ABC’s Favorite Reads of 2012, part II

Ready for a new entry in ABC’s Favorite Reads of 2012 series? There will be new titles, old titles, magazines, Dutch books, games, fiction, non fiction, anything and everything we read and liked in 2012. We are as diverse as our individual choices and that is what makes ABC unique!

Part II features Jesse, Nyjolene and Mark. Jesse is the Art and Fashion buyer in Amsterdam (as well as the designer of the annual Thanksgiving vouchers!).  Nyjolene is The Hague’s artist-in-residence and the buyer for the New Age, Fashion/Beauty, Childcare and NY Times Bestsellers sections.  Mark is Amsterdam’s Warehouse Chief.

We would love to hear about your favorite reads of 2012, too. Please mail with your choices and a picture of yourself (optional). We will post your list at the beginning of the new year and send you an ABC Gift Certificate (so don’t forget to include your home address with your list!).


The Secret History – Donna Tartt

After reading The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach, I was still in the mood for more American college fiction. My Penguin Celebrations version of The Secret History by Donna Tartt (this version is one of my favorite book cover designs – see below. It has been out of print for a while though!) had been sitting on my shelf for quite a while and so it was finally time to start reading. Even though they may seem a bit stereotypical at first, the characters are fascinating and they really grew on me throughout the book, I was completely absorbed in the storyline.

The Toaster Project – Thomas Thwaites

‘Hello, my name is Thomas Thwaites, and I have made a toaster.’ So begins The Toaster Project, an account of the graduation project of Thomas Thwaites, for his Masters in Design Interactions at the Royal College of Art. Thomas Thwaites wants to make a toaster from scratch; the materials of the toaster completely from scratch, even. And in order to create the same 404 parts that his ordinary store-bought toaster contains he must refine iron ore, build a crude foundry in his mom’s backyard, research medieval metallurgy, make plastic and more. The expeditions and experiments are entertainingly narrated but also raise interesting questions about mass production and consumption, and sustainability. The end result is the most insane, but very aesthetic nonetheless, toaster I have ever seen.

Listen to Thomas Thwaites’s TED talk about his toaster here.

100 Artists’ Manifestos: From the Futurists to the Stuckists

The title speaks for itself; a collection of 100 manifestos from the last 100 years containing a diverse selection of movements like Futurism, Dadaism, Feminism, Communism, Destructivism and Stuckism, amongst others, and with an array of artists such as Kandinsky, Malevich, Theo van Doesburg, Le Corbusier, Dali and Murakami. It is one of those books you don’t want to read in one go, but it is a great one to just pick up and read a manifesto or two.


1. Ecobeauty – Lauren Cox

This book is soooo much fun!! All kinds of natural cleansing products that are easy to make & good for you! I love using my honey face cleanser daily, or treating myself to a soothing face mask. I was already nuts about Janice Cox (Lauren’s mom) but this book is fresh & young in design. It has nice pictures, and is, all-round, just a joy to use.

2. Vampire Academy series – Richelle Mead

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this series!! Lots of action and danger and all, but as with most Vampire juvenile fiction, it’s mainly about girl-meets-boy.  Starts with Vampire Academy and goes on for six books in all.

Where the romance in Twilight is a bit too puppy-love for me (Meyer’s romantic story-line is much more developed in The Host!), and the romance in the House of Night series is saucy but the vocabulary of the main characters is too hip/young/slightly annoying, Vampire Academy is brilliantly balanced. The characters are diverse, feisty and strong. The romance between the main characters is intense without being overdone, and the story keeps you interested till the end (and beyond into Bloodlines :-)) I strongly recommend this series!

3. Bitten (and all that follow in the The Otherworld series) – Kelley Armstrong

This was such a surprise! I‘d never read a werewolf story before and wasn’t sure if I’d find it interesting, but man, Kelley Armstrong really can write! As much as I like the main characters it’s a side character (Jeremy, leader of the pack, very calm and collected) that pulls me back, I’m really hoping in future books Kelley will elaborate on his character & story, cause he’s very mysterious without trying. *grin*

4. The Diviners – Libba Bray

The first chapter freaked me out! I was sure I was starting a terrifying horror story (fit for teenagers, but scary none the less). The Gemma Doyle trilogy was also very exciting (read: pretty scary!) at times, so I expected this to be like that on every page, but it was great fun! A little exciting, but nothing to keep me awake. I really enjoyed it. It’s set in the 1920s in New York, and that adds to the charm. Can’t wait for part two!

5. Designwallas stationery

ABC has the cutest fashion stationery ever!! It makes you want to start 5 different diaries, and find any other excuse to write! I have a lot of unused notebooks at home, and have become very picky when it comes to buying more, but oooohhhh, Designwallas notebooks are beautiful! (So I bought a few… just a few 😉


(Blogmistress’s note: Mark writes his own poetry, too, at!)

Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

Normally I would not want to touch a book that has been hyped as much as this one. The truth is, I read it before the movie was announced. Now I can tell you: Do believe the hype.

Cloud Atlas is a real piece of literature. David Mitchell fuses sci-fi with historical piece, and detectives. Every part of his book has its own distinct language. He loves these languages, and he plays with time – as he should.

This is not an easy book to read. It gives you many opportunities to just stop; give up. I urge you not to, but finish this roller-coaster of a novel.

Het Innerlijk behang en andere gedichten – Hans Lodeizen

This is my favorite volume of poetry. Hans Lodeizen writes with clarity and great restraints about the Romantic pain he feels he. His images were new at the time he wrote them and they were his own. Because of that his images are timeless.

Pictures of the Gone World and Poetry as Insurgent Art – Lawrence Ferlinghetti

I like Ferlinghetti. I like the ease with which he uses parlando in his poetry. I like the images, I like the enthusiasm and the optimism with which he writes. I like how he says that poets are surfers, too.

Ferlinghetti is the ultimate hippy, and reading him makes part of me feel like I have been there in the 60’s as well. It feels great.

Wat koop ik voor jouw donkerwilde machten, Willem? – Martijn Benders

This self-published tome of poetry is filled to the brim with quality. Martijn Benders is, together with Laura van der Haar, my favorite active Dutch poet. While the romanticism of Martijn Benders reminds me of Hans Lodeizen, Martijn Benders has a bigger scope. He is capable of leaving his own egocentric body behind and write with affectionate detachment about, for instance, the word porno. (He thinks it’s ‘knorrig’.) His poetry is surprising and easy to read at the same time.