You can’t just read anything and expect your German to improve.
The nutrition facts on your cereal boxes? Too boring.
Goethe’s complete scientific treatises? Probably too hard, for now.
You’ve got to find that perfect blend of German vocabulary, model grammar and stories that hold your attention.
Lucky for you, we’ve found almost 30!
Learn German by Reading: 26 Outstanding Books and Resources for Endless Learning
If you enjoy this type of authentic German learning, you can get the same experience through video with FluentU. FluentU provides real-world German videos, like movie trailers, music videos, inspiring talks and more, that’ve been transformed into personalized language lessons.
Each video comes with interactive captions—click any word for an instant definition, native pronunciation and visual learning aid. So not only will you be actively building your vocabulary and tuning your ear to real German, your reading skills will also get a workout. FluentU’s Learn Mode keeps it going with multimedia flashcards and exercises tailor-made for the videos.
The videos are organized by genre and learning level, so it’s always easy to find something that works for you. Plus, FluentU remembers what you’ve watched and suggests new videos based on that info. You can check out the full video library for free with a FluentU trial.
German magazines offer digestible, entertaining reads that give you a window right into the culture of Germany.
Neue Post (New Post)
Neue Post deals with entertainment and current hot topics like celebrities.
With a magazine like this, which is published weekly, you’re likely to find very colloquial and familiar language. That means that you’ll have a fantastic chance to brush up on idioms, common slang and contemporary popular words. No matter what your goals are with German, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with this type of common speech so that you can understand real Germans!
The best part about Neue Post is that you get to be entertained while reading and you also get to learn a bit more about German culture and what’s going on in Germany right now.
Sport Bild (Sports Image)
Sports is one of the few topics that interests almost everybody around the world. This makes it an especially interesting topic for language learners because it gives us the ability to learn about other people and communicate with them in a way that’s familiar and inviting.
Reading Sport Bild keeps you up-to-date on sports in Germany and gives you new vocabulary that you can use to discuss sports—football more than any other.
The articles are normally just a couple paragraphs, so reading them isn’t a big time commitment but still packs a punch by getting you specialized vocabulary and colloquial German. It’s a full language workshop inside a sports magazine.
Zeit Wissen (Knowledge of the Times)
This magazine is for the scientist looking for the latest information about what’s going on in the world of science and technology.
Zeit Wissen is a fantastic way to read and learn terms about technology and science while still enjoying yourself. These articles do run a bit longer than many of the others on this list. This can be a good or a bad thing depending on your proficiency level—upper intermediate and advanced learners in particular might get the most out of this one.
auf einen Blick (At a Glance)
Auf Einen Blick is an entertainment magazine that’s designed and written specifically for women, but that doesn’t mean women are the only ones who can learn from its German contents! Part of the reason that reading is so beneficial is that it broadens your abilities and helps you talk about many different subjects that you wouldn’t have been able to discuss otherwise.
Auf Einen Blick covers a wide variety of topics and its articles are very short, which makes it perfect practice for a short lunch break or for reading on a morning commute.
Bild der Frau (Women’s View)
This is another magazine for women, but it’s geared specifically towards health, relationships and news. The articles are very short but are jam-packed with new vocabulary and interesting content.
The health portion of the magazine will give you new vocabulary concerning food and exercise, which are two very common topics of conversation. By exposing yourself to this content through reading, you’ll prepare to discuss it with native speakers later on.
Für Sie (For Her)
Für Sie is a women’s and family magazine that’ll help you learn everyday vocabulary that you’ll find immediately useful.
One of the most important aspects of language learning is making sure that your vocabulary study revolves around words that you use very frequently. By doing this, you’ll make sure that you can actually apply the vocabulary you’re learning in real life.
Für Sie gives you the vocabulary that you need to talk about common topics like health, family and relationships. That means you’ll be able to elevate your day-to-day conversations by using high-frequency vocabulary and accurate syntax.
Finanztest (Financial Test)
Finanztest is a financial magazine and will therefore be suitable for people with interest in finance who also already have some experience with the language.
For some people, reading a finance magazine seems even less helpful than reading nutrition facts on food boxes, but to others, it’s a perfect match. If you already listen to podcasts, read books and talk about finances, then this magazine would be perfect for you.
Slow German is a learning program that lets you listen to real German spoken by native speakers, but at a slower pace than normal. The site also offers a blog that can help advance your reading skills.
