Life-changing novels

Everyone has had the experience – when you were shaken by a book. A novel usually which gives you a new direction. And who knows these life changing books better other than a bookseller. Four readers about life changing reads.

Text by Iris van Schie, photos by Jonas Armbruster

Book
The Laws by Connie Palmen

Reader
Bob Kappen (29), works at Athenaeum, Spui.

Bob Kappen.

When did you read it?
When I was 15 years old. In high school you had to read a certain number of books for your exams. This was one of the books I read for my literature list.

Why did this book have an impact on you?
Because of this book I wanted to move to Amsterdam. Now I live and work in Amsterdam, so I guess it had quite a big impact on me. This novel is about a woman moving from the province to the big city Amsterdam and about how she is figuring out life. In seven years, the woman dates seven different men in Amsterdam. I think I have read this book more than thirty times.

Three other must-reads for Bob:
Rituals by Cees Nooteboom, Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, Animal Farm by George Orwell.

It made me feel more closer to the immigration crisis in America.

Book
Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli

Reader
Chris Haak (54), works at Scheltema bookshop

Chris Haak.

When did you read it?
I’ve read it in January 2018

Why did this book have an impact on you?
I am procurement officer at our English department. A big part of the books I won’t remember after a certain amount of time but I will never forget this book. This novel describes the immigration crisis in America really well without making it too sentimental. It describes how thousands of kids are trying to cross the southwestern border into the United States, but getting detained or lost in the desert along the way. Because the story is so well described it really touched me and I personally felt closer to the immigration crisis in America.

Three other must-reads for Chris:
Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellman, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Grand Hotel Europa made me look more critical at the effects of tourism in Amsterdam.’’

Book
Grand Hotel Europa by Ilja Leonard Pfeijer  

Reader
Jan Hol (61), works at Pantheon

Jan Hol.

When did you read it?
I’ve read it in December 2018 when the book was just launched.

Why did this book have an impact on you?
This book is really well-written and it describes the problems of a modern society really well.  It’s a novel about a relationship between a boy and a girl and how the problems of a fast-growing urban area are affecting their relationship. The story isn’t set in Amsterdam but the globalisation problems felt really similar to the problems we have here with mass tourism. Because of this book I look now even more critical at the influence of mass tourism and how fast Amsterdam is growing.

Three other must-reads for Bob:
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Maurice by E. M. Forster and Over het water by H. M. van den Brink.

Through this book I realised more what effect poverty has on your relationships.

Book
Het Achtste Leven (voor Brilka) by Nino Haratischwili

Reader
Marieke de Geus (53), works at Bookshop the Martyrium

Marieke de Geus.

When did you read it?
I’ve read this book one and a half years ago in May 2018.

Why did this book have an impact on you?
Normally with this kind of big books I would take a break from reading but this story was written so well that I just kept on reading. The book is written by different kind of family members of a Georgian family  from 1900 until now. Through the story you will read about the history of Georgia, on what effects Russia had on how Georgia has a really poor period. Through this book I realize even more what effect poverty has on families and relationships.

Three other must-reads for Marieke:
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, Augustus by Irma Maria Achten and Moeder af by Fen Verstappen.