Confessions of a Dutch Reading Club

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 >




Amsterfam

Amsterfam

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


Holland Cycling

Holland Cycling

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


Dutch Wannabe

Dutch Wannabe

Lesia is the writer behind Dutch Wannabe, a travel blog focusing on culture-oriented travel in The Netherlands and bey More >


Dutch Scoop

Dutch Scoop

Mary Petiet is an American writer and reporter. She is currently exploring all things Dutch as she adjusts to life in 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 >


24 Oranges

24 Oranges

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


Neamhspleachas

Neamhspleachas

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


Amsterdive

Amsterdive

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




The Dutch and their Delta: Living below sea level

Jacob Vossestein XPat Media: €24.95 Buy this book It'Ž“s a little known fact outside of the Netherlands that one third of this tiny country - if it weren'Ž“t for a couple of great big hulking dijks -Ž would be submerged under rather a lot of water. Left to Mother Nature, Schipol Airport would in fact be a lake (it'Ž“s 3 meters below sea level), and rural North Holland - where I used to live - should actually be reclaimed by the North Sea. Jacob Vossestein (author of Dealing with the Dutch) has written a whole book about the Dutch nation's preoccupation with keeping water out of their clogs, and The Dutch and their Delta: Living below sea level, is his recent offering. This bible-sized compendium is a delight for anyone living in the Netherlands past or present who has ever wondered even a little bit, about the intricacies of pumping the ocean out of the Lowlands. With signs of their predicament everywhere in the form of windmills, canals, polders and huge grass-covered clumps of earth all holding back the waves, one can only marvel at the Dutch world-leading ingenuity when it comes to water management. You don'Ž“t have to be an engineering nerd to wonder how it all works, you just have to stare at the sea from the top of a dijk during a storm, to understand the sense of fear and foreboding these people must have felt in olden days. With 300 pages of excellent photographs and descriptive explanations, Vossestein'Ž“s enthusiasm for the topic, and his obvious love for this amazing little country shine through. The Dutch and their Delta: Living below sea level is a surprisingly fascinating read, and a perfect addition to any self-respecting Dutch coffee table. For a taster of what to expect, see Jacob Vossestein's youtube video about The Dutch and their Delta. Shelley Antscherl shelleydutchnews@me.com  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 >


The Hague and the best of the Netherlands

Published in 2013, The Hague and the best of the Netherlands by Violetta Polese and Blake Evans-Pritchard, elects The Hague, and not Amsterdam, as the focus city of the book. The rationale behind this choice is that many expats relocate to The Hague. Although a valid explanation, curious readers may suspect the additional motive behind choosing The Hague is that it was the adopted home of the authors during their time in the Netherlands. The book is written in three sections, closing with a short language lesson supplemented by audio download. Essential Dutch Information The first section concentrates on information essential to people moving to the Netherlands, such as health insurance, opening bank accounts, paying taxes, and labor laws. The explanation of the Dutch economy and political scene in just two pages - is a gift to readers. Further, the concise history of the Netherlands (p62-73) provides the basics to understanding famous artworks, churches and monuments visited by millions of tourists each year. The Hague The advantage of the author'Ž“s first hand knowledge of the city and the local surroundings becomes obvious in the section dedicated to The Hague and surrounding areas. Walking and cycling routes, museums, sporting options, restaurant reviews, descriptions of neighborhoods, public transport, and hidden gems within the city _Ž are all tried and tested by the writing team. Contact details including opening hours and cost are met with comments on value and services. This is particularly useful if you are new to the city and need a bike repair store (p138), a cheap barber (p135) or a Japanese restaurant (p178)Ž yet don'Ž“t know where to start looking. Best of the Netherlands Undoubtedly the final section of the book will face some criticism from both locals and temporary residents alike. With the exception of South Holland, each province is limited to a few pages. This raises questions about the authors' views. Did the authors not like Haarlem, Hilversum and Eindhoven? And why does Amsterdam'Ž“s Red Light District get almost double the coverage given to the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh'Ž“s museum combined? Regardless what the answers may be, The Hague and the best of the Netherlands is an informative, interesting, sometimes unusual city guide, filled with insider information and enthusiastic recommendations. Buy this book Ana McGinley  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 >


