Posts Tagged ‘Science’

Gift Ideas for Geeks

Friday, October 24th, 2014

Ready or not, the gift-giving season is upon us! Whether you celebrate Sinterklaas, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah or any other opportunity to give presents during the dark days of the winter solstice, we’ve got ideas aplenty. As in previous years, the ABC Staff has looked through their sections and hand-picked various choice literary jewels for your gift-giving pleasure.

We will present these titles in a series of blog posts and recommendation lists throughout the coming month. We hope you will find some inspiration in them, but please remember that these titles only represent a tiny fraction of the books on offer in our stores. Be sure to stop by to see what else there is in the area of your interest!

Since such a significant percentage of the ABC Staff falls into the ‘Geek’ category, it’s no surprise this post is filled to bursting with possible presents.  We’ve put together some suggestions from the Science & Math sections, Humor, Comics & Graphic Novels, Manga and – of course – Science Fiction & Fantasy.

You can find our gift ideas from previous years here (scroll down a bit to 2013 and beyond), and be sure to have a look at our ABC Favorites, too.

Science & Mathematics

Ebook available for The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets.


“Can’t get enough of Neil Patrick Harris? Already own a copy of The Bro Code and The Playbook? This book also has the most hilarious book trailer for an autobiography ever! I just love this guy…” - ABC’s Marketing Director Karin on Choose Your Own Autobiography.

“When you have a 13-year old teenage daughter you have to pay attention to what she is doing online and this guy has over 3 million followers on YouTube and is just hilarious…. With this book (and app) he challenges you to complete your book of pointlessness and do virtually nothing with pride. Fully illustrated and packed with a host of games, activities and pranks, this book might also work for boys who don’t want to be seen with one of Keri Smith’s books.” – Karin on The Pointless Book.

Graphic Novels / Comics

If you love comics and graphic novels, be sure to read journalist Michael Minneboo’s regular book reviews on this blog!

“Corrina Park is stuck in the same job for the past five years since she got out of college, her dreams and aspirations of becoming a writer lost in the daily grind. She shoplifts magazines out of her local supermarket to break the dullness of her life. A story about life’s questions on life, happiness and fulfillment told at an easy pace.” - ABC Amsterdam’s Comics and Graphic Novels buyer Jitse on Shoplifter.

“The epic story of Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung was written and drawn by Eisner award winner P. Craig Russell, but was unavailable for years. Now at last the complete story is published in one beautiful hardcover collection. Giants plot against gods, while mortal humans are torn between their love for each other and their love for gold. Heroes are ruined, kings fall, lovers die. A wonderful gift for those who love epic fantasy and mythology.” - Jitse on The Ring of the Nibelung.

“The X-Men from the past have been taken to the now by time travel to see what they will become. But they don’t want to return so the X-Men from the future travel back in time to save them from making a terrible mistake and endangering the future earth. All the while the mutants of earth are attacked by giant sentinels that are out to destroy as many of them as possible, sent out by an unknown menace. A great story with lots of action, time travel and awesome illustrations. This is X-Men at their best.” - Jitse on X-Men: Battle of the Atom.


“A beautifully drawn manga in one volume based on the anime from 2012.” – ABC The Hague’s Manga buyer Ester on Wolf Children: AME & Yuki.

“Hana falls in love with a young interloper she encounters in her college class, only to find out her lover is part wolf. As their relationship blooms they expect their first child, but family bliss is soon destroyed when her lover is tragically taken from Hana. Now she must face life as a single mother with two children that are both man and beast. An endearing fantasy story about love and life’s tough choices.” - ABC Amsterdam’s Manga buyer Jitse, also on Wolf Children: AME & Yuki.

“The newest box set in this ever-popular series.” – Ester on Pokemon Adventures Ruby & Sapphire Box Set.

“The first book of this year’s hit series!” - Ester on Attack on Titan 1.

