Do you often read books in foreign languages? I can still remember the first time I read a book in another language. The book was Mathilda by Roald Dahl. I was 15 then and I was so proud I could read an entire book in English. To be honest, though, I had already read it in French a few years ago, which made it easier to understand the story. Reading books in a foreign language is a major step in learning a language. However, it is not always easy to choose books that are adopted to your language skills. I decided to write a few post with advice for language learners. First, I listed some great books to read if you are learning German.
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Great books to read if you are learning German
- Jeder stirbt für sich allein/Every man dies alone (Hans Fallada): this is a very powerful book about German parents losing their son during WW2 and revolting against the nazis. They begin writing postcards with political messages and spreading them through Berlin.
- Am kürzeren Ende der Sonnenallee/On the Shorter End of Sun Avenue (Thomas Brüssig): the story takes place in Berlin-East in the 70s. The main character is Michael, a teenager who, just like his friends is fascinated by Western culture. A big prt of the book deals with Michael’s attempts to seduce Miriam, the prettiest girl in the neighborhood. This book was advised to me by several German teachers. There is also a film adapted from the book.
- Tintenherz/Inkheart (Cornelia Funke): this is a young adult fiction book that tells the story of Meggie, a twelve-year-old who is able to bring things out of books just by reading aloud. You can also watch the film adapted from the book.
- Das doppelte Lottchen/ Lisa and Lottie (Erich Kästner): this is the stories of twin sisters whose parents broke up as they were still babies. Each parent took a baby and neither of the girls knew about having a sister. Both girls meet accidentally and decided to change role and try to make their parents fall in love again.
- Die Magierdämmerung (Bernd Perplies): this is a steampunk fantasy trilogy that was unfortunately not translated in English yet. I read these books a few years ago and loved them. Jonathan, a young journalist, finds a dying man who turns up to be the president of the British wizards’ order. The murdered wizard just has the time to tell him a few words and to give him a magical ring before he dies.
- Nirgendwo in Afrika/Nowhere in Africa (Stefanie Zweig): this is an autobiographic novel retracing the author’s childhood in Kenya. Her Jewish family had gone there to escape persecution in Nazi Germany. There is a sequel to the book, Irgendwo in Deutschland (Somewhere in Germany) that takes place in Frankfurt.
- Der Datif ist dem Genitiv sein Tod (Bastian Sick): This is a serie of books about German grammar. The translated title would be “The dative is to the genitive its death. This is clearly not the easiest book for beginners but if you have already some experience in the German language, this can be interesting for you to read these funny articles about the German language and see which mistakes even native speakers are regularly doing.
Are there other books you would advise to someone learning German? You can write about them in the comments.