Christmas

Gifts gifts Photo: © Colourbox.de

Gifts. Gifts. Gifts.

What Diwali is for Indians is what Christmas is for Germans. The festival of family. And the festival of gifts. ‘Tips for last-minute gifts’ is an established tradition in the German media. Along the lines of ‘the editorial staff recommends....’, at the Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan our staff, friends and partners will offer their suggestions.

We asked around and collected all sorts of interesting recommendations. To help you keep track, there are tips in the following areas:


A novel which is not a bestseller? But something that you just can't miss? Here we tell you more about our favourites. 

Priya Kuriyan:
The Sense of an ending by Julian Barnes – A short novel that you will want to read in one sitting. A story of a man who is looking back on his life and coming to terms with his past.


Erik Sabas:
If you are exploring India there could be no no better novel to guide you than The White Tiger by the Indian author Aravind Adiga.


Ritu Khanna:
Nothing by Janne Teller. Can be brutal, shocking, but never fails to be absorbing. A story for our times.


Ralph Moellers:
Wolkenbruch’s wondrous journey into the arms of a shiksa. An incredibly amusing story based in the Jewish community in Zurich. Motti Wolkenbruch is a young, orthodox Jew who, to the horror of his family, falls in love with a shiksa, a non-Jewish woman. An insight into an unknown world, a touching and playful story – Yiddish wit and irresistible humour.


Mayank Mansingh Kaul:
The Oxford Book Store in Connaught Place – Has a great collecton of all kinds of books, and with their quintessential Cha Bar attached, it’s agreat place to stop by for a warm tea after shopping!


Erdmuthe Hacken:
The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair. Joel Dicker’s exciting murder mystery about a forbidden love and a corpse, writer’s block, and genuine friendship. A book within a book: 700 pages with the potential to be addictive.


Ute Reimer-Böhner:
Neal Stephenson: Reamde. The most exciting book I have ever read! Over 1000 Pages devoured in record time!


Lennart Kolbert:
How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid: the perfect book for all Asia fans. And for everybody else. Superbly and eloquently narrated!


Katharina Hagena:
The Devil’s Elixirs by E.T.A. Hoffmann – the wildest plot of all times.


Aditya Mani Jha:
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. 800-page novels are to be recommended with great care and discretion, for they demand a lot of time and attention. But this one is an easy pick, such is the grace, the felicity and the all-round mastery of Tartt's prose. A rare top-notch literary fiction title that has the verve and the energy of out-and-out commercial fiction.


Sarang Sena:
Any book from the Sherlock Holmes series by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I used to be hooked to them.


Christopher Kloeble:
Seven Types of Ambiguity by ELLIOT PEARLMAN. Because it reminds you of just how important it is to have another perspective as well.


Harald Henzler:
Seven Springs by Ulrike Draesner. What experiences, fears and wishes do I inherit from my parents? In this family novel, Ulrike Draesner describes behaviour that has been experienced or inherited. She covers four generations in a book that is a mirror of 20th century German history.


Donal McLaughlin:
Urs Widmer, The Blue Soda Siphon (Seagull 2014). An amazing piece of story-telling - 108 pages short - by the late, great Urs Widmer. (Apologies: yes, I know the translator!)

Non-fiction is boring? Not really! Read the ones which are absolute must-haves. 


Priya Kuriyan:
Michael Pollan's – The omnivore's dilemma – A book about the choices we make when we eat, foodchains and their impact on the environment.


Erik Sabas:
The essay collection The Indian Public Sphere (Oxford Press) by Arvind Rajagopal is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the complexities and conundrums that is India.


Ritu Khanna:
The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs. A hillarious account of the author’s attempt to live strictly according to the Bible (in New York City). We all need humour in our lives.


Claudia Richter:
Prince Charles: Harmony. A New Way of Looking at our World(2010). I was always a little prejudiced against Prince Charles because of Diana – not anymore after I came across this book. The Prince of Wales actually cares about the world. He is an ardent lover of nature and supports organic farming while promoting a holistic worldview. He also thinks we need to draw more wisdom from the world’s ancient sacred traditions. Not for cynics but definitely a great gift for those who care. It is elegantly written and has many great quotes and not so pretty photographs showing the degree of destruction of the world today. Royal activism at its best.


Ralph Moellers:
Essen Sie nichts, was Ihre Großmutter nicht als Essen erkannt hätte by Michael Pollan. The book triggered an extremely important debate, above all in the home of fast food – the US. For me, one of the most important non-fiction books in recent times.