How to be Orange

How to be Orange, offers an insightful look at Dutch culture by social commentator and comedian, Greg Shapiro. Shapiro's extensive knowledge of Dutch culture and politics has been accrued over twenty years of living and working in the Netherlands. His cultural immersion has involved marriage to a Dutch woman and parenting first generation Dutch children, while living in Amsterdam and forging a durable career within the local art scene. In the Netherlands, Shapiro is the immigrant people laugh at. He happily accepts this fate, not just because it is how he makes his living, but because it indicates that his efforts at inburgering have been a success. Shapiro is an American, obvious in many ways including numerous comparisons of the Netherlands to the US throughout the book. His birth culture is the basis for what formulates his views about his adopted land. An example is chapter 22 on Dutch service, renowned for being non-existent if you are lucky, and terrible if your luck is running short. Shapiro rates service in North America as sitting on the other end of the hospitality scale - something akin to being downright annoying due to desire of earnest staff to increase their tips by attentive servitude. Stage show The book is the offspring of the author's stage show, and hence the material has been tried and tested in terms of relevance to the audience/reader experience. Newcomers to the Netherlands will identify with topics like dealing with government bureaucracies that don't make sense acquiring a cheap, used bike from unscrupulous sources feeling insulted by Dutch honesty and the irrational love of Zwarte Piet in a land that is otherwise unable to gracefully accept racial differences into its mix. Difficult topics are tackled with facts, sharp insights and often hilarious, personal anecdotes. Presented in two parts, part one contains 24 short chapters interspersed with caricature illustrations of Shapiro by Floor de Goede, and photos of Dutch things that become laughable in translation. Exam Part Two is the Assimilation Exam, a list of questions and answers used in the National Inburgering Test, a test of Dutch cultural understanding for foreigners. This second part emphasizes the idiosyncrasies of Dutch culture that are difficult to understood even for the Dutch, yet can be found in the examination questions for newcomers. Again, Shapiro addresses the odd image the Dutch have of themselves, compared to how the world sees the Dutch. A good example is the multiple choice question about where Dutch people go on holidays (p235). The answer that is officially correct is: A) The Netherlands, yet Shapiro states that the true answer is actually: B) In France and Spain. Most Dutch people, and camping ground staff in France and Spain, would agree with Shapiro. How to be Orange is not an official guide book to Dutch culture, yet the inclusion of this book on the essential reading lists of cultural assimilation courses would save newcomers unnecessary frustration in understanding their host country. For the rest of us, the book is a compendium of humorous subjects presented with respect, wit and sarcasm by an American with a strong attachment to the people and culture of his adopted homeland. Buy this book Ana McGinley  More >


A Millenium of Amsterdam

Author Fred Feddes threads together 40 stories about the original landscape of present-day Amsterdam, its reclamation, the changing relationship between water and land, and the continuing history of the city's growth, rebuilding and urban planning. With its starting point at Dam Square, the book fans out through the city and surrounding region, and through time from the year 1000 until the present day. Filled with archival photographs, illustrations and maps, the book imparts a comprehensive and fascinating spatial history of this complex Dutch city. Buy this book  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 >


Vicky Hampton’s Working Lunch

We are so happy that Vicky Hampton, our favourite Amsterdam foodie, has been branching out into other cities - her rundown of a weekend's eating in Rotterdam is enough to make us all head for the port city asap. Vicky is no food snob and assessments of what and where she is eating are both down to earth and honest. We've said it before... she's never let the DutchNews.nl crew down. Vicky has taken that same approach to lunch - cheap and cheerful lunch recipes for those who are sick of cheese sandwiches or can't stand another wilted salad at the staff canteen. Soups and smoothies, delicious toasted sandwiches - surely every Dutch company office has a toastie maker - and a great selection of simple salads. If your staff kitchen has a kettle and enough space to fit a chopping board, this is the book for you. You can buy Vicky Hampton's Working Lunch via the website bookshop or from online bookstores.  More >


Walk & Eat Amsterdam

This dinky little guide book is perfect for anyone already familiar with Amsterdam who wants to see more, and feast as they go. If you'Ž“ve seen the sights, visited the museums and experienced the delights of this fair city - and you enjoy troughing, then Walk & Eat Amsterdam is a bit of a treasure. Food writer, Cecily Layzell has produced a: Ž•light-hearted introduction to Dutch cuisine and eating habits, and combined it with different walks (including a night yomp), in and around the capital. Every stroll takes in a different part of the city, or further afield to the North Holland Dune Reserve, listing authentic Dutch eateries and watering holes along the way. If you'Ž“re short on time or energy, there are 11 walks of varying distance to choose from, but nothing requiring mountain goat levels of fitness. Layzell has even gone to the trouble of including a traditional Dutch recipe at the end of each chapter, which could have been its undoing (if you'Ž“re familiar with normal Dutch cuisine), but this just adds charm to an already appealing little book. There is plenty of useful advice about planning your visit including useful transport information and websites, as well as some handy translation for Dutch menu items and everything is presented in a cheerful and easy to read format. Walk & Eat Amsterdam is a lovingly researched pocket guide and the ideal travelling companion for long-term residents and expat foodies looking for a new and edible dimension to a day out in the capital. Buy this book Shelley Antscherl books@dutchnews.nl  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 >