Posts Tagged ‘biographies’


You Review: Signed, Sealed, Delivered – Nina Sankovitch

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Review by Anouschka van Leeuwen

In her previous book, Tolstoy and the Purple Chair, Nina Sankovitch took the reader along on her year-long project of reading one book a day, explaining what emotions the books triggered and how they related to her own life. Signed, Sealed, Delivered has the same spirit: this book is again a personal tale. After the discovery of an old box of letters, Sankovitch is inspired to look for the significance of written correspondence. Her findings result in a book, that like its predecessor, mixes the genres of non-fiction and memoir. Unfortunately, I found both of these aspects a bit disappointing.

Concerning the author’s personal reflections, I found that the initial story of the discovery of the old letters was a nice introduction to the book’s subject. However, after a while the author’s sentiments became a bit irksome to me. For example, Sankovitch often expresses how she wishes that her children will write to her once they leave for college so that she will have a memento of their love for her. Although touching, after a few times these motherly sentiments started to become repetitive and did not have any added value to the main subject of the book.

At times, I found that this melodramatic tone made me wish that Sankovitch had tried to approach the subject from a more theoretical perspective, which brings me to my second concern. When I started the book, I had expected something along the lines of an essay explaining the appeal of letter writing. Instead, the majority of the book consists of examples of both famous and non-famous letter writers and receivers.

This is not to say that the book was not entertaining. On the contrary: the example stories are often compelling and sometimes even taught me a thing or two (like the history of Heloise and Abelard and how letter writing played a role in their lives). Still, I felt like the author missed out on the opportunity to delve deeper into the psychological aspects of written correspondence, especially in this digital age. Each chapter centers around a particular function that letters may fulfill, and in between the stories, Sankovitch sometimes drops a line that summarizes the effects that reading or writing a letter can have. I think I would have liked it better if these reflective parts had taken up more space in the book.

To summarize, I have mixed feelings about this book. Being an avid letter writer myself, I have enjoyed the numerous tales that illustrate the appeal of letters. On the other hand, readers who are expecting a philosophical or psychological account of letter writing should realize that Signed, Sealed, Delivered is not intended as such. Instead, it should be seen as a compilation of the most romantic or otherwise touching stories in the history of the handwritten letter.

You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.

No ebook available for Signed, Sealed, Delivered, but there is one of her earlier book: Tolstoy and the Purple Chair.

Saw the Movie? Read the Book!

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

These November releases are based on books:


Het Diner, based on the Dutch novel with the same title written by Herman Koch, has been translated into English as The Dinner.  Cate Blanchett is set to make her directorial debut with the English-language version of this movie!

Carrie, previously filmed in 1976, is based on Stephen King’s book.

The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet is based on the book The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen.  He visited both our stores at the beginning of last year and was a wonderful speaker!

Diana is based on the book Diana: Her Last Love, written by Kate Snell.

The classic movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s (theatrical re-release) is of course based on Truman Capote’s famous novel.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is based on Suzanne Collins’s second novel in excellent The Hunger Games trilogy.

Captain Phillips is based on the book A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea, written by Richard Phillips.

The Fifth Estate is based partially on the books Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange and the World’s Most Dangerous Website by Daniel Domscheit-Berg and WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy.

Oldboy is remake of a Korean cult movie based on Garon Tsuchiya’s manga Old Boy.

Homefront is based on Chuck Logan’s book with the same title.

ABC’s Gift Ideas: Biographies, Business/Finance/Law

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

The gift-giving season is upon us – hooray!

The ABC Staff has rummaged through their sections and order lists, and come up with another year’s worth of wonderful gift ideas for you: from fiction to history to cookbooks to children’s books to travel to non-books and onwards.

In a series of blog posts and recommendation lists throughout the coming month, you will find what we think will make great gifts, whether you celebrate Sinterklaas, Christmas or just like giving books to people.  And since we’re a bookstore, these posts will be alphabetical by subject.  :-)

Today you’ll find gift ideas for Biographies and Business/Finance/Law as picked out by section buyers Tom, Maarten and Jouke. Bear in mind that this is just the tip of the iceberg – come to either one of our stores to browse many, many more titles in any of these subjects.

We are ready as ever to be your personal shoppers again this year, and hope you will find our selections useful and inspiring!

You can find our gift ideas from previous years here (scroll down a bit), and be sure to have a look at our ABC Favorites, too.

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ABC’s Gift Ideas: Ancient History/Mythology, Animals, Art

Monday, October 28th, 2013

The gift-giving season is upon us – hooray!

The ABC Staff has rummaged through their sections and order lists, and come up with another year’s worth of wonderful gift ideas for you: from fiction to history to cookbooks to children’s books to travel to non-books and onwards.

In a series of blog posts and recommendation lists throughout the coming month, you will find what we think will make great gifts, whether you celebrate Sinterklaas, Christmas or just like giving books to people.  And since we’re a bookstore, these posts will be alphabetical by subject.  :-)

Today you’ll find gift ideas for Ancient History/Mythology, Animals, and Art, as picked out by section buyers Jouke, Sigrid, Ester, Jesse, and Martijn. Bear in mind that this is just the tip of the iceberg – come to either one of our stores to browse many, many more titles in any of these subjects.

We are ready as ever to be your personal shoppers again this year, and hope you will find our selections useful and inspiring!

You can find our gift ideas from previous years here, and be sure to have a look at our ABC Favorites, too.

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Gift Ideas: History, Current Affairs, Political Science, Biographies

Friday, November 16th, 2012

Let us be your personal shoppers!

ABC’s booksellers don’t just sell books: as well as being voracious readers, almost all ABC staff members are personally responsible for buying the books for one or more sections in the stores. That means you’ll always find someone who can put exactly the right book in your hands when you need it. We asked our buyers for their tips for the best gifts for the upcoming holiday season, and they came up with some great ones: new books, classic books, magazines, games, merchandise, and stationery.

Today you’ll find gift ideas for Current Affairs & Political Science, History, Military History, Ancient History, and Biographies as supplied by Barry, Jeroen, Sophie, Jouke and Tom.

Even more gift ideas can be found here and here!

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