Since you’re learning German, you should be reading it. As much as possible.
No bookcase? Not keen on carrying a hefty tome around with you everywhere?
How about downloading all your favorite German books onto your e-reader, phone, tablet or computer?
This way you can take more of your reading practice on the go with you at once.
Now you’ll have your very own portable German library!
It’s time to ditch the English books and fill your (digital) bookcase with with German literature.
Why Read German E-books?
Reading German will help you with your lexicon and grammar. While reading, you’ll be picking up new vocab and grammar without even realizing it. And you’ll be entertained in the process!
E-readers are slicker than traditional books and their slim form makes it easy to carry a whole library of German classics with you at all times.
What’s more, there are just so many free e-books out there that you could really save some cash by choosing an e-book! And you’ll be helping to save the environment…no trees were killed in the making of the e-books mentioned in this article!
Where to Find German E-books
- Project Gutenberg is a fantastic resource with around 48,000 free e-books. It’s the oldest digitized library and was founded way back in 1971! There are plenty of books in different languages. Most of them are in English, however, German is one of the most represented languages on the site, giving you a great selection of e-books. It’s a fantastic place to look for German classic literature.
- Everyone knows about Amazon. Its selection of printed German novels and textbooks is second to none, but did you know that it also has quite a large selection of German e-books? The website’s library of e-books is a great resource for novels, children’s books, textbooks, dictionaries and grammar books.
- Sterchenland is basically a completely German version of Project Gutenberg. The benefit of this site is, as it’s a German website, all the e-books are in German. There’s also a great selection of contemporary German works to choose from.
- Some German universities have free e-books for you to download on their websites. One example is the University of Mannheim’s digitized MATEO library. The University of Göttingen also has a fantastic selection. It’s worth bearing in mind that most university e-books can only be read online, as opposed to being downloadable, but they’re still worth checking out.
8 Virtually Perfect German E-books to Boost Your Learning
1. “Learn German With Stories: Café in Berlin” by André Klein
This great book is part of a series that follows a man from Sicily to his new life in Berlin. Aimed at beginning German learners, the books are great for those who want to move on from learning isolated words and begin reading flowing German text.
This particular book is a great insight into Germany’s laid-back café culture. It’s a great little read and the series will help to gradually widen your vocabulary and grammar.
2. “Er ist wieder da: Der Roman” by Timur Vermes
An excellent choice for intermediate readers, this is a satirical look at what happens when Adolf Hitler wakes up in Berlin in 2011 after a 66 year long sleep.
Without the Nazi party, Eva Braun or the war, Hitler is at a bit of a loss in 21st century Germany. Timur Vermes’ comical novel is a great read for anyone interested in German history. There’s also a great English translation that you can use to help you, should you find the German slightly confusing.
3. “Faust” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“Faust” is a popular eponymous legend from German culture. Many different versions and translations of the story have been written by writers and translators throughout the years, but the most well-known version is Goethe’s take on the tale.
After growing bored of his life and the limitations of knowledge, Faust makes a deal with the devil so that he may have the Devil’s magic powers for a set number of years. After the time is up, Faust will be eternally damned.
It’s an intriguing Gothic tale of morality—one which will certainly help sharpen up your German skills.
4. “Vergessen” by Max Stiller
Another great e-book for intermediate German learners, “Vergessen” is a fast-paced murder mystery.
Germans love a good Krimi (crime thriller) and “Vergessen” is a great choice if you’re thinking of starting on some German mystery stories. The short and simple sentence constructions will be easy to understand by most levels of learners, so this is a good all-arounder.
The protagonist, Julia, has been working in one of Munich’s top psychiatric wards for the past 20 years. Is she able to help the NYPD when a German patient is killed in a New York psychiatric hospital? Download the e-book to find out…
The Brothers Grimm collection of fairy tales is known throughout the world, largely thanks to Disney’s cinematic interpretations of the stories.
From Hansel and Gretel to Little Red Riding Hood, you’ll meet many familiar characters in these large collections of tales that we all know and love. Here’s your chance to read them in the original German text.
There’s the odd old German word thrown in here and there. Apart from the occasional curious choice of vocabulary, these stories should be simple enough for most intermediate learners to read.
6. “Easy Learning German Grammar” by Collins UK
While it may not be the most exciting of all the books in this list, this is one of the most popular books for helping with any niggling grammar problems. And let’s be honest; you can’t expect to learn the entire language just by reading novels alone! It’s aimed at beginners to intermediate level, but it’s also worth downloading if you are an advanced German learner – it never hurts to have a grammar refresher!
7. “Mord am Morgen” by André Klein
Another option for the beginner learner, “Mord am Morgen” is in Amazon’s best selling list of German e-books.
This is the first installment in the popular mystery series about detectives Baumgartner and Momsen. The books have been written with German learners specifically in mind, so these are great for when you want to get your German reading off the ground.
8. “Samantha und die Reifenschaukel” by Miley Smiley
If you want some quick and easy bedtime reading (or just fancy a cute story!) then take a look in the kids’ section of e-book stores. “Samantha und die Reifenschaukel” is perfect if you’re starting out with German study. Whatever your language level, the story of Samantha’s day out with her Oma (grandma) will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside!
So whether you’re into your Krimis (crime thrillers), Märchen (fairy tales) or would rather just knuckle down with some grammar practice, there’s something digital out there for you. There are so many different genres of e-books, you could end up reading nothing but German!
Just imagine how your language skill will develop if that does happen.
Ready to Try It with Real German Videos?
You can get all the immersive, entertaining benefits of German e-books—but with real German videos that native speakers watch on the regular.
We’ve got everything from Volkswagen commercials to funny YouTube videos, scenes from “Guardians of the Galaxy” and the hit song “Let it Go” from “Frozen.”
Love the idea of watching fun, authentic videos, but worried about understanding them well enough? FluentU brings native videos within reach with its interactive subtitles.
While watching your chosen videos, you can tap on any subtitled word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used by modern natives. If you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can simply tap “add” to save it to your vocab list.
As you can see, FluentU isn’t just for watching videos. It’s a unique language learning program designed to get you to total German mastery, complete with active learning tools like vocabulary lists, multimedia flashcards and more.
Even the flashcards have something special to offer learners—they integrate video clips, imagery and audio to create rich, memorable learning experiences and help you retain German vocabulary better than ever.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of your progress and recommends relevant content based on what you’ve already learned.
After studying German and Philosophy at The University of Nottingham, Laura Harker relocated to Berlin in 2012. She now works as a freelance writer and is also assistant editor at Slow Travel Berlin.
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