Erdmuthe Hacken:
Lonely Planet India. Indispensable companion for the India traveller and for expats. Clear, detailed, with many useful recommendations.


Sybille Deselaers:
Karen Duve’s Anständig Essen (Eating Well) is a real eye-opener. A description of her journey from enjoying ready-to-eat grilled chicken from the supermarket to testing diets chosen on moral grounds: organic, vegetarian, vegan and even fruitarian. All described with great humour and supplemented with several facts. You may not believe all the facts and may not want to follow the example but there is enough here to make you think about how a lot of our food is produced and enjoyed.


Mayank Mansingh Kaul:
Nai Sadak in Old Delhi. This Street, with hundreds of book sellers, is also home to some great stands that sell old books and magazines. Pick up 3 years of The World of Interiors of National Geographics for the price of 1 Coffee Table book! 


Lennart Kolbert:
Incredibly interesting. The biography of cancer, the deadliest of all diseases: The Emperor of all Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee.


Katharina Hagena:
Insectopedia by Hugh Raffles – with a cover the colour of insect wings!
 

Aditya Mani Jha:
William Dalrymple's Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan.Witty, engaging and yet blessed with the kind of academic thoroughness that we expect from the best history books – is there a more readable history writer alive?


Sarang Sena:
The Negative by Ansel Adams. For anyone interested in photography.


Christopher Kloeble:
Shadows by ERNST H. GOMBRICH. Ever thought about the shadows in art?


Donal McLaughlin:
Ella Frances Sanders: Lost in TranslationAn Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World (Ten Speed Press). One of the advantages of real bookshops is that you can stumble upon volumes like this :)) Thank you, The Strand in New York.

Disc, CD or audio book – what do our contributers suggest for the ears? 

Nidhi Rawat:
The rain must fall… The beautiful instrumental music from the album Reflections of Passion by Yanni feels like giving music to all your desires without words.


Priya Kuriyan:
The latest album by American rock band Spoon called They want my soul. It has some tracks that grab you immediately. Catchy tunes you would want to listen to while driving through traffic.


Erik Sabas:
As a sports enthusiast I have to recommend the manifold Audiobook Am Ende kackt die Ente of the popular German sports journalist, Frank Buschmann that shares hilarious stories of great sports men as well as offering remarkable insights into the life of German politicians.  


Claudia Richter:
Arvo Pärt: Für Alina. Arvo Pärt is one of the most remarkable living composers in the Western Classical tradition. Still unknown to many, the Estonian composer has given us music that is modern and minimalistic yet radiant with timeless beauty and a sense of the sacred. Für Alina was written for a friend’s daughter who fell ill - it is soothing and I would not be surprised if the child recovered after listening to this. The perfect gift for people who are overworked and need a break from this world.
 

Ralph Moellers:
Ritter Rost feiert Weihnachten. Something for Christmas, the seventh part of the cult series with an audio CD. A hit year after year – Paolo mit dem Pizzablitz – is also available in this ‘Biblet’ or widget as an audio sample.


Erdmuthe Hacken:
Keith Jarrett – The Köln Concert. 1975, the Cologne Opera House, nothing is working, the maestro wants to cancel. What is then a freely improvised solo concert, recorded only for internal purposes, goes on to become a blockbuster. A classic – also for non-jazz fans.


Lennart Kolbert:
Probably the most likeable band in the world: I would truly recommend Mighty Oaks and their debut Howl to anybody and everybody!


Sybille Deselaers:
I was fascinated by the audio book Indien hören (Listening to India), which introduced me to Indian culture and history with excerpts from texts and samples of music. For Germany, too, there is a similar collage for the ears.


Katharina Hagena:
Audio book Ulysses by James Joyce, with Norton and Riordan – make sure it’s the unabridged version.


Aditya Mani Jha:
Popular Problems by Leonard Cohen. It's astonishing that Cohen is now 80 years old, for he seems to be getting better and better. A delight for listeners young and old.


Sarang Sena:
T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets read by Jeremy Irons. Anyone and everyone can relate to it at some level.


Christopher Kloeble:
Brothers by BLACK KEYSMelodies to combat winter melancholy.


Ritu Khanna:
Qawwali by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Nobody, absolutely nobody can sing quite like him. He could convert even an atheist like me into a believer.


Donal McLaughlin:
Paolo Nutini's 'these streets' – not just for the title track. (Atlantic Records). Paolo and I have the small town where I went to school in common: Paisley, in Scotland.

