I was super pumped to go to Amsterdam, and bookworm that I am, it was all thanks to three books …
The Diary of Anne Frank, of course. I’ve read this several times, and I probably liked it so much as a kid because I never had to read it for school. I used to squint at the little diagram of the Secret Annex, trying to imagine what it looked like. Actually being there was amazing. The queue to the house was extremely long, but it was worth it. At the end, Anne’s original diary was on display, and we were invited to look at her as an author, which I found fascinating. It was heartbreaking to see the dates of death of the members of the Secret Annex, because they died so close to liberation.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. This one is fictional, but I still found it incredibly moving to picture Hazel Grace, the novel’s teen protagonist, climbing up the steep, narrow steps with her oxygen tank, as I climbed the stairs myself. Visiting the Anne Frank House was a haunting, moving experience.
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom: A nonfiction account of Corrie Ten Boom, a middle-aged woman, and her family, who were motivated by their Christian faith to hide Jews and other people trying to escape the Nazis and the collaborators. Corrie and her sister Betsie were eventually arrested and taken to the Ravensbruck concentration camp, but the people they hid in a tiny space in the back of Corrie’s attic bedroom survived. The message behind this inspiring book is one of forgiveness and thankfulness, despite being about the Holocaust.
Visiting the Corrie Ten Boom House in Haarlem was something I’ve dreamed of doing since I was ten- I still can’t believe I got to go!
I even got to crawl inside the actual “hiding place”! I can’t imagine staying there in the darkness with five other people.
These were the books that led me to Amsterdam, and I am so blessed for the opportunity to stand in places I’d read and thought about for years.
“It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
“Where there’s hope, there’s life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again.”
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
“Today I know that such memories are the key not to the past, but to the future. I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will give us to do. ”
“Happiness isn’t’ something that depends on our surroundings, Corrie. It’s something we make inside ourselves.”
“Perhaps only when human effort had done it’s best and failed, would God’s power alone be free to work.”
“Some tourists think Amsterdam is a city of sin, but in truth it is a city of freedom. And in freedom, most people find sin.”
“As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”
“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”