ABC’s Gift Ideas: History/Politics, Horror, Humor, Local Interest/Living Abroad

The gift-giving season is upon us – hooray!

The ABC Staff has rummaged through their sections and order lists, and come up with another year’s worth of wonderful gift ideas for you: from fiction to history to cookbooks to children’s books to travel to non-books and onwards.

In a series of blog posts and recommendation lists throughout the coming month, you will find what we think will make great gifts, whether you celebrate Sinterklaas, Christmas or just like giving books to people. And since we’re a bookstore, these posts will be alphabetical by subject. 🙂

Today you’ll find gift ideas for History/Politics, Horror, Humor and Local Interest/Living Abroad as picked out by section buyers Maarten, Barry, Ester, Luke, Martijn, Tom and Agnes. Bear in mind that this is just the tip of the iceberg – come to either one of our stores to browse many, many more titles in any of these subjects.

We are ready as ever to be your personal shoppers again this year, and hope you will find our selections useful and inspiring!

You can find our gift ideas from previous years here (scroll down a bit pas 2013), and be sure to have a look at our ABC Favorites, too.


Command and Control – Eric Schlosser

Famed investigative journalist Eric Schlosser digs deep to uncover secrets about the management of America’s nuclear arsenal. A ground-breaking account of accidents, near-misses, extraordinary heroism, and technological breakthroughs, Command and Control explores the dilemma that has existed since the dawn of the nuclear age: how do you deploy weapons of mass destruction without being destroyed by them? That question has never been resolved–and Schlosser reveals how the combination of human fallibility and technological complexity still poses a grave risk to mankind.

Ebook available here.

Unthinkable: Iran, the Bomb, and American Strategy – Kenneth Pollack

Kenneth Pollack, a former CIA analyst with twenty-five years of experience working on the Middle East, explores America’s intractable problem with Iran, Tehran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability, and the prolonged clash that led us to this point. Pollack lays out key solutions to the Iran nuclear question, explaining and assessing the options for American policymakers.

Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City – Russell Shorto

In this effortlessly erudite account, Russell Shorto traces the idiosyncratic evolution of Amsterdam, showing how such disparate elements as herring anatomy, naked Anabaptists parading through the streets, and an intimate gathering in a sixteenth-century wine-tasting room had a profound effect on Dutch – and world – history. Weaving in his own experiences of his adopted home, Shorto provides an ever-surprising, intellectually engaging story of Amsterdam from the building of its first canals in the 1300s, through its brutal struggle for independence, its golden age as a vast empire, to its complex present in which its cherished ideals of liberalism are under siege.

Ebook available here.

Eyes Wide Open: How to Make Smart Decisions in a Confusing World – Noreena Hertz

In the Political Science section at ABC Amsterdam, in the Business section at ABC The Hague.

In the modern world we’re swamped with information from every direction. Who should we trust? Who should we believe? How can we make sure we make the right choices? From one of the world’s leading young thinkers – the internationally noted speaker, economics expert, and bestselling author of IOU: The Debt Threat and The Silent Takeover – comes this practical, cutting-edge guide to help you make smarter and better choices in the age of data deluge, based on her highly popular TED talk.

Ebook available here.

The Last Vote: the Threats to Western Democracy – Philip Coggan

Read David Young’s You Review here – and see if you disagree with him. 🙂

Can we afford to take democracy for granted? It’s now so much a part of our lives that we could be forgiven for thinking it mainly takes care of itself. Almost half the world’s population now lives in a democratic state, while some Western democracies have now had universal suffrage for almost a century and have endured through even the most severe of global upheavals.

In The Last Vote, Philip Coggan shows how democracy today faces threats that we ignore at our own risk. Amid the turmoil of the financial crisis, high debt levels, and an ever-growing gap between the richest and the rest, it is easy to forget that the ultimate victim could be our democracy itself.

Ebook available here.

Floating City: A Rogue Sociologist Lost and Found in New York’s Underground Economy – Sudhir Venkatesh

Can also be found in the Social Science sections.

New York is a city of highs and lows, where wealthy elites share the streets with desperate immigrants and destitute locals. Bridging this economic divide is New York’s underground economy, the invisible network of illicit transactions between rich and poor that secretly weaves together the whole city.

