with sour cream, but there's lots about this cheery and self-deprecating little book that makes you want try them out, like the bizarre but surprisingly tasty, eel and asparagus soup or the hash, made from stewed steak (with herbs, onions and juniper berries). If you ate this kind of food every day then watch out! You might just find your left ventricle slamming shut. It's what you might call wholesome, stodgy fodder: very short on sophistication but full of flavour. Generations of Dutch peasants toiled the polders nourished on this kind of fuel and it certainly hasn't stunted the nation's growth, so what is there to criticise? Well quite a bit actually, such as the bacon pancakes with avocado mousse, which according to my husband, won't even tempt a famished fox. As well as nearly all of the vegetable dishes, and specifically the sprout puree which looks like it's passed through the digestive tract of a cat. But thankfully almost every pudding was scrumptious and my three-year-old thought the strawberry fool and apple pie were 'Lishus'. It was only the prunes and curd that let the side down and looked revolting despite whatever nutritional benefits it may have boasted in days of olde... Dutch Cooking: The New Kitchen, has been lovingly produced in homage to old-fashioned Dutch cuisine and it successfully manages to inject some fun into a stale national pastime with this funky mix of traditional hearty fare. All the recipes are simple, cheap and easy to prepare which makes it an ideal cookery book for youngsters, or anyone who fancies trying out an eclectic menu on friends. But if you really are planning a 'Dutch' dinner party, and before you fill the trough, just make sure you choose the courses wisely, and more importantly, keep a defibrillator handy. Shelley Antscherl books@dutchnews.nl  More >


Calvin’s Head

A murder mystery set mostly in Amsterdam which starts out with a dog finding a body in Vondelpark. A great opening to an enjoyable thriller, perfect for your own sunny summer afternoon in Vondelpark (hopefully minus the homicide.) The book follows American Jason Dekker and his dog Calvin who are currently living out of their Jeep in Amsterdam. Dekker moved to the Netherlands to finish his thesis on Van Gogh and, after falling in love with a semi-famous Dutch artist, finds himself on the streets after his lover dies. Calvin finds a body in Vondelpark and Dekker sees a way to get himself get himself (and Calvin) off the streets. Through a series of moves that, in hindsight, seem absurd but in the context of the moment, seem rational, Dekker ends up adopting a parrot, giving a serial killer amnesia and convincing him that they are lovers. While this may read as the plot of a comedy, it’s actually a dark thriller that keeps the reader engrossed in the plot and wanting more. The novel is written predominantly from Dekker’s point of view, but occasionally jumps to Calvin’s, an odd transition that doesn’t add much to the book overall but can interrupt the flow. Though not fantasy, Calvin does seem to have a bit more to offer than the average Golden Retriever. Author David Swatling is a longtime Amsterdam resident, moving to the city from his native United States in 1985. Calvin’s Head is the author’s first novel but a sequel to the book is in the works. Buy this book  More >


Here’s Holland

Here's Holland provides visitors of all ages and interests with a unique insight into Holland's treasures and pleasures, it's culture and customs. Families and international business people transferring to, or already living in Holland, will also find invaluable tips and advice regarding life in this tiny but fascinating country. website  More >


The Anatomy Lesson

In 1632 serial thief, Adriaen Adriaenszoon (known as Aris Kindt), was sentenced to death by hanging in Amsterdam. The Anatomy Lesson is based on the events that take place on the day of his death and dissection as depicted in Rembrandt'Ž“s famous painting, Ž•The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes TulpŽ“, an artwork commissioned by the Amsterdam Surgeons' Guild. This second novel from American writer, Nina Siegal, is contrived from historical records and coloured by prose. The narrative chronicles Kindt_Ž“s life, the lives of the individuals laying claim to the dead man_Ž“s body: Dr Tulp (the anatomist) Flora (the woman pregnant with his child) Rembrandt (artist) Jan Fetchet (curio collector and acquirer of medical cadavers) and Kindt himself (both alive and dead). Siegal has obviously spent copious time researching the subject matter. This historic authenticity of The Anatomy Lesson makes it easy for the reader to conjure up the people, places and events described in the narrative. Her descriptions of the cold, greyness of the Dutch winter are commendable. The tale rumbles gently along. At times it reads more as a play than a novel. Characters enter the stage and present a short monologue before exiting. The audience enjoy the performance, while anticipating the moment when the denouement reels the characters and story together into a satisfying conclusion. Needless the say, no more can be added without giving away the end of the book. Some readers may feel that the author's concentration on detail is pedantic and slows the flow of the narrative and the pace is slowed by the adoption of numerous characters narrating the story. Chapter headings give no clue to the identity of the narrator, leaving it to the reader to deduce from whose perspective the story is being told. Adding to this, sometimes confusing, mix is the occasional interruption by a present-day conservator employed to restore the painting (notably easier to identify due to a change in font). This literary style demands full reader concentration. Despite these niggles, The Anatomy Lesson is an enjoyable read. It provides the reader with an historical insight into a specific time period in the Netherlands, and an interpretation of the background story behind one of the most renowned paintings of the Golden Age, which now hangs at Mauritshuis in The Hague. Buy this book Ana McGinley  More >


