Logbook of the Low Countries

Logbook of the Low Countries

You could be forgiven for thinking this is probably not something you'd buy on impulse. After all, it sounds like the sort of dusty old title you might stumble across in a secondhand bookshop. But for any history buffs out there, don't stop reading just yet! Because Dutch economist and history connoisseur Wout van der Toorn, has poured his heart and soul into Logbook of the Low Countries, and appears to have compiled almost every single historical episode afflicting the Lowlands, and set it against major historical events that occurred in the rest of the world. Example: If you've ever wondered what else was going on in 1793 when the Southern Netherlands had once again been conquered by a pesky Austrian regime then I'm chuffed to enlighten you, that Dutch suppression commenced in the same year that Louis XVI and his ('Let them eat cake') Mrs, were being guillotined in Paris! Going back as far as 150,000 BC (when Northern Europe was still connected to Scandinavia by glacial ice apparently), it stomps along right up until 2010, with the election of Mark Rutte, the first Liberal Prime Minister of the Netherlands for nearly a century. Let's be honest about this, Logbook of the Low Countries will not appeal to everyone (although frankly, we could all learn quite a bit from the knowledge it imparts), but that doesn't mean it's not worth reading. This is a beautifully produced book in hard cover, illustrated with some lovely old maps, and full of historical facts that will certainly titillate anyone with an interest in history. Buy this book Shelley Antscherl www.shelleyantscherl.com  More >



A Wanderlust For Life

A Wanderlust For Life

An American expat blogging about life in Amsterdam while traveling around the country and throughout Europe. More >



24 Oranges

24 Oranges

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



European Mama

European Mama

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

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


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Kristen in Clogland

Kristen in Clogland

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Amsterdam Foodie

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Invading Holland

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Gliding Flight

Anne-Gine Goemans is a journalist and teacher of journalism to college students in Utrecht. Her career as a novelist began in 2008 with the publication of Ziekzoekers (Unfurrowed Ground), a book that grabbed the public’s attention when awarded the Anton Wachterprijs for best debut novel. Four years later, Goemans second novel Glijvlucht won the Dioraphte Youth Literature Prize and the German M. Pionier Award for new literary talent. The film rights were sold and the book added to the curriculum in some Dutch secondary schools.  In 2015 Glijvlucht was translated into English by Nancy Forest-Flier for World Editions and published under the title Gliding Flight. Cutting to the goose chase Gliding Flight is the story of 14-year-old Gieles who lives with his father and uncle in an isolated area along a runway, a landing strip for the local airport. This setting is instrumental to the narrative – uniting the supporting characters by being a source of constant tension to the unfolding storyline. The story opens with Gieles seeking advice on the best method to teach his two geese how to fly. He does this secretly as his father is responsible for ensuring that geese and other birds do not become a hazard to planes by venturing too close to the runway. Hence, Gieles would have his geese confiscated should his father discover that they were able to fly. Further Gieles is an avid fan of ornithologist Christian Moullec and pilot captain Scully who successfully landed his plane after geese had damaged the engines. Additional characters include Gieles’ mother Ellen who is on a mission to help people in Africa; Super Waling, an obese ex-history teacher, whose own family history tells the Dutch story of human hardship as men worked to reclaim land by building polders; Mieke, the gothic girl Gieles initially meets on the internet before leaving her family to live with Gieles and his family; Tony, the sadistic school friend; and Dolly, young widow, single parent, beautician and critic of everything. Flying in formation This novel contains multiple themes beginning with the analogy between teaching geese to fly and gain independence and teenagers struggling to learn essential life skills required to become independent adults. Other themes encompass Ellen’s need to be involved in saving humans in Africa, while leaving her own family to fend for themselves; obesity as a disability; first loves; cancer; innate tendency towards violence in some humans; and the war against industrial development in rural townships. The smooth incorporation of these themes in the narrative clearly highlights the authors’ literary talents. Gliding Flight is an enjoyable read with captivating characters, well-paced plot, and the right amount of tension to keep the pages turning. Highly recommended. Ana McGinley  More >


The Netherlands in 26 iconic objects

What do ice skates, orthodox Christians and ecstasy pills have in common? They are all quintessentially Dutch objects featured in a new anthology which explores what it means to come from the Netherlands. Dutch writers were given the task of jotting down their favourite facts and memories about the objects that surround them in the Netherlands. The result is a pretty unique insight into what makes this country tick, from the herring cart to the notorious face mitt. Contributions come from writer Mano Bouzamour who tackles the beer bike, columnist Gerry van der List who looks at the Dutch love of garden gnomes and Wim Brandts who deals with the ubiquitous stroopwafel - among many others. Of course, many of these objects were not even invented in the Netherlands, as the book reluctantly admits, but the adoration for them is still clear. According to Henk van Os, the cheese parer, a Norwegian invention, belongs in the Netherlands and should be left to the Dutch to operate properly. Overall the tales create a picture of what is important to the Dutch and how this makes them unique. And the stories show the eccentric ways in which the Dutch fiercely guard national traditions, such as their passion for using orange at all national celebrations. There are also times when the book reveals something new about the country known for its windmill owning, bike riding tendencies. The books list of items might seem stereotypical but all is not as it seems. The tulip bulb has less to do with Dutch culture than with continuing a booming tourist industry and is certainly not seen by the Dutch as their national flower. From geraniums to black stockings, the stories provide many anecdotes from the typically Dutch childhoods of the 26 writers who contributed. However be warned, the romanticised memories experienced through the eyes of the infant Netherlander becomes heavy reading experience when read together. With the words 'Dutch' and 'the Netherlands' used over 175 times, this collection is stuffed full of factoids that you can impress both visitors and Dutch nationals with. Julia Corbett  More >


