People transforming into cockroaches. Deals with demons. Serial killers with morbid perfume collections.
Wouldn’t you like to learn German through all these juicy stories?
Luckily for any Bücherwurm (bookworm) out there, you can learn the language with compelling German classics—and you can do it with added help from your Kindle.
My experience has lead me to believe that many language learners benefit most from seeing the language and puzzling it out for themselves. This is even more apparent when using an e-reader, which makes the process more engaging and interactive.
In addition to practicing reading the language, with a Kindle you’re able to access other resources and consolidate your learning materials to a single device.
In this post, we’ll show you four fantastic Kindle books to boost your language skills while taking a crazy trip through the minds of renowned German authors.
But first, let’s set you up to get the most out of your Kindle reading.
What Makes a Kindle a Great German Learning Tool?
Applying German skills through reading is a popular learning tool in schools as well as for the self-taught student. However, people often become frustrated by the process due to their lack of comprehension, fluency, time, ability to focus or all of the above.
This is where using a Kindle can help.
- They’re light and accessible. From the convenience of your home and at the click of a button, you can download a book to your Kindle, phone or tablet and carry and entire library in your pocket.
Although I love having a real, tangible book in my hands as much as the next Bücherwurm, e-books are a uniquely portable, practical approach for when I’m on the go and have a few minutes to spare for practicing my German.
- It makes learning vocabulary that much easier. On a Kindle, you can highlight and look up words immediately or mark them for later, without having to haul a dictionary around with you or rely on the ever-questionable Google translate.
You can also download an integrated German-to-English dictionary to look up words without having to open a new tab. Not only does this save time, but you can also compile an ongoing, easily accessible vocabulary list that you can carry with you at all times.
- You can learn and have fun at the same time. I’ve assembled a selection of books for all levels that you can download at your convenience for little or no money.
If you look up German books on Amazon or go on the the German Amazon page, you’ll find an entire library of German and translated fiction that you can download for free—no need to worry about currency exchange!
You can also find many free classics in German on Project Gutenberg, a website dedicated to making public domain texts easily accessible to the public.
The Bücherwurm’s Guide to Learning German: 4 Classic Kindle Books
The German people have a long, proud literary history, and many of their most famous texts are readily available for digital consumption.
These books hold their own with other literary giants, and are great stepping stones to developing a deeper knowledge of the German language.
The e-books below include options that are accessible for beginners through advanced readers. However, if you’re not quite ready for authentic classics, note that there are Kindle books geared specifically to beginners to help you learn basic German (check out “Cafe in Berlin” and “German Short Stories for Beginners”).
Then, when you’re ready, start exploring these great German classics below!
“Kinder und Hausmärchen” (“Children’s and Household Tales”) by the Brothers Grimm
Perhaps the most familiar entry on this list, these tales have been woven into Western culture since the Grimms first published their collection of fairy tales in 1812.
Among the stories in the collection are “Schneewittchen” (“Snow White”), “Aschenputtel” (“Cinderella”) and “Rotkäppkchen” (“Little Red Riding Hood”). While the Grimms may not have written these tales, they certainly made them them the “household tales” we all know today.
Not only are these stories recognizable and fairly easy to read, they also offer unique insights into German culture that are easily accessible for beginners and intermediate level learners. It’s an especially authentic literary experience, since the edition’s editors attempted to reproduce the texts as close to the Grimms’ original tales as possible.
“Faust: Eine Tragödie” (“Faust: A Tragedy”) by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
There had to be at least one work by Goethe on this list, and once again I’ve chosen a familiar tale. The story of Faust is well known, even to those who’ve never read it (in German or otherwise).
In this two-part play, an elderly man sells his soul to the demon Mephistopheles in exchange for youth, beauty and the love of a young woman. As in all such tales, there’s a price to pay for making a deal with the devil.
The language Goethe uses is more sophisticated and complex than many of us are used to reading, but the fact that it’s a play keeps the plot moving forward without the prose becoming too overwhelming. Overall, I would recommend “Faust” to intermediate level learners looking to delve into the classics.
“Das Parfum” (“Perfume”) by Patrick Süskind
One of the most famous novels to come out of Germany in the last few decades, “Perfume” tells the story of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, a fictional serial killer who preserves his victim’s scents in perfumes.
Don’t let the bizarre, disturbing premise put you off. Süskind’s writing is rich and eloquent—something that’s best captured when read in the original language. The book was highly successful upon release, and put Germany back on the literary world’s radar.
For those who enjoy gothic horror and sumptuous language in the tradition of Edgar Allan Poe, this is a great place to begin your German reading experience.
“Kafka: Gesammelte Werke” (Kafka: Collected Works) by Franz Kafka
When it comes to German-language writers of the 20th century, or indeed 20th century authors in general, Franz Kafka remains one of the most well-known and well-respected.
Although Kafka was born in Prague, he wrote primarily in German and held Austrian citizenship. This compilation of his most famous works includes:
- “Die Verwandlung” (“The Metamorphosis”)
- “Das Urteil” (“The Judgment”)
- “Der Prozeß” (“The Trial”)
- “Das Schloß” (“The Castle”)
If you’re looking for a challenge, look no further than this collection. Kafka is hefty reading in any language, but, as with most writers, his works are best read in their original language.
For the adventurous and academic readers, this is a great goal to set for yourself. Definitely take advantage of the perks of a Kindle with this one. Not only do you get a great deal, you’ll be doing a lot of note taking, so use those resources!
Whatever your learning style or reading tastes, studying German through literature can be one of the most fun and beneficial paths to fluency. We live in an age of technology and information, so why not take advantage of it? With a click of a button you can hold a library of German books in your hands that you can access anytime, anywhere. So dust off your Kindle and brush up your German!
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