A Sample of Gouda

A Sample of Gouda - Photographs and Hidden Narratives of Gouda is the second book about this Dutch city by expats Persephone Abbott and Vinita Salomé. Their first book, published in 2012, The Bee’s Tour of Gouda, Buzzing through Vinita’s Lens, is a walking tour guide, complete with photographic highlights for the walker to identify along the route. The interest this guidebook attracted from the expat community and international media motivated Abbott and Salomé to continue their artistic collaboration. A Sample of Gouda is filled with beautiful photographs of historical relics located around the city, yet often missed by people living in or visiting Gouda. Each photograph is accompanied by a short story based on individuals like Davud from Bosnia, Nancy from New Jersey and Raj from Mumbai – people who relocated to Gouda from different countries and cultures. These concocted tales are loosely associated to the image apparent in the photograph on the facing page. A guide written from the visitor’s seat In terms of a city or culture guide, A Sample of Gouda- Photographs and Hidden Narratives of Gouda offers something new to Gouda and the increasing number of books about everything and anything ‘Dutch’. The book does not showcase the best of what the city, or Dutch culture, has to offer. Instead it offers readers 31 fictitious perspectives of trying to fit in to Gouda and the local culture as a foreigner. The struggles, apparent in the short stories, are given counterbalance by the photographic evidence of an old culture shaped by religion, traditions, and history. A Sample of Gouda- Photographs and Hidden Narratives of Gouda is a creative and interesting book by two women with an obvious love of Gouda and an understanding of the challenges many expats face with integration into this city. Buy this book Ana McGinley  More >


A Dictionary of Dutchness

The Dutch language can puzzle at the best of times but throw in an acronym or abbreviation and you're suddenly faced with a riddle, wrapped in a mystery and deep-fried in breadcrumbs. What hope have we uninitiated English speakers got if we can't tell the difference between a BOB and a TSB? Enter A Dictionary of Dutchness. All those quirky Dutchisms that have caught us off guard, drawn blank faces and LOL'd (laughed at loud) at our expense, have been meticulously rounded up by the editors at DutchNews.nl and compiled into a indispensable 400-word paperback that's as entertaining as it is digestible. The Dutch language demystified, brilliant. It's not just newcomers to the Netherlands who'll find a friend in this unofficial survival guide. What Dutch person wouldn't care to know what the FNV (trade union federation) stood for or if the CBP is doing what they're paid to do (protect data)? Some acronyms make perfect sense. Why struggle through Eerste Hulp Bij OngelukkenŽ and risk passing out - when EHBO (first-aid kit) just trips off the tongue? Then there's BOB. Poor BOB. He's that reliable friend who sticks to one beer so he can drive everyone home after a night out. And BTW, wouldn't it be nice to know how big your Hollandse Nieuwe were this year? (That's the mid-May catch of young herring). That just leaves us with GVB, a word that suffers from a split personality, standing for both a golf proficiency certificate and the municipal transport authorities. The list goes on and on, but you'll easily find yourself going along with it. I certainly did! A Dictionary of Dutchness is a great addition to anybody's bookshelf. Short and sweet, IYKWIM (if you know what I mean). Out of print Iamsterdam.com  More >


