A Book Lover Abroad: Amsterdam

Since visiting Kraków, Poland, last year and exploring their bookshops and literary cafés, I decided it would be a good idea to explore what other places had to offer, too. Kraków had the most wonderful little bookshop café that I fell in love with and I just wanted to see if other cities had anything similar.

I’ve visited Amsterdam a few times but it never really occurred to me to visit its literary scene before. It’s silly, I know. I’m a book lover who has a love for exploring new places to buy books, so why hadn’t I thought of this before? This time, though, I did a bit of googling and found out about Het Spui, a street known as Amsterdam’s book street. Spui is also home to a magnificent book market every Friday.

Whilst in Kraków, I’d decided to make a tradition of buying a bookmark from every place I visited, so that was my main aim whilst exploring Spui. Although, I did end up buying a lot more than that!

Het Spui

If I’m honest, expected a lot more book shops on the street as well as a few literary cafés. I do have a feeling we missed some, though. I probably didn’t do enough research as there were a lot of buildings that didn’t have signs, so they could’ve been cafes or shops – hindsight is a wonderful thing. At least I might have more to explore next time I’m in Amsterdam, though.

The American Book Center

The American Book Center has three or four massive floors (I can’t remember exactly- I was a bit too excited to be in there to count the floors) full of books and bookish accessories. I’m a massive fan of Out of Print and The American Book Center was full of their pencil cases, tote bags, socks, and loads more.

I couldn’t find any bookmarks that had anything to do with Amsterdam, so after buying an Out of Print Poe tote bag, some awesome sticky bookmarks and a book of Aesop’s Fables (which unfortunately got a bit battered on the way home), I was off to explore the next place.

                

Athenaeum Boekhandel

This place was wonderful, but I’m a really bad British tourist and can’t speak or read much Dutch, so I couldn’t buy anything. I was very tempted to pick up a Dutch children’s book to help me learn the language, but I decided to stick to Duolingo for a bit longer before I attempt that. No bookmarks here, so off to Waterstones I went!

Waterstones


Waterstones is technically on Kalverstraat, but that corner becomes Spui, so I’ve thrown it in with Spui mostly because it was a delightful part of the experience. I didn’t manage to get a photo, though, which I’m a bit gutted about because it was a beautiful building.

I usually prefer the wonders of a cave full of secondhand books, but Waterstones in Britain never disappoints and Amsterdam’s certainly didn’t. It was massive and had everything you could need, plus little reading nooks scattered around the store, which I’ve never really noticed in the UK stores. It had the friendliest and the most helpful staff I have come across, too. The lady who served me was running up and down stairs to find me a pencil sharpener after I mentioned needing one to my boyfriend. She was really very lovely and nothing was too much hassle.

I finally found a bookmark with a photograph of a beautiful painting of Dam Square on it, along with a ladybird pencil, a magic mushroom pencil sharpener and rubber, and  lots warm and fuzzy feelings.

De Boeken Markt Op Het Spui 

The book market is full of beautiful Dutch secondhand and antique books, as well as artwork and vintage prints. Unfortunately, I didn’t buy anything. The stalls were cash–only (as expected) and we’d forgotten to get cash out beforehand, but it was a wonderful experience. It had a lovely, peaceful atmosphere and the stallholders left you to browse at your leisure. I was tempted to find a cashpoint and buy some old Dutch books, but the books would’ve been sitting on my bookshelf while I gradually learnt the language. Let’s be honest, books deserve better than that!

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The Book Exchange


On Kloveniersburgal, lives The Book Exchange. We were greeted by some very friendly American guys and entered into an Aladdin’s cave if any bookworm’s dream. It’s definitely one of the most amazing secondhand bookshops I’ve ever been in. I lost count of how many rooms or floors it has, but each one was crammed with secondhand wonders. They had more genre choices than any other bookshop I’ve been in. It was heaven!

We found this one by accident, so didn’t have enough time to have a proper look. I had a quick browse in every room, bought a copy of Angela Carter’s The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman and went to search for food. I’m definitely going back there to inspect every nook and cranny next time I’m in Amsterdam. 

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If you’re a bookworm and planning to go to Amsterdam, I’d definitely advise checking out all of the above, especially The Book Exchange. Even if you don’t buy anything, the experience itself is completely worth it. Please, let me know if you’ve found some bookshop or literary cafés in Amsterdam – I think that’s the only thing that was missing for me and I’d love to have more places to visit on my next trip!

