The best books about Amsterdam

Who picked these books? Meet our 45 experts.

45 authors created a book list connected to Amsterdam, and here are their favorite Amsterdam books.
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What type of Amsterdam book?


The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen

By Hendrik Groen, Hester Velmans (translator),

Book cover of The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen

Joanna Nell Author Of The Great Escape from Woodlands Nursing Home

From the list on older characters who will warm your heart.

Who am I?

As a family doctor working in aged care, I have always felt disappointed by the stereotypical portrayal of ageing in fiction. Older characters are rarely the protagonist of their own story and are more likely to be relegated to minor roles that reflect their marginalization and invisibility in society. And yet, despite their physical limitations, my older patients have taught me that it’s never too late to laugh, love, make new friends or create mischief. Bette Davis once said, “Old age ain’t no place for sissies.” Without sugarcoating ageing, I strive for authenticity and humor in my writing to offer a more uplifting and hopeful portrayal of what lies ahead.

Joanna's book list on older characters who will warm your heart

Discover why each book is one of Joanna's favorite books.

Why did Joanna love this book?

I simply couldn’t resist the combination of the title of this book – a nod to Sue Townsend’s The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13 ¾, which I enjoyed many years ago – and its ironic setting of an Amsterdam aged care home. The novel is supposedly an exposé by an anonymous care home resident, although the author was subsequently revealed as Dutch writer, Peter de Smet. Told in the form of a diary, the book portrays the frustrations, indignities, and occasional small victories of Hendrik and his buddies in the Old-But-Not-Dead-Yet club as they fight to maintain agency over their own lives. The interplay between self-deprecating humor and poignancy in exploring the important themes around old age had me laughing out loud on one page and shedding tears on the next. 

By Hendrik Groen, Hester Velmans (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The hilarious international bestselling novel that has had pensioners ditching their sticks and zimmers to follow the age-defying, youth inducing antics inside The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old . . .

'Terrific. This geriatric Adrian Mole made me laugh' Woman and Home

'Funny and touching' BBC Radio 4

Meet Hendrik Groen. An octogenarian in a care home who has no intention of doing what he's told, or dying quietly. To that end, he creates the Old-But-Not-Dead Club and with his fellow members sets about living his final years with careless abandon. Such anarchism infuriates the care…

The Weight of Ink

By Rachel Kadish,

Book cover of The Weight of Ink

Anne Echols Author Of A Tale of Two Maidens: A Medieval French Story of Fate, Adventure, and the Hundred Years' War

From the list on sweeping historical fiction by women.

Who am I?

Growing up in Richmond, Virginia, I was surrounded by history and imagined time travel to the past. Yet my history courses in school consisted mostly of dry facts that I was expected to memorize. I sought out historical fiction that got the facts right but more importantly, could transport me completely to another place and time. Inspired by high school teachers, I began to see myself as a writer. I was particularly interested in exploring women’s history. After co-authoring two nonfiction books, Between Pit and Pedestal: Women in the Middle Ages and An Annotated Index of Medieval Women, I began to write fictional stories of ordinary women from that period.

Anne's book list on sweeping historical fiction by women

Discover why each book is one of Anne's favorite books.

Why did Anne love this book?

As a historical fiction writer, I am continually honing my ability to create characters wholly from the past, devoid of any trace of my modern perspective.

The Weight of Ink inspired me in this pursuit and gave me a beautiful model of how a writer can achieve that goal. The main character, Ester, doesn’t lash out at the men who control her or shrink meekly into her prescribed role as a passive woman.

Instead, she quietly and cleverly pursues what brings her the most joy: a rich life of the mind and heart.

The ending of this novel is one of my favorite endings of any book I have ever read!

In my next novel, a sequel to A Tale of Two Maidens, I hope to create such a memorable conclusion.

By Rachel Kadish,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Weight of Ink as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF A NATIONAL JEWISH BOOK AWARD A USA TODAY BESTSELLER "A gifted writer, astonishingly adept at nuance, narration, and the politics of passion."-Toni Morrison Set in London of the 1660s and of the early twenty-first century, The Weight of Ink is the interwoven tale of two women of remarkable intellect: Ester Velasquez, an emigrant from Amsterdam who is permitted to scribe for a blind rabbi, just before the plague hits the city; and Helen Watt, an ailing historian with a love of Jewish history. As the novel opens, Helen has been summoned by a former student to view a…

New Amsterdam

By Elizabeth Bear,

Book cover of New Amsterdam

Gerry Ironspear Author Of Lakhoni

From the list on fantasy set in a familiar but strange old America.

Who am I?

