ABC’s Favorite Reads of 2011, Part D

And yet another installment of our Favorite Reads of the Year! Part A is right here, Part B is here, and C you can find here.

These favorites come from Ester, Jouke, and Tom – all ABC The Hague staff, as it would happen.  Ester is the buyer for the Philosophy, Horror, and Manga/Graphic Novels sections, and of course our marvelous Calendar Girl to boot (assisted by Calendar Dog Tessi).  Jouke is the Business and Mystery/Thriller books buyer, and a firm favorite with the daughters of blogmistresses.  Tom buys the books for the Local Interest, Travel Guide, Languages, and Spanish section, and will generally astound you with his selection of store music, too.

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 the rest of the month to hand them in. Thank you to those who have already mailed them in!

And now, without further ado… the lists!


In no particular order:

1. The Hunger Games Trilogy – Suzanne Collins
Great story about a “game” children have to endure each year as punishment for their districts that dared to go against the Capitol many years ago. Be warned: Once started I was not able to stop reading.

2. Fallen – Karin Slaughter
Book no. 3 in the Georgia series. Although, for me, not her best book, it’s still good enough to keep Slaughter on my favorite authors list. Can’t wait for book no. 4.

3. Persepolis – Marjane Satrapi
Even if you never would pick up a graphic novel, this one you should. It’s a comical and very interesting account of her upbringing during the Islamic Revolution.

4. Pleasurable Kingdom – Jonathan Balcombe
The big question in this book is whether animals (read: non-humans) know pleasure like we (read: humans) do. Balcombe states yes, although it’s very hard to put facts to the statement. Because there are so few facts to base your opinion on, it is more the question whether you believe Balcombe or not. I did and I really enjoyed the book. I like to think non-human animals share many things with humans and for me Balcombe confirmed my thoughts.

5. Following Atticus – Tom Ryan
I normally keep away from books about pets and their life, because these books are mostly written after the beloved pet is dead and I know I’m gonna weep and weep and weep, not enjoying the read itself. This book however is an account of a miniature schnauzer (just like my ABC dog Tessi) that is still very much alive and did and still is doing great things with his life together with his human friend Tom. Such a treat to read!


Endgame: Bobby Fischer’s Remarkable Rise and Fall – From America’s Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness – Frank Brady
5*, biased as I may be.
The mercurial Bobby Fischer will always be one of my heroes.
An excellent addition to my chess book and biographies collection.  The paperback edition will be out in January 2012.

The Age of Zeus (Pantheon Triptych #2) & The Age of Odin (Pantheon Triptych #3) – James Lovegrove
Gods and goddesses amidst sci-fi battle mechs and mythological DNA cloning projects.
Very excited about the upcoming The Age of Aztec!!!

Blacksad – Juan Diaz Canales + Juanjo Guarnido
Huge fan of Juanjo Guarnido’s watercolor artwork: anthropomorphic animals, film noir style, in a 1950s setting.
Winner of a dozen prestigious international honors.

Death Masks (Dresden Files #5) – Jim Butcher
Jim Butcher is one of those gifted, natural story tellers, in the likes of Roald Dahl and Stephen King. I can safely say I’m a die-hard ‘Dresdenite’.
Lots of cool elements in this suspenseful piece of brain candy: demonic hit men, a duel (with ancient swordmasters as back ups), and the missing Shroud of Turin…
Every installation of The Dresden Files adds a new layer to the background story.

Nemesis (Harry Hole #4) – Jo Nesbø
Solid Scandi-crime. The entire oeuvre from this Norwegian author / musician / economist is on my to-read-list. Nesbø knows how to raise neckhairs.

The Drop – Michael Connelly
Any new Michael Connelly automatically ends up in my favorites for the year. I just can’t help it.

5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth (and Other Useful Guides) – The Oatmeal
5 words about this book:
1) Hilarious
2) Hilarious
3) Read
4) This
5) Book
Make sure to check Matthew Inman’s site:


Journals 1931-1934 – Anaïs Nin (In English: Early Diaries 1931-1934)
This French-Cuban/American author kept journals throughout her life. In this volume -part of her early diaries- she draws sharp psychological portraits of her friends Henry and June Miller in a precise, literary style.

View with a Grain of Sand – Wislawa Szymborska
I wanted to read some poetry again, and when my colleague Ester mentioned Szymborska as het favorite poet I remembered that I had read some of her poetry before and that I liked it. I feel that there’s a lot to be discovered in her poems.

Oud en Eenzaam – Gerard Reve
Considered one of the Netherlands’ best authors from the previous century, Reve is brilliant in his storytelling- even if the stories themselves are rather trivial.

Forbidden Places: Exploring Our Abandoned Heritage – David & Sylvain Margaine
This is a beautiful photo book that I ordered for the store; unfortunately it’s not available at the moment but hopefully this will change some time soon.
Urban exploring is the art of visiting -legally or illegally- derelict buildings such as former factories, railway stations and even asylums. Fascinating and inspiring.

Die Türen öffnen sich langsam – Raissa Orlowa-Kopelew
I stumbled upon this one in one of Den Haag’s Kringloop shops. Raissa was the wife of Soviet dissident Lew Kopelew who was evicted in the 80s. The couple got asylum in Germany and this book is about getting used to living in a strange country. An interesting read.