Tuesday, June 4, 7:00 pm

The Travel Book Group is led by Katie Mathews and meets in our DEN coffeehouse on the 1st Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m.

Why The Dutch Are Different: A Journey into the Hidden Heart of the Netherlands By Ben Coates Cover Image

Why The Dutch Are Different: A Journey into the Hidden Heart of the Netherlands (Paperback)


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Politics and Prose at Union Market
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Stranded at Schiphol airport, Ben Coates called up a friendly Dutch girl he'd met some months earlier. He stayed for dinner. Actually, he stayed for good.

In the first book to consider the hidden heart and history of the Netherlands from a modern perspective, the author explores the length and breadth of his adopted homeland and discovers why one of the world's smallest countries is also so significant and so fascinating. It is a self-made country, the Dutch national character shaped by the ongoing battle to keep the water out from the love of dairy and beer to the attitude to nature and the famous tolerance.

Ben Coates investigates what makes the Dutch the Dutch, why the Netherlands is much more than Holland and why the colour orange is so important. Along the way he reveals why they are the world's tallest people and have the best carnival outside Brazil. He learns why Amsterdam's brothels are going out of business, who really killed Anne Frank, and how the Dutch manage to be richer than almost everyone else despite working far less. He also discovers a country which is changing fast, with the Dutch now questioning many of the liberal policies which made their nation famous.

A personal portrait of a fascinating people, a sideways history and an entertaining travelogue, Why the Dutch are Different is the story of an Englishman who went Dutch. And loved it.
Ben Coates was born in Britain in 1982, lives in Rotterdam with his Dutch wife, and now works for an international charity. During his career he has been a political advisor, corporate speechwriter, lobbyist and aid worker. He has written articles for numerous publications including the Guardian, Financial Times and Huffington Post. ben-coates.com
Product Details ISBN: 9781857886856
ISBN-10: 1857886852
Publisher: Nicholas Brealey
Publication Date: September 5th, 2017
Pages: 304
Language: English
A book as quietly appealing as its subject and full of fascinating details. Coates is entirely convincing in his affectionate portrait.—Prospect

A striking portrait of the Netherlands in the 21st century, offering a refreshing and long overdue update of the way the Dutch national character is described.—Edinburgh Book Review

Fascinating. Thoroughly researched and well thought out, Why the Dutch are Different takes us on a journey that goes beyond red-lit windows and Anne Frank to the true depths of the country. Ben Coates's day-to-day life sits effortlessly alongside deeper dives into history and folklore. A friendly read that strikes the right balance between teaching and entertaining.—The Bookbag

I thoroughly recommend this book. Why the Dutch are Different provides the answers to all the questions I had but didn't dare ask about the Netherlands. I eagerly sat up late into the night reading, laughing often and enjoying the ride into my adopted homeland.—DutchNews

In Why the Dutch are Different, a torch beam of scrutiny plays across the country's past and its lesser known foibles. Author Ben Coates has produced an insightful gem.—Scotsman - Books of the Year

One of the few books on our near-neighbour, Coates gets under the skin of a nation renowned for its liberalism.—The Bookseller

Vivid and informative. Coates intertwines the nationâ??s journey to its modern iteration with his own adaptation to the Dutch lifestyle. An accomplished debut.—Geographical


Tuesday, May 7, 7:00 pm

The Travel Book Group is led by Katie Mathews and meets the 1st Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m.

Revolutionary Ride: On the Road in Search of the Real Iran By Lois Pryce Cover Image

Revolutionary Ride: On the Road in Search of the Real Iran (Paperback)


Special Order—Subject to Availability
"A proper travelogue - a joyful, moving and stereotype-busting ride." - National Geographic Traveller, Book of the Year

In 2011, at the height of tension between the British and Iranian governments, travel writer Lois Pryce found a note left on her motorcycle outside the Iranian Embassy in London:

... I wish that you will visit Iran so you will see for yourself about my country. WE ARE NOT TERRORISTS!!! Please come to my city, Shiraz. It is very famous as the friendliest city in Iran, it is the city of poetry and gardens and wine!!!
Your Persian friend,

Intrigued, Lois decides to ignore the official warnings against travel (and the warnings of her friends and family) and sets off alone on a 3,000 mile ride from Tabriz to Shiraz, to try to uncover the heart of this most complex and incongruous country. Along the way, she meets carpet sellers and drug addicts, war veterans and housewives, doctors and teachers - people living ordinary lives under the rule of an extraordinarily strict Islamic government.

