The Sorrow of Belgium – The most famous book of acclaimed author Hugo Claus, with unique views on the Nazi occupation of Belgium. This is a dense poetic read which was cited as a possible Nobel Literature Prize nominee, which addresses the conflicting views on the Nazi occupation in Belgium. Claus himself died in 2008, choosing euthanasia (legal in Belgium), as he had Alzheimer’s Disease, provoking reactions from around the world. This is a great work of autobiographical fiction and considered a classic.
When the Soul is Listening – This collection of religious poems by Guido Guezelle is considered among the world’s best and focuses on God and Nature.
Belgium is famous for its comics so it would be wrong not to include at least the most famous.
Tintin – This is a cartoon series by Herge and is about a young journalist called Tintin and his many adventures. A genuine classic series, though often mired in racial controversy, particularly the episode “Tintin in the Congo”.
Asterix in Belgium – A famous French comic series, Asterix features the adventures of the Asterix, Obelix, Dogmatix and their little coastal village that was the only remaining outpost in France not conquered by Julius Caeser. Created by Goscinny and Uderzo, the series chronicles and parodies many real-life events from Roman times and has many quotes actually made by Julius Caeser as well as other people of the time. In “Asterix in Belgium”, Asterix and Obelix travel to Belgium to prove their little village is braver than the Belgians after quotes directly made by Julius Caeser in real life about how the Belgians were the bravest opponents Julius Caeser ever faced. In the book Asterix challenges the Belgians to show their bravery by having a competition attacking Roman garrisons in Belgium. What made this a particularly infamous book was the death of Goscinny during its writing. Uderzo was then unwillingly forced to finish the book after a court process by the publishers. As a tribute to Goscinny, in the rest of the book the weather is rainy. The success of this book convinced Uderzo to continue the Asterix series.
The Smurfs – Comic series famous around the world by Pierre Culliford (“Peyo”). These little blue men created in Belgium have been entertaining children and adults for several generations the world over, particularly in its television series form. “Peyo” died in 1992 but the studio continues to produce new episodes.
Belgium – A book about Belgium by R.C.K. Ensor that talks of characteristics of the country, independence, the constitution, politics, art and literature.
A Week at Waterloo – An account by Magdalene de Lancey, wife of the Duke of Wellington’s Chief of Staff William de Lancey, of her experiences on this famous battleground looking for, and then nursing, her husband who was injured in battle.
Eddy Merckx Biography – Eddy Merckx was a Belgian cyclist who in 2000 was voted Belgian Sports Figure of the Century. Cycling is almost a religion in Belgium and Merckx’s career, though often tainted by injury, saw him win the Triple Crown of Cycling (The Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and the World Cycling Championship) in the same year (1974), a feat only achieved by two people, as well as being the only cyclist to have ever held all classifications (the yellow, green and red polka-dot jersey) in the same Tour de France (1969).
Culture Shock! Belgium, A Guide to Customs and Etiquette – This book by Mark Elliot provides an accurate and entertaining look at life in Belgium. Not a guide book as such, the book takes a look at the intricacies of Belgian life and customs and gives the reader a great overview of a country that many people have never even heard about, or confuse it with being the capital city of Brussels.
Lonely Planet, Belgium and Luxembourg – Travel book of the Lonely Planet series highlighting the attractions of Belgium and Luxembourg, places to stay etc.
Belgium, Culture Smart – Travel book by Mandy MacDonald who lived in Belgium in the 1990s.