Book Blog: Literary Tastings
Putting German books in translation alongside recent UK book trends.
Hey! Hey, you there!
You look like someone who wants to read more German books but doesn’t quite know where to start, am I right? Or maybe you’re just looking to read more books in translation, and keeping an ear out for some good recommendations? Or perhaps you’re just a good old-fashioned bookworm, looking for some new books to get your teeth into.
Sorry, where am I? Is this, like, Goodreads for German people?
Nope, that’s LovelyBooks (who were mildly more inventive than Goodreads when it came to their name, but not much). Literary Tastings is a fairly new monthly blog from the Goethe-Institut UK, where we are sharing some of our favourite German books to appear in English translation over the past few years.
Interesting, tell me more…
Each month we pick a book, or an author, which or who has made waves in the UK recently and we pair them up with an equally wonderful German book with a similar feel. YA fantasy lovers might discover Cornelia Funke’s thrilling Inkheart trilogy through their love of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials; and fans of Ali Smith might think to check out the glorious Jenny Erpenbeck. (It’s like Amazon algorithms, but with actual knowledge and passion.) We focus on fiction for adults but cover other genres too, from poetry to children’s chapter books. All of the books we cover are currently in print in the UK, and you can also find them at your favourite German-language library…
Right, and who are you exactly?
I’m Annie Rutherford – incorrigible bookworm and Jill of all (word-based) trades. I’m the programme co-ordinator at StAnza (Scotland’s international poetry festival), a German-English literary translator, and I run Lighthouse Bookshop’s Women in Translation book group, among other things. I’ve been known to read while cycling (I do not recommend it), and can spot a misplaced apostrophe at a distance of fifty yards.
And why should I trust your recommendations?
Having spent the last six years or so with my life straddled between Germany and Scotland, I’m always thrilled to share the books I came to love in Germany. And as a former bookseller, I’m used to choosing new books for readers based on their favourite genres and authors. I relish the challenge of having to find presents for strangers, and their friends, mothers and boyfriends (“He reads John Le Carré and David Foster Wallace”), and there’s no pleasure that quite matches the moment when a customer comes in to buy the second book of a series, or to tell you that their boyfriend loved Clemens Meyer’s Bricks and Mortar so much that she’s started reading it herself (“We never like the same books!”).
Basically, I’m an agony aunt for books.
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