written by Lília

Summer has arrived in all its sweltering glory—or horror—and Luke, Iris and yours truly have chosen books – and games! – we consider perfect vacation reads and activities wherever the warm months find you. They’re mostly light, romantic, mysterious, historical and generally fantastic.

Romantic and crime fiction are the epitomes of summer reading: quick fun, books to consume while on the beach, close to a swimming pool or in the evenings after an eventful day spent in a new town. So while the bulk of the books we’re recommending come from those two genres, we’ve tried to cover most categories. With thousands of other titles in our stores, why not stop by the ABC nearest you and check them out?

Crime Fiction

The Paris Apartment, by Lucy Foley

According to Emma, our Hague store’s crime fiction buyer, “if you like to inhale a book, this one is for you.” A fast-paced murder mystery about a group of people locked in closed quarters, it lends a classic Agatha Christie vibe to the story. Lucy Foley writes all the characters in first person, so at a certain point, you’re also in the murderer’s head but you still don’t know who it is. Very intriguing and enticing indeed! It piqued my curiosity, and I’m not usually a mystery reader.

Riccardino by Andrea Camilleri is the latest book translated into English in the author’s Inspector Montalbano series about said inspector in sunny Sicily. The paperback version will be released at the end of July.


A Little Wordy is one of the few games for two players. It’s a cross between Scrabble and Charades, a quick and funny game for after dinner when you’re not quite done with the fun.

Stoner Parking Lot is a card game whose title says it all.

Both games were recommended by Max, the games buyer in our Amsterdam store.

Not yet available on our website, if you’re interested, give us a call or shoot us an email.

Graphic Novel

Squire, by Nadia Shammas and Sara Affageeh

This one is on Iris’s To Be Read list. A friend recommended this title – we get those sometimes! – and as a graphic novel, it’s the perfect quick read for summer. It has the same vibe as The Poppy War, by R. F. Kuang, but Iris hopes it’s not as bloody.

General Fiction

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin, best-selling author of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

Iris read the latter a few years ago. It’s a book about books, a theme she really likes. So, when she had the opportunity to read an ARC (advance reading copy) of Zevin’s latest title—to be released in July, perfect timing for a summer read, right?—she immediately dove in. It’s a book that spans more than 30 years, following the relationship between two friends who together create very successful games. Although it touches upon many themes, it’s mostly a love story, but not like any you have ever read before.

The Guncle, by Steven Rowley, comes recommended by Natalia. It’s about Gay Uncle Patrick, GUP for short, who suddenly finds himself responsible for his niece and nephew. Not used to taking care of two young children, he will have to discover how to be a parent quicker than expected. It’s a coming-of-parenthood story, well-written, fun and a perfect read for those extended family summer vacations!


Huismusea van Amsterdam /Visiting HistoricHouses, by Froukje Wattel

This just-released bilingual (Dutch and English) book features the museums of Amsterdam with stunning images. It made Luke want to head to the museums he has never visited despite all his years living in Amsterdam. It presents the perfect opportunity to get reacquainted with the city’s many museums that have recently reopened. Maybe you want to follow Luke’s lead and visit some of them?

Adriatic, by Robert D. Kaplan, author of The Revenge of Geography and Balkan Ghosts, among others

A mix of travelogue and travel literature, Adriatic tells the history of the countries bordering the Adriatic Sea (think countries of the former Yugoslavia, Italy, Greece and Albania) and Kaplan’s travels through the region. It reminds us of Amsterdam by Russel Shorto, who also wrote historical travel literature with the knowledge of a travelling historian. Kaplan’s love of the region combined with his historical knowledge shine through. It’s a great read if you’re visiting one of the Adriatic countries or if you’re an armchair traveler with an active imagination! Suggested by Jeroen, our history books buyer in Amsterdam.

Iris also recommends Erebus, by Michael Palin.

Heavy on history, Erebus is so full of personal experience that it’s an enjoyable read even for non-history buffs. For someone who does not like non-fiction all that much, I enjoyed it precisely because of its more personal touches.

Print on Demand – Printed on our Betty

From Blood and Ash, by Jennifer L. Armentrout. This genre-bending book is a young adult (YA) title, but it can just as easily be fantasy or romance. You can find it in YA in Amsterdam, and in Romance in The Hague and Leidschendam.

Chosen from birth to usher in a new era, Poppy’s life has never been her own. But, of course, there’s more to her than being a Maiden, and things unravel in an unexpected way….

First published in hardback, From Blood and Ash is now available in paperback at our stores. That’s because it was printed on our own Betty, an Espresso Book Machine that allows us to have any book printed – when available from the publishers! – at ABC in Amsterdam.

A Deal with the Elf King, by Elise Kova

The first book in the Married to Magic series, A Deal with the Elf King is nevertheless a stand-alone novel inspired by the tales of Hades and Persephone—as well as Beauty and the Beast—with a “happily ever after” ending. It’s perfect for fantasy romance fans looking for just the right amount of steam from their next swoon-worthy couple.

In brief: Girl marries icy Elf King and starts asking why the queen always has to die to save the realm. She begins a campaign to melt the king’s icy heart … and the rest you’ll have to read in the book!

Romantic Fiction

Book Lovers, by Emily Henry, the author of Beach Read and People We Meet on Vacation(a.k.a.You and Me on Vacation). Both Natalia and I picked this as a Staff Choice.

Book Lovers is hilarious but also very moving. Emily Henry manages to give voice to all her characters, even if the only voice you hear is the protagonist’s. Not your standard romcom, the book is very romantic in its own way.

Something Wilder, by Christina Lauren, author of The Unhoneymooners, Love and Other Words and The Soulmate Equation

Something Wilder is on my To Read list because its premise is intriguing: second chance at love meets Indiana Jones in Utah. But looking for treasure with a past love might be more adventurous than either of them bargained for.

The Wedding Crasher, by Mia Sosa

No, nothing to do with the movie, but still very hot on social media right now. It’s a comedy of errors beginning with the crashing of a wedding, the destruction of the groom’s plans of a marriage of convenience and the groom then having to pretend to be in love with the wedding crasher so he can get his wanted promotion. What could possibly go wrong?

Science Fiction

The Linesman trilogy, by S.K. Dunstall (Alliance and Confluence complete the trilogy)

In the future, space travel is done via ships equipped with lines, 10 of them, that allow humans to travel very fast and through the void. Linesmen are necessary to work the lines, but only one of them hears the lines and signs to them. He is considered crazy. But when an alien spaceship is discovered in human space and the singing linesman is the only one who can communicate with it, everybody’s song changes.

This is one of my favorite series: everything is so well written, the characters are well-rounded and the story makes sense. Whenever I’m in a slump, this is my go-to series. I read the first book – Linesman – in a couple of days and immediately read the other two – Alliance and Confluence –in less than a week during a vacation. So… perfect for summer reading!

Young Adult

Bravely, by Maggie Stiefvater, author of The Raven Cycle, which encompasses four books: The Raven Boys;The DreamThieves; Blue Lily, Lily Blue; and The Raven King

Bravely is about Merida, the heroine in Disney’s Brave animation film. Many years after Brave, Merida finds herself in a difficult situation: in order to save her family and their world in four seasons, she needs to make those around her see that change is necessary. But what about her? Can she change enough?