1. Diary of Anne Frank (The Diary of a Young Girl, the definitive edition). The Anne Frank House (located on the Prinsengracht 276) is one of the most popular museums in Amsterdam with a line for admission as long as a canal. Lewis and Emmy read this amazing book before visiting which was the way to do it! The wide image above is the long line of people waiting to go into the Museum of the Anne Frank House, the most popular tourist site in Amsterdam.

  2. Girl with a Pearl Earring, by Tracy Chevalier. This is a short historical fiction story about the 17th century painter, Johannes Vermeer, through the eyes of the girl with the pearl earring. Vermeer’s most famous painting, Girl with a Pearl Earring hangs in the Mauritshuis Museum in The Hague.

  3. The Dutch I Presume? This nonfiction book about the Dutch has lots of great photos and ‘fun to read’ text about the Dutch. Our Seattle friend Pauline Bach, who is 100% Dutch, recommended this fantastic book to us.

  4. The Embarrassment of Riches, by Simon Schama. Schama tells the history of the Golden Age of Holland through Dutch culture as depicted in painting, emblem books, and descriptions of daily life. We learn that the Dutch saw themselves as the new Israelites who escaped the Hapsburgs (“Egyptians”); parted the waters (not of the Red Sea, but of the North Sea–-with dikes); enjoyed domesticity; indulged their children and felt a teensy bit guilty about wealth and the enjoyment of alcohol and food.

  5. The History of the Low Countries, by Paul Arblaster. Despite surveying nearly 2000 years, Arblaster does not do “equal coverage”. With the admirable brevity, Arblaster focuses on the most critical times, providing a nuanced view of the evolution of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg from their shared beginnings to becoming very distinct nations.