In 1972, a couple of young enthusiastic Americans came to Amsterdam, the city where anybody, anything and everything goes, and decided to open a store with American erotic magazines and book remainders bought for 10 cents a pound dry weight. Today the American Book Center has grown into one of the biggest, maybe even the biggest source of American (and British) English-language books and magazines on continental Europe.
For general information about the store and their stock, visit www.abc.nl.
Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
Ishiguro’s new novel is set in a primitive and rural version of England, just after the reign of King Arthur. It’s a dark and dangerous country, cloaked in a strange fog that clouds memory. An elderly couple, Axl and Beatrice, set off on a hazardous journey to find their scarcely remembered son, encountering a Saxon warrior, a quixotic knight, an evil monk, pixies, a sinister boatman and even a dragon, each of them holding a key to the couple’s quest. Ishiguro’s trademarks are all here: the central theme of memory, a dreamlike tone, a search for meaning and simple, haunting prose. It’s distinctly Ishiguro, and also quite unlike anything he has ever written before.
God Help the Child by Toni Morrison
When Lula Ann was born, her skin was so black her mother couldn’t stand to touch her. Desperate for love and approval, Lula Ann tells a lie that puts an innocent teacher in jail. As an adult, she changes her name and finds love and success, but an encounter with the teacher threatens to pull her back to the rejected little girl she once was. A car accident lands her in the company of a hippy commune where she is helped by another girl with her own sad past. With sparse prose packing a powerful emotional punch, Nobel laureate Morrison explores themes of racism and violence in a memorable tale of redemption.
Second Life by S.J. Watson
When her sister Kate is found dead in Paris, bored housewife Julia is compelled to find out what happened to her. Drawn deeper and deeper into the sordid online world her sister inhabited, Julia risks everything in pursuit of thrills and answers. She quickly realises this world is much more dangerous than she thought, especially when she meets Lukas, a dark stranger who may have had something to do with Kate’s death. This cleverly constructed mystery from the author of Before I Go To Sleep will draw you in and keep you reading until the final, shattering revelation.
I Am Radar by Reif Larsen
Radar is born in a mysterious blackout. When the lights come on again, everyone is shocked to see that he is unusually dark-skinned. The doctor assures his white parents that it will correct itself. When it does not, the family searches the globe for a cure, falling into the company of a group of avant garde puppeteers and radioactive performance artists who dance on the edges of world events. If you enjoyed the mad, detailed, illustrated complexity of The Collected Works of T.S. Spivet, you’ll find more of the same zaniness here. There’s history and science, both real and imagined, maps, diagrams, photographs, diversions and detours that will constantly lead you off course and back again. I Am Radar requires more of an investment than an ordinary novel but, just like Spivet, it pays enormous dividends.
Perfect Heritage by Penny Vincenzi
Founded in the 1950s, The House of Farrell is an iconic cosmetics company. Poorly managed for years, it is in desperate need of a revamp. Bianca Bailey, a high flying consultant, is called in by its financiers to manage the relaunch, but to succeed Bianca, must also manage founder Athina Farrell, who resents her presence and relishes opportunities to throw a spanner in the works. Meanwhile, sales advisor Florence Hamilton reigns at the company’s flagship store, hoarding company secrets which, when revealed, have dire consequences. Binding together plot strands of romance, intrigue and tragedy from past and future, this immensely readable novel is populated with wonderful characters.
Severed Souls by Terry Goodkind
In the third book in Goodkind’s epic series, Richard and Kahlan must make their way to The People’s Palace to be cured of the deadly sickness that has robbed them of their magic. They are hampered by an army of ‘half people’, led by Bishop Hannis Arc and the ancient Emperor Sulachan, whose ranks are joined by hordes gathered from the graveyards they pass on the way to the heart of the Empire. The leaders want nothing less than to unite the worlds of the dead and the living and to rule over them all. Darker than the previous books, this tale of the resilience of the human spirit shows that Goodkind’s storytelling is as spellbinding as ever.
One of Us: The Story of Anders Breivik and the Massacre in Norway by Åsne Seierstad
In July 2011, Anders Breivik detonated a bomb outside government buildings in Oslo, killing eight people. Then he went to the island of Utøya and shot dead 69 more, most of them teenagers. How did this gifted, privileged man become a terrorist? With enormous sensitivity and attention to detail, Seierstad tells the stories of everyone involved so intimately that, at the point in her narrative when the bullets start flying, the reader is devastated. Brilliantly composed and deeply affecting, this is a powerful and important book.
Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone & Sheila Heen
Discover how to listen effectively, and circumnavigate the emotions that prevent you from finding something constructive in off-hand comments, evaluations, and unsolicited advice. Stone and Heen utilise the latest insights from neuroscience and psychology and combine them with practical, good-humoured advice, detailing techniques in conversation, negotiation and problem-solving to improve your performance and relationships, both personal and professional.
Nothing is True and Everything is Possible by Peter Pomerantsev
In the search for heroes and happy endings to feature in his shows, reality TV producer Pomerantsev meets the outliers of Russian society: a model who may have been murdered; gangsters; a holy motorcycle gang; women blurring the line between gold digger and prostitute; the super rich; and a jailed business woman trapped by a Kafkaesque legal system. Through a series of vignettes, he shows how daily life in Moscow is built on illusions created by the Kremlin and disseminated by the media. A dazzling account of a country descending into madness, with a fast pace, great dialogue and enough plot twists to make it read like a novel. The fact that it isn’t makes it all the more disturbing.
Hummelo by Piet Oudolf & Noel Kingsbury
Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf is responsible for some of the most iconic garden designs of the last 15 years, including the High Line aerial greenway in New York. His own garden, Hummelo, near Arnhem, is where he creates new varieties of plants and tries out new concepts. This beautifully illustrated book documents the 30-year evolution of Oudolf’s own garden and the development of his aesthetic. It details how the garden has inspired Oudolf and also, along with his many successes, the experiments that didn’t quite work as hoped. With a lively text by Kingsbury, this will delight any gardening enthusiast.
Foragers, Farmers, and Fossil Fuels by Ian Morris
The author of Why the West Rules for Now posits that the evolution of human values has been driven by something as simple as where we get our energy from. Our modern fossil fuel dependent society values both equality and pacifism, while the preceding, simpler societies valued hierarchy and settled disputes with violence. At which point might our modern values evolve? And why? Taking us from prehistory to the present, Morris’s thought-provoking arguments are clear and persuasive, but he also includes challenging responses by novelist Margaret Atwood, philosopher Christine Korsgaard, classicist Richard Seaford, and historian Jonathan Spence.
Climate Shock by Gernot Wagner & Martin Weitzman
In simple terms, Wagner & Martin Weitzman explain how the longer we wait to deal with the risks of climate change, the more likely an extreme event will happen. They argue that the fastest and most effective solution is an economic one: market mechanisms aimed at rigorously lowering carbon emissions. Confuting decades of excuses, confusion and ineffective policies, this is an entertaining, informative and clear introduction to the economics of climate change.