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I'm looking for simple but well-known and interesting German literature to improve my reading comprehension as an intermediate learner. It should fulfill the following criteria:

  • Well-known: Either classical literature, or contemporary and popular.
  • Interesting: Should not be written for young children. Harry Potter passes, Green Eggs and Ham does not.
  • Simple: On average, the sentences should not be very long, and most words among the 4000 most common. To quantify, let's say around 70 German Flesch Reading Ease. I took some (too small) random samples and found that Schätzing's Der Schwarm scores 30, while Zweig's Schachnovelle scores 55 and the Harry Potter translation 75.
  • „Standard“: Not much deviation from Hochdeutsch, and not much slang.
  • Original: Originally written in German. Revisions that make the work conform to neue Rechtschreibung and update archaic words are welcome but not necessary.

Please detail any other properties that make the book useful for learners. One book per answer, please.


Please add Title, Author, short description, optional ISBN / link to database, and a note on the difficulty level if possible. Look at an example answer given further down to get an idea of a consistent formatting. You answers here may be written in German or in English.


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The original part makes it quite hard.. :P –  poke May 30 '11 at 12:00
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You should use the adapted scale for German texts: de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lesbarkeitsindex#Flesch_Reading_Ease –  Phira May 30 '11 at 12:05
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35 Answers 35

In my opinion, the best things ever written in German language deal with philosophy. If you are interested in politics and history, give the Communist Manifesto a try. It is a simple read, as it was meant to be understood by working class people.

Other writers in German language who say meaningful things in a (rather) simple language include Sigmund Freud, Karl Popper, Arthur Schopenhauer, Konrad Lorenz.

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I just finished re-reading "der Fliegenmelker" by Rafik Shami. A serie of short stories from people living in Damascus in the 50'. Very funny, very human and easy to read.

Because I read mainly during my public transit times, I prefer short stories :)

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Drachenreiter

Cornelia Funke, 1997, ISBN-13: 978-3791504544, Amazon

Interessant geschriebene Geschichte über den Drachen Lung, der sich mit seinen Gefährten auf die Suche nach einem sicheren Platz für seine Artgenossen macht. In der Menschenwelt gibt es nämlich keinen Platz mehr für Drachen.

Schwierigkeit: mittel bis fortgeschritten

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There are thess special kind of books called Easy Reader. They are adult books but then rewritten in a limited vocabulary. There are a few levels depending on the size of your vocabulary.

Look at this site.

http://www.easyreaders.eu

http://www.easyreaders.eu/german/elementary/easy-reader-a-%28a2%29.aspx

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Der Alchimist by Paulo Coelho. It was originally written in Portuguese, but the translation is excellent, I find. It's an easy read and it's a fantastic book (it might just change your life, who knows?).

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It would be nice to know why I was voted down. I understand it doesn't fulfill the "original" criteria, however it's perfect for beginners - it's easy to understand, and the translation isn't inaccurate. –  Johannes Jun 6 '11 at 3:50
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I'm not the downvoter, but if I were a native speaker of English and there's a good English translation of the book, then I'd always prefer that one. –  Hendrik Vogt Jun 6 '11 at 10:39
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@Hendrik: Not if you're trying to learn that language, and it's an easy read. Either way, it's a great book :p –  Johannes Jun 6 '11 at 21:05
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There are so many books written originally in German that I can't believe there are enough good and easy reads among those ... –  Hendrik Vogt Jun 6 '11 at 21:22
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@Hendrik - I'm not saying the other books aren't good reads. I was just trying to contribute @.@ –  Johannes Jun 6 '11 at 23:57
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protected by Takkat May 21 '13 at 7:11

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