Laan van Nieuw Oost-Indië 275, The Hague, The Netherlands +31(0)70 365 46 77

Word of the day: boekenweekgeschenk (book week gift)

This week it’s BOEKENWEEK (book week)! Up to next Sunday 16 March you get a free novel, if you buy a book of euro 12.50 or more. 


BOEKENWEEK is a truly unique Dutch phenomenon. The first official BOEKENWEEK was in 1932 and so far there have been 79 book weeks (and not 82 due to the Second World War).

The BOEKENWEEKGESCHENK (book week gift) – what a long word! – is a ‘het-woord’. For many Dutch readers they have become valued collector’s items.

The free book that you receive when you buy any book in any official bookshop was especially commissioned by the CPNB (the organization to promote the Netherlands publishing industry). For an author it is a true honour and a proof of recognition to get this assignment. The print run of the free book is close to one million.

There are three reasons why a student of Dutch should get his or her ass (in Dutch ‘kont’) over to the bookshop and collect a free book before Sunday.

1. This year’s novel is excellent study material. Of all Dutch authors Tommy Wieringa is the best stylist. You should read ‘Joe Speedboat’ (2005) in Dutch. But before you do, read this year’s novel ‘Een mooie jonge vrouw’. It is full of dialogues which are not too difficult to understand.

2. With this book you can travel anywhere in the Netherlands by train on Sunday 16 March. If they ask you to show your train ticket, show the book. You could go to Eindhoven and visit the Van Abbemuseum or to Maastricht or Groningen. It will be fun because most of your fellow travellers will be Wieringa readers. You will have something to talk about. In Dutch of course. The Dutch readers will be surprised that you’re reading a Dutch book which is not Jip en Janneke.

3. Last but not least, Dutch bookshops are experiencing stormy weather, so they really need your support.

Don’t laze around on your ass (blijf niet op je luie kont zitten) buy a book and read it while travelling by rail this Sunday. I hope to see you all in the train.

Click here to find out more about the novel or its use as a train ticket.

In this short posting I have used the word ‘kont’ (ass) three times. Have you noticed? Why? In the next post I’ll disclose my reasons.