7 Books Every German Learner Needs
Hallo, Deutschlerner. Whether you are just starting your German learning journey or you are neck deep in the uncertain waters of the Konjunktiv 2, you will need some books to help you along your way. Today I am going to show you my personal picks for books that every German learner should have in their library. If you want any of these books, they are all linked throughout this post. The links are affiliate links, which means I get a tiny portion of the money made on that sale, but it does not cost you any more to use those links. It is just a nice way for you to help support my work.
If you want more recommendations than what I mention in this post, you should visit my Amazon Storefront where you can find all of my favorite books, movies and more for German learners.
German in Review
If you didn’t know this about me, I am a huge grammar nerd. I am a firm believer that you need to have a grasp of grammar in order to communicate effectively with any language. Many people are able to learn grammar through context and pick it up as they learn other parts of the language. I’m not that person. If you need a guide for German grammar, I have not found a better book than “German in Review”. There are several editions out now, but I believe the newest one is the fourth edition from 2003.
I had this textbook in college and was impressed enough that I had to purchase it after graduation. Each lesson comes with a general overview of the grammar topic followed by exercises that you can complete to practice what you learn. I like how thorough this book is and how much variety there is in the exercises given. It starts with the simple stuff and works all the way through some really complicated topics. So whether you are a beginner or more advanced learner, this book is a great resource to have.
Barron’s 1001 Pitfalls in German
Sometimes there are little things that go with grammar topics that can trip up German learners. If you are looking for a great way to make sure you aren’t making common mistakes with certain grammar topics, “Barron’s 1001 Pitfalls in German” is a great option. I use this book all of the time when I am planning videos on my YouTube channel as a way to make sure I have explained all of the tricky parts about a given topic. While I wouldn’t consider this book to be a complete guide to all of the pitfalls in the German language, it is still a fantastic book to have around when you are struggling with German.
Mastering German Vocabulary: A Thematic Approach
If you are learning German on your own and you aren’t exactly sure which words you should be learning for any given topic or you just want a more organized way to learn German vocabulary, I recommend “Mastering German Vocabulary: A Thematic Approach”. As the name implies, it simply lists vocabulary with example sentences based on their theme. There are sections about food, travel, doctor visits, the human body, sports, culture, religion and more.
I would approach this book as a guide for a weekly or monthly lesson. Pick a chapter or topic of interest to you. Then focus on studying the words that are in that section for that week or month. Use it as often as you can. Find ways to integrate it into your daily life. While it is helpful to have a dictionary, you can simply download that onto your phone, but this book goes so much more beyond a simple reference book. This is why it is always on my bookshelf behind my desk.
Dino lernt Deutsch
There are a ton of places you can go online to find German reading materials. All of the Grimm fairy tales are online at grimmstories.com in German and a ton of other languages. You can even read them in German side-by-side with your native language. While this is great for some people, others don’t want to read fairy tales all of the time.
Enter “Dino lernt Deutsch”. Dino is a young man who is trying to make a new life in Germany. The story is written in German, but it follows Dino’s level as you go. The books get progressively more difficult as you go along. They immerse you in German in such a way that you forget you are even reading in a different language. There are comprehension questions at the end of each chapter to make sure you understood the main points.
Another great feature of this series is that you can get the first 10 books as audiobooks. Then you can hear each book read by the author himself. And you can get your first audiobook for free if you sign up for Audible.
It is such a fantastic series and you should really just buy them all, but I have linked the books individually and in the box sets below this paragraph. I also have my very old review of the first book in the series linked there. He also released the 11th book in the series recently, which as soon as I am done reading it, I will post a review of that.
Books 1-4 in a Box Set
Books 5-8 in a Box Set
#1 Café in Berlin
#2 Ferien in Frankfurt
#3 Karneval in Köln
#4 Momente in München
#5 Ahoi aus Hamburg
#6 Plötzlich in Palermo
#7 Walzer in Wien
#8 Zurück in Zürich
#9 Digital in Dresden
#10 Schlamassel in Stuttgart
#11 Lockdown in Liechtenstein
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Einfach Deutsch lesen
I have done several reviews on my YouTube channel of books written by Angelika Bohn. I own most of her books, but I noticed that when I was writing up this post that there are 3 books that I haven’t read, so I will be purchasing these immediately. Each book in her “Einfach Deutsch lesen” series tells you right on the cover at which level they are targeted. They vary between A1 and B2.
Every single one that I have read, which is all of them except “Nachbar Nr. 5”, “Nie wieder Merle” and “Für S.”, have been fantastic. They aren’t just good for German learners. They are simply good novels no matter who you are. She has a style of storytelling that has left me saying, “Wow. I did not see that coming.” every single time.
“Der silberne Kugelschreiber” follows a pen as it is passed from one person to another in a fascinating story that is exciting to read. “Immer wieder Sascha” is a body swapping story the likes of which you have never seen before. “Falsche Adresse” starts with a mysterious letter that is sent to the main character. When she returns it to the post office, it ends up back in her mailbox. She then goes on a quest to find the origin of the letter. That quest has a ton of twists and turns. “Foto ohne Namen” starts with the main character finding a newspaper photo in his new apartment. He sets out to find out who is in it, as it doesn’t have a caption or anything other than the photo.
If any of these or all of these books by Angelika Bohn sound cool, you can find them all linked below.
Grimm Fairy Tales
I already mentioned that you can read Grimm fairy tales online for free, but I personally own a copy of them in German that I think is fantastic. I’m old fashioned in that I like having a real book in my hand when I am reading a book. I don’t want to read a book on my phone, tablet or computer.
For that reason, I purchased this book called “die schönsten Märchen”. The cover is pretty awesome and there are a ton of Grimm fairy tales in here as well as a few from Hans Christian Andersen and Ludwig Bechstein. It isn’t meant to be a German reader, so it hasn’t been written with German learners in mind. This means that some of the texts can be a bit complex, but anyone who is ready for that level of reading should definitely check out this book.
You go me on the cookie!
My fellow YouTuber and friend Dana Newman from the YouTube channel Wanted Adventure wrote a book a couple of years ago called “You go me on the cookie!”. It is a hilarious take on learning German and her struggles with it. Some of the highlights for me was her explanation of what a “Notlüge” is. In English we call these “white lies”, but the German word literally translates as “emergency lie” or “a lie out of necessity”.
When she was talking about watching a soccer match and at the end it was a tie, then someone says in German it was “unentschieden”. How can a game be undecided? Didn’t it end? She complains about the problem with “bleiben” using the verb “sein” in the Perfekt tense while not being a motion verb when using a two-way preposition. Both of those issues I have addressed in my “You’re doing it wrong” series.
Beginner German with Herr Antrim
I think I have to mention at this point that I have also written a book about German learning. It is designed for beginners and is currently only available as an e-book. One German learner sent me an email with their thoughts on the book:
I really love your course, it has given me a new lease on life, with this fascinating language. I really enjoy studying the texts along with the portability of having the MP3 recordings and watching the videos. The text, along with the Q&A have a detailed treatment that I really appreciate.