When I was younger, I turned to fantastical stories of determined, flawed heroes to bring me a world I could understand and control – unlike the scary reality I lived in. Most of the fantasy stories I read as I grew up were, of course, set in a medieval England-type world. But as I got older, I found myself fascinated by the history and mythology of the New World and got the feeling there was a lot of untapped potential there. So, I started studying Mesoamerican and Native American peoples, as well as picking up alternate history fantasies set in America. So of course, I had to write my own. 

Gerry's book list on fantasy set in a familiar but strange old America

Discover why each book is one of Gerry's favorite books.

Why did Gerry love this book?

New Amsterdam is a collection of noir detective fantasy set in an alternate New World with sorcery, magical creatures, and terrifying evil.

The main character is a fallen figure, Abigail Garrett, who self-medicates with booze while trying to fulfill her duties as a forensic sorceress. She investigates heinous crimes with a voice and motivation that I absolutely loved. Add to this character and world a scenario similar to Murder on the Orient Express and I had to pick this one up.

Abigail is not Hercule Poirot – she’s much more interesting. Her motivations and resigned duty resonated with me and I loved the textured world she inhabited. Fun alternate history with very interesting magic and setting.

By Elizabeth Bear,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked New Amsterdam as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Abigail Irene Garrett drinks too much. She makes scandalous liaisons with inappropriate men, and if in her youth she was a famous beauty, now she is both formidable--and notorious. She is a forensic sorceress, and a dedicated officer of a Crown that does not deserve her loyalty. She has nothing, but obligations. Sebastien de Ulloa is the oldest creature she has ever known. He was no longer young at the Christian millennium, and that was nine hundred years ago. He has forgotten his birth-name, his birth-place, and even the year in which he was born, if he ever knew it.…

Book cover of The Diary of Anne Frank

Nancy Blodgett Klein Author Of Torn Between Worlds: A Mexican Immigrant’s Journey to Find Herself

From the list on young people overcoming obstacles to survive.

Who am I?

I pride myself on my independence and sense of adventure. I started traveling the world with my family when I was 3 and I haven’t stopped since. When you travel, you have to cope with new situations on a daily basis and navigate different obstacles to meet your needs. An interest in adventure and how people cope with new situations are the biggest reasons why I have a passion for books dealing with overcoming obstacles. Before I retired to Spain, I was a teacher of students between 10 and 15 years old. I chose two of the books I recommended to read to my students when I was a teacher. 

Nancy's book list on young people overcoming obstacles to survive

Discover why each book is one of Nancy's favorite books.

Why did Nancy love this book?

I liked this book because it was true and written in the form of a diary. This format made it especially interesting to me because you got a good idea about Ann’s thoughts and feelings while living in Amsterdam during Nazi occupation in World War II. She tries hard to overcome all kinds of obstacles to survive such as by not leaving the hidden attic and remaining quiet during the day. In her case, she doesn’t survive but knowing that Ann dies in a concentration camp makes the content of the book especially poignant. 

By Anne Frank,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Diary of Anne Frank as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1940, after Germany invaded the Netherlands, Anne and her family couldn't leave the country, so they decided to hide in a warehouse in an attempt to escape the persecution of Jews by the Nazis. For over two years, Anne wrote in her diary with an awareness that was extremely mature for her age. She detailed her experiences and insights while she and her family were in hiding, living in a constant fear of being arrested. The Diary of Anne Frank' is a record of her understanding of the war and showcases her incredible storytelling abilities in such horrific circumstances.…

Etty Hillesum

By Patrick Woodhouse,

Book cover of Etty Hillesum: A Life Transformed

Susan Fries Author Of The Pope and the Prostitute

From the list on what to read when the world goes wrong.

Who am I?

I believe there is a supernatural spirit that guides the universe, and I am passionate about the God who created it. From the many experiences in my life, I have learned that there is a bigger picture. That picture is God. You can believe in his power to change lives or not. You can believe in him and his son or not, but that does not mean they don't exist. I may not believe in life in other galaxies, but that does not mean they are not out there somewhere.

Susan's book list on what to read when the world goes wrong

Discover why each book is one of Susan's favorite books.

Why did Susan love this book?

This is undoubtedly the most captivating biography I’ve had the pleasure to read.

This woman, in the prime of her very ‘alive’, but somewhat distorted sexually active life is confused by her childhood, accosted by the Germans during the war, yet brings inspiration and love to those in the Nazi camp she finds herself living as wars escalate. She is hope.

