Essential reads for expats living in the Netherlands: Journey into Dutch culture and history

Tracey & Travis

As an expat living in the Netherlands, immersing yourself in the local culture is essential for a fulfilling experience abroad. One of the best ways to achieve this is by delving into the captivating world of literature about the Netherlands, or getting to know some famous books written by Dutch authors. Books not only entertain us but also provide valuable insights into a nation’s history, values, and collective identity.

Whether you’re a history buff, a traveller eager to learn more about your host country, or simply a literature enthusiast, here are several must-read books that will enhance your understanding and appreciation of life in the Netherlands.

“The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank
Anne Frank’s diary offers an intimate perspective on the Holocaust and the life of a Jewish family hiding from Nazi persecution in Amsterdam during World War II. This diary, now considered one of the most important works of the20th century, provides invaluable insights into the history of Amsterdam and the wartime experiences of the city’s residents. Visiting the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam will undoubtedly enhance your connection to this powerful memoir.

“The Undutchables” by Colin White and Laurie Boucke
For a light-hearted and humorous take on Dutch culture, “The Undutchables” is a must-read. This entertainingguidebook playfully dissects the quirks and idiosyncrasies of the Dutch people, providing expats with valuable insights into their new environment. With witty observations and cultural anecdotes, this book will help you navigate the Dutch way of life with a smile.

“Girl with a Pearl Earring” by Tracy Chevalier
Tracy Chevalier’s historical novel “Girl with a Pearl Earring” offers a mesmerizing fictional account about the people seen on Johannes Vermeer’s famous painting of the same name. Set in 17th-century Delft, the book provides a vivid portrayal of Dutch Golden Age art, culture, and societal norms. Reading this novel while living in the Netherlandswill enrich your understanding of Dutch art history and its lasting impact on the country’s cultural heritage.

“Why the Dutch are Different” by Ben Coates
In “Why the Dutch are Different”, Ben Coates takes readers on an insightful and entertaining journey through the Netherlands, exploring the country’s unique history, culture and national character. From cycling and tulips to the Dutch obsession with water management, the book unravels the essence of Dutch life. As an expat, this book will provide you with a deep understanding of Dutch customs and practices, helping you assimilate more comfortably intothe Dutch way of life.

“Tulip Fever” by Deborah Moggach
If you’re fascinated by Dutch tulip mania of the 17th century, “Tulip Fever” offers a gripping historical romance setagainst this backdrop. The novel follows the intertwining lives of an artist, a merchant and a young woman during the height of the tulip market. The book not only portrays the intriguing history of the Dutch Golden Age, but also vividly captures the allure of the tulip trade and its influence on Dutch society.

Reading these books will not only enrich your cultural experience but also provide a deeper understanding of Dutch history, values and societal norms. Whether you’re captivated by historical events, seeking to understand the Dutch psyche, or simply looking for engaging fiction, these essential reads will open a literary window into the heart of the Netherlands. Embrace the literary journey and let these books become your gateway to the soul of Dutch culture and heritage. Happy reading!

Written by Tracey Martin