German Language Stack Exchange is a bilingual question and answer site for speakers of all levels who want to share and increase their knowledge of the German language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

This question is present as a matter of historical interest. While you are encouraged to help maintain its answers, please understand that "big list" questions are not generally allowed on German Language and Usage and will be closed per the FAQ.

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.

Note for Amazon book links: Amazon links will automatically be converted to Stackexchange affiliate links with the following syntax:<reference_number>
share|improve this question
So Harry Potter would be excluded considering your last point? – Alenanno May 30 '11 at 11:54
@Alenanno: Exactly. Otherwise, it would be great. – Tim May 30 '11 at 11:55
The original part makes it quite hard.. :P – poke May 30 '11 at 12:00
You should use the adapted scale for German texts: – Phira May 30 '11 at 12:05
@thei: Thanks, I've changed my answer and the numbers. The examples became a lot easier :) – Tim May 30 '11 at 12:33

36 Answers 36

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 :)

share|improve this answer

I very much enjoyed reading the adaption of Nathan der Weise:

Nathan und seine Kinder by Mirjam Pressler

share|improve this answer


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

share|improve this answer

A classic German book for parents to read to their children is Katze mit Hut by Simon & Desi Ruge, 1980. It's similar to Pippi Langstrumpf in style, so mostly aimed at beginners, and it's quite funny.

share|improve this answer

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?).

share|improve this answer
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
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
@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
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
@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

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.

share|improve this answer

protected by Takkat May 21 '13 at 7:11

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.