On the way back from my holiday travels this winter, I ended up with a six hour layover in the Amsterdam airport. Which turned out to be just enough time for a visit to the city (and get a stamp from a new country in my passport!), thanks to the convenient train from the airport into the city. In fact, it was almost too convenient- only 45 minutes from stepping out of the plane to entering downtown Amsterdam meant that it wasn’t even close to light out yet. I had failed to account for how much further north Europe is than we Americans expect it to be.
When it did eventually become light out,while it was clear that Amsterdam was a great place to walk around and explore, it was also cold and rainy. So before too long I returned to the airport. Which was quite okay, because the Amsterdam airport has its own library!
Sadly (though understandably) the books cannot be checked out, but they had a nice little collection of books from and about the Netherlands, in a variety of languages.
What a great idea! Why don’t all airports have libraries?!
I settled down for a very enjoyable hour with The Dinner by Herman Koch which BiblioBoyfriend had recently read and recommended. It’s the story of two couples who meet for dinner at a fancy restaurant. The part I read in the airport was all satire of fine dining. It had a narrative style that reminded me a bit of Nick Hornby or The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. It’s probably a good thing I stopped when I did though, because the book then takes a more serious turn and I might have gotten distracted and missed my flight. (Or perhaps just heard myself in one of the announcements that went out regularly in the Amsterdam airport- “Biblioglobal, report to gate A32 immediately. You are delaying the flight.”)
Even during my brief visit to the Netherlands, it seemed like The Dinner was everywhere-stacks of it in bookstores, references in magazine articles, the movie version being shown on the airplane. The airport library had copies in many languages.
Since returning home, I’ve finished reading The Dinner. (And was in fact late to a meeting because of getting caught up in reading it.) I often think it would be nice to be part of a book club- to have a group of intelligent people with many perspectives to sit down and discuss a book with. My parents have a great book club and I’m completely jealous. After reading The Dinner though, I really wanted a book club to discuss it with.
I don’t want to write a blog post about it, stating my own thoughts and conclusions. Instead, I want to ask people questions and hear what they think. I want to talk to people who are parents and find out what their reading experience was like. I want to ask people what they think that disease is and find out if they too are baffled by the author’s identification of what disease he had in mind.
In short, I found it a very thought-provoking book, well-written, funny and troubling, but also with some aspects that bugged me. Do read it. I want to hear what you think!