Passage of the Stork

Passage of the Stork

Born in the United States, Madeleine Lenagh’s early childhood years were that of an expat child living in Europe. At the age of five, Madeleine and her family returned home and settled in Connecticut, where Madeleine faced tumultuous time as she matured towards adulthood. Rebelling against her mother’s interference in her love life, Madeleine set out to travel Europe alone. By the time she arrived in the Netherlands in 1970 her savings had dried up and she needed to make a decision that would have long-term implications for her future. Madeleine accepted a job as an au pair for a Dutch family and cashed in her return airline ticket to buy winter clothes. So began her life in the land of cheese and tulips that has endured over four decades. Passage of the Stork is Madeleine’s story. Her memoir is an honest account of a woman who has faced personal struggles with strength and determination in an adopted homeland. Always seeking the truth, especially about her self, she faces struggles familiar to many expat women as they tackle relationships, parenthood and careers in the Netherlands. Many women who have been lured by love to the Netherlands will relate to the experiences detailed in the book. For others it will be inspiring to read about Madeleine’s career development, the opportunities and her resultant independence made possible because she fully immersed herself in causes and projects that she believed in. As a book, Passage of the Stork is a narrative sewn together with a thread of Nordic mythology providing a commentary of events, much like that of a Greek chorus in a classical drama. My initial doubts about including mermaids in a personal memoir subsided quickly as it became apparent that they provided parallel explanations of significant developments, especially on a psychological level. The book is about the process of unraveling your past to discovering your true self. For Madeleine this meant a long battle to uncover the secrets hidden in her family. These secrets held the key to explaining who she was as an adult and the reasons for the choices she made throughout her life. From this point, she gained self-acceptance, wrote her memoir, and is now moving on to a new chapter of her life. Ana McGinley  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 >

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 >



Amsterfam charts the highs and lows of a British family in Amsterdam as they try to integrate into Dutch life. More >

Angel of Amsterdam

Finally, we have an English-language edition of prize-winning Dutch author Geert Mak's Angel of Amsterdam.  Mak is one of the finest of Dutch authors and the book provides unique glimpse into and better understanding of this fascinating city. First published in 1993,  The Angel of Amsterdam:  Seven City Stories introduces a large, varied cast of loyal Amsterdammers, dating from 1275 to approximately 1990, all boasting a unique attachment to the city. All seven stories are independent essays, connected only by being set in Amsterdam.  Readers familiar with the city will be able to identify neighbourhoods, buildings, and the names of historical figures. The first story, ‘A City in Blue’, is a modern-day description of Amsterdam from an aerial perspective. This is followed by, ‘Stone and Earth on the Burgwal’ which delves into the history of the city via the artifacts found in a house being renovated by the narrator.  The third story considers the mitigation of staunch religious standards as people from isolated rural areas move to the city seeking better opportunities. Rembrandt is the central figure in ‘The Forgotten Girl, the City and the Painter’ – with his changing fortunes reflecting the changing values of Amsterdam society in 1600s. The last three essays focus on population groups not generally photographed for Amsterdam tourist guides.  “Making Tracks around Central Station’ follows prostitutes, pimps, and homeless people with chronic substance abuse issues or mental health problems.  The narrator spends time with these individuals, learning how and where these people survive in the city. Similarly, ‘Three Afternoons with Henk Plenter’ sees the narrator accompanying a public health inspector responsible for investigating complaints regarding bad smells.  The cause of the stench often related to an individual, sometimes dead, but often suffering from an untreated psychiatric illness and abandoned by family, friends, neighbors or social services. Overall, this book of short essays provides an interesting insight into Amsterdam’s history, and the social fabric that make it the colorful city it is today. After 20 years, it is a little dated and may benefit from the addition of a present day story to add relevance for newer residents of the city.  Yet The Angel of Amsterdam remains a fascinating commentary on the city and its inhabitants. Buy this book Ana McGinley  More >

