Luke and Iris W. are back with our first ABC Staff Picks of 2023. Think cozy titles, biographies, science fiction novellas, a YA horror title and much more….
As the books buyer for Amsterdam’s film section, Luke chose two quite different memoirs from two famous authors. Both have similar themes about the life of a working actor, but while one is very intimate, the other is written more for public consumption.

Madly, Deeply by Alan Rickman is his diary from the 1990s through his last days. With a foreword by Emma Thompson and an afterword by his wife, it’s private, full of dry humor and quite daring and personal.

Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry is full of the witty and sarcastic humor Friends fans love him for. It’s also an intimate look into his drug addiction and life in general, showing very openly what fame can do to a person. It’s an easy read, seemingly written to appeal to the generations of the sitcom’s admirers.

“Cozy” books

After a couple of years of lockdowns and restrictions, we see more and more customers wanting to read “cozy” titles. But what does that mean? Cozy titles are books with nice stories, not too confrontational, relaxed and comforting. It seems many people are in need of more comfort in their lives right now.

The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz is one of those cozy titles that make you want to read more novellas. It is amazing how authors manage to transport you to a totally different world in just a few pages.

In colleague Iris W.’s own words: “If, like me, you enjoy tea and books, you should most definitely check out this novella! It’s a wholesome, bite-size morsel of a story about a technician specialized in AI creatures who never stays in one place for very long, and a fully-autonomous construct who has been running the tea shop left behind by her former master for almost 300 years. It’s short, it’s sweet, but it definitely doesn’t lack depth despite its comparative slimness. The beautifully crafted asexual romance doesn’t hurt either. I loved it!

Absolutely perfect for people who enjoyed A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers and Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree.”

Speaking of Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree, here’s what Tiemen, our science fiction and fantasy book buyer in Amsterdam, has to say about it: “I have a soft spot for cozy fantasy. Especially the kind in which the main character builds something up instead of burning down whole cities yelling dracarys. Coffee is also a thing I happen to like. So, it is no surprise I really enjoyed Legends and Lattes; the coziest fantasy of 2022 about an Orc adventurer who decides to retire and open the first coffee shop in the city of Thune. For fans of Dungeons & Dragons, coffee and Animal Crossing.”

A Psalm for the Wild-Built and A Prayer for the Crown-Shy by Becky Chambers are the first two parts of her new Monk and Robot series, which asks: in a world where people have what they want, does having more matter? These two novellas deal with serious issues in a cozy way.

A Psalm for the Wild-Built is another of Iris W.’s staff choices: “I read this novella halfway through our second year of the pandemic, when I (and a lot of people with me, probably) were in serious need of a warm hug and a strong cup of tea. And great news: this book pretty much gives you both of those things in a comfortable 150 or so pages. My recommendation: snuggle up in a comfy blanket, make sure you have a pot of tea and some snacks on hand, and just let the story take you.”

Cozy novellas can also be of the romantic kind, like Ali Hazelwood’s Loathe to Love You. It includes three steamy STEM-inist—feminist women in STEM (Science, Technology, Math and Engineering) novellas— about enemies to lovers. Originally published as three e-books, Loathe to Love You is the just released one volume paperback version.

We hear from many customers that even though they like e-books at some moments, like when traveling, a physical book makes all the difference, as It’s cozier and more relaxing.

Our last cozy title is Tokyo Express, by Seicho Matsumoto. Bella, book buyer for languages in Amsterdam, recommends this one, but it’s also one of Simone’s Staff Choices. She’s our book buyer for general fiction in The Hague: “A highly atmospheric classic crime novel, in which Inspector Torigai peels back layer after layer of the intrigue surrounding a couple found dead on the beach. Add to this his charming teamwork with Inspector Mihara and you have a must-read in your hands!”

General fiction

Both Reinoud, book buyer for general fiction in Amsterdam, and Jouke, book buyer for science fiction and fantasy in The Hague, is The Shards by Bret Easton Ellis, author of the well-known American Psycho. According to both Reinoud and Jouke, the author has matured in his writing.

The Shards is a fictionalized memoir of Ellis’s high school year in 1981, in LA, while he was writing his first novel. Bret and his friends are mesmerized by a new classmate, but there are also girls disappearing and it seems to be the work of a serial killer.

Ellis is re-visiting themes he’s addressed before, such as disconnection and psychos, but there’s also a deeper layer of humanity and a deeper connection with his sexuality as a gay man, illustrating how he’s grown as an author.


The horror genre has been changing lately, from the usual classic suspects found in Stephen King and Lovecraft to new authors and styles.

One of them is Hell Followed With Us by Andrew Joseph White. Recommended by Maria, our book buyer for the YA (young adult) section in Amsterdam, it’s “an amazing debut from author Andrew Joseph White. A grim and gruesome post-apocalyptic tale with great LGBTQ+ representation. The ending did not go where I expected it to go and threw me way off. I love it when a book does that. It’s full of great bad characters you love to hate.”

YA (young adult)

Sophie, our YA book buyer in both The Hague and Leidschendam, recommends Stolen Heir by Holly Black. It’s dark and full of the popular enemies to lovers trope as well as cruel fairies. Stolen Heir is the first in a new duology in the Elfhame world. Holly Black is a well-known author and her book The Cruel Prince is one of our favorites titles.


Last but not least we have Born to Run 2, by Christopher McDougall and Eric Orton. As the book buyer for sports in The Hague and Leidschendam, Sophie says: “It’s a training guide on how to run, from beginners to experienced folks, including nutrition and how to get the rest of the family involved, too.” So, if you’d like to start running, this title might be a good starting line.

If you’re interested in watching the whole episode on these ABC Staff Picks, check out this link.

The next episode will air Friday, February 24, on our YouTube channel.