“Soma Yukihira is hell-bent on one day surpassing his father’s culinary skills and take over the small family restaurant in the less savory end of town. Then one day his father decides to close the restaurant and Soma enrolls in a classy culinary school with a 10% graduation rate. Can he cut it with his culinary skills, and can he convince the beautiful Erina Nakiri that he belongs there at all? An entertaining and saucy story about challengers and cooking, sure to whet your appetite for more.” - Jitse on Food Wars! 1.

“William Twining is a young aristocrat in 19th century England. His family is bankrupt and when looking for something to sell in his family’s basement he accidentally summons the demon Dantalion, a Grand Duke of Hell, who informs him that he is chosen to be the ‘Elector’, destined to choose the next ruler of Hell. As a scientific realist, William does not believe in such superstition, even as more powerful demons come to plea for his favours. Soon he finds himself at the center of a war between Hell and Heaven as he discovers the mysterious past. A great read for those who love mysteries, intrigue and the supernatural.” - Jitse on Devils and Realist 1.

Science Fiction & Fantasy

Ebook available for The Girl with All the Gifts, The Peripheral (at the end of November), The Mirror Empire and Lock In.

“This is the best zombie movie I’ve ever read. Carey brings a nice twist to the by now pretty exhausted zombie-genre. This would be a fantastic last hurrah. A great gift for fans of The Walking Dead and The Last of Us.” - ABC The Hague’s Science Fiction & Fantasy buyer JeroenW on The Girl with All the Gifts.

“Patrick Rothfuss fans have it rough; it’s been three years since the release of The Wise Man’s Fear, and there’s still no word on when the third part of the Kingkiller Chronicles will be out. Well, this holiday season will at least see the publication of a small amount of prose which managed to escape Rothfuss’s brain (it is said he sieves his stories from the air using his beard, like a blue whale extracting krill from sea-water).  It’s only 176 pages, but that’s 176 pages more than doodley-squat. It goes without saying that this is the perfect gift for Rothfuss fans.” – JeroenW on The Slow Regard of Silent Things.

“After four years we finally get another William Gibson novel – and it looks like it might be a good one. Gibson seems to have set his sights on online gaming and Global Warming, and it remains to be seen what he’ll make of these modern blights, since at the time of writing this, it hasn’t been released yet, but I’ll find out along with you because The Peripheral will be my gift to myself this Christmas.” - JeroenW on The Peripheral.

“Did you hear that sound? That’s Kameron Hurley raising the bar for epic fantasy. Hurley takes traditional fantasy tropes and transforms them with a deft hand into something astonishing new. Bored with the standard kingdom threatened by ancient evil? Try genocidal invasion on the multiverse scale. Plus giant carnivorous plants.” - ABC Amsterdam’s Science Fiction & Fantasy buyer Tiemen on The Mirror Empire.

“It doesn’t matter which genre Scalzi writes in, the result is always an entertaining and witty novel. This time the story is set in the near future in which a global disease has resulted in large parts of the population being locked in their own bodies. With no cure available millions of people use mind controlled robots to interact with the outside world. And this is all the background of a complicated murder mystery in which it soon turns out to be that robots are not the only things that can be controlled from afar.” – Tiemen on Lock In.

“The ultimate feel good book of 2014. The Goblin Emperor is a well-crafted court intrigue fantasy with a refreshingly honest and decent protagonist. It’s a smart novel about politics, responsibility and doing the right thing. Ever wondered what it would be like if you are suddenly thrust into the role of emperor? Then The Goblin Emperor is the book for you.” - Tiemen on The Goblin Emperor.

“This is a funny story and a sad story. This is a complicated novel about empire and culture, but also a straightforward whodunnit murder mystery. This is epic fantasy, but also an almost literary story about the past, present and future. But above all, this is a story about a giant secretary named Sigrud, who is just the coolest character since Tyrion the Imp.” - Tiemen on City of Stairs.

“This is portal fantasy with a very clever twist. Trust me, while reading this book you are going to be aware how many times you blink with your eyes at any moment. It’s an intelligent story which weaves complex issues like disability, class issues and power dynamics into a thrilling plot.” - Tiemen on Otherbound.