By Patrick Woodhouse,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Etty Hillesum as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On 8 March 1941, a 27-year-old Jewish Dutch student living in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam made the first entry in a diary that was to become one of the most remarkable documents to emerge from the Nazi Holocaust. Over the course of the next two and a half years, an insecure, chaotic and troubled young woman was transformed into someone who inspired those with whom she shared the suffering of the transit camp at Westerbork and with whom she eventually perished at Auschwitz. Through her diary and letters, she continues to inspire those whose lives she has touched since. She was an…

Midnight Blue

By Simone Van Der Vlugt,

Book cover of Midnight Blue

Jeannie Mobley Author Of The Jewel Thief

From the list on historical fiction about art and the artists behind it.

Who am I?

Writing historical fiction always requires research, not just about the big events, but about the little details too. I set out to write The Jewel Thief because I love books that center on art and because I am fascinated by the history of the Hope Diamond, and the many gaps in that history which I explore further in the sequel, The Diamond Keeper. I did a great deal of research into the lives of artists of all kinds in the reign of Louis XIV and the role of art and artists in the politics of Europe through the ages. Art has been at the center of great lives for centuries.

Jeannie's book list on historical fiction about art and the artists behind it

Discover why each book is one of Jeannie's favorite books.

Why did Jeannie love this book?

This is a lovely book about the origins of Delft Blue ceramics, and the role of a woman painter in creating it.

Simone van der Vlugt is herself Dutch, and the book has a wonderful atmospheric feeling that puts the reader into the world of 17th-century Netherlands. Like other books on this list, it explores a woman’s role in the art world, but it moves away from painting into the realm of pottery and commerce, as Delft Blue develops to compete with Chinese porcelain coming into Europe at the time.

Plague plays a major role in the book, too, for readers with a morbid fascination of that element of European history.

By Simone Van Der Vlugt,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Midnight Blue as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From Simone Van Der Vlugt comes her European bestselling novel of a young woman's rise as a painter in Holland's Golden Age—perfect for readers of The Miniaturist, Tulip Fever, and Girl with a Pearl Earring.

Amsterdam 1654: against the backdrop of Holland's Golden Age, a dangerous secret threatens to destroy a young widow's new life.

Following the sudden death of her husband, twenty-five-year old Catrin leaves her small village and takes a job as a housekeeper to the successful Van Nulandt merchant family. Amsterdam is a city at the peak of its powers: science and art are flourishing in the…


By Linda Ulleseit, Paper Lantern Writers, Edie Cay, Ana Brazil, Mari Anne Christie, Rebecca D'Harlingue, Anne M. Beggs, Kathryn Pritchett, C.V. Lee

Book cover of Unlocked: A Paper Lantern Writers Anthology

Carol LaHines Author Of Distant Flickers: Stories of Identity & Loss

From the list on themed anthologies.

Who am I?

The anthology form unites diverse voices around a common theme—in the case of Distant Flickers, identity and loss. The stories in the anthology explore intense personal relationships—of mother and child, old lovers, etc. Some of the stories are in the moment and some recounted with the perspective of time, some are fable-like, some formal, and others more colloquial. Reading them the reader is struck by the variety of approaches a writer might take to a subject. The device of the contributor’s notes enables the reader to see the story behind the story and how life informs art—life furnishing the raw material or day residue of the story.  

Carol's book list on themed anthologies

Discover why each book is one of Carol's favorite books.

Why did Carol love this book?

When the authors in Distant Flickers formed Telltale, a writers’ collective, we brainstormed ways to reach out to readers and give them insight as to how our life experiences are transformed into art. We decided to put together an anthology as part of our endeavor. In doing so, we researched how other writer collectives reached out to their readership. A number of us are historical fiction writers and/or members of the Womens Fiction Writers Association (WFWA), which is how we came to be acquainted with Paper Lanterns, the collective of historical fiction writers behind this anthology. The stories in Unlocked are works of historical fiction that revolve around the common element of an old wooden chest. The settings are varied and span seven centuries, from 1225 Ireland to 1679 Amsterdam to the American Civil War to Regency London to World War II to the Nineteen Seventies.

By Linda Ulleseit, Paper Lantern Writers, Edie Cay, Ana Brazil, Mari Anne Christie, Rebecca D'Harlingue, Anne M. Beggs, Kathryn Pritchett, C.V. Lee

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Unlocked as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In much the same manner as Pandora, each Paper Lantern Writer takes a turn opening an old wooden chest, digging out stories spanning seven centuries. The individuals in these tales—heroes, villains, and in between—are more than people from the past. Whether they are making mayhem, waging war, or quietly holding their families together, their strength and fortitude shines on the page. From the Swinging Seventies to the Middle Ages, these characters gather, keep, and spill the secrets of their souls.

Who knows what treasures will be found when this ancient trunk is finally Unlocked?

