How to Survive Holland

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 Finally, and of no fault to the author, in the six years since its publication, some information is outdated and now incorrect: like strippenkaart use on public transport, and Dutch places on the UNESCO World Heritage list.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 >



Invading Holland

Invading Holland

The adventures of an accident-prone English man who arrived in the Netherlands in 2001 for a six month stay. More >



Amsterdamian

Amsterdamian

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



Holland Cycling

Holland Cycling

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


Neamhspleachas

Neamhspleachas

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



24 Oranges

24 Oranges

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



The Harbour Master

The latest novella from British author, Daniel Pembrey, is a thriller set in modern day Amsterdam. The Harbour Master escorts readers into the seedier parts of the Dutch capital in this fast-paced tale of prostitution, murder, human trafficking and police corruption. Amsterdam police detective, Henk van der Pol, is on the downhill run towards his retirement. During an early morning patrol, he discovers a woman's body floating in the Amsterdam harbour. Henk becomes overtly suspicious of the police investigation into the case, and is soon denied all access to information about the dead woman and the cause of her demise by his superiors. Fortunately, Henk is able to identify the tattoo on the corpse'Ž“s ankle before he is barred from the investigation. The tattoo directs him to Amsterdam'Ž“s underbelly, the red light district, where he uncovers an unhealthy relationship between the pimps, prostitutes, police and politicians. This discovery places Henk and his family in peril, and entails Henk fighting for their safety without the support of the local constabulary. The Harbour Master is a fast, tight and suspenseful read. The economical format of the novella demands the removal of all excess fodder from the narrative. The characters are swiftly introduced, developed and connected to the plot. Henks'Ž“ colleagues, both old and new, are smoothly incorporated, with dialogue and action congruous to the specific character and situation. The relationships linking Henk, his wife, and their daughter are flawlessly executed. A good example is the description of Henk's daughter, Nadia, receiving a surprise visit from her father at the café¸ she works in. Her discomfort, apparent in what she says and how her movements are described, makes the reader feel like an eye witness. Pembrey shows great skill as a crime fiction writer. His understanding and portrayal of people, places and situations is remarkable. The Harbour Master is a highly recommended addition to this popular literary genre. Buy this book Ana McGinley  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 >


In My Father’s Garden (novel)

This successful novel from Dutch author Jan Siebelink, In My Father's Garden, is now available in English. The book, which won the 2005 Literatuurprijs, follows Hans, a father and gardener who becomes more and more obsessed with Calvinism as the story progresses. The book starts with Hans Sievez as a child and follows him to adulthood, where he marries his childhood sweetheart and they develop a flower nursery together. However, a man from Hans past brings him into devout Calvinism which ultimately tests his relationship with his wife and his children. Set in several parts of the Netherlands, the book does a wonderful job depicting the Dutch countryside and living conditions of the time. Siebelink develops interesting characters whose stories you genuinely become involved in. The story can become convoluted, however, especially as it jumps ahead in time. In all, an interesting read, both for the characters and for live in the Netherlands in the post-WWII era. Buy this book  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 >


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 www.mollyquell.com  More >


Arrivals, Departures and the Adventures In-Between

Born in the UK to American parents, O’Shaughnessy has lived, been educated, explored and worked in more than 90 countries. His experiences are incorporated into Arrivals, Departures and the Adventures In-Between providing humorous personal anecdotes to explain the issues frequently experienced by expat kids relocating to new countries as dictated by the jobs of one or both parents. Specifically the book looks at what it is to be a Third Culture Kid (TCK), Cross Culture Kid (CCK) and Invisible Alien. Definitions are provided with reference to earlier work by Ruth van Reken, Dr Ruth Hill Useem and David C. Pollock. In short, all three labels refer to children who have grown up outside their parents own culture in temporarily adopted countries – and as a result have an ambiguous national or cultural self-identity. Chapter One opens with a tale of self identity resilience in the face of opposing pressure from others and the identity they have of you. In this specific childhood example, O’Shaughnessy believed he was a robot – a fact confirmed by static electricity in his bed-sheets. When confronted with the fact that he was not a robot - rather 'just normal, nothing special' (p5) he felt a sense of disappointment akin to the response many expat children feel on registering that their foreign-ness in a new school environment does not make them special with their peers. In the following seven chapters, O’Shaughnessy covers the implications of being TCK and CCK on personality development (adaptability, confidence), social relationships (guardedness, fitting in, conflict management), future directions (being rootless and restless), feelings of grief and loss, and the benefits of having a wider understanding of cultures, languages and global communities. Each chapter ends with a list of the points covered and references included in the text. The reader can also access additional information by scanning quick response barcodes found throughout the book with their smart phones. As a verified TCK, adult global citizen, and travel adventure addict - Chris O’Shaughnessy has the prerequisite credentials to write about the experience of growing up as an expat child. His personal stories are hilarious examples of the educational information he is presenting. Arrivals, Departures and the Adventures In-Between is a highly recommended read for anyone who has taken up the exciting challenge of becoming a global citizen with kids in tow. Further, for adults who were raised globally and now hesitate when asked questions like ‘where are you from?’ or ‘where do you consider home?’ - this book will not give you the answers, but it will help explain your hesitation. Ana McGinley  More >


Dutch Ditz – Manners in the Netherlands

If you're planning a move to the Netherlands or you've recently arrived then this compact little Dutch Ditz is just for you. A swift and entertaining read, it cuts straight to the chase with everything you need to know about the Dutch family living next door and their weird and wonderful language, habits and customs. If you think they can't be that different to your old neighbours at home, then think again. Who is Sinterklaas? What is a frikandel (just don't ask what' in it)? Does everyone really have supper at 6pm? And why the national obsession with orange? These are just some of the questions you will ask yourself as you become acquainted with Dutch life. Everything from basic etiquette (or lack of it), to the Dutch approach to fashion, pets, food, birthdays and children is explained and will make your introduction to this quirky little country a little less baffling. Without some kind of experienced commentary on the Dutch psyche and rituals, you'll spend a stressful first few weeks wondering if your new friends and colleagues are astonishingly blunt or just plain rude and why on earth is a 'Coffeeshop' not a coffee shop? More critical issues like healthcare and doing business in the Netherlands are also touched upon and will provide you with a basic understanding of how the systems work. Reinildis van Ditzhuyzen, also known as the 'Queen of Manners', consulted and surveyed expats of all different nationalities to compile this comprehensive and sometimes tongue-in-cheek guide to living in the Netherlands. Buy this book Shelley Antscherl shelleyantscherl@me.com  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 >


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 >


You know you are Dutch when….

Find out how Dutch you really are with the latest book from the popular Stuff Dutch People Like stable. Do you think bicycle helmets are ridiculous, would you like Germans to stop digging holes on Dutch beaches and do you like chocolate sprinkles for breakfast even though you are an adult? Chances are, you really are Dutch. After a searingly funny look at Dutch culture, unraveling the mysteries of the language, praising Dutch motherhood and tickling your tastebuds with Dutch cooking, Colleen Geske turns her attention the key traits that separate Nederlanders from the rest of the herd. Lavishly illustrated and compact in size, You Know You're Dutch When... is the perfect book to add to the collection of easy reading in that small room downstairs. You know, the one with the birthday calendar on the back of the door and the tiny sink with cold water. You can buy You Know You Are Dutch When.. online or from all good bookstores.  More >