book review, Corona Virus

The perfect book for the age of the Corona Virus

We reviewed this book to support Olga Mecking.

Niksen, Embracing The Dutch Art of Doing Nothing by Olga Mecking

It is my privilege to have received an advance copy of NIKSEN by Olga Mecking and, I confess, it was my intention was to read it over a weekend in March and write a quick review on Amazon. But then I read it. Slowly. Over a month. And this is what happened.

First, I was zipping around the city on my bike running errands (I live in The Netherlands). I have a charity called Wool for Warmth (https://woolforwarmth.com/) and we have been very busy knitting hats and scarves for the homeless and sewing masks for the coronavirus. And then I saw it. An empty bench facing the sea at Scheveningen. And I sat on it for 20 minutes. Just enjoying the view.  I sent a photo to my husband and kids explaining that I would be a bit late for dinner. It was lovely. Sunny, clear, blue, tranquil. And because of the coronavirus there were no people around (unusual in this overcrowded country).

An empty beach on a sunny day in The Netherlands is a rare sight.
Empty benches! How could I resist?

Second, again running errands for the charity on my bike, I was riding up the river from Delft on another sunny day. It occurred to me to walk my bike the last 2 kilometres. It was a nice thing to do. It slowed me down and I was able to appreciate the nice weather longer (rare in The Netherlands to have so much sunshine). To my surprise, I could hear Olga approving in my head! And it led to number three.

Third, while walking along the river with my bike, I saw a flock of sheep and every ewe had a lamb or two. I have passed these sheep many times, but didn’t really look at them. So I stopped a while and watched the lambs jumping and frolicking in the sunshine and feasting on clover and spring grass. I sent a photo to my sister in Canada that has always had a soft spot for lambs. I didn’t worry about the time. I just stood at the gate and watched. Near the sheep, swimming down the river, was a pair of geese with 6 brand new babies. They couldn’t have been more than a couple of days old. I watched them swimming for a bit and sent a photo to my husband and kids. I would have not enjoyed the trip as much whizzing along on my bike.

Lambs between Rijswijk and Delft

Hello little lamb!
Mom and the babies. Dad managed to avoid the photo

Taking time to stop and smell the roses – actually, to stop and watch the roses grow

Taking Olga’s advice literally, I made an effort to deliberately slow down and I relished the feeling. Taking time to stop and smell the roses – actually, to stop and watch the roses grow. I have read the book slowly over a month, not quickly as was my intention. It is written in an engaging style with lots of references and research that are smoothly incorporated to support Olga’s interpretation of the Dutch Niksen, without feeling obvious. Olga takes us on a trip through various aspects of Niksen and its relationship with the Dutch culture and our lives. She skilfully guides the reader through the subject and I felt very motivated to try out her advice. And I really appreciated the illustrations.

Then I thought, what a bummer launching a book with the corona virus attacking at the same time. But I was wrong. This is the perfect companion piece. People at home feeling stressed and anxious should buy this book and try out the advice to feel better. People with extra time on their hands that don’t know how to fill their days should buy this book to take advantage of time for Niksen. People who are interested in the counter-culture of not being super busy should buy the book. And, of course, the people who can’t slow down should be the first in line to get it!

My advice is to get copy, find a quiet place, your favourite coffee or a glass of wine. Slow down. And enjoy the book. And then share the experience with a friend.

https://www.bol.com/nl/f/-/9300000000180904/

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