ABC’s Favorite Reads of 2011, part A

Is it really December already?  Even worse, halfway through December already?

Well, I guess it must be time for our Favorite Reads of the Year posts then!

Let’s start you off with the favorites as handed in by our Barry, Klaartje, and Simone.  Barry is one of the pillars of ABC The Hague (as is his Bernese Mountain, Nelson!), and the buyer for the History/Politcs/Current Affairs and Travel Literature sections.  Klaartje is both stores’ secretary and Girl Friday, and ABC Amsterdam’s buyer for the Local Interest section to boot.  Simone is one of ABC The Hague’s store managers, and Fiction, Cookbooks and stationery buyer.

We would love to hear about what YOUR favorite reads of 2011 were, too! They don’t have to be books published in 2011, just read in 2011.  Please send your top 5 to, and be sure to include your mailing address so we can send you an ABC gift voucher as a thank you.  We’ll be publishing your Top 5s at the beginning of 2012, so you have a month to hand them in.

And now, without further ado… the lists!


Matterhorn – Karl Marlantes

The Pale King – David Foster Wallace

Fear and Loathing at Rolling Stone – Hunter S. Thompson

An Idiot Abroad – Karl Pilkington

The Last Resort: A Zimbabwe Memoir – Douglas Rogers


Our Inner Ape – Frans de Waal
In my summer holidays I found African Genesis by Robert Ardrey (blogmistress’s note: originally published in 1961, currently out of print).  Back home I found, in the store, Our Inner Ape by Frans de Waal.  It is written decades later and Frans de Waal’s book is nuanced and much more up to date with our time.

A Visit from the Goon Squad – Jennifer Egan
This title was advised because I also like Freedom by Jonathan Franzen.

Het Spook van Toetegaai – Herman Brusselmans
If you can read Dutch (or Vlaams) it is a page turner.

The Ranger’s Apprentice #1: The Ruins of Gorlan – John Flanagan
Yes I also read children’s books!

The Hero with a Thousand Faces – Joseph Campbell
It was about time that I read it.


The Rules of Engagement – Anita Brookner
This book gives you the feeling the story could take place in the fifties, or the sixties, or the seventies, anytime, really. It seems to be without a time frame, and so universal.
It is the story of a woman, who marries comfortably, and has an easy life. She meets her childhood girlfriend, and when suddenly her husband dies, they both seem to be at a social lowpoint.
Intriguing insights into the woman’s way of thinking makes this a bittersweet read.

Anagrams – Lorrie Moore
Moore has a very appealing style of storytelling, which I enjoyed a lot in A Gate at the Stairs last year, and in Anagrams this year.
Interesting characters and a wonderful use of language. Give one of her books a try!

The Runaway Jury – John Grisham
One of the classic stories by Grisham, with courtroom drama, a story full of tension and anticipation.
This title will keep you reading right until the end, and does not dissappoint!

The Hand that First Held Mine – Maggie O’Farrell
Two stories, one in the past, and one in the present are described parrallel to each other. As the stories progress, their connection becomes tangible, and finally, it all becomes very clear.
The book contains captivating characters, and a wonderful use of language.

Marrying the Mistress – Joanna Trollope
Trollope writes an intriguing story about a tumultuous time for some family members, and what it means for each individual when one of them makes a particular decision. Trollope knows how to paint a realistic picture, and a lot of readers will be able to relate to the human interactions she describes.