The Happy Heart: A groovy, tarot-soaked…

The Company Daughters

By Samantha Rajaram,

Book cover of The Company Daughters

Clifford Henderson Author Of Perfect Little World

From the list on LGBTQ2+ characters who might or not fall in love.

Who am I?

Being an out lesbian isn't my sole identity. I'm a writer of five award-winning novels, an improv artist, and co-founder of an improv school—and I’m even more than that. I wake up in the morning, brush my teeth, make myself a cup of tea, like to cook, like to walk, and adore reading—especially fiction. And while I am madly in love with my partner of 30 years (wife of 5) it's just one aspect of my life. My point being, LGBTQ2+ people do more than “be gay”. I like books that reflect this. I love a writer who crafts beautiful sentences, constructs imaginative stories, and provides me with endings I didn’t see coming.

Clifford's book list on LGBTQ2+ characters who might or not fall in love

Discover why each book is one of Clifford's favorite books.

Why did Clifford love this book?

The Company Daughters was a great read and serves as a reminder that lesbians have been around forever, or at least since the 1600s when the story takes place. (Ha!) This is a love story, but a complicated one. Two Amsterdam women from wildly different circumstances are forced to sign on to be “company daughters” (aka brides of male settlers) in the Dutch outpost of Batavia in the East Indies. The women fall in love, yes, but their love involves renegotiating their original relationship: servant and mistress. I love tales that involve social status, especially when circumstances force it to change. What complicated beings we are! Seriously, I couldn’t put The Company Daughters down.

By Samantha Rajaram,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Company Daughters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

‘Blew my mind… so magically written and most of all that it is based on true events… a hard-hitting, soul-crushing book… I loved every moment of it… immersive, heart-wrenching, I feel emotional writing this review.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

Wanted: Company Daughters. Virtuous young ladies to become the brides of industrious settlers in a foreign land. The Company will pay the cost of the lady’s dowry and travel. Returns not permitted, orphans preferred.

Amsterdam, 1620. Jana Beil has learned that life rarely provides moments of joy. Having run away from a violent father, her days are spent searching for work…

The Coffee Trader

By David Liss,

Book cover of The Coffee Trader

Annabel Townsend Author Of It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: Ten Years of Misadventures in Coffee

From the list on wannabe coffee shop owners.

Who am I?

I've been going by the handle ‘Dr. Coffee’ online for over a decade now. I really do have a PhD. in coffee! In 2007 I embarked on a doctorate and wrote my thesis on ideas of quality in the coffee industry. The inevitable question is then, ‘what do you do with a PhD in coffee?’ and my answer was to open coffee shops, first in the UK and then in Canada. In recent years, I've switched from owning a coffee shop with books in it to a bookshop with coffee in it, but it still manages to satisfy both passions. I firmly believe there is no better combination than hot coffee and good books.  

Annabel's book list on wannabe coffee shop owners

Discover why each book is one of Annabel's favorite books.

Why did Annabel love this book?

I am a fan of historical fiction anyway, but historical fiction and coffee? Brilliant! Liss’s book is set in 17th Century Amsterdam, which at the time was the centre of commerce in Europe, and in particular, one of the first ports to trade in the newly discovered coffee commodity. The main character, Miguel Lienzo is loosely based on Pasqua Rosé—the historical figure credited with opening the first coffee house in Oxford, England. There are diabolical schemes, adventure, plenty of double-crossing, flawed but likeable characters, and a very satisfying ending. To my knowledge, this is extremely historically accurate as well.

By David Liss,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Coffee Trader as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Amsterdam in the 1690s - a boom town with Europe's biggest stock exchange and traders who will stop at nothing to get even richer.

Lienzo, a Portugese Jew, stumbles across a new commodity - coffee - which, if he plays his cards right, will make him the richest man in Holland. But others stand in his way - rival traders who do all in their power to confuse the exchange and scupper his plans, his brother who is jealous of his financial wizardry and even his brother's beautiful wife who both tempts and spurns him in equal measure.

Book cover of Living with Vincent van Gogh: The homes and landscapes that shaped the artist

Caroline Cauchi Author Of Mrs Van Gogh

From the list on truly understanding the real Vincent Van Gogh.

Who am I?

As well as being a novelist (ten published books to date), I’m a Senior Lecturer in Prose at Liverpool John Moores University. My current academic fields of interest are the role Johanna van Gogh-Bonger played in Vincent’s rise to fame, the silencing of women involved in creative pursuits, and the consideration of a novelist’s ethical and moral responsibilities when fictionalising a real life. My true passion lies in the creative uncovering of those erased stories, and in adding to the emerging conversation. That’s why I’ve shifted from writing contemporary to historical novels. I’m also known as the international, bestselling author Caroline Smailes (The Drowning of Arthur Braxton).