Sudhir Venkatesh, acclaimed sociologist at Columbia University and author of Gang Leader for a Day, returns to the streets to connect the dots of New York’s divergent economic worlds and crack the code of the city’s underground economy. Based on Venkatesh’s interviews with prostitutes and socialites, immigrants and academics, high end drug bosses and street-level dealers, Floating City exposes the underground as the city’s true engine of social transformation and economic prosperity-revealing a wholly unprecedented vision of New York.

Ebook available here.

The Politics Book

This is an innovative and accessible guide to government, law, and power. Learning about the vast concept of politics can be daunting, but The Politics Book makes it easier than ever by giving you all the big ideas, simply explained. Step-by-step summaries, graphics, and quotations help even the complete novice understand this fascinating subject. More than 100 groundbreaking ideas in the history of politics are helpfully broken down so that abstract topics, such as theoretical foundations and practical applications become real. Topics span from ancient political thought and medieval politics all the way to world war and modern politics. It features a handy reference section complete with a glossary of political terms and a directory of political thinkers, such as Plato, John Locke, and Karl Marx. The Politics Book is the essential reference for students of politics and anyone with an interest in how government works.

Ebook available here.


Parasite – Mira Grant

A decade in the future, humanity thrives in the absence of sickness and disease.

We owe our good health to a humble parasite – a genetically engineered tapeworm developed by the pioneering SymboGen Corporation. When implanted, the tapeworm protects us from illness, boosts our immune system – even secretes designer drugs. It’s been successful beyond the scientists’ wildest dreams. Now, years on, almost every human being has a SymboGen tapeworm living within them.

But these parasites are getting restless. They want their own lives…and will do anything to get them.

Ebook available here.

Doctor Sleep – Stephen King

Stephen King returns to the characters and territory of one of his most popular novels ever, The Shining, in this instantly riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the boy protagonist of The Shining) and the very special twelve-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.

Ebook available here.

Steampunk: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Everyone is familiar with Mary Shelley’s classic novel, but no one has read it like this! Frankenstein is the long celebrated gothic tale of a science experiment gone awry. But in this brand-new edition, Shelley’s haunting horror story is transformed with the addition of steampunk-inspired art. With elaborate full-color illustrations throughout, this is a truly unique interpretation of Frankenstein.


Vader’s Little Princess – Jeff Brown

Luke: Jeff Brown’s Cats are Weird is fun, if you’re into what cats do, but this title & Darth Vader and Son sharply capture the pains of having to deal with adolescent kids, when you’re a single parent trying hold down your day job of meanest badass of the universe.

In this irresistibly funny follow-up to the breakout bestseller Darth Vader and Son, Vader, Sith Lord and leader of the Galactic Empire, now faces the trials, joys and mood swings of raising his daughter Leia as she grows from a sweet little girl into a rebellious teenager.

The Zombie Survival Guide – Max Brooks

Luke: Even though the summer blockbuster World War Z was based on the sequel, it is this original book from Max Brooks that still catches the public attention. The definitive guide to defending yourself from a world of zombies. Many have copied it, but none have bettered it.

The Zombie Survival Guide is your key to survival against the hordes of undead who may be stalking you right now. Fully illustrated and exhaustively comprehensive, this book covers everything you need to know, including how to understand zombie physiology and behavior, the most effective defense tactics and weaponry, ways to outfit your home for a long siege, and how to survive and adapt in any territory or terrain.

Essential Max Brooks ebook available here.

Dog Shaming – Pascale Lemire

Luke: How to Tell If Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You, er, no. Grumpy Cat, no, no, toch niet.  Apparently we can’t get enough of cat and dog books. I’m a cat man, so I secretly like Dog Shaming (not so secret now, though!). Photos of dogs with notes describing the crime they perpetrated. Cat-people will say, “yep,that’s why I stick with cats”, and dog owners will have that sad,”yep…”, look on their faces.

Our dogs are our best friends. They are always happy to see us. They comfort us in our times of need. They also eat our shoes, stain our carpets, and embarrass us in front of our guests.