Revolutionary Ride is the story of a people and a country. Religious and hedonistic, practical and poetic, modern and rooted in tradition - and with a wild sense of humour and appreciation of beauty despite the comparative lack of freedom - this is the true story of real contemporary Iran.
Lois Pryce is a journalist and speaker and has written for the Telegraph, the Independent, the New York Times, CNN and the Guardian and is a contributing editor for Overland Journal. She was named by the Telegraph as one of the 10 Great Female Travellers and is the author of two other bestselling books about her adventures by motorcycle. ww.loisontheloose.com @LoisPryce
Product Details ISBN: 9781473669987
ISBN-10: 1473669987
Publisher: Nicholas Brealey
Publication Date: September 18th, 2018
Pages: 304
Language: English

Breezy and upbeat... it's enough to make readers reach for their helmets and aim for a remote part of the globe.—New York Times

A gutsy tale of one woman and her bike, told with vigour and honesty.—The Irish Times

An excellent, fascinating read.—Wanderlust


Full of funny asides and snappy accounts.—Sunday Telegraph

If you still need to know why the motorcycle is a magical device for revealing the truth about this wonderful, endangered world, read Lois Pryce's sometimes frightening, sometimes hilarious, always warm-hearted testament. That will do it for you. Thank you Lois, so much.—Ted Simon, author of 'Jupiter's Travels'

Within a few pages I'd recognised a kindred spirit. Tourist-free solo travelling, lo-fi equipment including real maps instead of gadgets, a satisfying blend of action, thought and feeling, well-timed references to or quotes from one of my own heroines since I was a teenager. That central theme - the distinction between government and people - is not easy to maintain but it seemed to me Lois hit the right note every time.—Dervla Murphy, author of 'Full Tilt'

Lois Pryce's motorbike takes her into corners of modern Iranian life that are full of the unexpected.—James Buchan, author of 'Days of God: The Revolution in Iran and Its Consequences'

Long before the relaunch of BA's Tehran flights signalled a thumbsup to travel, Lois Pryce was gadding about the country on a motorbike.—Sunday Times

Pryce writes as she acts, with an easy ebullience, and this makes interesting things happen to her. Revolutionary Ride is likeable because she admits her ignorance and follows her nose.—Daily Telegraph

The story of an epic journey that takes the myths and unravels them first hand.—Motorcycle Sport & Leisure

This is a proper travelogue - a joyful, moving and stereotype-busting tale.—National Geographic Traveller

Lois Pryce writes with all the exuberance and verve with which she dons her helmet and takes to the road.—Benedict Allen


Tuesday, April 2, 7:30 pm

The Travel Book Group is led by Katie Mathews and meets the 1st Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m.

Elephant Complex: Travels in Sri Lanka (Vintage Departures) By John Gimlette Cover Image

Elephant Complex: Travels in Sri Lanka (Vintage Departures) (Paperback)


Special Order—Subject to Availability
“Brilliant.” —The Daily Telegraph
No one sees the world quite like John Gimlette. In Elephant Complex, he ventures into Sri Lanka, a country only now emerging from twenty-six years of civil war. Beginning in the exuberant capital, Colombo, Gimlette ventures out in all directions: to the dry zones where the island’s 5,800 wild elephants congregate around ancient reservoirs; through cinnamon country with its Portuguese forts; to the “Bible Belt” of Buddhism; then up into Kandy, the country’s eccentric, aristocratic Shangri-la. In the course of his journey, Gimlette meets farmers, war heroes, cricketers, terrorists, a former president, survivors of great massacres—and perhaps some of their perpetrators. That’s to say nothing of the island’s beguiling fauna: elephants, crocodiles, snakes, storks, and the greatest concentration of leopards on Earth. Here is a land of beauty and devastation, a place at once heavenly and hellish—all brought to vibrant, fascinating life here on the page.
JOHN GIMLETTE has won the Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize and the Wanderlust Travel Writing Award, and he contributes regularly to The Times (London), The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent, and Condé Nast Traveller. When not traveling, he practices law in London.
Product Details ISBN: 9780345806994
ISBN-10: 0345806999
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: March 21st, 2017
Pages: 448
Language: English
Series: Vintage Departures
"It is hard to think of a more astute and sympathetic companion for a journey around the island and into Sri Lanka’s episodic bouts of madness. . . . He writes beautifully, all freshness and verve. And he is also very funny. . . . Mr. Gimlette is as astute as ever, and lyrical." --The Wall Street Journal

"Gimlette brings a brisk barrister-like inquisition to proceedings, allied with amiable good humour and a searching interest in the history of peoples and places. . . . Gimlette has assembled a splendidly eclectic cast of characters to illuminate this complicated nation . . . Rich in humour, full of insight and humanity, Elephant Complex is a very fine tribute to this enigmatic island nation." --The Spectator (UK)

"An intrepid journey to the famously reclusive island unearths a paradise amid trauma and obfuscation. . . . An exuberant, eye-opening travel quest." --Kirkus

"Gorgeous evocations of landscapes, sharp-eyed thumbnails of characters and eccentrics, and an endless font of amusing anecdotes drawn from [Gimlette's] own picaresque adventures and from the follies of royals and imperialists. . . . Gimlette’s blend of dry wit, entertaining reportage, and perceptive insights makes for another tour de force of travel writing and history, lushly green but edged in darkness." --Publishers Weekly