Must Eat Amsterdam

Calling itself 'an eclectic selection of culinary locations', Must Eat Amsterdam is not intended to be a comprehensive restaurant guide to Amsterdam, but rather a highlights tour, showcasing the best the city has to offer. Author Luc Hoornaert has an interesting background. He’s the owner of SWAFFOU (Sexy Winemakers Association Fighting For Overall Understanding), a website devoted to wine education as well as Swaffood, which sells high end Japanese ingredients. He’s also the author of the Must Eat series of books, which cover New York City, London and the Netherlands and now have a specific title for Amsterdam. The photos are by Kris Vlegels and they are mouth watering. He captures from brilliant shots of the chefs and owners of the various restaurants as well, along with some interior photos of some of the locations. It’s a stylish little book with a brief introduction and photo (along with contact details) of each restaurant included. It then highlights one dish from the menu along with a photo and offers a description of the restaurant, the chef, the menu and the ambiance as well as some quirky facts about the place. The book itself is organised by location, breaking down Amsterdam into its geographic components (Centre, West, East, South and North.) The bulk of the selection are unsurprisingly located in the Centre with South also having a good showing. Usefully, each location also includes their average price, ranging from under €12.50 to over €40 for a main course and a drink. The locations range from food stalls to high end restaurants and nearly everything in between. Cheese shop Abraham Kef makes the list as does &Samhoud Places. Cuisine varies from croquettes to seafood and from Surinamese to Spanish. There is no ranking system for any of the restaurants included in the book and each review is written with such gusto, that it is hard to imagine any as falling short. Unfortunately, the author gives us no criteria for any any restaurant was included in (or, for that matter, left off) the list. Overall, it’s a pleasant little book that leaves the reader hunger and with a list of must try places in Amsterdam. It would be a good edition for the bookshelf of any foodie living in the country, as well as a reasonably good list for any tourist.  More >


Amsterdam… The Essence

Glorious architecture, picturesque canals, a paradise for art and culture buffs, and possibly the most eclectic bunch of Europeans you're likely to meet. That sums up Amsterdam for me. I once saw Mini-Me's twin wearing a bright yellow Panama hat smoking a big fat Cuban cigar while riding nonchalantly around Dam Square on a monkey bike and thought I was hallucinating - except I was stone cold sober. No one else seemed to bat an eyelid... So I was intrigued to read British writer David Beckett's Amsterdam... The Essence because it proffers: 'A unique view of a great European city, in the words of the people who shape it.' And that surely had to include a host of colourful characters? People like tattooist to the Red Hot Chili Peppers (a.k.a. Hanky Panky), a former sex worker turned campaigner, ex-Mayor Job Cohen and a plethora of wacky types (and some downright pretentious ones) are interviewed at length to offer a fascinating insight into what makes Amsterdam such a funky place to live and visit. Beckett has lived in Amsterdam since 1998 and was inspired to write something exciting about the place he describes as: 'the most enigmatic city in the world,' which is a bold statement indeed. But after reading his book it's hard to refute, especially if you're familiar with this wonderful little city that has a population of well under a million people, and yet consistently makes it into the top ten list of places to live in Europe. There are also some gorgeous black and white photographs of the city that if like me, you no longer live anywhere near Amsterdam, will make you wistful to return. Buy this book Shelley Antscherl shelleydutchnews@me.com  More >