Emotional Resilience and the Expat Child

Guilt inevitably afflicts all expat parents when they relocate their families around the world. Despite the enormous advantages and privileges growing up as a global nomad, it's sometimes hard to reconcile this with an unhappy child, distraught at the prospect of leaving friends behind and moving country yet again. Emotional Resilience and the Expat Child seeks to help parents prepare children for their adventures abroad and ensure they can express and articulate the complex emotions at work when relocating. Julia Simens is an American educator and consultant with a focus on international relocation and in 20 years of living in five different continents she has helped many children and families adjust to their global lifestyle. Identifying key emotions at the root of distress and teaching children to communicate these feelings in words and pictures, helps youngsters confront the emotional difficulties as they learn to cope with each transition. To accompany the theory, Simens has included practical exercises throughout the chapters for both parents and children to work through. This is a book that will appeal to parents with an interest in the psychology of raising children overseas, and using this knowledge to help them cope with the emotional upheaval of leaving things behind and packing up to move on again. Buy this book Shelley Antscherl  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  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  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 >

New Explorers Guide to Dutch Digital Culture

The New Explorers Guide to Dutch Digital Culture is a combination phonebook and wiki for all things digital art and culture in the Netherlands. Virtueel Platform, a Dutch e-culture knowledge institute, has put together this comprehensive guide to the companies, institutes, and other organisations involved in the digital art and culture industry. Organised into three sections (Media Labs, Game Companies, and Media Festivals) the book compiles all the relevant information (contact details, dates, scope of work) into a hand guide. The index is especially useful for those in the creative community, which lists all of the companies and organisations by name, location, and industry. The book is visually appealing, using photos of many digital art projects to showcase the work of an organisation. The editors have also created some handy shortcuts, listing information such as the event date, likely users, and keywords associated with each group. Unfortunately, however, the text contains number of grammatical errors which can distract the reader from the content. As someone in the digital industry, I found the book useful and may even attend a few of the conferences mentioned. The book was funded, in part, by the foreign affairs ministry. Download this book Molly Quell  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 >

ABC Nederlands English

ABC Nederlands English is a bilingual alphabet book for children. Author Alison O'Dornan introduces children to the alphabet using words and objects that begin with the same letter in Dutch and English. Words like Banana and Banaan, Moon and Maan are illustrated with pictures and accompanied by a simple sentence in both languages making them easy to understand. With one letter per page this colourful little book is short enough to hold their attention and presented in a style that will appeal to kids. Diglot Books specializes in bilingual language guides for youngsters and they have recently launched a range of Flash Cards based around a shopping theme with pictures of items written in English and Dutch. Any of their titles or products would make a perfect first introduction for children starting to learn a second language. ABC Nederlands English is just one in a series that includes: Spanish, German, French and Italian. Shelley Antscherl  More >

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 >

Confessions of a Dutch Reading Club

The title might not tickle your fancy but don't let that put you off. Confessions of a Dutch Reading Club is the work of first time author Patricia van Stratum who has penned an unusual tale about a group of middle-aged Dutch folk and surprisingly, it works. When the reading club members are asked by a controversial priest to keep a journal and write a piece for a commemorative 10th Anniversary Book, they set about the task with trepidation. As each man begins to jot down his thoughts and feelings, he lays bare some of the more colourful aspects to his character, not to mention exposing hidden fetishes, painful pasts and insecurities. Van Stratum does an excellent job of bringing the reading club members to life with her descriptive narrative, and despite none of the characters being very appealing, they are interesting by virtue of their peculiarities. Confessions of a Dutch Reading Club describes itself as: 'essential reading for anyone interested in the group behaviour of the middle-aged male, the sociology of an average Dutch town and the marks left by a rigorous Catholic education', but that's not strictly true. Because if you've lived among the Dutch, or in any small town, and if you've experienced the petty politics of any kind of local club then you could identify with, and enjoy reading this. So avoid the temptation to judge this book by its drab front cover because Confessions of a Dutch Reading Club is a well-written tale and a nosey peek at the foibles and eccentricities of the small town Dutch male. Buy this book Shelley Antscherl  More >