“Octavia Butler is one of the great names of science-fiction, but until recently I had never read anything by her. Having now read Lilith’s Brood I can say that I should have read her sooner. The story, which spans over three books, is a sad but beautiful tale about the human condition viewed from an alien perspective. It is a sensual novel about hope and despair and the painful but vibrant effort of trying to rebuild after humanity has almost destroyed itself.” – Tiemen on Lilith’s Brood.

You Review: How to Make a Human Being – Christopher Potter

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Reviewed by David Young

How to Make a Human Being has to be the most interesting and challenging book I’ve ever reviewed. No information about the author (I discover he is a publisher with a well-received “pop science” book to his name) or an introduction explaining the purpose of the book – no, the reader is plunged straight into the famous 18th century “Materialism” versus “Idealism” controversy stimulated by Bishop Berkeley. And it doesn’t get less challenging….

The book is divided into 3 sections: the first covers our physical environment (cosmology, physics, mathematics, philosophy), the second where we come from (genetics, psychology, more philosophy) and the third how we relate to the world around us (psychology, neurology, sociology). The author is an amazingly well-read polymath, but he wears his learning very lightly and is capable of explaining highly complex topics in a very comprehensible fashion – this is the nearest I’ve ever come to understanding Quantum Mechanics, for instance.

I recommend reading this book in small chunks, as every chapter is really full of meaty stuff which needs some absorbing. On the plus side the author occasionally drops in a delightful insight of his own which will certainly make you think, and there are some nuggets with which you can impress your dinner party guests (did you know that humans share 50% of their genes with bananas?).

Overall Christopher Potter has succeeded in presenting a remarkably comprehensive summary of the Human Condition, one from which I learnt a great deal and will return to in the future with enormous pleasure.

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

ABC’s Favorite Reads 2013, part 5: Maarten, Steven, Tom

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

It’s my favorite part of the blogging year: our favorite reads! The ABC staff has looked through all the books and magazines they’ve read over the past year, or games they played, or stationery they used, and picked out their top 5 (or 4, or 8). Every single item in these posts comes highly recommended, and we hope to add some ideas to your 2014 reading list.

Of course, we always love reading tips ourselves, too, and so we hope you will send in YOUR favorite reads of 2013 to us. They don’t have to be books published in 2013, just read in 2013. Please mail your Top 5 (and why these books were so good) to by December 31st, and don’t forget to include your home address so we can send you an ABC gift certificate in the new year as a thank you. As has become a tradition, your Top 5s will be published in January.

This fifth Favorite Reads post comes courtesy of



ABC’s Gift Ideas: Science, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Self-Published Books, Spanish Fiction

Friday, November 22nd, 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 Science, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Self-Published Books (on ABC’s Espresso Book Machine) and Spanish Fiction, as picked out by section buyers Tom, Tiemen, JeroenW, Joe and Steven. 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 pas 2013), and be sure to have a look at our ABC Favorites, too.


Ecocide is the Missing 5th Crime against Peace: An Interview with Polly Higgins

Friday, July 12th, 2013

“Ecocide is the missing 5th Crime against Peace”

- an interview with author and Earth’s Lawyer Polly Higgins by Femke Wijdekop, ABC’s former Consciousness buyer.  She interviewed Polly for AmsterdamFM, and we are very happy to be allowed to share it here with you.

Polly Higgins is an environmental activist, an international lawyer and the award-winning author of Eradicating Ecocide (eBook available here) and Earth is Our Business. In April 2010 she proposed to the United Nations to make Ecocide – the extensive damage to, destruction of or loss of ecosystems in a given territory – the 5th Crime Against Peace. Since that moment, she has been traveling around the world non-stop as “Earth’s Lawyer”, speaking at the International Criminal Court, the European Parliament, World Climate Summits and many other venues. On June 30th she visited Amsterdam to give an Earth Guardian Training organized by Rishis. Polly has also inspired the launch of the European Citizen’s Initiative to End Ecocide, which proposes to make Ecocide a crime in Europe and which needs 1 million signatures before 2014 in order to be tabled by the European Commission.

Polly and I talked on Skype and had a most inspiring conversation about the biggest challenge of our time, Ecocide, her own journey to become a spokeswoman for the rights of the Earth, and how each and everyone of us can be a ‘trim-tab’: a catalyst in the creation of a better world.

