Some of you guys may have seen the recent post “10,000 Flashcards in One Month” that was sent in by a friend of mine who is learning German. After he saw that I put up reading suggestions for Japanese, he suggested that I should do it for German as well. I said that I hadn’t read enough German books yet to give many suggestions, so he ended up creating yet another guest post. Thanks dude! – Matt
So you’re learning German but having to scrounge the web for decent content is making you wish your brain had an Ethernet slot? Well have I got you covered!
Below is a list of the best books I found on my journey to Germanhood to be particularly useful and engaging to my n00b language learning brain. Each book has a difficulty rating, a brief personal description and links so you can have it all to your schön self.
Difficulty: Beginner to Easy
Possibly the first (if not then one of the first) of all the books I nabbed for learning German. This book is fantastic, although not particularly special for its storytelling, the language used is simple and whenever a more complex or unusual word is used it is emboldened and kindly referenced at the end of the chapter along with a basic English translation.
Another learning aid contained within this book is the multiple choice questions found after each chapter, these are useful in finding out how much you understood of the story and the language used. Plus no grammar questions, ausgezeichnet!
Defo must-have for an anfänger, if it’s still too hard then perhaps try getting the very basics of German with Duolingo or a beginner Anki deck (see my 10,000 flashcards post for why you shouldn’t do this in the higher stages). Or you could jump straight into native sentences 😉 – Matt
Difficulty: Easy to Intermediate
As a child I lived on 60% sugar, 30% E-numbers and 10% food colouring, so natürlich I loved Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, along with both films (yes I know the new one was kinda trippy and Johnny Depp should just pretend it didn’t happen but I liked it) so when I found the book in glorious Deustch I grabbed it and ran for the caramel-hills.
This book is best accompanied with the audiobook found on Audible (or if you’re cheeky, Youtube) because you get to hear the wonderful emotions of the characters and you’re forced to keep up the pace with the reader, this is especially good because there are many words in there an easy-level learner will need to look up. Having the audiobook slide past these stops you getting stuck on a sentence or word too scary to navigate yourself.
If you like Roald Dahl then get this and enjoy the wundervoll illustrations by Quentin Blake, if you don’t like Mr Dahl then also get it because you’re wrong.
Difficulty: Lower Intermediate
Everyone and their Oma knows about Harry Potter so you don’t need me to tell you what’s what story-wise, but on the language front this book is fantastisch!
The target audience for the book is young teens so you can expect the kind of language inside, once again the audiobook will certainly help you get through this and understand what’s going on.
Ravenclaw are the unrecognised heroes IMO…
The Entire Series (1-7): Harry Potter: Die Gesamtausgabe (1-7) (German Edition)
Difficulty: Intermediate to Hard
Who doesn’t love Matt Damon? I mean really, he’s so likeable. So if you haven’t read the book the film was based on then why in the name of the Roman god of war haven’t you? It’s like an extended director’s cut, except with loads of stuff that should definitely have been left in the film.
Of course reading the book in German will mean a lot of the story is lost on you (depending on your competency) but having watched the film first means you can fill in many of the gaps and enjoy the story nonetheless.
I’ve rated this intermediate to hard because there are many technical terms that you certainly wouldn’t encounter in the real german-speaking world and as such will require some bilingual dictionary or translator.
I <3 Andy Weir
Amazon: Der Marsianer
This verrückt little story of a girl jumping down into a massive underground cavern, and in the process, consuming copious amounts of hallucinatory mushrooms until she somehow wakes up back in the boring reality of her life is a great read and I would recommend flicking through it in any spare downtime you have, since it’s quite short.
Clearly it’s a story for kids but it’s always more interesting if you put your own spin on it, which can help if you find the content not appealing to your particular interests.
Despite having rated these books on their difficulty I would still 100% recommend you give them a glance at whatever level you think you are. You gain an understanding of the language regardless of the difficulty, it just all depends on how engaged you can be with the bucher.
Few Reading Top Tips for Pros
While you read through the above books (or rather any book at all) absolutely write, underline and highlight to high heavens. I know it feels wrong and it might take some tries to get rid of that feeling but once you see the benefits you’ll be doing it all the time.
Personally I like to underline particular words that piqué my interest or I figure to be important, then later on at the end of the week I briskly flick through the pages of scribbles and mess while methodically importing to Anki whatever I’ve marked.
Bis zum nächsten mal!
By Guest Poster
Undergraduate Software Engineer and Language Enthusiast.