Caroline's book list on truly understanding the real Vincent Van Gogh

Discover why each book is one of Caroline's favorite books.

Why did Caroline love this book?

Martin Bailey is an expert on all things Van Gogh, and any of his books could have been recommended.

This one though - if we are learning about influences that have shaped and guided and disconcerted Vincent - has to be considered. To know the artist is to understand the numerous homes and landscapes that have shaped and influenced both him and his art. In an era when people rarely left the area where they were born, Van Gogh was both a traveller and unsettled.

This book made me truly consider what that might actually mean.

By Martin Bailey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Living with Vincent van Gogh as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Vincent van Gogh was a restless soul. He spent his twenties searching for a vocation and once he had determined to become an artist, he remained a traveller, always seeking fresh places for the inspiration and opportunities he needed to create his work.

Living with Vincent van Gogh tells the story of the great artist's life through the lens of the places where he lived and worked, including Amsterdam, London, Paris and Provence, and examines the impact of these cityscapes and landscapes on his creative output. Featuring artworks, unpublished archival documents and contemporary landscape photography, this book provides unique insight…

Book cover of Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom: A Tarot Journey to Self-Awareness

Claire McMillan Author Of Alchemy of a Blackbird

From the list on for the tarot curious and the tarot maven.

Who am I?

I started studying the tarot ten years ago with no thought that I would ever write about it. I took an introductory class in the back of a local metaphysical shop and went down a rabbit hole of books and teachings. I also enjoy readings myself - from quick fifteen minute reads at sidewalk fairs, to hour long readings in person with renowned readers, from an hour on Zoom with a famous reader, to a reading in a shop in Salem, Massachusetts during the chaos that is October in that town - I’ve benefited from them all. It has been a delight to include this interest in my latest novel.

Claire's book list on for the tarot curious and the tarot maven

Discover why each book is one of Claire's favorite books.

Why did Claire love this book?

Rachel Pollack’s classic guide to the tarot is a well-loved reference for me and for many.

While it’s a great next step to add depth of insight into the cards for the less experienced, it also continually serves up new insights to someone with more familiarity with the cards as well. She wrote it in the early eighties while living in Amsterdam and teaching tarot at the Kosmos Meditation Center.

By Rachel Pollack,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bestselling tarot classic in a new edition with a new preface by the author.

“Whenever I have a question about tarot, I reach for 78 Degrees of Wisdom. It is the most in-depth exploration of tarot and my most trusted resource. If you want to learn tarot, you’ll want 78 Degrees on your bookshelf too. It’s the gold standard in tarot.” —Theresa Reed, author of Tarot No Questions Asked

"What is your favorite tarot book? The answer is always 78 Degrees of Wisdom."—Melissa Cynova, author of Kitchen Table Tarot

“Essential reading for the beginner and a classic that tarot…


By Russell Shorto,

Book cover of Amsterdam: A History of the World's Most Liberal City

John Rennie Short Author Of The Unequal City

From the list on cities and their power to change lives and attitudes.

Who am I?

I grew up in a small village in a very rural part of Scotland. It was perhaps inevitable, then, that I would have an interest in the urban. Cities, especially big cities, seemed wonderfully exciting when I was growing up, full of mystery and promise, intoxicating, transgressive, with a hint of danger and a whiff of excitement. That fascination has stayed with me throughout my academic career as I have explored different facets of the urban experience. I am aware of the growing inequality but remain optimistic about the progressive possibilities and redemptive power of the urban experience to change lives and attitudes.

John's book list on cities and their power to change lives and attitudes

Discover why each book is one of John's favorite books.

Why did John love this book?

The writer loves Amsterdam that much is clear. He deftly shows how this one city grew from the most unpromising location to become not only a great city in its own right, but also the city where tolerance, markets, and the ideals of liberal tolerant capitalist society were forged and burnished. Our modern liberal cosmopolitanism was created in Amsterdam. We owe a great deal to Amsterdam and its citizens. 

By Russell Shorto,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Amsterdam as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Amsterdam is not just any city. Despite its relative size it has stood alongside its larger cousins - Paris, London, Berlin - and has influenced the modern world to a degree that few other cities have. Sweeping across the city's colourful thousand year history, Amsterdam brings the place to life: its sights and smells; its politics and people. Concentrating on two significant periods - the late 1500s to the mid 1600s and then from the Second World War to the present, Russell Shorto's masterful biography looks at Amsterdam's central preoccupations. Just as fin-de-siecle Vienna was the birthplace of psychoanalysis, seventeenth…

The Paris Connection

By Lorraine Brown,

Book cover of The Paris Connection

Alana Oxford Author Of Scotsman in the Stacks

From the list on romances with G to PG rated love scenes.

