Sunday, June 12, 2011

Foreign Language Books

If you have no one to practice with when studying a foreign language, reading is one of the best ways to go. Fortunately the Internet offers us plenty of news sources and public domain books on many different websites. Still as you progress through learning you will eventually encounter and accumulate books in that particular language. This post is essentially me showing off some of my German language books I have that are interesting for one reason or another

When I had time off during a semester in spent in Berlin, I would spend a lot of time on Unter Den Linden, people watching. Not only is Unter Den Linden where the Brandenburg Gate is, it is also part of the city where the Berlin Wall was constructed. Today it is a huge attraction with a lot of shops and has people from all over Europe as well as the world. Humboldt University is there as well, and during certain days they have a used book sale out front.

It is there that I got this book for five euro:
a German copy of All Quiet on the Western Front published in 1929. Other than the fact that it smells like musty cigar, there is nothing unusual about the book. What is interesting is that the Nazis would have burned this book had one of them, or a sympathizer found it. It is only a little ways down Unter Den Linden, at Bebelplatz, that the infamous Nazi book burnings took place in 1933.

Another interesting book I have was actually purchased in a used book store in Massachusetts. The store had purchased all the books of a deceased professor at an estate sale, and now were selling each of the books individually. A great deal of them were in German, or dealt with contemporary issues (at the time of the writing of the books) in German society. Here is one that I purchased: 
Do You Love Germany? Feelings on the Situation of the Country

Published in 1985, each chapter is an essay written by a different person. The very first chapter is aptly entitled "Nein".

I also have a copy of the infamous Struwwelpeter.

While hopefully no one would read this book in a serious context to their children today, I found the last copy in a children's book store in Germany. This copy has all the original illustrations and is intended for children with it's binding and thick pages. I should also note the children's books are a great way to start off reading when you are first learning a language.

Finally the last book I want to show you is the Prager Spukgestalten. It has a bad spine, so I can't hold it open to take pictures, which unfortunately is a shame because every other page has a great illustration to accompany the traditional stories told on each accompanying page.

Sweet monster guy on the back of the book
It is from Prague in the 60's, and in German. I also purchased this from the used book store. Unfortunately I have not read much if it so I can't comment on the contents. A lot of the illustrations are entertaining. It will be interesting to see the context of these stories based on the time and place of their publication. Perhaps in a future update?


  1. Reading is a great way to learn a language, but for me, it's harder to write than to read, that's why I created my blog, to practice my english writing.

  2. yep agree... it's a good way to learn languages but so it's tv

  3. Shock-Headed Peter is such a bizarre book. I'm honestly very glad that that was not read to me when I was a child.

  4. Great tip. I can't say I've read any of the books you have here but I'm trying to make my way through The Alchemist in Spanish. It's not that hard actually. That said, my teacher keeps giving me Mario Benedeti to read and it's insanely hard.

  5. Under den Linden mean: under the tilia, isn't it?