6 outstanding books to help you learn German
Looking for some new material to practice your German with? Why not surround yourself with some beautiful new books? Book learning for a language need not be the dry, outdated experience of your formative years in school, we promise! Here are some of our recommendations for the best books to help you learn German, both practical and fun.
The Oxford Essential German Dictionary is a great dictionary to keep to hand when you are studying German. There are more than 40,000 words and 60,000 translations which incorporate the most up to date language possible. This is a quick reference guide that will help with all your general vocabulary needs as well as language for specific purposes like computing and business. There are also guides on pronunciation and how to conjugate verbs. Everything you need in one place!
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Hammer’s German Grammar and Usage is the go-to German grammar book for many a student. It is a comprehensive guide with regularly updated editions to include the newest rules and terminology. You will find clarification on changes to spelling to help you with your written German and can learn more about new words that have come from English roots to help you properly understand how they work. Grammatical principles are explained using contemporary language, so you can immediately put them into practice. Any difficult aspect of German grammar this book will help you get to grips with in minutes. In short, this is a must buy if you want to perfect your German grammar.
Tintenherz, Cornelia Funke
So now on to the fun stuff. Tintenherz is a YA novel trilogy that starts with Inkheart. Our protagonist is 12-year old Meggie, who inherits the ability of her father to bring storybook characters to life. When they accidentally summon an evil character named Capricorn, Meggie’s adventures begin, taking us readers along. These are beautiful on-the-edge-of-your-seat reads that will make you glad the entire trilogy is published in entirety, so you can read it all in one sitting! Inkheart was made into a film in 2008 starring Brendan Fraser and Eliza Bennett, so if you want the gist of the story before you start reading then give it a watch! Tintenherz is a magical series that is often overlooked; definitely, one that is worth your time!
Das Parfum, Patrick Süskind
Das Parfum you might already know as Perfume, since the book has been translated into 49 languages. It follows the life of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, a man with an extraordinary sense of smell. He becomes a perfumer, which should be the perfect career for him. But despite his expertise, Jean-Baptiste strives for an elusive scent, which leads him down a criminal path. This is a beautiful and in places horrific story that you’ll be sucked into immediately, and not know how you finished so soon. There is also a film and a series on Netflix, so there is plenty to get the gist of the story from before you read if you’re just starting out.
Nachtleuchten, María Cecilia Barbetta
Nachtleuchten is set in Buenos Aires in 1974, telling the tale of a political coup. We glimpse at the unfolding drama through the eyes of many characters; twelve-year-old Teresa, who practices liberation theology, as well as the customers and workers in both an auto shop, and hairdressers. This is a story of hope in darker times, of people clinging on to a vision of better things after the violence is finished and the dictatorship is overthrown. Nachtleuchten is a difficult read both in terms of the German used and the subject material at times, so definitely consult your dictionary as you read. We promise it is worth it! Nachtleuchten weaves an incredible story that we can already imagine on the big screen!
Archipel, Inger-Maria Mahlke
Our last choice of German novels is Archipel, a shortlisted book for the German Book Prize 2018. Our story is set in La Laguna in Tenerife and told through the eyes of Rosa. Rosa returns home to help her grandfather living alone on the island. As the two become reacquainted, Rosa hears the history of the civil war, and her family living through those turbulent times. This is a beautiful story that feels like a step back in time as well as having a firm grasp on what is happening in the world currently. Read this one with a dictionary to hand as you might otherwise get tripped up on one or two words.
Immersing yourself in a language is one of the best ways to learn; why not do that with some incredible German novels, using great dictionaries and grammar guides to help? Happy reading!