Suggested Reading List
Amsterdam, A History of the World's Most Liberal City
Author: Russell Shorto
Description: Russell Shorto opens this delightful ode to an adopted city with his daily journey, by bike of course, through his neighborhood to drop off his toddler son. He spins a tale of a diverse city wrestled collectively from the sea, its coffee shops, canals, personalities and politics, with panache.
Author: Walter S. Gibson
Description: A volume in the excellent "World of Art" series, Gibson's book dispels the myth of Bruegel the simpleton artist and replaces it with a portrait of a man who understood the needs of his patrons. With many black-and-white and color reproductions of the paintings.
Culture Smart! Belgium
Author: Mandy Macdonald
Description: A concise, well-illustrated and practical guide to local customs, etiquette and culture.
Eyewitness Guide Amsterdam
Author: Eyewitness Guides
Description: A wonderful guide to Amsterdam, filled with detailed drawings, photographs and thumbnail sketches.
Flemish Art and Architecture 1585-1700
Author: Hans Vlieghe
Description: A lavishly illustrated overview of the art of the southern Netherlands from 1585-1700.
Girl With a Pearl Earring
Author: Tracy Chevalier
Description: Chevalier's richly drawn novel imagines the story behind Vermeer's mysterious portrait of a turbaned girl with a pearl earring.
Girl in Hyacinth Blue
Author: Susan Vreeland
Description: This finely-crafted novel tells the story of the girl in an imagined, undiscovered portrait by Vermeer. Created in the 17th century, the painting passes through a number of people's hands, providing a series of tales that reflect the history and character of Holland and Europe through the years.
Master of Shadows, The Secret Diplomatic Career of the Painter Peter Paul Rubens
Author: Mark Lamster
Description: Ranging from his home in Antwerp to London, Madrid, Paris and Rome, Lamster uncovers the gripping tale behind one of the world’s most famous painters and his double life as a secret agent, diplomat and political operative in 17th century Europe.
My Favorite Plant, Writers and Gardeners on the Plants They Love
Author: Jamaica Kincaid (Editor)
Description: An anthology of essays on plants and gardening from contemporary authors as well as luminaries of the past. This handsome, little book features selections by (among many others) D.H. Lawrence and William Carlos Williams.
Author: Dorothy Dunnett
Description: From the reigning queen of historical fiction comes this fast-paced, thoroughly-researched novel of ambition and worldly goods in 15th-century Bruges. This is the first volume in her House of Niccolo series.
Painting and the Market in Early Modern Antwerp
Author: Elizabeth Honig
Description: An insightful, illustrated study of the transformation of Flemish society.
Rembrandt, Master of the Portrait
Author: Pascal Bonafoux
Description: With over 200 illustrations, this pocket-size encyclopedia traces the life and career of artist Rembrandt von Rijn. It offers insight into his influence on the art of the portrait -- an illuminating companion for any visit to Amsterdam and its museums.
Author: Anita Shreve
Description: Shreve adeptly explores the themes of love and loss in her WWII story of a married Belgian woman who falls in love with the British pilot she is sheltering as part of the underground resistance movement.
Author: Kristin Lohse Belkin
Description: Belkin chronicles the 17th century artist Peter Paul Rubens from his early family life to his influential interactions with the Italian Renaissance masters and finally to Antwerp, where he rose to fame as a renowned painter and diplomat to the royal courts of Europe.
The Black Tulip
Author: Alexandre Dumas
Description: A gripping classic about love and adventure and tulips. In 17th-century Holland, Cornelius von Baerle is falsely accused and jailed. He fights for his freedom with the aid of his jailer's beautiful daughter.
The Coffee Trader, A Novel
Author: David Liss
Description: An entertaining, suspenseful work of historical fiction set in Amsterdam. It's 1659 and in the new, capricious world of stocks and investment, a desperate Portuguese-Jewish trader partners with a Dutchman. Their idea: import the first shipment of coffee to the country. What follows is a wild tale of ruthlessness, greed and fortune.
Author: Colin White
Description: A laugh-out-loud, irreverent guide to Dutch character and habits, including how to drink coffee and why you shouldn't even think about haggling over prices.
Author: Deborah Moggach
Description: In this surprise bestseller, set in 1630s Amsterdam, a man contracts the talented painter Jan Van Loos to paint a portrait of him and his beautiful wife, Sophia. A vivid drama unfolds as a mutual attraction develops between Van Loos and Sophia.
Author: Mike Dash
Description: The story of the world's most coveted flower and the extraordinary passion it aroused, this vivid history traces the story of the tulip from its origins on the Turkish steppes to status as an absurdly desired object in Europe and its key role in the financial follies of 17th-century Holland.