Top books to read about Germany

At some point, whether you are planning to move here, just arrived or, like me, was here for years before realising you probably should know more about where Germany came from and why things are the way they are, you will start looking around for some literary support.

I’m not going to try and replace Amazon here since they do a pretty good job of providing a full selection of books on everything that related to Germany, but here is a pre-filtered list for you in case you want to save a few clicks 😉

I have, however, taken the liberty to read through a bunch of them and can provide a list of my favourites.

The shortest History of Germany by James Hayes – hands down my top book and read it in just a few days while travelling. This book deals with a couple of thousand years of history in a relatively small volume but explains many of Germany’s modern day relationships with its neighbours especially France, Poland and Russia. And although the book was completed in 2015, the topic of Russia and Ukraine is ominously highlighted and explained. Additionally for anyone trying to understand the growing popularity of the AfD the second half of the book is full of answers. I honestly had no idea how great a difference historically there was between west and east Germany long before the Second World War, or about the long and troubled relationship between Germany and Prussia.

As mentioned, I read this while travelling hence the gratuitous main photo with a backdrop of Bali’s cliffs!

German Men sit down to Pee – going from a serious history book to a lighthearted and irreverent collection of cultural quirks and anecdotes. This makes an excellent present for a newbie to Germany but don’t take it too seriously. I enjoyed flicking through and reading random pages, but there are a bunch of inaccurate explanations or regional examples used for the whole country. Still good fun though!

A Concise History of Germany – heaviest of the books I would recommend and verges on an academic text book so this is one for more serious readers. Make sure you get the 3rd edition though from 2018 as there are some major updates 2004 edition (understandably). It is still readable even though a little dry at is loaded towards Moden history so not as much fun as my top choice.

German Survival Guide – last one in my list is perfect again as a present for a new arrival or just for someone visiting on holiday. This is the most practical book I would recommend. It’s a mixture of language, pronunciation and cultural tips, including for example how to behave if you find yourself on a nudist beach!

I’m sorry to say that I haven’t found anything specifically interesting that focuses on the Hessen or Frankfurt region. Let me know if you spot a good book that I have missed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.