Updated : Jan 10, 2020 in Book Reviews

Top 10 German Books You Can Feature in Your Book Essay

Are you looking for a German book to write an essay about? You just came to the right place! This article aims to give you ten best options of book titles worthy of a read and a highlight on your next essay.


Varying from the late 19th century to the last couple of years, these German masterpieces have reached the international readership. Whatever title you decide to use, your essay is sure to be one for the books.


RELATED: Find German to English translation services here.


Ten German Good Reads for Your Book Essay


  1. Theodor Fontane’s Effi Briest – 1896. This novel conveys the story of two people who are entangled in the shackles of society. Effi Briest is a young girl, born and raised form a traditional Prussian aristocracy, who marries a much older and budding politician inept of love and romance.


Readers find this a poignant work of a beautiful yet tragic story.


  1. Thomas Mann’s Der Tod in Venedig (Death in Venice) – 1912. Thomas Mann’s most celebrated works are perhaps Buddenbrooks and Der Zauberberg (The Magic Mountain). But if you are a beginner and still unfamiliar about Mann’s style, Der Tod in Venedig can give you a good perception of his writing.


This book is about a well-known writer, Gustav, who is in Venice for a holiday vacation and becomes infatuated with a young boy.



  1. Franz Kafka’s Die Verwandlung (Metamorphosis) – 1915. This probably is the most famous work of Franz Kafka. Die Verwandlung is a story of Gregor Samsa who wakes up one morning from a nightmare and finds himself becoming a “gigantic insect-like creature.”


The story seems terrifying as you read the first lines, but you do not want to put this book down once you start.



  1. Ernst Jünger’s Storm of Steel – 1920. Storm of Steel tells about what Ernst Jünger lived through on the Western Front during the First World War. Originally published in 1920, this work becomes one of the earliest personal accounts to be printed.


If you want to know what happened during WW1 from personal experience, try this book.


  1. Alfred Döblin’s Berlin Alexanderplatz – 1929. Berlin Alexanderplatz made it to “The Top 100 Books of All Time” as listed by The Guardian.


This classic work recounts the story of Franz Biberkopf, an ex-convict who vows to live a renewed and decent life after being released from Berlin prison. Was he able to fulfill his promise? Read to find out.


  1. E. M. Remarque’s Im Westen Nichts Neues (All Quiet on the Western Front) – 1929. The author, Erich Maria Remarque, is a World War 1 German veteran. This work describes the German soldiers’ severe physical and mental trauma during the war and their lack of involvement from civilian life after the battle.


  1. Günter Grass’s Die Blechtrommel (The Tin Drum) – 1959. This book is about Oscar Matzerath’s life story, with a highlight on his experiences in the mental hospital during the ’50s.


According to The Guardian, this book thoroughly describes the twentieth century “in all its glories and catastrophes—the moods, atmospheres, manias, streams, currents, histories and under-histories.”


  1. Bernard Schlink’s Der Vorleser (The Reader) – 1995. Der Vorleser is classified in the genre of Vergangenheitsbewältigung. It is a term used to portray post-war endeavors to accept and understand the Nazi past, which is one of the well-known practices outside of Germany.


It has a film adaptation in 2008, with Kate Winslet as the lead actress winning an Oscar for her performance.


  1. W. G. Sebald’s Austerlitz – 2001. This is the fourth and final book of Sebald before his unexpected death in 2001.


The story describes the journey of Jacques Austerlitz, a man who came to Britain as a young boy from Prague.


Sebald’s writing style is described as “its own” genre—slightly out-of-date but still fascinating.


  1. Christian Kracht’s Imperium (Imperium: A Fiction of the South Seas) – 2012. This is an amusing story about a vegetarian nudist from Nuremberg who aims to set up a religion that worships the coconuts and the sun.


Imperium, though a bit flippant, is based on a true story.

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