Dealing with the Dutch

If you'Ž“re moving to the Netherlands then be warned, Lowlanders can be a bit blunt. In fact it'Ž“s fair to say that in business, as in daily life, brutal honesty and constructive criticism are dished out liberally as par for the course - which can be a bit of a shock to the system if you haven't lived or worked alongside them before. The Dutch are a self-confident, pragmatic, and exceedingly efficient race and these qualities combined with their shrewd nose for business can sometimes make for an off-putting combination. In Dealing with the Dutch, author Jacob Vossestein has created a manual for anyone who wants or needs to understand the general mentality, in order to forge good professional relationships and successfully conduct business with the Dutch. As a human geographer and social anthropologist with nearly 30 years experience as a cross-cultural trainer, Vossestein knows more than most about the Dutch psyche and how to communicate effectively with his fellow countrymen. But surprisingly for a native, Vossestein also shows a finely-tuned awareness for the less appealing Dutch characteristics, and this is what makes his book so valuable. Every quirk, trait and habit is scrutinised and what you get is a fully comprehensive guide to just about every strand of the nation'Ž“s collective personality, including their beliefs and value system. Despite the dull and dreary picture on the book'Ž“s cover, it is anything but, and contains plenty of humorous observations and comments by other foreigners that will make this useful for anyone moving to Holland. Indeed the tone of the author himself, is refreshingly self-deprecating which makes you want to read on and discover more about this tall and distinctive race of northern Europeans who are often understood by misleading stereotypes and little more. Vossestein has included so much information about the entire Dutch nation its geography and provinces, including the regional nuances of people living in different parts of the country, that Dealing with the Dutch succeeds in being entertaining, enlightening and credible, all at the same time. Buy this book Shelley Antscherl books@dutchnews.nl  More >


Bicycle Mania

The title and cover picture promise an eccentric and lighthearted peek into the Dutch love affair with all things on two wheels. What you get is a chunky little picture book with some nice photos and a few pages of bicycle facts and trivia. If you've ever wanted to know how many bicycles there are in Holland (approximately 18 million), or that there are 29,000 kilometers of cycle paths throughout the country, then this might titillate. And if you're curious to know the reasons why cycling is predominant in the Netherlands (all seven of them), you're likely to enjoy thumbing through this. But beyond the stats (and there are oodles of boring ones) and comparisons between cycling policies both here and abroad, there's not much to hold the reader's attention unless you're a hard-core cycling fanatic, and even then it might be a little too pedestrian. It is however good to look at and I sometimes found myself wondering what pretty part of Holland I was looking at, and wishing the author had referenced the photos with their locations. It's the kind of book you might take off someone else's bookshelf to flick through and it certainly has charm, but probably not to a native, or a long-term expat who sees it all for real on a daily basis. Nevertheless, if you fancy a quaint addition to your novelty reading collection then this has appeal. Buy this book Shelley Antscherl books@dutchnews.nl  More >


Little Kingdom by the Sea

Since the late 1950s, Dutch flag carrier KLM has been giving little Delft blue and white pottery houses to its first class (now business class) passengers. The houses, actually little bottles containing jenever, or Dutch gin, are all based on real buildings and Little Kingdom by the Sea tells their stories. The little houses are beloved by collectors and offered for sale on auction sites and specialist websites all over the internet. Among the collectors, the book says, is celebrated author Gabriel Garcia Marques who asked for a number of minatures in return for writing an article for the airline's magazine. King Willem-Alexander is said to be a collector as well, and when princess Christina put her collection up for sale at Sotheby's, it was bought by the Hungarian honorary consul. Every year gin maker Lucas Bols and KLM get together to decide which building to use next - a decision ultimately taken by KLM's chief executive. The buildings which have been turned into miniatures range from royal palaces to bars, from merchants homes and museums and all have their own stories to tell. If you are a collector, the book is a great source of information about the houses, from number one to number 95. If you like Dutch history, it is a treasure trove of stories. There are also suggestions for several heritage trails, including a historical pub crawl in Amsterdam which takes you past many of the bars which feature in the collection. One note of caution - it is a weighty little book and too thick to read comfortably with one hand. The English is also slightly clunky at times. Nevertheless, Little Kingdom by the Sea offers readers an exclusive peek into the lives of the people who lived in the houses and includes portraits of pioneers, adventurers and other glamorous figures who made their mark on Dutch history. Buy this book  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 >


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 >


How to Survive Holland

Published in 2007, Martijn de Rooi's How to Survive Holland aims to explain Dutch culture to readers unfamiliar with the Netherlands , including the history and population. The book is written from the perspective of a highly educated man who clearly loves his homeland, and hopes to educate the reader - identified as working on such misconceptions as the need to request a life buoy on arrival in the Netherlands as a safety measure against the rising waters. How to Survive Holland is a 175 page paperback expanded over twelve chapters covering topics like history, geography, food, and culture. The insight into the Dutch culture is valuable for the uninitiated and includes explanations beneficial to people wanting to emerge themselves into local society. Of note is the explanation of the Dutch liberal attitude of - equality for all, and tolerance of most things - as presented in chapter 4 'Abnormally Normal'. Criticisms of this book are based on the writing style. Many times thirty words are used when five would suffice. The result is that the reader is distracted by the style and intake of information is reduced. Being proud of one's own homeland can also reduce objectivity. Comparing the Vaals hill in the province of Limburg to Mount Everest, or the former Amsterdam City Hall building to the Taj Mahal or Roman Colosseum (pg72-73) may sound a little silly - and that is not the writer's intention. Finally, and of no fault to the author, in the six years since its publication, some information is outdated and now incorrect: like strippenkaart use on public transport, and Dutch places on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Buy this book  More >