German books you have to read before you die
What are famous German books?
1. Die Blechtromme/The Tin Drum - Günter Grass
The first in the novelist's Danziger Trilogy, magical realism meets political and religious commentary in this 1959 classic. It's narrated by the main character Oskar Matzerath, a Pole living in a mental hospital in the 1950s. In 1979, it was made into an award-winning film.
2. Der Tod in Venedig/Death in Venice - Thomas Mann
Death in Venice is a 1912 novella in which philosophy, erotic obsession and a mid-life crisis play out during a famous writer's sojourn to Venice. Part tragedy, part liberation tale, this book is one of the writer's earlier works. Mann is also famous for writing the 1947 book Doctor Faustus.
3. Der Vorleser/The Reader - Bernhard Schlink
The Reader by Bernhard Schlink was written in 1995 and quickly became a modern classic. It gained even more notoriety when it was made into a movie in 2008 starring Kate Winslet. In the book, an illiterate SS guard has an affair with a teenage boy.
4. Effi Briest - Theodor Fontane
This 1895 realist novel tells the tale of 17-year-old Effi Breist, a woman married off to a man much older than her. This book is a quietly subversive and gently political; it's an adultery tragedy that shares similarities with Madame Bovary.
5. Berlin Alexanderplatz - Alfred Döblin
Berlin Alexanderplatz is the most famous work from Alfred Doblin, one of Germany's most notable modern realist writers. This 1929 book explores the internal and external struggles of a criminal living in Berlin's underclass during the dawn of Nazi Germany. It's often cited as one of the best novels of all time.
6. Im Westen Nicht Neues/All Quiet on the Western Front - Erich Maria Remarque
This war novel tells the story of a German soldier who enlists himself in World War I. Published between the wars in 1929, the book explores the difficulty of soldiers returning to civilian life as well as the senselessness of war. Another book that is sometimes listed as the best book of all time.
7. Der Zauberberg/The Magic Mountain - Thomas Mann
Thomas Mann is one of the most acclaimed German novelists of all time, which is why two of his works appear on this list. This coming-of-age tale follows Hans Castorp, a young Hamburg merchant who travels to the mountains of Switzerland to live in a sanatorium -- an exploration of pre-war Europe.
8. Das Leiden des jungen Werthers/The Sorrows of Young Werther - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Published in 1774, an important novel in the Sturm und Drang Romantic period of German literature. A tale of painful unrequited love told through a collection of letters from the young artist named Werther to his friend.
9. Die unendliche Geschichte/The Neverending Story - Michael Ende
This 1979 fantasy children's novel tells the classic tale of childhood struggles against the backdrop of a magical land. Protagonist Bastian Balthazar Bux escapes his miserable home life to discover the world of Fantastica, which he finds in a book named The Never-Ending Story. As he enters the story himself, he learns about compassion, bravery and friendship.