Atlas of Amstelland: the biography of a landscape

Atlas of Amstelland: the biography of a landscape

Atlas of Amstelland: The Biography of a Landscape presents the history of Amstelland through a series of maps based on the results of recent research, which illustrate the transformation of the landscape from desolate marsh to beloved green oasis on the edge of Amsterdam. From the 11th century onwards the peat marsh on the edge of the world was gradually reclaimed. A section of the Amstel even originated as a drainage canal. In the 13th century a new power arose: Amsterdam. In the 17th century, the Dutch Golden Age, this former modest village near a dam in the Amstel grew into one of the largest metropolises in Europe. Its proximity brought about major changes in Amstelland. Much of the landscape was radically altered by the turf industry and subsequent drainage. Its peat meadows could be quickly inundated to form an impenetrable barrier around Amsterdam. In the course of centuries, relations between city and countryside became thoroughly intertwined to the point where each can only be properly understood by studying them together. Buy this book  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 >


Amsterdam Foodie

Amsterdam Foodie

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




Amsterdive

Amsterdive

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


Holland Cycling

Holland Cycling

Explore the Netherlands the Dutch way - by bicycle. Includes where to go, planning your trip, tips and info. More >






Amsterdamian

Amsterdamian

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


The Dutch and their Bikes

Books about Dutch biking culture continue to grow in popularity, with more titles appearing on the bookshelves each year. Four years ago, American photojournalist and long-term resident in the Netherlands, Shirley Agudo, published Bicycle Mania, receiving rave reviews from international readers. Continuing on this same theme, Agudo has recently released a new extended version of her first book, titled The Dutch and Their Bikes: Scenes from a Nation of Cyclists. This new coffee table book exhibits about 700 photographs of Dutch people cycling - an activity intrinsic in their everyday lives. The images are loosely arranged by theme: transportation, colours, weather, age, animals, and special occasions. The book opens with a section of well-researched facts about cycling in the Netherlands, including what happens to bikes parked in public spaces for long periods (that is, they are removed and taken to the Fietsdepot to await retrieval by their owners at a cost of ten euros, albeit 70% of these bikes remain unclaimed). By adding a short list of cycling innovations supported by both local and national government, Agudo emphasises the importance of cycling to the environment and economy of the Netherlands. Interspersed throughout the 352 pages of the book are comments from a broad range of people somehow involved in cycling culture in the Netherlands, including individuals working in various government officers, transport organizations, cycling bodies, bicycle manufacturing businesses, and online bike forums. Often information and views are repeated, providing reiteration of the benefits of cycling to both individual and community. The Dutch and Their Bikes is a gift to the tourism industry of the Netherlands. The photographs portray the Dutch people as a free-spirited (sometime nude, pages 294-297), environmentally conscious, sturdy population who know the simple joy of riding a bike, and have adopted it as their preferred mode of transport. Cycling is internationally recognised as an enjoyable as well as an environmentally-friendly activity. By identifying the bike as being integral to Dutch culture, Shirley Agudo has added another reason for visitors to come and experience what the Netherlands is about. Buy this book Ana McGinley books@dutchnews.nl  More >


Craving (Dorst)