Why the Dutch are Different

At the risk of sounding like an uneducated pleb, I confess that being asked to review yet another book dealing with the history and culture of the Netherlands did not fill me with unabated excitement. A quick flip through the pages revealed the inclusion of the obligatory topics found in every book about the Netherlands – the Golden Age, water, windmills, land reclamation, bikes, drugs, Anne Frank and prostitution. Yet by the time I reached the last page of the book’s introduction, my hesitation had disappeared, and I eagerly sat up late into the night reading Why the Dutch are Different, laughing often and enjoying the  ride into the history of my adopted homeland. The Audacity to Go Searching Why the Dutch are Different provides the answers to all the questions I had but didn’t dare ask in my quest to understand what was going on around me in the Netherlands. New author, Ben Coates, is the Englishman brave enough to venture into the midst of the Dutch people, ask the questions, do the research, drink the cheap cocktails and wear the tiger outfit to Carnival. He unearths what the natives think about issues like immigrants, social security, Geert Wilders and Zwarte Piet. By connecting the dots of major historical events - up to and including present day events - the reader is presented with a clear explanation of what it means to be Dutch. The contents of the book are far reaching, albeit manageably sorted into seven chapters. In each chapter the author travels to various Dutch cities, attending local events. Each event is supported by historical background information with a modern day commentary.  An analysis of Dutch tolerance of prostitution, drugs, religious and political beliefs, is both interesting and accessible. A day spent researching and celebrating carnival in the southern cities of Maastricht, Eindhoven and Breda includes a discussion on the impact of religious divides on the Dutch people and country.  Attending Amsterdam’s museum night leads to a discussion about the Golden Age. Taking a picnic in Drenthe incorporates a discussion about the Nazi occupation during WWII and the Dutch response to protecting its Jewish citizens. So – Why are the Dutch Different? The answer seems to be hidden in how Dutch history has shaped the country's present position. There are many obvious factors like water management; windmills; an addiction to dairy products; biking; and the over-popularity of business meetings. A deeper understanding of the country and its people is a prerequisite to truly feel at home in the Netherlands. I can thoroughly recommend this book. Ana McGinley Why the Dutch are Different: A Journey into the Hidden Heart of the Netherlands by Ben Coates. Published by Nicholas Brealey Publishing  More >


Colonel Baxter’s Dutch Safari

Cartoonist and artist Glen Baxter was first published in the Netherlands 40 years ago. Now he's back with a collection of absurdist drawings covering all things Dutch - from herring and tulips to Mondriaan and Rietveld chairs. Dutch funnyman Wim de Bie, who curates the Glen Baxter Museum, provides the introduction to this slim volume of full-colour drawings and wry comments. In particular, Baxter seems to have it in for Rietveld's famous chair - which is eaten by beavers, turned into a method of execution and a bidet. The humour is gentle and barbed at the same while the little Delft tiles sketched on opposing pages contain some hidden gems. Buy this book  More >


Learn to cycle in Amsterdam

This gorgeous how-to book brings out all of the rules and norms of cycling in Amsterdam alongside amazing pictures of every day cycling experiences. Get it for anyone who comes to visit and needs a primer before heading out on a bike in the city. Author Xing Chen is a neuroscientist who moved to the Netherlands for work in 2014. She grew up in Singapore and lived in the UK and the US before arriving here. She learned how to ride a bike as a child, but quickly learned that the cycle paths of Amsterdam were nothing like the quiet suburban streets she was used to. The book is divided into five chapters, covering bikes and bike accessories; road signs; tips and etiquette; behavior and weather. Do you have any idea what all of the road signs mean? You will after you read this. Cycling for dummies It is, essentially, a cycling for dummies book. The material is dry in places, but so are the cycling rules. There’s an enjoyable narrative about the author in the beginning but what mostly keeps the book entertaining are the photos. Many of them were taken by Shirley Agudo, the photographer behind The Dutch and Their Bikes and showcase the interesting and weird things you may see while cycling in Amsterdam. But the photos also extensively showcase the traffic signs, conditions and road layouts you might encounter while biking. As the title suggests, the book is wholly focused on Amsterdam. While most of the information is valid across the Netherlands, there are some specific things that only apply to the city itself, such as information about local bike rental shops and the police contact details. Fortunately, if you want to find any of this information out for your own city, it’s fairly easy to search for or to find on your local council website. The book is small, making it easy to carry with you and would make for a great gift for newcomers. Or keep it around your house for guests who are nervous about venturing out on their own. Buy this book  More >