Monday, April 6, 2015

A Bookish Trip to Amsterdam

I'm leaving for Amsterdam with my sweetie today and I'm looking forward to lots of art and lots of gardens. My sightseeing will also include literary tie-ins... of course! These are on my list:

The Museum of Bags and Purses (Tassen museum), because my friend Shawna Lemay's forthcoming novel has something to do with this place.

"The Goldfinch" by Fabritius (at the Mauritshuis in The Hague): even though I wasn't crazy about Donna Tartt's book of the same name, I still want to see the painting. Vermeer's "Girl with the Pearl Earring" is also at the Mauritshuis. It's because of the movie, rather than Tracy Chevalier's book, and also because of the documentary Tim's Vermeer, that I'm excited about seeing Vermeer's work again.

Jessie Burton's The Miniaturist has made me want to seek out Petronella Oortman's dollhouse at the Rijksmuseum... even though I was among the minority of readers not enamoured with the book. I found the novel's flaws outweighed its merits, but that's all I've got to say.

I don't expect to find a cave of mosses at Amsterdam's Hortus Botanicus, but I'll think of Elizabeth Gilbert's The Signature of All Things while I'm there. The garden currently is hosting an exhibit of Josephine's botanical collection at Malmaison that looks interesting.

The Diary of a Young Girl will be front and center at the Anne Frank House, but also a scene from the movie The Fault in Our Stars that has stayed with me: that of Hazel climbing the stairs.

There's a replica of an 18th-century Dutch East India cargo ship moored next to the Scheepvaart Museum that interests me very much. I look forward to climbing around the setting of so many historical novels that I've enjoyed: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (David Mitchell); Set to Sea (Drew Weing); Jamrach's Menagerie (Carol Birch); and She Rises (Kate Worsley), among others.

After 10 days in Amsterdam, we'll spend a few days in Antwerp, home of Pieter Bruegel, a painter I grew to appreciate after reading As Above, So Below (Rudy Rucker). Antwerp also has a fabulous printing museum that displays a copy of Gutenberg's bible.

There's more, but departure looms. Packing reading material is so much easier now with digital devices, but I still have included two paper books in my luggage:

The Land of Decoration. I was reminded that Grace McCleen's first novel has been sitting unread on my bookshelves for three years when I saw that her third, The Offering, is on the Bailey's longlist.

Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town. I've been waiting even longer (decades?) to get around to Stephen Leacock's Canadian classic.

Queued up on my iPod are the following audiobooks:

Joan of Arc by Kathryn Harrison (biography)
Leaving Van Gogh by Carol Wallace (novel from the viewpoint of Van Gogh's doctor)
Irma Voth by Miriam Toews (this is the only one of her books I have not read)
Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in that House by Meghan Daum (essays)
The Cold Song by Linn Ullmann (Norwegian crime novel in translation)
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami (my colleague says it's his favourite Murakami)
The Sense of Style by Steven Pinker (I'll probably pester my sweetie with tidbits from this)
Buddha Boy by Kathe Koja (YA)
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest (my nephew's steampunk recommendation)
The Bradshaw Variations by Rachel Cusk (Cusk is on the Baileys longlist for a more recent novel)
Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth (so much praise for this historical novel with a folk tale at its core)

... more than I'll ever have time to get through, but they don't take any space, really. I'm set!

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