Esther Gerritsen is an award winning author, playwright and columnist. Her acclaimed 2012 novel, Dorst, nominated for the prestigious Libris Literature Prize, Dioraphte Literary Award and Opzij Prize has been translated from its original Dutch and is now available under the English title Craving. Craving is about the interpersonal relationships that connect a dysfunctional family. The narrative revolves around Elisabeth and her daughter, Coco, who are reunited in domesticity by Elisabeth’s terminal illness and the end of Coco’s rental agreement. Awkward people The story opens with Elisabeth and Coco inadvertently seeing one another on opposing sides of the Overtoom in Amsterdam. Elisabeth takes the opportunity to clumsily reveal to her daughter some devastating news that she has been withholding from her family. After asking about Coco’s hair (to conceal her thought about Elisabeth’s weight gain), she reveals a bag of medications, blurts out that she is dying, and quickly departs the scene as Coco cycles away. Elisabeth is an awkward communicator. Her ex-husband suggests that her communication and relationship struggles are due to autism. Regardless of cause, Elisabeth’s prior conduct, especially during her daughter’s early childhood, resurface in her final days as Coco seeks explanations from her mother to settle her own disconcerting childhood memories. For a young woman, Coco is a calamity. She lacks the direction and decision-making skills required to attain life satisfaction. Her romantic relationship, with pseudo-father figure Hans, is coming to an end, throwing Coco into a negative spiral of attention seeking conduct fueled by alcohol and sex with strangers in pubic places. Additional characters include Wilbert (Elisabeth’s ex-husband), Miriam (married to Wilbert), Martin (Elisabeth’s employer and close friend), and Elisabeth’s hairdresser. Together these four characters give dimension to Elisabeth’s persona. While Wilbert and Miriam treat her as a damaged woman able to living independently yet incapable of parenting a child, Martin praises Elisabeth and is resolute in his support for her. The hairdresser maintains non-judgmental respect for his client and teeters on as a friend to Elisabeth. Appeal Craving is indubitably a Dutch novel but the narrative has universal appeal.  A central character dying of cancer is a common thread found in Dutch literature and film - especially compared to books and films from America or Britain. This may be connected to the ease the Dutch have in speaking about death, compared with English speaking cultures. Reliant on verbal exchanges and flashbacks, Craving is a tale of psychological tension tinged with black humor. The succinct dialogue is clever and easily conveys the discord between characters to the reader - a major feat achieved by both the author and translator. Highly recommended. Ana McGinley 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 >


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 books@dutchnews.nl  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 >


The Low Sky: Understanding the Dutch

Fully updated and revised, this book is considered a classic guide to getting to grips with the natives. And yes, that big sky does have an impact! Doe maar gewoon dan doe je gek genoeg ? Act normally, that?s crazy enough. Nine out of ten people in the Netherlands will quote this well-worn saying if asked to come up with a basic trait of the Dutch character. At times Dutch people will ignore you politely at others they will go out of the way to help you. You will get into trouble with the authorities for putting up a fence without permission but, in the late evenings, many family television channels broadcast pornography and advertisements for telephone sex into your living room. Even your best friends reach for their diaries to make a dinner date, because you don't just drop by without being invited. And when you buy them a present they will open it in front of you without batting an eyelid. A country and a people full of paradoxes. Or is there some kind of system behind it all? Han van der Horst paints a picture of Dutch society and the Dutch psyche that will help expatriates to understand the country they are living in and to function properly at work and in their free time. The Low Sky : Understanding the Dutch is the best guide to the Netherlands and its people. This latest edition has been completely reviewed and updated to do justice to the major social changes that have affected Dutch society in recent years. Buy this book  More >