You can listen to the entire interview on our SoundCloud account, or via the player at the bottom of the interview.

Seven years ago something happened when you were representing a case at the Royal Courts of Justice in London that completely changed your life. What happened there?

Yes. Well occasionally in our lives we end up at a moment where we come to a junction. I didn’t actually realize that at the time, but I see now looking back, that I had reached one of those junctions in my life. And the challenge was, “which direction was I going to go”. What happened was I found myself at the very end of a three-year long case. And we were literally waiting for judgement – it was judgement day, we were waiting for the judges to return. This was at the Royal Courts of Justice in the center of London at the Court of Appeal, and there was a delay. I found myself looking out of the window, waiting for the judges to come in, thinking about how I had been, for the last three years, the voice on behalf of my client, who had been very badly injured and harmed in the workplace. And I looked out of the window and I thought “you know it’s not just my client that has been badly injured and harmed, so is the Earth. Something needs to be done about that.” And I found myself thinking after that, “The Earth is in need of a good lawyer” (laughs).

It was one of those thoughts that just wouldn’t leave me alone, it stayed with me. And as a barrister, as a court advocate, I was looking for the tools that I could use, the laws, quite literally, that could be used to stop this mass damage and destruction. And it really bothered me, that actually they didn’t exist. The existing environmental laws, as far as I could see, were not fit for purpose. You just have to look at the Amazon, and what’s happening there, to know that. And so I looked around to see what lawyers were creating, the international laws, to stop damage and destruction. I couldn’t find them. It actually came back to me and I realized then that maybe I need to put my head to this. Which is precisely what I did (laughs).

The most important thing that came out of your research into ways to defend the rights of the Earth, was the concept of Ecocide. What is Ecocide?

Ecocide is a word that has been around since the 1970s. I didn’t actually know that at that time – I subsequently found that out. What I have done is, I’ve given a legal definition to it. So I basically created a legislative framework in which we can prosecute those who have caused mass damage and destruction to a lot of ecosystems. But there’s more than that. It’s about creating a legal duty of care, and that’s very important here. Because it’s not just human-caused ecocide, largely corporate ecocide, but it’s also about creating a legal duty of care on those who are in positions of what is known in international criminal law as a position of superior responsibility. So those who made the decisions at the very top end, that can have an adverse impact on many millions of people – and not just people, but other inhabitants of ecosystems, too. We are widening our ambit of concern here. It’s not just human engagement, but also non-human engagement. We are imposing a legal duty of care on those who must make decisions that do not cause mass damage and destruction. We have to draw a line somewhere, and say ‘no longer can we do this’, because the often unintended consequences of such business decisions have huge adverse impacts, way into the future.

In Eradicating Ecocide you say that Law has caused the problem of the massive environmental damage and destruction we’re seeing. How has Law caused the problem, and how can a Law of Ecocide now be the solution to the problem?

The irony is that we have created laws over time without looking to the consequences. It is the law for a CEO and directors to put the interest of their shareholders first. Which means maximizing profits for big transnational corporations. This has become a real problem. It is fine when you start out small, but when your operations become so large that they have huge unintended consequences, and those companies are hidebound by those laws that insist that profits are put first, then we have really a huge problem on our hands, where you externalize or actually just ignore the consequences. When profit is the number one driver, it means that communities aren’t actually looked after.

So the Law of Ecocide is legislation that will actually assist corporations – this is really about making the problem into the solution! Corporations actually work very well with international legislative frameworks because they have very sure indicators of what you can and cannot do, and it also means that they can finance their change in policy and gain subsidies from government to create the innovation in the other direction. So this is very much about creating the green economy, but also about creating resilient long term economies as well. And creating jobs, and preventing resource-wars. So you could say it’s just a win-win all round. The environment benefits, humanity benefits and business benefits.

You say that Laws can be “Consciousness Shaping Tools” because Laws can trigger a change in mindset and change the ruling paradigm. Can you give a historical example of a Law that has done just that?