6 English beach reads by Dutch authors
Summer is here, which means longer evenings, long-awaited vacation days away and time to read. It sounds silly, I know, but in the summer there just seems to be more time to pick up a book, especially if it’s while you’re lying on a beach.
Our six book picks
Have you ever picked up a book by a Dutch author? Whilst there are plenty of books that get translated into Dutch, there are considerably fewer that get translated from Dutch into English. This is rather logical if you think about it. But, so you don’t have to go searching, we’ve compiled a list of six books by Dutch authors you can read whilst holidaying this summer. Added bonus- you’ll have another thing to talk about with your Dutch friends if they have read them.
FYI, you can likely get all of these books at bookstores, but for your convenience, we’ve included a link to Bol.com where you can buy them online.
1. The Dinner, Herman Koch
This novel is simply gripping, it’s no wonder Koch became world famous for it. There was even a movie made of it, starring Richard Gere. It all begins with two couples- two brothers and their wives meet at a fashionable restaurant in Amsterdam on a summer’s evening.
Both couples have sons who are 15-years-old and who, united, have committed a horrific act which has triggered a police investigation. Blurry images have been shown on nationwide-TV, but the police are yet to identify the boys. But how long before they uncover their identities and their future is ruined?
The couples continue to make small talk throughout the courses, going around the houses, instead of talking about the pressing issue- their children. As the dinner reaches a culinary climax, the topic finally turns to their sons and each couple shows just how far they are willing to go to protect the ones they love.
This is a real page-turner, so it’s perfect for that long day at the beach or park. Just try not to get too lost in it that you forget to reapply your sunscreen or hydrate. Intrigued? You can get The Dinner here.
2. Back to the Coast, Saskia Noort
If mystery is your thing, this is the summer read for you! The author, Saskia Noort, is one of the best-selling thriller authors in the Netherlands, so you’ll be in for a ride, that’s for sure. Back to the Coast follows Maria, who isn’t exactly in the best of situations, with two children from a failed marriage, money problems and a depressive boyfriend. Maria falls pregnant but decides not to keep the baby, and this is when the threatening letters start to arrive.
At first, she thinks that the letters are from pro-life activists, but soon she begins to suspects others and eventually ends up suspecting her own boyfriend. She flees to her sister’s house, which is isolated on the Dutch coast. The death threats follow her, however, and her loved ones begin to fear for her mental wellbeing. All the while, her stalker is getting closer.
This book will have your heart racing and your eyes scanning the text for whom it could possibly be that is sending these letters. Why not read Back to the Coast whilst you’re on the coast? Hopefully, your experience there will be a lot more pleasant than the main character Maria’s!
3. Joe Speedboat, Tommy Wieringa
If you’re a sucker for a story full of hope and overcoming challenges which seem impossible, this is the book for you. Joe Speedboat tells the tale of a boy with the same name who comes into town and shakes everything up in a good way.
The book follows Frankie, who wakes up after a farming accident to discover he is paralysed and mute. Frankie can still use his right arm, but that’s it, and he is having trouble adjusting to having to rely on others for even the simplest of tasks. Using his arm, he records the details of daily life in the town.
When Joe meets Frankie, he doesn’t see a disabled boy, he sees potential. With his help, Frankie will put his arm to good use to do more than just write. As a champion arm-wrestler, he’ll be able to win back his friends and maybe even woo the girl everyone has their eyes on. This book has feel-good written all over it (not literally), so it’s perfect for reading anytime, no need to be in a particular mood to pick it up.
4. Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old, Hendrik Groen
If you haven’t already, you need to read this international bestseller, full of laughs and heartstring-tugging. The story follows Hendrik Groen, old but certainly not dead yet, he writes an expose on a year in the life of his care home. Within it, he reveals all the ups and downs and his new endeavour: the anarchist Old-But-Not-Dead Club. Members of this club set about living their final years with careless abandon, something which angers the care home director, but has a certain someone taking notice.
Yes, this story even has a hint of romance amidst all hilarity, charm and quirky characters. A new care home resident has caught the eye of Hendrik and makes his heart race, which bears the question, is it ever too late to meet the love of your life?
This is a definite must-read for this summer; you’ll be glued to the pages for sure!
5. Bella Italia, Suzanne Vermeer
Now, this is a thriller! The tale of a camping trip gone wrong, deadly wrong. It all starts when Niels and his parents arrive at a lush forest camping ground in Lake Garda, Italy. As you do, they are looking forward to a relaxing vacation but this is not what they get when Niels witnesses a murder.
The on-going investigation doesn’t exactly make the family feel safe and there’s also the question of whether Niels will have to face the culprit or whether he is in danger. If you are planning on camping this summer, Bella Italia will have you wary of the woods and wondering what’s lurking in the dark. A positively great book from Suzanne Vermeer, which is a pseudonym for the deceased author Paul Goeken.
6. Master of disaster, Frank Krake
How is it possible to have so much bad luck?! This book tells the true story of Frank Krake, the unbelievable “Master of Disaster” and what dramas he faces after becoming the director of the struggling patio furniture giant, Unimeta.
Some of the disasters he outlines in his book? The Enschede fireworks disaster, which saw the company’s entire inventory destroyed and the lives of 23 employees lost, and 1.000 injured; 9/11, it just so happens the plane he was on was in the air and was suspected of involvement in the attacks; The SARS epidemic when he happens to be in China, and bankruptcy.
The book is full of plenty more drama but Frank never gives up, saving the company from certain ruin. This is one man who refuses to throw in the towel, determined to win. You’ll speed through this book, all the while in constant awe of Frank. It’s hard to believe it’s a true story, but it is!
What’s on your book list this summer?
There are plenty of great books out there to choose from. But before you pick up that new book from the store, consider choosing one of the above-mentioned books in English by Dutch authors. Any books we should add to this list? Or one you think is a must-read for this summer? Drop us a comment below!
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