From time to time you might have seen novella’s appear in my book hauls that seemed to be out of my comfort zone. I called them book week gifts or as they are known in Dutch, boekenweekgeschenken. Here in the Netherlands we have roughly 3 or 4 main months or weeks where there is a focus on books. They ask authors, mostly Dutch, to write a novella for these weeks which in turn will then be given along with customers who buy books for a certain amount during these weeks. But each week also has their own events. I thought it would be interesting to give a short summary on each of these weeks for you so you can see how reading is promoted in the Netherlands.
(Adult) Book Week
The normal (or adult) book week was the first one that was created, all the way back in 1932. It generally is a week and a half, and reoccurs in March. Since 2014 it is combined with Flanders (the Dutch speaking part of Belgium). The goal of this week is to promote the book amongst soceity and to show what kind of books will be on offer thorughout the year.
The opening to this week is the Book Ball which is held the evening before the start of these ten days. It is often held in Amsterdam. This ball is only for invited people like writers and whoever publishers give tickets to.
The book week gifts often have a theme. In 2016 it was Germany which was formed into the novella Broer (Brother) by Esther Gerritsen. Other book week gifts in recent years were De Zomer Hou Je Ook Niet Tegen by Dimitri Verhulst (madness), Een Mooie Jonge Vrouw by Tommy Wieringa (travel), and Heldere Hemel by Tom Lanoye (friendship).
On one Sunday during the Book Week you can use this gift to travel freely by train through the Netherlands.
Libraries and book stores hold various events through the book week inspired by the theme. Like lectures and interviews. Often there is also a student program made that a select group of students had a hand in. In 2016 for instance they creatively used a book by the author of that years book week gift.
Week of the Exciting or Thrilling Books
The week of the exciting or thrilling books (before known as the month of the exciting or thrilling books) started in 1989 to give attention to the genre of thrillers and detectives.
Like the name suggests, it has gone through different things. For instance they initially started with selling a book cheaply that was missing the last chapter. People could guess who the murderer was and win a prize. These days the week has a book week gift as well. Examples of these are Vector by Simon de Waal and Incendio by Tess Gerritsen.
This year there was also the focus on a select group of Dutch thriller authors. At the start of the month of June there is an evening where the winners of De Gouden Strop and Schaduwprijs are announced. De Gouden Strop is given to the best Dutch thriller book. De Schaduwprijs is for the best Dutch thriller debut.
Children Book Week
Of course with these other weeks, there has to be a week that focuses on children books as we find reading very important for (young) children. Children book week is at the end of September or at the start of October for a week and a half. Each year there is a theme.
Various events are created during that week and a half, but also a bit before that. There are exhibits from authors, museums that offer lessons for certain grades and schools can order class materials and selected books for each grade.
Book stores have a book week gift when customers purchase for 10 Euro of children’s books. And they have a special picture book for a special price. Libraries also have various magazines on offer.
Right before the children book week, in September, we have a recent addition. It is the third time it is being held. The literatour which focuses on the young adults from 15 years of age. Schools can get an author to visit to talk about books beyond just the books that the author wrote. They are encouraged to have a discussion with the author. Various book stores organize events with authors together with the publishers.
The Dioraphte Literatour price is for the best literature book for those between 15 to 25 years of age. There is one price for an original Dutch book and one price for a translated to Dutch book. Next to that there is a public price the young adults can vote online for in September.
Recently it was also announced that this year (2016) will start with the yalbal where they will announce the winner of the Dioraphthe Literatour price. Authors are present with various different type of corners like a reading corner. Everyone can buy a ticket. Attached to this the next day is the YA Weekender where more authors will be present
As the Literatour is so young it is still developing itself and is significantly lesser known than the other book weeks unless you follow publishers on social media.
Next to that there are small variations. Christian book stores for instance pay extra attention to thrillers, dectectives and fantasy during June as well. They have their own gift they give to customers.
So does your country organize anything along the lines of these weeks where there is a focus on (different type) of books? Or does your country organize other things?