Another year. Another group of books. Last year I tried to take a small break from German language books in order to give myself a mental break. This year the list is klein aber fein — or so I’m telling myself. I’m a little disappointed that my reading list isn’t longer. 2015 reading list count: 3 books.
But, as a non-native German speaker reading almost exclusively German language books, I learned something important. Don’t get stuck. I started 2015 off with Heinrich Böll’s Die verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum. For me and my skill level, the book is a little too, for lack of a better term, literary. I struggled to get through each page. I got so discouraged that I didn’t want to read. I simply didn’t pick up the book. Or any book, for that matter. (Instead I seemingly pulled the old school trick and saw the movie instead.)
Sometimes it’s better to put a book down, put it aside, and pick up another book instead. Keep your motivation up and your courage.
So, instead, I moved on. Here’s what I did end up reading in 2015.
Berni Mayer’s Black Mandel
After reading Berni Mayer’s debut novel, Mandels Büro, I had known I had to continue with his Max Mandel/Siggi Singer crime novel series. Where the first book establishes the former music journalists as private investigators, the second book, Black Mandel, sees the unlikely duo struggling to keep their business afloat. But Max and Siggi end up in Norway trying to track down a legendary death metal musician who has gone M.I.A.
Like with its predecessor, Black Mandel is entertaining, witty and a thoroughly enjoyable read. The series’ third installment, Der groβe Mandel, is undoubtedly on my To Read list.
Helmut Dietl and Benjamin von Stuckrad-Barre’s Zettl
I had a specific shopping list when I visited Munich this past summer. Acquiring director Helmut Dietl’s Zettl on DVD was on that list. Then I unexpectedly found the film’s screenplay in the bargain bin at a Hugendubel book store. Check!
Co-written by Dietl and Benjamin von Stuckrad-Barre, a personal favorite of mine, the story follows Max Zettl. A hustler in the truest sense, Zettl is setting up a tabloid newspaper in Berlin and getting himself and his associates into plenty of trouble along the way.
What makes Zettl’s screenplay an interesting read – especially from a German learner’s point of view – is that it isn’t a novel. You get to read directions to the actors and other notes. This screenplay, in particular, is also written in dialect. If you were looking for a way to get some practice with local dialects from Berlin to Bavaria, this is the screenplay for you!
Benjamin Lebert’s Crazy
Published in 1999 by 16-year old author Benjamin Lebert, Crazy is a teenage boy’s coming of age story. The narrator, also named Benjamin Lebert, changes schools for the fifth time. At his new boarding school, he becomes close friends with a group of fellow students. They talk about girls, smoke cigarettes and dream about a life away from the confines of their school. They all have their problems; Benni’s parents’ marriage seems to be crumbling and his arm and leg on his left side have limited mobility.
Rather serious and written with a somewhat literary frame of mind, Crazy is thoughtful, introspective and a relatively uncomplicated read that allows you to reflect on the story.
What made your reading list in 2015? And what do you have lined up for 2016?