The blog posts are organized by difficulty and by topic, so you can always find something new to read that’s right at your level and that talks about something that’s interesting to you.
Plus, the woman behind Slow German, Annik Rubens, always publishes blog posts along with PDF and podcast versions you can read or listen to when you’re on-the-go.
You might already know about the popular video and audio German learning resource GermanPod101. Along with their great German podcasts, they have a blog that’s particularly helpful for improving your reading comprehension and vocabulary.
The blog itself is written in English, but it’s full of German vocabulary, phrases and unique cultural tips. There are often printables, visuals or videos alongside the blogs that make them more memorable.
Then there’s plenty more on GermanPod101! It’s a great opportunity to boost your reading alongside other skills like listening or pronunciation, as they offer dedicated language lessons from expert educators. The lessons are designed to be fun and culturally relevant, and you may never run out! There are 1,400 lessons available with more added all the time.
GermanPod101 comes with additional reading material like detailed PDF notes for the lessons. Check out all the German learning features here.
Claudi um die Welt (Claudia Around the World)
This blog is a very distinct and interesting one that follows the journey of a German girl named Claudi across the globe. There’s an interactive map on the site that lets you pick the locations that interest you and read the blog posts she wrote about each location.
Personally, I love following blogs run by individuals who share their personality, life story and views. If that’s you too, then Claudi’s blog is the blog you’ll want to follow.
The posts on this site aren’t too long and are always fun to read!
If you’ve ever wanted to find a website where a native German speaker teaches you German for free, Your Daily German is the place to go.
Not only is new content uploaded almost daily, but you can also go and follow a course of study that the creator of the website has developed for German learners of all levels.
By using this website and its plethora of resources, you can develop your German in all areas and give yourself a boost in grammar, vocabulary, slang or whatever other skill you feel might be lacking.
For complete beginners, there’s a section on absolute essentials that’ll take you through everything you need to know to start learning German quickly and efficiently.
Books for kids are often a great place to start with German learning no matter your age, because they offer simple syntax and grammar while also giving valuable vocabulary like animal names or words for common household objects.
With these titles, growing your vocabulary almost becomes an afterthought after simply reading for the story and enjoyment.
“Die Grille und die Raupe” (“The Cricket and the Caterpillar”)
“Die Grille und die Raupe” is a perfect children’s book to start with, because it contains pictures so you can follow the story even if you don’t perfectly understand every word.
“Das Doppelte Lottchen” (“The Double Lottchen”)
This famous German story follows twins who want their divorced parents to fall back in love. “Das Doppelte Lottchen” offers a fantastic vocabulary exercise. The words are simple but will stretch any beginner’s vocabulary.
By the end of the book there’s enough recycling of words that an intermediate student could be reading with no dictionary.
“Harry Potter” is one of the most famous books ever written, so it’s been translated into tons of languages—and the translations are very well done, so you don’t have to worry about learning awkward German.
One of the most enjoyable parts about reading fantasy stories in German is that you get exposed to both normal and uncommon words all while being engaged in a great story.
A bonus when reading very well-known books like “Harry Potter” is that you probably know the general story already. So even if you don’t know a specific German word, you can still follow the story.
This is an incredible way to get used to native German that you don’t always quite understand.
“Die Reise seines Lebens” (“The Journey of His Life”)
“Die Reise seines Lebens” was written specifically for beginning German students and is designed to allow the reader to follow the narrative without a dictionary.
In this book, a boy named Karl Schmidt travels to Germany but witnesses a theft! This creates quite the interesting plot to follow as he tries to deal with the sticky situation.
The story is interesting and helps motivate the reader to finish and actually learn the contents. It’s also extraordinarily beneficial that it was designed for language learners because the vocabulary and sentence structure are optimized for your understanding.
“Maxi Hund und Geduld” (“Maxi Dog and Patience”)
As with the other children’s books we’ve looked at, “Maxi Hund und Geduld” offers variety, easy syntax and popular vocabulary.
In this book, the reader gets to follow a dog named Maxi and his journey to becoming more patient. It’s a quick, fun story and sure to offer entertainment to all readers.
“Die Schattenjäger” (“The Shadow Hunter”)
This is a fun children’s story that’s a little longer and more difficult than the ones above. In this book, you’ll be able to dive into 136 pages of adventure and fiction written by well-known children’s books author Andreas Schlüter.
