“What on Earth shall I read?” Whether you’re an articulate German teacher or a German student with an appetite for books: anyone looking for suitable reading material is faced with this question. The right book should be exciting, well-written and interesting. But how do you navigate the literary forest? Auserlesen! helps by providing a varied selection!
By Karen-Susan Fessel
Kids and fun
My absolute favourite picture book: hilarious, not just for little ones – it’s best for reading together with several generations: Nadia Budde’s quirky wordplay not only lets young and old practise their language and pronunciation skills, It also creates enjoyable connections between people and animals – and it’s just such good fun! So which animal is it that goes “Schuhu”? No, it definitely isn’t the dog …
A childhood in Berlin in the seventies: first love, the parents’ imminent divorce, friendships that gradually drift apart, violence and emerging sexuality – Drvenkar, who moved from Croatia to Germany at the age of three with his parents and is now a prize-winning author several times over, uses clear and refreshingly direct language to tell us about the obstacles he had to overcome as
The third volume of Meyerhoff’s entertaining biography, which takes up six volumes, is considered by many readers, myself included, to be the best so far. And it isn’t just because of the fascinatingly poignant depiction of his wonderfully zany grandmother and her formal yet friendly husband with whom the author – who is also very well known as a theatre actor nowadays – spent his time as a drama student in Munich in the early 1980s. Meyerhoff succeeds in focusing on old people with all their idiosyncrasies in his story, it has rarity value and keeps on delighting readers throughout the book.
Here and now – Germany today
You can pick this up for an occasional read, but it definitely won’t send you to sleep: a series of miniatures in alphabetical order from the life of a contemplative woman who didn’t always have things easy, but retained a keen eye and a good sense of humour. Sometimes I had an absolute giggle, but I also had a lump in my throat on occasion. An enjoyable read with added value!
This author, who died in 2016, has been on my reading list for a long time – and rightly so, it seems: the clear, elegant language in which the author portrays her own mother and the story of her family really fascinated me. Schrobsdorff, the daughter of an “Aryan” father and a Jewish mother, is originally from a wealthy background in Berlin, but the freedom of a good life is finally over in 1938: her mother moves to Bulgaria with both daughters to flee persecution by the Nazis, and they don’t return until a long time after the end of the war. Schrobsdorff, who always remained restless – only settling in Jerusalem in later life and then spending her final years in Berlin – tells a thrilling story from the perspective of a child and later of a teenager, with an undercurrent of subtle humour. An absolute joy to read – and how lovely that she wrote over a thousand more stories during the course of her life, as well as almost a dozen novels, so a constant supply of reading material is assured …
High tension alert!
Elisabeth Ebel has already been living her own life in Berlin for a long time, but as a dutiful unmarried daughter she regularly travels to Wattenscheid to visit her mother, who lives there in a house that’s far too big for her, and – like so many elderly men and women living alone – refuses to move into sheltered accommodation. Instead she criticises her daughter constantly until she’s ready to explode. Nössler’s calm narrative style chilled the blood in my veins more and more as I read, the tension built slowly with each page, there was a new shock lurking around every corner – but at the same time there was no shortage of humour. This interesting mix makes Nössler’s sixth thriller a fascinating social study at the same time. Top-class crime fiction fare!
Dear book column readers: your book tip could be published here in the next edition!
Reading tip of the month
Have you read an interesting, exciting, informative or entertaining book in German that you’d like to recommend to others? If so, email us at:
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Auserlesen! Nr. 1
- Budde, Nadia: Eins Zwei Drei Tier. Wuppertal 1999: Peter Hammer Verlag
- Drvenkar, Zoran: Im Regen stehen. Reinbek 2000: Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag
- Meyerhoff, Joachim: Ach, diese Lücke, diese entsetzliche Lücke. Köln 2015: Verlag Kiepenheuer & Witsch
- Heidenreich, Elke: Alles kein Zufall. Frankfurt am Main 2017: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag
- Schrobsdorff, Angelika: „Du bist nicht so wie andre Mütter“. München 1994: dtv.
- Nössler, Regina: Schleierwolken. Tübingen 2017: konkursbuch Verlag
All books are available in eBook format as well, and some of them are stocked by the Goethe-Institut digital lending service, Onleihe.