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German top novels by difficulty

 Language Learning Forum : Books, Literature & Reading Post Reply
12 messages over 2 pages: 1
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 Message 9 of 12
19 September 2014 at 10:36pm | IP Logged 
iguanamon wrote:
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.

That sounds about right. As a complete guesstimate I would say it's about 50:50. Popular English literature is translated and generally available within year of English release. This can work in reverse too - I read the newest Murakami in German about six months before it was published in English.

What you don't get here is much scifi, but fantasy is relatively popular - hence Game of Thrones. What you do get is a ton of crime novels. It's really insane how many are published. Newspapers will publish lists of ten or more of the best crime novels (Krimis) pubished in the last month (i.e., 120 'best' new Krimis per year). God knows how many are published in total annually.

My local library has one bookcase for scifi (a mix between pulp and good) and about 20 bookcases (not shelves) of Krimis.
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 Message 10 of 12
20 September 2014 at 3:31pm | IP Logged 
Considering that it's only a short story, Thomas Mann's "Der Tod in Venedig" is quite
difficult. There is one particularly bad older translation by an English (I think)
lady, and at least one more modern translation by an American which is better. I gather
that Mann was pulling out all the literary stops when he wrote it, so it's not really
for the beginner! I found Buddenbrooks easier, even though it's much longer. (I did
have an audiobook to help me get through it though. I find that helps a lot).

Not classics, but for relatively lighter reads, one might think about Erich Kästner,
mostly, but not all, children's books. "Drei Männer im Schnee" is rather fun.

Friedrich Dürrenmatt's "Der Richter und sein Henker" and the sequel "Der Verdacht" are
very good. Gripping stories, not too long, and not too difficult.

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 Message 11 of 12
22 September 2014 at 8:12pm | IP Logged 
Extreme example of German books placed in the order of geometrically increasing

1. Das Parfum by Patrick Süskind
2. Joseph und seine Brüder by Thomas Mann
3. Zettels Traum by Arno Schmidt

Edited by flabbergasted on 22 September 2014 at 8:12pm

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 Message 12 of 12
23 September 2014 at 9:50am | IP Logged 
Thomas Mann has been mentioned by several, and I would like to add his novel "Doktor Faustus" to the list. I think it is Mann's best novel, but it is pretty difficult to read in the original.

Other books worth reading are
Berlin Alexanderplatz: die Geschichte von Franz Biberkopf by Alfred Döblin
Die Blendung by Elias Canetti

Not really a novel, but still a literary masterpiece in my view is
Also sprach Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche.

Edit: I should add, all these books probably rate as "difficult" or "very difficult", so maybe not the first books you should read in German.

Edited by Ogrim on 23 September 2014 at 11:16am

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