Children’s books, picture books, games, children’s audio books, children’s CD – our reccomendations for the young generation. 

Priya Kuriyan:
Larry and Friends by Carla Torres and Nat Jasper. A wonderful picture book that celebrates diversity and touches upon topics of immigration.


Nidhi Rawat:
Winky’s horse. Upon arriving at her new home in the Netherlands and learning the legend of old Saint Nick, young Chinese immigrant Winky Wong makes a Christmas wish to have her very own horse. Winky's old horse Sara had to be put down due to old age, and now the devastated girl feels like she's lost her best friend. One day at her new school, Winky is thrilled to learn that a man named Santa Claus travels the world once a year to give good little boys and girls the presents they've been wanting all year.


Claudia Richter:
Anything by Astrid Lindgren. I devoured all of her books, and looking back, this is as good as literature for children can get. Whether you pick the fantastic, adventurous tales of Pippi Longstocking with her monkey, or Emil of Loenneberga’s everyday adventures on a farm in pre-industrial Sweden, or Ronia the Robber’s Daughter in the woods – all of these stories are devoid of moralizing and transport a deep sense of humanity and warmth mingled with a free and wild imagination. Don’t give this to your daughter if you are overprotective or have Barbie plans for her: these tales are likely to inspire girls to develop a strong character and an adventurous spirit. Same for boys, I should think.  


Ralph Moellers:
This book just ate my dog! A brilliant little book. And it is great fun to read this with your kid and look for the dog inside and outside the book.


Erdmuthe Hacken:
The Magic Land, Alexander Volkov’s captivating series about Elli, a young girl from Kansas, her small dog Totoshka, Scarecrow, who would dearly love to have a brain, Iron Lumberjack who has no heart, and Cowardly Lion. If you’ve read the first sequel you’ll devour the following five as well.


Ritu Khanna:
Märchen der Brüder Grimm/ausgewählt und illustriert von Maurice Sendak. Many of the fairy tales were unknown to me and I enjoyed each and every one of them. Superbly illustrated. Should be a permanent addition on any bookshelf.


Lennart Kolbert:
Oldie but goldie – the eternal children’s book classicThe Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.


Mayank Mansingh Kaul:
Crafts Museum Shop – There are some wonderful toys, board games and books for children here, created by craftspeople and using tribal and folk arts! 


Sybille Deselaers:
Jim Button and Luke the engine driver from the book of the same name by Michael Ende are definitely two of the most appealing characters in children’s literature. Their fantastic adventures in search of Princess Li Si, which continue in Jim Knopf and the Wild 13 are always exciting. I particularly like the way the author develops the characters – not just Jim Button and Li Si but also their rivals who, once they have been overcome, can be engaging.


Katharina Hagena:
Matilda by Roald Dahl, because it’s simply enchanting.


Aditya Mani Jha:
The Honey Hunter by Karthika Nair and Joelle Jolivet. This is an ecological feminist fable set in the Sunderbans mangrove forests of India – which makes it sound eminently not child-like, but don't be fooled: with its absolutely gorgeous mega-sized illustrations and the lovely humanitarian message at its core, this is the perfect gift for a child.


Sarang Sena:
The Little Prince – I grew up reading it and it stayed with me.


Christopher Kloeble:
The Book Thief by MARKUS ZUSAK. Death can be a delightful companion after all.


Donal McLaughlin:
Time.

Coffee-table books, movies, DVDs. Designed with love, intense, vivfly - to be precise - a feast for the eyes. Watch, amaze and indulge yourself through our suggestions. 


Nidhi Rawat:
Paintings by Indian painter Raja Ravi Varma based on Indian mythology & epics. Also the graceful way he has portrayed Indian women.  


Priya Kuriyan:
Building stories by Chris Ware. A Graphic novel which pushes the boundaries of what this narrative form can do. It is made up of fourteen different kinds of books; some cloth – bound, some flip books, some in the form of a newspaper, all containing different stories that are in some way connected to one another.


Erik Sabas:
Nowitzki. The Perfect Shot is a film about the world famous German basketball player Dirk Nowitzki that deals with Nowitzki's tremendous ambition to create the perfect shot. Even if you are not a big sports fan, this pursuit of perfection is overwhelmingly fascinating.


