In order to get a good reading experience, you need a relatively high level of German. It’s difficult to put into words exactly how good you are supposed to be, but at least you should be able to understand the most of a film. If you are able to do so, then there is a lot to learn from German books. In particular, you will improve your grammar and vocabulary.
Photo: Michael Tingnes
If you haven’t read a German book before, I will suggest starting with one, which contains short sentences, something relatively modern, and something that’s not to experimental.
It could for instance be books you have already read in your mother tongue, comics (this was how I discovered how amazing Tintin, Tim und Struppi in German, is), or juvenile fiction. Rather go for something that’s a little too easy, than something that’s too difficult, as your first book.
From the German books I have read, I will recommend one of these three as your first great German read:
Momo by Michael Ende
Momo was initially written as juvenile fiction, and it does with its simple language and a young protagonist have the characteristics of this genre. Later, because of it’s literary qualities, it has received status as a literary classic.
The protagonist is the young girl Momo, who neither can read or count. However, her ability to listen and understand peoples problems is beyond the ordinary. This make her an essential character of the small society she is a part of, but one day some weird grey men emerge.
Momo and the weird grey men…
Die 13½ Leben des Käpt’n Blaubär (Eng. The 13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear) by Walter Moers
Perhaps this book is meant for a young audience, but there is something about this wonderfully charming book that makes me think it has been written for adults. I can’t explain it, but when I read reviews for the book, I’m not the only one who is left with this question. The language is simple and straightforward, so pick it up and escape into a crazy imaginary world.
Käpt’n Blaubär (Captain Bluebear) tells about 13 ½f of his 27 lifes. A bluebear has three times as many lives as a cat. His first memory is that is floating around in a nutshell as a small baby bear. He is sailing close to a gigantic whirlpool, a place where no sailors dare to come to close. Except a funny bunch of mini pirates…
Max und Moritz – Eine Bubengeschichte in sieben Streichen (Eng: A Story of Seven Boyish Pranks) by Wilhelm Busch
Although it’s a 150 year old book, Max und Moritz is hard not to mention. It’s still extremely popular among Germans and students of German. Despite its age, it’s a rather easy book to read.
Max und Moritz is a pedagogical tale of seven boyish pranks. 150 year old German pedagogy can at times be quite gruff, and Max und Moritz it’s not an exception. A dog gets beaten, a smoking pipe is filled with gunpowder, an angry baker tries to kill Max und Moritz by baking them in an oven, and it doesn’t stop there.
This is what happens to naughty children…
Are you looking for more German literature, then there are plenty of suggestions via these links:
Amazon.com – Listmania – German
Amazon’s user generated lists, which covers a fiction a lot of non-fiction.
Goodreads.com – German Lists
Good Reads’ lists are also user generated, but mainly stick to fiction.
Google Blog Search – German Literature
Blogs often deals with literature more personally than other media.
Johann Wolfgang Goethe
Goethe is probably the absolute biggest German literary superstar so to speak.
Wikipedia – German Nobel Prize Laureates
German language authors have been awarded 13 times with the Nobel Prize in literature.