Who am I?

I like to tell people that I found my passion in life and it's books. I write them, read them, review them and I’ve been a librarian for 17 years. (I’ve worked in libraries for longer than that. Over 25 years!) It’s been dark times recently and romance has become my happy place. I’m a sucker for romances with pretty covers, quirky characters, and not so much of the on-page spice. If there’s some travel involved, even better!

Alana's book list on romances with G to PG rated love scenes

Discover why each book is one of Alana's favorite books.

Why did Alana love this book?

I fell in love with this book so hard that I read it all in one sitting. (Yes, that means I spent one, entire, luxurious day reading it! That day was an absolute gift.) I loved the writing style, the chance to armchair travel to Paris on the back of Leo’s moped alongside Hannah. It had just enough intrigue but was quiet and charming overall. Reading this book was like taking my mind to a spa to be pampered and rejuvenated. 

By Lorraine Brown,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Paris Connection as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Launch Pad Writing Competition 2022
In this witty and heartfelt debut love story for fans of Josie Silver's One Day in December, a woman stranded in Paris for the day discovers that the wrong road can sometimes lead us in the right direction.

When Hannah and her boyfriend, Simon, set out to Amsterdam, they’re confident that they’ll make it to his sister’s wedding in time. However, unbeknownst to them, their train is scheduled to divide in the middle of the night. And when it does, half of it continues the route to Amsterdam. And the other half—the…

The Dutch and Their Delta

By Jacob Vossestein,

Book cover of The Dutch and Their Delta: Living Below Sea Level

Ben Coates Author Of The Rhine

From the list on rivers and the people who leave alongside them.

Who am I?

I'm an Anglo-Dutch writer living in the Netherlands, and the author of two books. Growing up in England I never thought much about rivers, but in the Netherlands they’re hard to avoid, and I’ve become fascinated by them. These days, when we all work remotely and (when rules allow) usually travel by car, train, or plane rather than boat, it’s easy to think of rivers as just scenic backdrops, rather than anything more important. But the truth is many of our cities wouldn’t exist without the waters which flow through them, and waterways like the Rhine, Thames, and Seine have had a huge influence on the history and culture of the people living alongside them. If you want to understand why somewhere like Rotterdam, London or Paris is the way it is, you could spend the day in a library or museum – but you’d be better off going for a boat ride or swim, poking around under some bridges and talking to the fishermen, boatmen, and kayakers down at the waterline.

Ben's book list on rivers and the people who leave alongside them

Discover why each book is one of Ben's favorite books.

Why did Ben love this book?

This book tells the story of how the people of the Netherlands – the country where I’ve lived for more than a decade, and which I wrote my first book about – have not just managed to survive below sea level, in a land riddled with rivers and canals, but managed to turn their boggy environment to their advantage, becoming grandmasters at building dikes, draining land and constructing water-pumping windmills. The book isn’t a heavy read – the emphasis is on photos, maps, and interesting factoids – but it’s full of insights into everything from how Amsterdam was built to why the Dutch aren’t too worried about climate change. Perfect reading when I’m sitting in my garden in the Dutch countryside, with water on both sides.

By Jacob Vossestein,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Dutch and Their Delta as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

All over the world, people learn in school that the Netherlands is a country that lies below sea-level. Dikes, polders, windmills and wooden shoes are well-known icons of this unusual nation, while its sturdy dams and storm surge barriers also enjoy world fame. But how does it all work? How can a country exist under such circumstances and even be prosperous? One would expect the Dutch to panic about climate change but they don’t seem to be; how come? This book will tell you all about it, both in words and photos, striking a balance between developments in the past,…

Anne Frank

By Anne Frank, B.M. Mooyaart,

Book cover of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

Elisabeth Sharp McKetta Author Of Ark

From the list on living big in small spaces.

Who am I?

I’m an American author who lived three years in a backyard tiny house with my family: husband, two young children, and a part-time dog. We wanted to live a bigger life, focused on our favorite activities and most important relationships. I wrote this book during the first spring of COVID-19, partly as a way to record my family’s experience weathering a pandemic in under 300 square feet, and partly as a way to explore the ways that children can be resourceful when life gives them a pinch. I've been a writer for most of my life, and I love to teach writing. Ark is my first middle-grade novel, and my lucky thirteenth book to publish!

Elisabeth's book list on living big in small spaces

Discover why each book is one of Elisabeth's favorite books.

Why did Elisabeth love this book?

Anne was thirteen years old when she received this diary as a birthday gift, and she used her diary (which she calls “Dear Kitty”) to record her life in the Secret Annex, hiding with her family from the Nazis.

