ABC’s Favorite Reads 2013, part 3: Klaartje, Jesse, JeroenW

It’s my favorite part of the blogging year: our favorite reads! The ABC staff has looked through all the books and magazines they’ve read over the past year, or games they played, or stationery they used, and picked out their top 5 (or 4, or 8). Every single item in these posts comes highly recommended, and we hope to add some ideas to your 2014 reading list.

Of course, we always love reading tips ourselves, too, and so we hope you will send in YOUR favorite reads of 2013 to us. They don’t have to be books published in 2013, just read in 2013. Please mail your Top 5 (and why these books were so good) to by December 31st, and don’t forget to include your home address so we can send you an ABC gift certificate in the new year as a thank you. As has become a tradition, your Top 5s will be published in January.

This third Favorite Reads post comes courtesy of

  • Klaartje: lover of all things nature, especially plants.
  • Jesse:  graduated from the Rietveld Academy this year!
  • JeroenW: Master of accents.  Knows all the words to Dragostea Din Tei.



The Death of Bees – Lisa O’Donnell (ebook here)
It is not about bees.

Honeybee: Lessons from an Accidental Beekeeper – C. Marina Marchese

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn (ebook here)

De laatste bedoeïen – Marcel Kurpershoek (English title: Arabia of the Bedouins)

The Human Stain – Philip Roth (ebook here)


Vampires in the Lemon Grove – Karen Russell (ebook here)
Having enjoyed Karen Russell’s Swamplandia! (ebook here), I really looked forward to her collection of short stories Vampires in the Lemon Grove and they did not disappoint. Her writings are highly imaginative, dreamlike, completely absurd at times (in a good way) and the overall atmosphere is haunting and spooky.
My two favorites out of the eight stories were ‘The Seagull Army Descends on Strong Beach, 1979’; where a teenage boy finds omens and talismans in a seagull’s nest foretelling his future, and ‘The Barn at the End of Our Term’; where protoganist President Rutherford B. Hayes finds himself reborn as a horse in a barn filled with other past U.S. Presidents reborn as horses, wondering what they are all doing there… as horses.
Some stories I found could have been longer even, and as Swamplandia! originated as a short story in a literary magazine, who knows.
Blogmistress’s note: Paperback editions are expected in January (US) and February (UK).

Joyland – Stephen King
This summer Stephen King’s Joyland was published and it was a great summer read. Set in an amusement park in North Carolina in the 1970’s, it’s the coming-of-age story of 21 year-old college student, Devin Jones, who heads out to work in an old amusement park the summer after his junior year at university. While it seems more like a wonderful novel about youth, friendship, odd summer jobs and lost love, somewhere the mystery of a murder at Joyland slowly but surely adds suspense, and a supernatural bit, to the story.
When it was announced that Joyland would be published at Hard Case Crime it was with the message that this novel will not be available as an e-book but just as a paperback. This way, if you wish to read it you would have to buy the actual book. Which is what Hard Case Crime publishing is all about; bringing back paperback crime novels from the 1960’s with re-issues of crime novels from then as well as new authors and best selling authors such as Stephen King, and all the cover art is hand-painted! These books are for sale in our Crime section as well.

Fully Booked: Ink on Paper – Andrew Losowsky
One of my favorite design books; one about book design! Fully Booked displays new designs, whether they have actually been published or not, and innovative media in publishing. One of the most original ones is an edible book about lasagna (including recipe) on lasanga sheets that you can bake in your lasagna. After you’re finished reading and cooking, your ‘book’ is gone.

The Collected Knitting of Loes Veenstra – Christien Meindertsma
Loes Veenstra has been knitting sweaters since 1955 and has since then made hundreds, all in different colors, sizes and patterns. All of them unworn, she kept them in boxes in her home.
Museum Rotterdam discovered the 550 sweaters and made an exhibition at the end of 2012. Designer Christien Meindertsma developed the book Het Verzameld Breiwerk van Loes Veenstra in Dutch with an English translation, with all of the sweaters photographed.
(We sell this book in our Amsterdam store, price EU. 25,-)

The Little Friend – Donna Tartt (ebook here)
Written between the bestseller The Secret History (ebook here) and this year’s highly anticipated The Goldfinch (ebook here) is The Little Friend which is very underrated, I think.

The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton (ebook here)
This year’s Man Booker Prize winner and well deserved.

The Pillars of The Earth – Ken Follett (ebook here)

Building Stories – Chris Ware
Still reading the individual books, booklets, magazines and newspapers that is Chris Ware’s Building Stories. Amazing.


JPod – Douglas Coupland

Have you even been in that situation where a friend lends you a book and you suffer through half of it before you quit and try to accept that your friends apparently really don’t know you all that well? The opposite happened to me with this book, because I loved it! I tore through it in a day. Funny, clever, irreverent, all that jazz. Good times.

Hark! A Vargrant – Kate Beaton

I bought a signed version of this book at one of the Forbidden Planet stores in London, and was lauded by the employee behind the the till for my choice. And I will do the same for you if you ever buy this at our store. This is one of the few comics that actually makes me laugh out loud.

Saga volume 1 & volume 2 – Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

This series is a perfect example of why graphic novels are so great in comparison to movies: there’s no budget restriction, no attempt to reach the lowest common denominator, no ban on profanity –  in short, nothing to curb the creativity of the creators. And sometimes, as in this case, the result is exactly what Hollywood can never deliver, but should: a late night, gritty and trippy Star Wars. With no green screen effects.

You – Austin Grossman (ebook here)

ASCII-based games! Chapters written as a text adventure! References to Elric of Melnibone! Making fun of John Romero! Testing games for bugs! Are you psyched? Then you’re a horrible geek like me and you should read this book.

The Fictional Man – Al Ewing (ebook here)

This one came out of left field, since Mr. Ewing hasn’t written anything of note before this. And suddenly there is this inventive book, which starts off funny and slowly spirals down into darker territory. If you know your movies and TV shows, this is a great read.