Ritu Khanna:
Raghu Rai’s Delhi. Delhi seen through the eyes of my favourite photographer. The photographs are works of art
 

Claudia Richter:
Kathy Brown, Michelle Garrett: Edible Flowers (2003). Not just for the eyes but potentially appealing to all the senses. Merely looking at the photographs of flowers and petals coated with sugar on cakes and desserts or in summer drinks is a feast. Girls will love this: two years ago I sugar-coated violets together with my friend’s daughters according to this book, and they still talk about it. If you do this with children, allow for an extra number of flowers that will disappear in the process.
 

Ralph Moellers:
In den Tiefen des Ozeans. One of the most beautiful books about a fascinating animal world. It doesn’t always have to be about dolphins.


Erdmuthe Hacken:
Queen. The bitter-sweet low-budget production was the surprise hit from Bollywood this year. The plot: Rani’s fiancé walks out on her just before their wedding. Nevertheless, she still goes on her honeymoon to Paris and Amsterdam. The refreshing journey of an anti-heroine made without much fuss. Not run-of-the-mill.


Ute Reimer-Böhner:
Downton Abbey: British TV serial, five episodes are already available, the sixth is being produced. The world can be so beautiful, and not only on the bel étage with Mylord and Mylady but also ‘downstairs’ among the domestic staff.


Lennart Kolbert:
There can be nothing more visually stunning: words cannot describe what you see in Genesis by Sebastião Salgado. Spectacular.


Katharina Hagena:
Art Forms from the Ocean by Ernst Haeckel – looks like the storyboard for a sci-fi film but is a collection of scientific drawing from the 19th century, or perhaps both – who knows.


Aditya Mani Jha:
Only God Forgives by Nicolas Winding Refn. The director of Drive and Valhalla Rising delivers his finest film yet: aptly called "a nightmare in neon" by Peter Bradshaw, this is a crime thriller that almost eschews dialogue altogether, and yet creates an atmosphere of pure and elemental horror. Not to be missed at any cost.


Sarang Sena:
Helmut Newton's coffee table book. It never fails to inspire me.


Christopher Kloeble:
True Detective. HBO (serial). The quality of the dialogues, actors and plot is surpassed only by the power of images.


Harald Henzler:
Victor Halfwitt, by Thomas Bernhard. What are all the things that you can do with a two-page story? A magnificent, illustrated work, a collage of images describe the thousand facets of this short story. It‘s worth your while reading it in this unique publication.


Donal McLaughlin:
Wright Morris, The Home Place (University of Nebraska Press 1999). Stunning black and white photographs opposite the first-person narrative throughout. Words and photographs by the author.

You are looking for a lucky charm? Something that really touches your heart? You will definitely find it here. We have got some individual recommendations. 

Erik Sabas
The play Ein Volksfeind (Enemy of the People) by the German theatre company Schaubühne will tour India in February 2015. Definitely worth a visit!


Ritu Khanna:
Draupadi directed by Heisnam Kahailal. A very moving performance by a Manipuri group that made a political statement through poetry.
      

Claudia Richter:
A week or two in a monastery. Will surely help in figuring things out and in inviting the light back into your life, in case you lost it somewhere along the way.


Erdmuthe Hacken:
Happinez Magazine. Just makes you happy.


Mayank Mansingh Kaul:
A 1-day tour of Delhi on a bus. You stop at every major tourist attraction, and seeing the city from a high bus makes sure you get plenty of Delhi sunshine! 


Lennart Kolbert:
Romantik, an album by Element of Crime. For when you're feeling sad.


Katharina Hagena:
A generous donation to the Klinik-Clowns in Hamburg – bringing happiness is their job. 


Aditya Mani Jha:
Pulitzer-winning author Katharine Boo's splendid non-fiction book Beyond the Beautiful Forevers has now been turned into a play by David Hare and Meera Syal - this is a brutally honest but heart-warming story about the residents of a Mumbai slum who are trying to turn around their lives, one day at a time.


Sarang Sena:
visit to Triund in Himachal Pradesh. It's peaceful and beautiful.


Donal McLaughlin:
The red kite – the feathered variety – that seems to follow me from country to country currently.

A special edition, an extraordinary game, something expensive or even unique: What is the talk of the town? What is an absoulte must-have? 

Erik Sabas:
A tricot (shirt) of the Delhi Dynamos FC! The inauguration of the Indian Super League 2014 excited so many people that a tricot of your favorite football team would be a great addition to your closet.


Ritu Khanna:
A painting by Rameshwar Broota
One of his ‘Man’ series. The artist conveys isolation and loneliness in a way that would be difficult to match.


