Top 10 books about the Netherlands

If you just moved to the Netherlands, there is much to explore. Exciting times! Until … the typical Dutch weather hits. On these rainy days, books are the perfect opportunity to explore the Netherlands from the comfort of your sofa. Is there something better than curling up in your favourite chair and immersing yourself in an excellent book while the rain knocks on the window?

Exactly! That’s why we created a selection of the top 10 best books for internationals and expats coming to and living in the Netherlands!

The Lonely Planet Netherlands

1 Lonely Planet Netherlands

The travel guide of all travel guides! The Australian publisher claims to be the world’s most significant independent travel and language guides publisher. Their guides are updated regularly and contain tips for travel preparation, exploring destinations, addresses, practical information, and more.

The Lonely Planet The Netherlands is the perfect guide to get ideas of what to explore next once the grey weather has passed.

Why the Dutch are Different

2 Why the Dutch are Different

Why the Dutch are Different is the story of an Englishman who (accidentally) went Dutch. The book is an entertaining travelogue and offers historical background on the Netherlands. It is a personal portrait of the Dutchies, trying to figure out why the Dutch are how they are.

The book is a perfect and easy-to-read preparation if you’re about to move to the Netherlands. And it is a fun read if you’ve lived here for some time, as you’ll probably stumble on some Dutch peculiarities you might’ve already experienced.

Culture Smart Netherlands

3 Culture Smart Netherlands

The Culture Smart! guides are more than ‘normal’ travel guides. They offer short and humorous insights for travellers who want more than just the ins and outs of where to stay, what to see, and how to travel. The guides deal with the human dimension of travelling and tell you about the beliefs and attitudes of the people you will meet and about situations you may encounter.

The Culture Smart! guide Netherlands helps you understand the complex layers of identity in this small, densely populated country whilst informing you how to avoid cultural faux pas.

Amsterdam Tales

4 Amsterdam Tales

Amsterdam Tales is the perfect book for you to curl up with on a rainy day if you’re up for an entertaining read. The book contains a compelling collection of prose fiction, memoirs and anecdotes centring on Amsterdam from the seventeenth to the twenty-first century. Amsterdam Tales offers a rare insight into the history and culture of Amsterdam and is the perfect read for learning something whilst indulging in these enjoyable tales.

The Black Tulip Alexandre Dumas

5 The Black Tulip

The historical novel The Black Tulip by Alexandre Dumas won’t disappoint you if you’re into fiction. Alexandre Dumas’s novels are notable for their suspense and excitement, foul deeds, hairsbreadth escapes, and glorious victories. The story of The Black Tulip is set during the Tulip Fever in the Dutch Golden Age. It tells the fascinating tale of Cornelius Van Baerle suffering from several counterattacks, trying to grow a black tulip to earn money and fame.

The Culture Map by Erin Meyer

6 The Culture Map

The Culture Map: Decoding How People Think, Lead, and Get Things Done Across Cultures is an excellent book if you need help with cross-cultural communication in the workplace; Or if you want to prepare for working in an international work environment while living in the Netherlands. 

In the book Meyer provides multiple reference points for decoding cultural differences and how they impact international business relationships. If you’re into non-fiction, The Culture Map is the perfect read for rainy days.


Rick Steves Amsterdam & the Netherlands

7 Rick Steves Amsterdam & the Netherlands

If you don’t feel like delving into a story but instead plan your next visit to the Netherlands capital Amsterdam, here’s another travel guide. Rick Steves is an American travel writer and author known for his travel philosophy that encourages people to explore less-touristy areas of destinations and to become immersed in the local people’s way of life.

The guide includes everything worth seeing without weighing you down, as it’s ‘only’ 500 pages long. Take out that marker and explore what you want to see next!

The Diary of a Young Girl

8 The Diary of a Young Girl

Anne Franks’s diary is one of the most widely read books in the world. It’s a must-read when moving to the Netherlands. Anne Frank was a Jewish girl from Germany who became known for her diary during World War II while hiding in a secret room behind a closet in Amsterdam. She later died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

Girl With a Pearl Earring

9 Girl with a Pearl Earring

We know very little about the life of the famous Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, who left a legacy of only 37 paintings. One is Girl With a Pearl Earring, whose model remains unknown until today. So much about the facts! The best-selling book Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier draws a fictional, historical portrait of artist Johannes Vermeer and his maiden servant in 17th-century Delft. The book takes the perspective of the 16-year-old heroine who becomes intimate with her master.

In 2003 Girl with a Pearl Earring was also adapted as a film starring Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth.

The UnDutchables

10 The UnDutchables

The UnDutchables by Colin White (British) and Laurie Boucke (American) is probably the first book that pops up when you google books about the Netherlands, and we don’t want to leave it unmentioned in our top 10 list of books about the Netherlands. The book was first released in 1989 and has been updated several times. It takes an in-depth, humorous look at daily Dutch life and claims to be the survival guide for living in the Netherlands. At times, The UnDutchables can get a bit stereotypical.

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