This excerpt from Lonely Planet’s Netherlands guide provides a selection of travel literature to get you in the mood for your trip.
Xenophobe’s Guide to the Dutch, by Rodney Bolt, takes an irreverent look at all things Dutch and strikes a fine balance between humour and truth. A quick, fun read.
The Dutch, I Presume?, by Martijn de Rooi, Jurjen Drenth and friends, is another book that attempts to explain the peculiarities of the Dutch psyche, and the Dutch people’s love affair with windmills, wooden shoes and shelf toilets. It has more facts than insights, but it’s still an interesting read and the photos are inspired.
Amsterdam, by Geert Mak, interweaves tales of ordinary citizens with the bigger picture of cultural, social and economic history. It also delves into the Dutch psyche: for instance, why the Dutch eschew nationalism for business reasons.
The UnDutchables, by Colin White and Laurie Boucke, is a point of reference for virtually anyone who goes to live in the Netherlands. These two Americans have observed foibles that many Dutch themselves seem not to recognise.
The Embarrassment of Riches, by Simon Schama, is an epic account of Dutch culture in the Golden Age, using art to mirror a nation with all its resident neuroses and religious idiosyncrasies. Masterfully written and full of offbeat themes such as the popularity of breakfast paintings.
More travel literature reading lists for other destinations can be found here.