Top 10 Books on Amsterdam

 

Amsterdam, one of the most beautiful and yet controversial cities of the world has a very rich past and because of its super liberal ideals forms a setup for some of the most intriguing and beguiling stories of all time. Having risen from a place to have faced horrible tragedies into one of the world’s largest cosmopolitans and utterly tolerant cities, Amsterdam in the field of writing has a lot to offer.

 

Amsterdam: A brief life of the city

This is a part novel part travel guide depiction of Amsterdam, the Venice of North as it is called. It is a historical account of the beautiful place and how it transformed from a city of humble wooden huts into a glamorous city that we know it to be.

Read it For:
The beautiful depiction of the history of this wonderful city, the life that early Amsterdammers led, the norms of the society and so much more!
Don't Read it For:
This book is basically for tourists or people who are interested in learning about the history of a place.
What makes this book stand out?:
Mak’s Amsterdam is a grand city of both dreams as well as nightmares. How it went from waterlogged small town to one of the world’s largest trade centres and one of the biggest cosmopolitan cities.

The Diary of a young girl

The very famous, Diary of Anne Frank is a collection of her day to day encounters during the Nazi regime.  It depicts the regular life of people residing in Amsterdam at the time and how it was affected by the Nazis.

Read it For:
The eloquence with which Anne Frank has written in her diary is remarkable. You get first-hand knowledge of the conditions of the time.
Don't Read it For:
This is a diary of a young girl during a period of catastrophe and as such a reader may or may not be interested. Remember, you are reading a diary, not a work of the imagination.
What makes this book stand out?:
The Frank family resided in Amsterdam and their house has been turned into a museum due to the works of Anne Frank in this book. The beauty of which this is composed has gained it its vast popularity throughout the years.

Tulip Fever: A Novel

Set in 17th century Amsterdam, this book is an epic saga of greed, lust, a grand deception and a tragic climax. The book revolves around a couple who is unable to have a child; the husband hires a well known painter to make a portrait of him and his wife. This leads to a desire kindled in the wife and the painter for each other.

Read it For:
The storyline and the way in which the author has represented it is exceptional. The characters are engaging and lifelike.
Don't Read it For:
The two main themes in this book are money and romance, while you would think that the trade aspect would take a backseat, the opposite is somewhat true. While not literally a backseat, the romance part of the novel seems to be worn out and exhausted.
What makes this book stand out?:
The passion with which Moggach tells this tale of Amsterdam during a time of Tulipomania, ambition, greed, lust and develops it into a thriller of growing lies as passions increase towards the end is seldom found in any novel.

Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City

This is yet another historical account of the evolution of Amsterdam from the small run downtown that it was into the picturesque beauty that it is now known to be.

Read it For:
The description of what makes Amsterdam so unique, the ideals and philosophies of democracy and tolerance to the ideas of free love and free thinking and how they came into being. Amsterdam has a controversial image in the minds of the general populace around the world for various reasons. This book depicts how those institutions came into being among other things.
Don't Read it For:
This book contains the history of this glamorous city and as such some controversial content which may make a very strong(not necessarily good) image of the city in the reader’s mind
What makes this book stand out?:
The book is very engaging and brilliantly portrays the ideas of tolerance and liberalism as ones to be first observed in Amsterdam and the city’s development over the years.
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The Light of Amsterdam

This novel is about three sets of people who each go to Amsterdam during Christmas for various reasons. All three sets have different lives and difficulties and yet somehow as they cross each others’ paths, they all have an epiphany about their own lives.

Read it For:
The individual back stories of each of the three sets of people are very rich, and the intertwining of their journeys is inspiring.
Don't Read it For:
The character Marrion hold no valuable relevance, the author could have easily avoided this character
What makes this book stand out?:
The way the story develops and the various challenges and complexities that each of these people faces before coming to self-realization warms the heart.

The Coffee Trader

Set in 17th century Amsterdam, this story revolves around a certain Miguel Lienzo who in partnership with a dutch woman gets the last chance of success. He starts work to trade a new commodity “coffee” in the market for which he must risk everything.

Read it For:
The way in which the characters are formed, and all the chaos and competition and political scenarios are represented in the novel is mind-blowing.
Don't Read it For:
The story may move at a slow pace, and there is a lot of build up which is not met with enough conclusion. It seems that the ending is rushed.
What makes this book stand out?:
It is a wonderfully spun mystery where each character has his own hidden agenda. It introduces unconventional themes like trading, insider trading and so on.

Love in Amsterdam

This is a story about the murder of a charming woman Elsa who is killed by a gunshot from a gun that was bought by her lover Martin who sulks her loss in prison and claims that he had not seen Elsa in years, but Inspector Van der Valk refuses to believe his story and investigates this murder.

Read it For:
The way in which Van der Valks investigations are depicted. He is dubbed as one of the best cops of all time.
Don't Read it For:
There are no such cons to this novel although some may find the language a little odd at times
What makes this book stand out?:
Vintage vibe. This book is set in the sixties and thus has a very old-fashioned vibe to it which is very enjoyable.

Outsider in Amsterdam

This is again a crime mystery  book. The author has a thirteen-part Amsterdam Cop Series of which this is book one. It is about the investigations of a seemingly straightforward suicide of a man in his bedroom but which does raise suspicion n the minds of the interrogating cops.

Read it For:
The quirky and complex character of the cops. They seem to be as complicated as a criminal would be.
Don't Read it For:
More focus has been given to the characters than the actual crime in the book.
What makes this book stand out?:
The author has spun the story in a very intriguing manner that does not let you keep the book down.

Murder in Amsterdam

This is a work of investigative journalism and revolves around the murder of a person by a religious extremist because he makes a movie which in the eyes of the extremist is insulting to his religious prophet.

Read it For:
The book effectively covers the struggles especially those of cultural and political nature that attacked Europe.
Don't Read it For:
The book covers one of the great tragedies of Amsterdam’s history. May not be interesting to all
What makes this book stand out?:
The philosophical and narrative bent of the book, the vivid characterizations are noteworthy.

The Miniaturist

Portrayal of the life in the 17th century of a young woman married in the Brandt house whose husband gifts her a miniature of their house which is to be furnished by a well known miniaturist. The wife slowly discovers the secrets of the Brandt house which pose a threat to all their lives. Perhaps the key to their salvation is in the hands of the Miniaturist.

Read it For:
The major themes of love, trust and betrayal and the eloquence with which they are woven into the story.
Don't Read it For:
This book is not for everyone. While some may be completely amazed at this literary work, others may find it boring and dull.
What makes this book stand out?:
The impeccable writing and fascinating characterization with which the author has written this novel.

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