Welcome at the blog of Dini Commandeur. I've written quite a lot of columns for various magazines. I also write short stories every now and then. These columns and stories are available for everybody at this blog. I'll release new columns and stories periodically.


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Saturday 15 August 2009 We went to the Juttersmarkt in the city of Den Helder. It was busy, but not too busy, and the weather was beautiful; not too hot, not too cold, just right.

The Juttersmarkt is a "people magnet"; there is much to see and usually some good bargains to be found. We were lucky, as there was a book market as well and that's where we headed first, even though our house already overflows with books and time and again I say that we shouldn't buy any more but get them at the library instead. I don't really need to say that because for years already we have borrowed from the library. Hundreds of books we must have borrowed and read, and purchased, since the library regularly offers some of its books for sale.

So now we were in Den Helder, browsing the book market. Nothing has a greater force of attraction than a book stand. Like when we were in (the province) Brabant recently. First we went to the department store "De Bijenkorf" (The Beahive) because there isn't one in our town and that deprivation had to be compensated in the town of Eindhoven that Saturday morning. "De Bijenkorf" had a sale - on books as well. After a while we left the store with a shopping bag full of books and I was especially pleased with the book from the philosopher Joep Dohmen, Life as a Work of Art.

A little later we walked around the pedestrian part of the town's center where there were book stands and a large store of De Slegte (a book chain store like Barnes & Nobel). The stands had some interesting books but we didn't find anything to our liking. Although we buy books regularly, we are conscientious buyers making planned purchases. De Slegte announced on a sign that there was a new supply of philosophy books and sheet music available, but their inventory couldn't hold a candle to Joep Dohmen’s book, I couldn't find any soprano arias amongst the sheet music, and the entire De Slegte store didn't have any book that was to the liking of my spouse either. We left without any purchases. Still, we were not disappointed as we already had reeled in the treasures at De Bijenkorf.

In Den Helder, the book market wasn't that big but it did have a notably large number of books about ships. At one of the last stands I found some books that were more my taste. I saw some little jewels which I had already read, such as The Perfume, by Patrick Süskind. This book we already have sitting on our bookshelf and now there it was, for one Euro. I decided to buy it so I can give away this beautiful book and please someone else with it. Then I saw The Perpetuum Mobile of Love, by Renate Dorrestein. This book I had already read, too - borrowed it from the library years ago. The owner of the stand smelled a sale and stated that some books should be purchased just to have them. She was right. There are books you must have at home because that story, that history, or sometimes just a paragraph, a sentence, doesn't leave you alone. That book has to stay near you. Still, sometimes the time isn't quite right for that yet. When a book makes such a deep impression that you need to distance yourself from it for a while. It should go back to the library until years later you see it at the book market in Den Helder and then it goes home with you for the then the time is right.

Finally, we left the book market with a practically new dictionary English-Dutch/Dutch-English, The Perfume, and The Perpetuum Mobile of Love, Eternal Life, by Koos van Zomeren, and One Hundred Years of Loneliness, by my favorite South American author Gabriel García Márquez.

The day in Den Helder had only just started but for me it couldn't go wrong anymore. At the end of the afternoon we sat down at the dyke along the Marsdiep. Behind us was the city and in front of us the water with (the island) Texel at the horizon. The ferry boats came and went and the sea gulls soared low over the waves. A father was flying a kite on the dyke with his little sons. The sun was shining, the weather was gorgeous, and I had my books.

How beautiful life can be …

Text: Dini Commandeur, Translation: Maria O’Neill


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