Throughout the pages of “Die Schattenjäger,” you’ll see many illustrations that’ll help you enjoy and understand every part of the story.
“500 Flachwitze und Scherzfragen” (“500 Witty Cracks and Jokes”)
If you like jokes and want to be able to cut up with some of your German friends or language partners, this book is perfect for you.
By reading German jokes, you’ll pick up a ton of useful, casual vocabulary and grammar that’ll help you sound like you learned the language in Germany rather than from a textbook.
In addition to the laid-back content, a joke book offers you a quick power workout for your German by giving you access to short quips and jokes. That means when you only have five or 10 minutes to spare you can still feel like you learned something useful—because you did!
“400 Flachwitze: Die doofsten Witze, die es gibt!” (“400 Jokes: The Silliest Jokes There Are!”)
Can’t get enough German jokes?
For those of you who like dumb jokes, this will be the perfect book to begin to express yourself better in German and learn some new words to goof around with.
As with the book above, you’ll be learning German in short quips and cracks, which gives you the opportunity to really get to know a very different type of German that you can use in completely different contexts.
E-books in German
After kids’ books, your German will soon be ready for longer, more complex German stories. Take a look below for the best e-books for learning German by reading!
“Tod in der Oper” (“Death at the Opera”)
This book was written as a short story for German language learners and is sure to help the intermediate to low-advanced learner with vocabulary and some new sentence structure.
“Tod in Der Oper” is about two competing singers who both want the lead role in an opera that’s being performed. The hero of the book, who is also in several others in this same series, must solve the case when there’s a murder.
Most advanced learners will find this book easier, but can still learn a lot by sitting down and reading without a dictionary. Context clues will help you learn new vocabulary and keep your grammar fresh and accurate.
This book series follows two detectives who are developed more and more from book to book. The vocabulary is simple and easy to understand, so intermediate or advanced students could possibly read the book without a dictionary and still learn many new words from context.
This is a full-length book, which means you can read for long periods of time and reap the benefits of extensive reading.
“Des Spielers Tod” (“Death of the Players”)
“Des Spielers Tod” is the third book in a detective story written specifically for language learners, which means that it provides helpful hints and definitions but without giving too much away.
The goal is to struggle with the readings at first so that you can later read them more easily.
In this book, you’ll find vocabulary with definitions when necessary and a full-length, engaging detective story to help you grow your vocabulary. You’ll learn common words such as those you might often hear on TV or in the papers.
“Die Dritte Hand” (“The Third Hand”)
Another detective story, “Die Dritte Hand” will offer similar benefits to “Des Spielers Tod” as it’s also written for German learners and is the second book in the series.
One of the major benefits of reading this book after “Des Spielers Tod” is that you’ll encounter many of the main characters again, which means that you can follow the story better knowing who they are and a bit about their personalities.
“Kandis Zucker” (“Sugar Candy”)
This is a very different type of book, but is nonetheless helpful and intriguing. At only 19 pages, this is the shortest e-book here—but also the most creative and abstract.
This book is comprised of seven short stories that are written to blend the styles of poetry and prose, with less concern for the plot than for the words and form of the book itself.
Students who are looking for a challenge should grab this e-book. Try to read it without constantly consulting a dictionary. The abstract nature makes it more difficult to understand, but you’ll learn many new useful words if you dedicate yourself to it.
This book is short enough that you can read it multiple times and digest more and more each time, which is an extraordinarily beneficial practice for language learners.
“Karneval in Köln” (“Carnival in Cologne”)
This is part of a series written for German learners and is designed to contain practical vocabulary and sentence structure.
This fun book follows a man who gets to experience the Cologne Carnival firsthand. It’s a crazy experience and is sure to teach the reader something new about German culture through its discussion about the carnival.
It’s medium length, but long enough to read for a couple hours without stopping. It’s relatively easy to consume without consulting a dictionary but challenging enough to learn something new.
If you enjoy this book, you can read the others in the series, too, in order to get the benefit of reading multiple installments with the same set of characters.
By using the carefully picked resources above, you can grow your vocabulary while learning about things that interest you or while enjoying a good story.
German is a fun and beautiful language, so I hope you enjoy reading these wonderful resources and growing your German knowledge along the way.
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