I used an epigraph for it in my book: “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” This book offers a nightmarish, true portrait of life secreted away from the constant risk of harm and death. But shining through the terror is Anne’s unstoppable hope: her belief that people are good at heart.

By Anne Frank, B.M. Mooyaart,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Anne Frank as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With 30 per cent more material than previous editions, this new contemporary and fully anglicized translation gives the reader a deeper insight into Anne's world. Publication of the unabridged Definitive Edition on Penguin Audiobook, read by Helena Bonham-Carter, coincides.

The Miniaturist

By Jessie Burton,

Book cover of The Miniaturist

Kate Murdoch Author Of The Orange Grove

From the list on historical fiction where you feel like you're there.

Who am I?

I’m an author of historical fiction as well as an artist, so love to read books that capture my imagination and show me other times and places in a realistic and visual way. My love of history, particularly European history, is fuelled by a lifetime of travel visiting museums, castles, and ancient sites. Being transported into a story is something I both try and achieve as a writer and crave as a reader. 

Kate's book list on historical fiction where you feel like you're there

Discover why each book is one of Kate's favorite books.

Why did Kate love this book?

The setting of 17th century Amsterdam was one I was unfamiliar with, so it was a delight to be taken into the intimate domestic life of Petronella Oortman and the intrigue of her dollhouse, the secret lives of her servants, and the complex social hierarchy of this time and place. Jessie Burton’s writing is both rich in detail and emotive, so I felt privy to both the psychological complexity of the characters and the life they spend traversing the canals and streets of the city.

By Jessie Burton,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Miniaturist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The phenomenal number one bestseller and a major BBC TV series.
Winner of the Specsavers National Book Award and Waterstones Book of the Year.
A Richard and Judy Book Club selection.

Beautiful, intoxicating and filled with heart-pounding suspense, Jessie Burton's historical novel set in Amsterdam, The Miniaturist, is a story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.

On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant…

Merry Measure

By Lily Morton,

Book cover of Merry Measure

Casey Cox Author Of Got Me Merry

From the list on festive Christmas MM romances to get you merry.

Who am I?

I’m a MM romance author who loves Christmas. Except, living in Australia means my Christmas Day us spent lazing about in a pool in the middle of a summer heatwave. That’s why I love reading all the romance books about holidays where there’s snow, wintry nights, hot cocoa, and of course, all the love and feels we’ve come to expect at this magical time of year. There are too many MM holiday romances to mention, but I hope this list gives you a taste of what you can expect!

Casey's book list on festive Christmas MM romances to get you merry

Discover why each book is one of Casey's favorite books.

Why did Casey love this book?

Lilly Morton is such an exceptional writer, she’s able to transport readers smack-bang to Christmas in Amsterdam. I loved that. I also loved the two characters, Arlo and Jack. So different in so many ways, and yet utterly perfect together. Expect plenty of laughs, great conversations, and of course, a happily ever after!

By Lily Morton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Merry Measure as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Arlo Wright’s introduction to his sexuality came when he saw his older brother’s best friend, Jack Cooper, in his sweaty football kit. Unfortunately, he didn’t have long to enjoy the revelation because he promptly knocked himself out on a table.

Relations between them have never really moved on from that auspicious beginning. Arlo is still clumsy, and Jack is still as handsome and unobtainable as ever.

However, things look like they’re starting to change when Arlo finds himself sharing a room with Jack while on holiday in Amsterdam at Christmas. Will the festive spirit finally move them towards each other,…

The Fall

By Albert Camus,

Book cover of The Fall

Tom Strelich Author Of Dog Logic

From the list on satires with one thing in common.

Who am I?

I consider myself not only a student of satire, but also as a master practitioner with an innate and instinctive aptitude for it—like those born with perfect pitch or hand-eye coordination, kind of like an idiot savant, only hopefully without the idiot part. Satire is the perfect literary platform because it allows both the writer and the reader to explore the landscape of the human experience, the absurdity, the grandeur, the mystery, the horror—not with a sermon or a polemic or a sigh, but with a laugh and a nodding smile of recognition.

Tom's book list on satires with one thing in common

Discover why each book is one of Tom's favorite books.

Why did Tom love this book?

The author’s voice captured me.

Once again, I’d never read anything like it before. He was having a conversation with me. I was now a character in an Amsterdam bar with him, the war had just ended, we were smoking cigarettes and drinking gin.

He would respond to my silent questions, and wax and wane philosophically, metaphysically, morally, ethically, and occasionally comically. 

And the beauty was that it had happened so randomly—a roommate had thrown the book in the trash, declaring it to be “bullshit.” I knew the lad to be an imbecile (an acceptable term at the time), so I fished the book out of the trash, read the first sentence, and loved it.

