Three Ways to Expand Your Literary Horizons

by Jennifer Van Lent

As the tulips and daffodils start to bloom, my thoughts turn to one of my favorite ways to spend a lazy, sunny afternoon: lounging in my garden with a good book. For those of you who would like to expand your reading list, participate in lively literary discussions or find a place to leisurely browse for a new read, here are three ways to expand your literary horizons:

Join one of the AWCA book groups (or start a new one): Our own club has three amazing groups for passionate book lovers. Groups meet monthly in both Amsterdam and Haarlem. 

As a member of the Haarlem Club, I am excited about reading our March selection: “The Heart’s Invisible Furies” by John Boyne. In January, we had an interactive Skype discussion with author and Congressional candidate Nadia Hashimi about her book, “The Pearl that Broke Its Shell.” The Haarlem group meets in the evening on the last Tuesday of each month. 

Amsterdam has two book groups: the afternoon group meets the second Thursday and the evening group meets the last Monday of each month. Both these groups are well-attended, and the afternoon group is so large that they had to start a waiting list. The time is ripe if you feel called to start another AWCA book group in Amsterdam! (Any of the book group leaders would be happy to mentor; see the links above to the individual book groups for contact information.)

Meet an Author at the American Book CenterAlthough Amazon and are great, inexpensive places to order hard-to-find books, I am old-fashioned and love to browse through bookstores. A longtime Amsterdam favorite is the American Book Center (a.k.a. ABC), which regularly hosts "meet the author" sessions (in English). On March 17, you can take a behind-the-scenes tour of Amsterdam restaurants and join an interactive discussion (with tasty recipe samples!) hosted by culinary journalist Laura Graves presenting her new "Amsterdam Cookbook." And when shopping at ABC don't forget to show your AWCA membership card to receive your 10 percent discount! 

Become a JAI Member: The John Adams Institute (JAI) provides an independent podium for American culture in the Netherlands. For three decades, JAI has brought the best and the brightest of American thinking from the fields of literature, politics, history, technology and the arts. Recent speakers have included Jennifer Egan discussing her book “Manhattan Beach” and Jonathan Taplin speaking about his book “Move Fast and Break Things.” The JAI Book Club meets once a month. For details, many of our club members are JAI members, and you can also ask AWCA member and JAI Director Tracy Metz for more information.  

So, if you are starting to plan your summer reading list or would like to share your literary thoughts with like-minded book lovers, March is full of great opportunities to start your literary journey!