Erdmuthe Hacken:
The Werewolves of Miller's Hollow (Asmodée Editions) – a game centred on a hamlet beset by werewolves. You manipulate, you lie, you uncover – great fun for young and old. Also available in French, Dutch, Spanish and German.


Mayank Mansingh Kaul:
A hand-spun, hand-woven Pashmina shawl from Janavi in Emporio Mall in Vasant Kunj – Your friend will wear it for life, and make a tradition of buying one every year in a new colour and over the years you have a collection!


Sybille Deselaers: 
A hammock in the garden. No better place to reflect, read, look at the sky and take a break.


Ute Reimer-Böhner:
A robot vacuum cleaner – and you’ve cleaned the house in half the time! It’s something you can become really fond of and is therefore also offered as a tip to those who are lonely or those who are not allowed to keep pets.


Claudia Richter:
A trip to India. Mandatory for anyone in the world :-)


Lennart Kolbert:
Because Indian coffee can hold its own right there at the top: a cup of Indian Monsooned Malabar, from www.caffe-fausto.de for instance.


Katharina Hagena:
The dream of owning a facsimile of the Book of Kells (‘But because that cannot be, I remain just here.’)


Aditya Mani Jha:
The complete, remastered Basement Tapes are now available: these contain some of the finest rock n'roll, blues and folk music of the late 60s. For fans of Bob Dylan and The Band, this is the Holy Grail.


Sarang Sena:
A Hasselblad/ Leica camera. For the superior image quality and the sheer engineering brilliance with regards to the optics. 


Christopher Kloeble:
TEMPLETON RYE WHISKEY from Iowa (USA). The Good Stuff from the time of prohibition.


Donal McLaughlin:
Last year, it was Bernard Mac Laverty's Collected Stories (Jonathan Cape). This year: David Miller (ed.). That Glimpse of Truth (Head of Zeus 2014). An anthology of one hundred of the finest short stories ever written.

Which apps are unavoidable? Which websites are worth recommending? Which digital games are must-haves? Find it out here.

Mallika Taneja:
All digital fans must be given LPs to re/discover the crackle of analogue.


Sukhesh Arora:
I’m hooked on the images coming out of Daily Overview. Images of human-influenced environments taken from above – these are stunningly beautiful and fragile at the same time.


Nidhi Rawat:
I would say AndroMoney to manage daily, monthly and yearly budget. Though it doesn’t help you with your spending habits but at least helps you to keep a check on it ;-)


Priya Kuriyan: 
True crime is not exactly a genre that one would associate with christmas, but if you enjoy listening to podcasts, this one will have you hooked. Good to listen to on a cold night with something warm in hand.


Sybille Deselaers: 
If you are at leisure during the festive season and the library is closed – or too far away from you – then our eLibrary ONLEIHE comes to rescue. It is not only Germany, where more than 2000 libraries offer this service, but also the Goethe-Institut libraries worldwide give you a 24/7 access to German (and some English) eMedia. If you live in India, you can find further information and inscribe here.

Erik Sabas:
I am in love with Audiobook App of Audible. For only 5 Euros a month you can download one audiobook each month from a great selection on your Smartphone and enjoy.


Erdmuthe Hacken:
The Finanzen100 app – an effective currency converter for globetrotters. Practical and user-friendly.

Ute Reimer-Böhner:
Spotify – for the pleasure of unlimited music! It’s difficult to choose when there is so much choice.


Lennart Kolbert:
Yes, it’s been around for a while. But shazam is and always will be my favourite and most frequently used app. For iOS and Android.


Katharina Hagena:
The flashlight app. Also suitable for analogue book fans, but mostly for those who use bicycle locks.


Aditya Mani Jha:
thoughtcloudfactory.com is the official website of madcap cartoonist and graphic novel creator Theo Ellsworth. His incredibly detailed sentient robots, monsters, "thought clouds" and other assorted attractions are worth a watch indeed.


Sarang Sena:
Food Panda. Perfect for lazy days when you just want to order in.


Christopher Kloeble:
Stress Baal (App). To switch off when Christmas gets to be too much.


Harald Henzler:
Carl Lutz - The Forgotten Hero. Multi-media and yet simple and clear – this enhanced e-book has rightly been awarded a prize at the book fair. And of course the story of Carl Lutz deserves to be told. Evidence of courage in the chaos of the Third Reich.


Donal McLaughlin:
The alarm clock that helps me make early morning flights – but it's not for sale!

The best: All our tips are suitable all year round to give away. We hope you enjoy browsing, discovering and give away!

And of course: Merry Christmas!

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