Based on the runaway web phenomenon, Dog Shaming features hilarious and adorable photos of petulant pups accompanied by notes detailing their misdeeds: waking sleeping babies, eating vomit, chasing postmen, unplugging alarm clocks, peeing on stuff, etc.

Ebook available here.

Why Grizzly Bears Should Wear Underpants – The Oatmeal

In this second collection of over 50 comics, you’ll be treated to the hilarity of ‘The Crap We Put Up with Getting On and Off an Airplane,’ ‘Why Captain Higgins Is My Favorite Parasitic Flatworm,’ ‘This Is How I Feel about Buying Apps,’ ‘6 Things You Really Don’t Need to Take a Photo of,’ and much more. Along with lambasting the latest culture crazes, Inman serves up recurrent themes such as foodstuffs, holidays, e-mail, as well as technological, news-of-the-day, and his snarky yet informative comics on grammar and usage. Online and in print, The Oatmeal delivers brilliant, irreverent comic hilarity.

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars – Ian Doescher

Return once more to a galaxy far, far away with this sublime retelling of George Lucas’s epic ‘Star Wars’ in the style of the immortal Bard of Avon. The saga of a wise (Jedi) knight and an evil (Sith) lord, of a beautiful princess held captive and a young hero coming of age, ‘Star Wars’ abounds with all the valor and villainy of Shakespeare’s greatest plays. ‘Tis a tale told by fretful droids, full of faithful Wookiees and fearstome Stormtroopers, signifying…pretty much everything.

Ebook available here.

Local Interest/Living Abroad

How To Be Orange – Greg Shapiro.

Tom: A ‘completely subjective and utterly biased impression’ of Dutch culture by an ‘American Netherlander’.  Greg will be at ABC The Hague on Thanksgiving Day to sign his book!

Gregory Shapiro – the American Netherlander – is a comedian, columnist and awkward Dutch-speaker. For 20 years, Shapiro has catalogued his clumsy assimilation into Dutch culture with Boom Chicago Comedy Theater, Comedy Central and VARA HumorTV. Now, Shapiro teams up with illustrator Floor de Goede (Het Parool’s ‘Flo,’ Dansen op de Vulkaan) to bring you the comedy show in tree-killing book form.

Make That the Cat Wise – Jacob & Haver

Tom: The latest addition to our collection of books on ‘stonecoal-English’.

Stonecoalenenglish like you’ve never seen before!  In this book find you not only our famous (and new) wordballoonpictures, but also the following things:

  • Top 10 lists
  • Sandwich monkey stories
  • Daybook stories
  • 25 times never funny
  • Crosswordpuzzle in Dunglish, etc.

It has 128 pages and the rest is fromselfspeaking. It’s handy for under the shower or in the toilet, but also nice for in your bookholder or up your office.

A Career In Your Suitcase – Jo Parfitt & Colleen Reichrath-Smith

Do you want to find a career that is: a) based on what you love to do more than anything; b) created from your strongest skills and best assets; c) will let you work anywhere; d) can be sustained and developed even if you move again? Then you need A Career in Your Suitcase.

In this fully revised and updated 4th edition, A Career in Your Suitcase enters its 15th year of inspiring, motivating and supporting men and women who want to love what they do for a living. Now packed with over 20 exercises that combine to create your unique Career Passport, the new edition covers everything you need from finding your passion, to developing a brand, networking on- and offline and marketing.

The Mobile Life: A New Approach to Moving Anywhere – Diane Lemieux & Anne Parker

This book describes how to plan and build a successful life for yourself and your family anywhere in the world. Each chapter links the amazing story of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s amazing 1914 Antarctica expedition to the skills, tools and mindset that helps you to manage the transition to create a new life elsewhere.

The Low Sky: Understanding the Dutch – Han van der Horst

Han van der Horst paints a picture of Dutch society and the Dutch psyche that will help expatriates to understand the country they are living in and to function properly at work and in their free time. The Low Sky: Understanding the Dutch is the best guide to the Netherlands and its people. This latest edition has been completely reviewed and updated to do justice to the major social changes that have affected Dutch society in recent years.