It was the quantumly entangled counter particle to Candide: one particle from the age of reason, the other particle from the age of existentialism.

By Albert Camus,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Fall as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Introducing Little Clothbound Classics: irresistible, mini editions of short stories, novellas and essays from the world's greatest writers, designed by the award-winning Coralie Bickford-Smith

Celebrating the range and diversity of Penguin Classics, they take us from snowy Japan to springtime Vienna, from haunted New England to a sun-drenched Mediterranean island, and from a game of chess on the ocean to a love story on the moon. Beautifully designed and printed, these collectible editions are bound in colourful, tactile cloth and stamped with foil.

Jean-Baptiste Clamence - refined, handsome, forty, a former successful lawyer - is in turmoil. Over several drunken…

Book cover of Francis Johnson and the English Separatist Influence: The Bishop of Brownism's Life, Writings, and Controversies

Derek Wilson Author Of The Mayflower Pilgrims: Sifting Fact from Fable

From the list on the background of the Pilgrim fathers.

Who am I?

I developed my passion for the Reformation while studying History and Theology at Cambridge. Now, several years and a dozen books on 16th -17th-century history later, my obsession has not waned for what was the most formative period in the development, not only of our religious and political life, but also of our culture. I like to think that, through my books, journal articles, and lectures (and the occasional historical novel) I have made a useful contribution to our understanding of that culture.

Derek's book list on the background of the Pilgrim fathers

Discover why each book is one of Derek's favorite books.

Why did Derek love this book?

This is the biography of one of the most disruptive figures in the separatist movement. It brings to life the turbulence of the life of the Netherlands settlers more vividly than generalisations about conditions in Amsterdam, and Leiden can do. Johnson was the most extreme and dogmatic of the English separatists. He led a congregation in London in the 1590s, was exiled, made an abortive attempt to set up his own colony in Nova Scotia, then joined the separatist community in Amsterdam. There he fell out with the established leadership and created a split in the English community. The vivid (perhaps 'lurid' would be a better word) story of a maverick so domineering that he could excommunicate his own father and brother reveal the destructive depths to which religious certainty could descend.

By Scott Culpepper,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Francis Johnson and the English Separatist Influence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Francis Johnson and the English Separatist Influence is the first thorough treatment of Francis Johnson as the central focus of an academic work. Johnson (1562-1618) was the pastor of the English Separatist Ancient Church in London and Amsterdam from 1592-1618. Once referred to as the "Bishop of Brownism" by one of his contemporaries, Johnson's theological and practical influence on Christian traditions as diverse as the Baptists, Congregationalists, and English Independents demonstrated the wide breadth of English Separatism's formative influence.

Francis Johnson's quest to create a perfectly ordered, scriptural, Christian congregation led him to fiery debates with the most influential leaders…

One Year on a Bike

By Gestalten, Martijn Doolaard,

Book cover of One Year on a Bike: From Amsterdam to Singapore

Tim Voors Author Of The Great Alone: Walking the Pacific Crest Trail

From the list on adventure, hiking, and survival.

Who am I?

Tim Voors has walked across countries and continents on adventures taking him into the unknown: across America on the Pacific Crest Trail (2678 miles), across New Zealand on the Te Araroa Trail (1881 miles), around Shikoku Japan on the ancient ’88 Temples Trail’ (815 miles) and through Spain to Santiago de Compostela on the famous Camino the Santiago. He lives near Amsterdam and works as a speaker and creative director, giving keynote speeches for global companies and conferences, and inspiring audiences with tales of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. In 2021 Tim’s second book Not Alone will be published about his hike through New Zealand’s Te Araroa Trail.

Tim's book list on adventure, hiking, and survival

Discover why each book is one of Tim's favorite books.

Why did Tim love this book?

I love it when words and photos enhance each other in a book. Martijn Doolaard wrote and photographed his epic solo journey on his bike from Amsterdam, through Europe, through the middle east, and into the far east. It is one of the rare coffee table books that I actually read and love revisiting frequently to look at the beautiful photos.

By Gestalten, Martijn Doolaard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked One Year on a Bike as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The title says it all: one man, one bike, one long ride, the adventure, the pleasure, and the pain. It is simultaneouslya travelogue and visual journey. Martijn Doolaard traded the convenience of a car and the distractions of daily life for a cross-continental cycling journey: a biped adventure that would take him from Amsterdam to Singapore. Leaving behind repetitive routines, One Year on a Bike indulges in slow travel, the subtlety of a gradually changing landscape, and the lessons learned through traveling. Venturing through Eastern European fields of yellow rapeseed to the intimate hosting culture and community in Iran, One…