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German top novels by difficulty

 Language Learning Forum : Books, Literature & Reading Post Reply
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albysky
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 Message 1 of 12
19 September 2014 at 2:44pm | IP Logged 
I am planning to read some classical literature in German , I would be glad if you can provide me with a
list of some of top German novels ever sorted out by difficulty according to your criterias, so that I would
begin with the "easier". Thank you in advance .
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Radioclare
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 Message 2 of 12
19 September 2014 at 5:22pm | IP Logged 
This isn't any sort of scientific or complete list; just a few classics that I have personally read over the past few years, in order of how much I struggled to get to the end of them.

Starting with easiest first...

1. Der Vorleser - Bernhard Schlink I think this is quite easy to read because it's a modern book; there isn't any old-fashioned language like you might find in some of the older German classics. However, I may be biased in putting this at the top of the list, as it is one of my all-time favourite books in any language, and also the first book I ever read in a foreign language.

2. Stiller - Max Frisch This is another book I loved and have read multiple times. It's about the theme of identity, which I find fascinating. I think it's written in quite an accessible way.

3. Die verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum - Heinrich Böll Language isn't too difficult and it's a good storyline. If you do find it difficult you could try reading some of Heinrich Böll's short stories first to get used to his style. 'Irisches Tagebuch' is a nice collection of writings from when he was travelling in Ireland and 'Du fährst zu oft nach Heidelberg' is a good collection of short stories.

4. Buddenbrooks - Thomas Mann As older classics go, I think this one is comparatively easy to read because the storyline has enough action to hold your interest. It follows the story of the Buddenbrooks family through time, so the main elements of the plot are fairly easy to grasp; characters are born, marry, make and lose money, die. There have also been various film and TV adaptations of the story over the years, so you could watch one of those if you get stuck.

5. Die Blechtrommel - Günter Grass I didn't find this difficult to read, but I didn't enjoy it as I developed a deep aversion to the main character. Also I have to warn you that there is a very gruesome scene involving eels which has left me mentally scarred for life. I can't even think about an eel now without feeling physically sick.

6. Das Glasperlenspiel - Hermann Hesse I could understand the words and the sentences, but I have no idea what it was actually about. Very deep. I found inner peace halfway through by accepting that I was never going to 'get' it.

7. Der Zauberberg - Thomas Mann Oh my God. This is without doubt the most difficult German classic I have ever read and I lost three months of my life to it. Never again. There is very little action in this one and a lot of very erudite conversations and ramblings which I was not educated enough to understand. I'm not saying that I wouldn't recommend you read it, but I think you need a better motivation than the fact that you like going on holiday to Davos (where the novel is set), which was my naïve reason for picking it up.

There is a really useful list of German classics
here. It might be useful for anyone doing a Super Challenge in German as it also recommends some films.
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albysky
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 Message 3 of 12
19 September 2014 at 7:40pm | IP Logged 
@ Radioclare , thanks . I have already read Der Vorleser 3 times , I think I will skip that :-)
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Retinend
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 Message 4 of 12
19 September 2014 at 8:42pm | IP Logged 
Have you read Hesse's "Siddhartha"? It's written in a deliberately simple, repetitive
style of a holy text and is the right length for a learner. I've lost track of how many
times I've read it.
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patrickwilken
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 Message 5 of 12
19 September 2014 at 8:56pm | IP Logged 
I know you asked for classics, but if you want to read German authors, why not also consider some contemporary novels as well? Here is the Long List for this year's German Book Prize - the German equivalent to the Booker Prize - with helpful links to the publishers of each book:


http://lovegermanbooks.blogspot.de/2014/08/german-book-prize -longlist-2014.html


If you are able to buy these with Amazon you can request a sample to judge the difficulty. Also Amazon has a no questions asked return policy for its ebooks: So if you buy a book and find it too difficult you can always return it for a full refund.

Edited by patrickwilken on 19 September 2014 at 9:01pm

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Radioclare
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 Message 6 of 12
19 September 2014 at 9:13pm | IP Logged 
albysky wrote:
@ Radioclare , thanks . I have already read Der Vorleser 3 times , I
think I will skip that :-)


Only three times? I have read my copy so many times that the pages have started to fall
out of it :D You've reminded me that I want to put a new edition on my Christmas list.

As patrickwilken pointed out there are some really great contemporary authors around in
German too. One of my personal favourites is the Swiss author
Martin
Suter
His novels are modern, exciting and easy to read, without being trashy. They
helped me a lot when I was learning German.
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patrickwilken
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Germany
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 Message 7 of 12
19 September 2014 at 9:58pm | IP Logged 
Radioclare wrote:

As patrickwilken pointed out there are some really great contemporary authors around in
German too. One of my personal favourites is the Swiss author
Martin
Suter
His novels are modern, exciting and easy to read, without being trashy. They
helped me a lot when I was learning German.


Thanks for the tip about Suter. I've added him to my list. :)

If you want something straightforward to read Tschick by Wolfgang Herrndorf is good:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9397145-tschick
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iguanamon
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 Message 8 of 12
19 September 2014 at 10:20pm | IP Logged 
Slightly off-topic but I saw this on the BBC website today, and I thought it may be of interest to you all- What's everyone reading in Berlin?. Seems like half the books are translations into German.

Edited by iguanamon on 19 September 2014 at 10:24pm



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