Literary Corner: Drinking with books is literary enjoyment

Literary Corner: Drinking with books is literary enjoyment
Literary Corner: Drinking with books is literary enjoyment

The monthly book drink was recently held in Heerlen’s Van der Velden van Dam bookstore. A ‘preuvenement’ for literature lovers. Interviews and reviews of books: finger-licking good. This time it was about the river phenomenon Maas, a debut novel about the cruelty of the seventeenth year of life, and some books about carnival.

The bookstore is celebrating its fifth anniversary this year, a dream that has grown into a popular meeting place for literature lovers, art and music lovers. I am sitting at the back of the store at a long table together with owner Monique van Dam and Wiel Beijer, former journalist and inspiration for book drinks, book presentations and the exhibitions that are held in the basement.


What inspired Monique to start a bookstore at a time when people seem to be struck by word blindness? Monique: “My love for literature was awakened in high school by teacher Ben van Melick. His discussion of Elias or the fight with the nightingales by Maurice Gilliams I still remember. A beautiful book. By the way, Ben is involved in many literary activities here.”

Wiel was also captivated by literature at an early age. Wiel: “I self-published a collection of poems at the age of 17, and before I started working as a journalist The Limburger When I started working, I worked in a bookstore. Writing is still a passion for me. One of the reasons for my walking program RTV Parkstad to stop, my intention was to finally speed up the completion of a novel.”


Both know each other from Madame van Dam, the bistro that Monique ran before she lost herself in the book trade. Book and art auctions were regularly held in the bistro to benefit a nearby hospice. Monique: “We organized a few book drinks to investigate whether a bookstore in Heerlen had a chance of success. There was a lot of enthusiasm. The possibility of a loan from the Triodos Bank Cultural Fund persuaded me. I then brought the coffee maker and wine glasses from my old bistro.”

“People find all kinds of things here, they also just come for a chat.

Monique van Dam

Owner of Bookstore Van der Velden Van Dam

She emphasizes that her bookstore is not a hard commercial business. “I work on it all week, work in the store for four days, Liesbeth, my employee, is there for three days. And then there are about 25 volunteers who not only deal with literature, but also with necessary chores such as cleaning windows or taking away waste paper. We attach great importance to conviviality and offering something extra. Also consider our corner with games and jigsaw puzzles from ‘Steven the Puzzle Prince’ or the records and CDs department from ‘Gong’. People find all sorts of things here and just come for a chat.”


An hour and a half before the book drinks start, a metamorphosis takes place in the shop. Tables and bookcases are pushed aside, the backdrop is hung, and the stage and bench are cleared. Chairs appear from behind a folding screen, after which the literary program can begin. Wiel: ‘Our editorial staff prepares it. Everyone contributes ideas. This creates a varied program, focusing mainly on writers from the region. They like to come, because we offer fun, a warm and interested audience and the certainty that their book has been read by the interviewer. Something that is no longer self-evident these days.’

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Literary Corner Drinking books literary enjoyment


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