Reading list inspiration for travel
Books & eBooks
- Belgium: Long United, Long DividedView on Amazon This accessible history traces the traditions and transitions that over two thousand years have developed a sense of shared identity, common government and a centralized nation-state — and then over a few recent decades paved the way for Flemish-Walloon schism that now threatens to break up Belgium. By Samuel Humes.
- Bruges-la-MorteView on Amazon An archetype of Belgian symbolist literature first published in 1892, the story of one man’s obsession with his dead wife and his soul’s struggle between an alluring young dancer—his late wife’s double—and the beautiful, melancholy city of Bruges, whose moody atmosphere mirrors his mourning. By Georges Rodenbach; translated by Philip Mosley.
- From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of ArtView on Amazon This well-illustrated tour-de-force exhibition catalog examines a 125-year period (1425-1550) in what is now Belgium and the Netherlands in which artists (the Flemish Primitives), employing newly-perfected oil technique, created paintings which were startling in their realism and innovative approach. Edited by Maryan W Ainsworth and Keith Christiansen.
- Half Man, Half Bike: The Life of Eddy Merckx, Cycling’s Greatest ChampionView on Amazon The life story of the Belgian athlete and cycling champion, nicknamed “the Cannibal” for his insatiable appetite for victory. By William Fotheringham.
- Niccolò Rising: The First Book of The House of NiccolòView on Amazon Set in 15th century Bruges, this elaborate, detailed historical novel tells the tale of Nicholas vander Poele, the good-natured dyer's apprentice who schemes and swashbuckles his way to the helm of a mercantile empire. By Dorothy Dunnett.
- The Belgians: An Unexpected Fashion StoryView on Amazon This catalog from the BOZAR Center for Fine Arts exhibition provides a historic overview of Belgian fashion, starting with the legendary Antwerp Six — including Dries van Noten, Walter Van Beirendonck and Ann Demeulemeester — and leading up to the individualistic creations of Martin Margiela, AF Vandevorst and Raf Simons. By Nele Bernheim, Lut Clincke, Laurent Dombrowicz and Agnes Goyvaerts.
- The Sorrow of BelgiumView on Amazon In this coming-of-age story, one of the country's most well-regarded novelists tells of an adolescent's return home to western Flanders during the turbulent years of German occupation during WWII (1939-1947). By Hugo Claus.
Articles & Academic Papers
- “Blast from the Past”View on harpers.org The Battle of Waterloo turns 200. By Nat Segnit.
- “Brussels: The Chocolate Trail”View on NYTimes.com The capital of Belgium may be known as the Capital of Europe, but it is also, at least as far as most chocolate aficionados are concerned, the World Capital of Chocolate. By Amy M Thomas.
- “Le Divorce”View on NewYorker.com Why Belgium, home of the European Union, has never been more disunited. By Ian Buruma.
- “René Magritte”View on artic.edu Produced by the Art Institute of Chicago, a detailed profile of the Belgian surrealist painter's (1898–1967) life, style and works. By Abigale Hanson.
- “The Wool Trade In English Medieval History”View on mcmaster.ca This scholarly article offers a thorough review of the woolen cloth trade that dominated the medieval economies of England, Flanders and Florence. By Eileen Power.
- “Unconventual Women: Religion, Politics, and Image in the Court Beguinages, 1585-1713”View on brown.edu In this PhD dissertation, the author examines how Beguines — laywomen whose lifestyle in many ways imitated monasticism but who did not take permanent vows or adopt enclosure — were able to defend themselves against criticism in the context of the Counter Reformation and promote Catholic orthodoxy in Flemish cities. By Sarah Joan Moran.
If you won’t have ready access to wifi during your travels, consider saving these articles for offline reading using the Instapaper app.
- Belgium’s Great BeersVisit beerhunter.com Michael Jackson, an authority on Belgian beers, provides detailed insights into the range of the country's trademark complex styles, reflective of one of the oldest brewing traditions in the western world.
- World Bank | BelgiumVisit worldbank.org A great resource for the country's quality of living indicators, economy and climate change data.
- Belgium’s fractured nature makes it ripe for Islamic activityListen on soundcloud.com How is it that tiny Belgium, the seat of the European Union, has become a hotbed for Islamic extremism? A lot of it has to do with country's own fractured nature.
- The Best Beer in the WorldListen on wnyc.org This podcast by 99% Invisible explores the best of the best Belgian Trappist ales, Westvleteren 12.
Just for Kids
Who to Follow
- Instagram: Belgium UniteFollow @belgium_unite The finest and most beautiful photos by Belgian instagram users! Randomly chosen. Join us for daily features, instawalks, photowalks and instameets!
- Twitter: Brussels & WalloniaFollow @whybelgium Promoting French-Speaking Belgium, its fantastic food, beer, festivals, markets, fashion, shopping, museums, night-life, culture, friendliness and quirkiness!
- Twitter: Brussels MuseumsFollow @BrusselsMuseums The Brussels Museums Council promotes and supports 107 Brussels museums via the BrusselsCard.
- Twitter: Financial Times BrusselsFollow @ftbrussels Tweets by FT's Brussels team plus links to our EU news stories & blogs.
- Twitter: Gabriele SteinhauserFollow @gksteinhauser Reporter for The Wall Street Journal in Brussels.