~Roxie ❤

Five Things You Should Never Say to a Bookworm 

If, like me, you’re a self-confessed bookworm, you have definitely heard each of these at least once. I don’t know when reading became a thing to criticise (unless it always has been and I’ve been too busy with my head in a book to notice), but I hear these things more lately than ever before. For me, though, it’s hard to believe that people who think these things, never mind say them out loud, exist!

Non-bookworms, listen up! Here’s what not to say to a bookworm:

1. Reading is boring

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Unless you want to destroy a friendship, you’ll never say this to a book lover. They’ll lose all respect for you in an instant. Sometimes, books and entangling oneself in their wonders are the only things that keep bookworms going. I know when I’m having the shittest of shit days the only thing that pulls me through is the thought of going home to escape into my current read. It’s one of, if not the best form of, escapism and people who think otherwise are simply reading the wrong books!

2. It’s not real, y’know?

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This is probably the most patronising one of the lot. It’s been said to me on multiple occasions and has always come with a disapproving and belittling look. Fair enough, it’s true, but it’s entirely besides the point. A bookworm’s attachment to a beloved story may be entirely irrational, but they know it and get completely invested in the plot and characters’ wellbeing anyway. Please don’t ruin it by being a dick.

3. I heard *name character here* dies in the end!

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Bookworms get irrationally attached to fictional characters. So much so that you might as well be telling them that a family member has died. Seriously. Even if a character’s death is as abruptly unexpected as you blurting this sentence out, a good book will give a bookworm some kind of closure that you can’t. Bookworms have their own way of dealing with these things, so let them read it for themselves and deal with it in their own way.

This one can be reworked to fit other situations, too, like whether Fevvers from Angela Carter’s Nights at the Circus is real or not, or whether Christopher Boone finds out who killed his neighbour’s dog in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night–Time. It should go without saying that all spoilers are a no-no. Always check if they’ve read the book first or, if they’re reading it, where they’re up to before you ruin everything.

4. You own too many books!

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One: ignore anyone who says this and dance like the guy in the gif. Two: there is no such thing as too many books. Three: no bookworm should ever be friends with anyone who says this out loud. That’s all I have to say on the matter.

5. The movie was better

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Okay, there are exceptions, like Confessions of a Shopaholic but that wasn’t all that hard to do really, was it? Bookworms will almost always like the book better than the movie. Telling them the movie adaptation of their favourite book was better will only infuriate them. A book lover will almost always be surrounded by books, too, so unless you want to die from books being repetively thrown at your head, you’ll avoid this sentence at all costs.

I’m sure there are more things that you should never say to a bookworm, but these are the five that I’ve heard most often! I’d love to hear your experiences, too! Feel free to leave a comment or tweet me.

~Roxie ❤

 

 

Welcome to Good Things, Books.

Welcome to my first ever book blog post – eeek! I’m Roxie and I’m a freelance writer and editor, and mature student who loves books, hence the book blog! I decided to create this blog in memory of my nan who passed away a year ago yesterday. She loved reading as much as I do, so it seemed fitting.

Yesterday, I spent the day trying to distract myself and avoiding Facebook; I didn’t want to see the sad statuses I knew my family would be posting. This wasn’t me being mean; I just couldn’t face reading them, not yesterday. So, I decided to create a book blog to distract myself from the sadness of the day and celebrate something my nan and I shared a love for.

My nan gave me a bag full of her old books a couple of days before she passed away and I’ve decided it’s time to read them. I’ll write a post every month or so on one those books until they run out. I’ve bought her books for every Christmas, Mother’s Day and birthday since I was able to carefully pick them out myself. After she died, I decided to keep this tradition going by buying one my favourite books to put on her grave for each occasion. At Christmas, I bought The Color Purple and To Kill a Mockingbird for Mother’s Day. I’ll post about my choices as the occasions near, too.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though, I promise! I’ll be posting fun stuff, too, like links to bookish must-haves, beautiful book covers, book reviews, and loads more.

For now, though, here’s ten of my favourite things:

  1. Reading
  2. Listening to audiobooks
  3. Angela Carter
  4. Fairy tales (especially the gory ones)
  5. Spending way too much money at Out of Print
  6. Gilmore Girls (yay for Netflix)
  7. Margaret Atwood
  8. The smell of old books
  9. George Orwell
  10. My record player

I’m super excited to share my thoughts with you all as I work my way through my forever-growing to-read list!

~Roxie ❤