Roxy

Esther Gerritsen seems to specialise in writing about calamitous female characters. Her 2012 prize-winning novel, Dorst (published in English translation as Craving) featured Coco, a young woman embarking on a journey of self-destruction after learning that her mother is dying. In Roxy, the main character of the same name, quickly unravels upon learning that her husband and his young intern have been found naked and dead in his car. Her disintegration is disturbingly ugly - drawing an analogy between the reader and Roxy, who describes herself as the type of person who 'always want to look when there’s an accident on the motorway.'   Who is Roxy? Roxy, the only child of a working class parents, spends her childhood in a small town in North Brabant. Her father is a long-distance truck driver who revels in telling his jokes to strangers. Her mother routinely enjoys her wine to excess. After writing a book, loosely autobiographical, Roxy attracts some fame and quickly meets Arthur, a television producer 30 years her senior. Arthur whisks Roxy away from her parents, to a new life of comfort, celebrity and money. The novel opens with 27-year-old Roxy being told by police that her husband has died in a car accident. She takes the information and goes back to bed, deciding that by not telling Louise, her three-year-old daughter, or notifying family and friends, she can delay making the news a reality at least until the morning. This proves to be her modus operandi – delaying or refusing to confront her own pain by indulging in behaviour that distracts her from facing her true emotions. Her conduct picks up speed and intensity as the novel progresses, starting with Roxy having sex with the undertaker and ending with her flipping sheep on their backs (a dubious belief by some that this can kill a sheep). But the Dutch seem so mild-mannered…. Attempting to support Roxy as she faces the first days and week following her husband’s death are Jane (Arthur’s personal assistant), Liza (Louise’s babysitter), Marco (Roxy’s only friend) and Roxy’s parents who take up this opportunistic chance to enjoy the comfort and involuntary hospitality available in Roxy’s marital home. While all characters try to help Roxy, their help is compromised by their own psychological limitations and the irrational demands that Roxy makes on them. Escaping on an impromptu road-trip with Jane, Liza and Louise is far from a therapeutic experience for Roxy and her passengers. With each day, Roxy isolates herself further from her companions by her recklessness and inability to relate to the women as anything but paid help. In the final pages she calls her father to come and collect her in France, yet when he arrives she quickly refuses his help to continue on her own path of ruination. An uncomfortable yet captivating tale. Gerritsen has written a compelling novel. While difficult to maintain empathy for Roxy, or, indeed, any of the characters, there is a strong impetus to discover what happens next and a hope for a positive conclusion that urges the reader to keep going. The dialogue is sharp and the character interactions credible. Roxy was originally published in 2014. This novel, written in Dutch, has been translated into English by Michele Hutchison and was published by World Editions in 2016. Roxy is the third book by Gerritsen to be nominated for the prestigious Libris Literature prize. Selected as author of the 2016 Boekenweekgeschenk (Dutch Book Week gift book), Gerritsen’s latest novel Broer is now available.  More >


Native English for Nederlanders

Native English for Nederlanders is a collection of newspaper columns by the Financieele Dagblad's deputy editor Ron van de Krol. The book shows international business men and women how to use the English language like a native, with a sprinkling of cultural insider information on top. website  More >


Stuff Dutch People Like takes on food and mothers

The Stuff Dutch People Like empire has done some considerable expansion in 2016 with a look earlier this year at language and now a plunge into food and the world of motherhood. Author Colleen Geske, a Canadian by birth, has now turned her attention to celebrating Dutch parenting and asks herself 'why do Dutch mums have it all?'. It did not start out that way. 'Home births were not urban legends, as I had hoped, but a frightening reality,' she writes in the introduction. 'Could I actually give birth, let alone raise a family, in this country far away from the comforts and familiarities of home?' Colleen is now the proud mother of two children, both born in the Netherlands and both growing up into little Amsterdammers. The book Stuff Dutch Moms Like is based partly on her experiences, partly on heaps of facts and useful information, and partly on the experiences of others mothers, both Dutch and foreign. Dutch parenting, she states, has often been described as laid-back, relaxed and quite permissive. Not that she would argue with these observations, you understand, but that 'you could make the wrong assumption that this parenting style is without substance or reason'. Helicopter mums have yet to arrive in the Netherlands and freedom, independence and letting children be children are paramount. The style is light and informative - like chatting to a friend - and Colleen's enthusiasm so persuasive you might end up wishing you were having a baby yourself, just to test it all out. Buy this book   Stuff Dutch People Eat The fourth book in the Stuff Dutch People Like stable is a homage to the Dutch snackbar and dinner table. Complete with recipes for pea soup, grandmother's apple pie and even stroopwaffels, Stuff Dutch People Eat is a lavishly illustrated celebration of Dutch food. And yes, she does throw in recipes for roti and nasi goreng for good measure. Liberally sprinkled with humour and exclamation marks, Colleen is even positive about boerenkool and herring - which must mean she is a fully integrated Dutch cook. This is a great gift for a new arrival, a longer term resident or someone who has left the Netherlands and is still nostalgic for a bitterballen or olliebollen at New Year. Now they can make them themselves. Buy this book  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 books@dutchnews.nl  More >