Book Bloggers Abroad (11) – The Netherlands
September 2, 2010 15 Comments
Welcome to the weekly guest post in the Book Bloggers Abroad series. Every week a book blogger from a different country will be featured who will talk about what it’s like to be a book blogger where he or she lives.
Our guest blogger for today is Gnoe [not her real name] from The Netherlands. Her book blog is called Graasland. She reads and reviews contemporary fiction, Japanese authors, classics, and lots more. Go and have a look at her blog!
Hello, I’m Gnoe from Graasland, living with Mr Gnoe, cats Juno & Ringo and dwarf-hamster Yoshitoshi in Utrecht, an ancient university city in the (epi)centre of Holland. I live only 10 minutes cycling away from an UNESCO World Heritage Site: the Rietveld Schröder House.
Architecture is of course not the topic of this Book Bloggers Abroad guest post, but its distinct style (called De Stijl), inspired the most internationally celebrated author of my hometown: Dick Bruna, ‘father’ of Miffy — or Nijntje as we call her in Holland (‘-nijn’ being the way small children pronounce the Dutch word for rabbit: konijn).
I was born in Oegstgeest, well-known from Jan Wolkers’ book Back to Oegstgeest, which can be found on the list of 1001 Books to Read Before You Die. I’m embarrassed to admit that I still haven’t read it though.. :\ When I was 9 months old we moved to the Gouda area, famous for its cheese, candles and stroopwafels. That’s where I really grew up.
I’m a reader first, blogger second. Next to book reviews regular topics on Graasland are food (bento, weekly CSA vegetable bag, recipes) & outings (film, hiking). Graasland is Dutch for ‘grazing land’ and my nickname Gnoe = gnu, or wildebeest. Ha! You’ve always wanted to know that, right?
It’s easy to get books in Utrecht, although they’re not particularly cheap (either new or 2nd hand). So I usually buy online, especially since I’m no fan of local literature… :\ A Dutch book I can recommend is Nooit meer slapen (Beyond Sleep) by the late W.F. Hermans, one of our supposedly ‘Big Three’. The novel is about a young geographer on summer expedition in the nightless wilds of Lapland, dying to impress his mother by becoming famous in proving that the region’s lakes were created by meteorites. The oppressive atmosphere of this story is haunting and lingers on a long time after!
Books in my native language I usually buy in small independent bookshops, to help them survive next to the big chain stores. My favourite local store is Erven Bijleveld (‘Bijleveld Heirs’) but I also shop at Savannah Bay, which is specialized in feminist and GBLT literature – but they’ll order any book you ask for.
My ‘library’ consists of friends forcing their books on me and participating in Bookcrossing book rings. Books read that I no longer wish to keep are likewise disposed of by releasing them via bookcrossing or exchanging them in IRL bookswap meetings. No need for a real library!
I’m writing this guest post away from home, in the garden of our apartment-for-the-week on Schiermonnikoog, one of the Frysian Wadden Islands. It has just turned summer and the weather is perfect! So are my surroundings: there’s even a wild rabbit lounging 5 meters / 16 feet away from me… You’ll believe that I’m really happy to be here when I tell you I have only a small balcony at home – although I do live in a ‘green’ part of Utrecht. Now I had better put away the computer, pick up a book and start my holiday!
Thanks Gnoe, for letting us have a look at your life as a reader and blogger. I’ve been at your house, so the reading spot looks familiar [I cycled there in about 45 minutes one nice day]. Nooit Meer Slapen is a Dutch book I would also recommend, because it’s my favorite book ever!!
Don’t forget to take a look at Gnoe’s blog. If you have any questions or comments for Gnoe, just leave them in the comments section.
Next week Carol from New Zealand will be visiting us for the twelfth Book Bloggers Abroad guest post. Don’t miss it!