“From all the worlds that man has made, the world of books is the most powerful one”, wrote poet Heinrich Heine more than 150 years ago. Last week we introduced you to the first half of our ten favorite books about Berlin. Today the places 5 to 1 of our Top10 Berlin Book follow:
place5: WHY WE TOOK THE CAR (Wolfgang Herrndorf)
On a journey to love, recognition, and a couple of answers, a 14 year-old outsider and a russian late repatriate cruise in an old Lada through eastern Germany, always on the road to the middle of nowhere. Can a literary road movie be any more sentimental and German? Wolfgang Herrndorf, who after a long fight with cancer committed suicide in 2013, created with Why We Took the Car a young-adult fiction that is a monument dedicated not only to that one summer in Brandenburg. The beginning is Berlin and the end is Berlin, and in between there’s the incredible east German width of growing up.
place4: ALONE IN BERLIN (Hans Fallada)
Having been published already in 1947 ,the novel about the historic couple Otto and Elise Hampel alias Otto and Anna Quangel only became an international bestseller a couple of years ago. Starting from their apartment in Berlin-Mitte the carpenter and his wife distribute leaflets and call for resistance against Hitler. They get busted, denounced, killed. Hans Fallada was the first writer who had not emigrated to write a novel about resistance against the Nazis, and up until today it is one of the best. In the end there is hope, and prospects for a brighter future. Worth reading!
place3: DIE KOSMONAUTEN (Richard David Precht)
Since Who am I? And if so, how many? Precht has had a reputation as the most important pop-philosophers of the present. In 2002 his less recognized novel Die Kosmonauten, an ever-pondering, wonderful work about love in the time after the turnabout. While the last cosmonaut orbits the earth aimlessly in a Soyuz spacecraft because his native Soviet Union does not exist anymore, Georg and Rosalie fall in love, experience their Bohemia in Berlin-Mitte, always looking for meaning and truth. When their time comes to an end the one settles down and lets the other travel on, aimlessly. It hasn’t been published in English yet, but it’s high time, since this is one of the best German novels of the last decade – a fantastic book, not only for people in their late twenties.
place2: EMIL AND THE DETECTIVES (Erich Kästner)
And Kästner once again! The children’s book about sharp Emil and his detective friends of the same age in the wild Berlin of the golden twenties is a timeless classic. There are countless film, audio and stage adaptions, but the exciting and touching pursuits through the big city are still best served in their original form: as a hardcover with the illustrations of Walter Trier. To bury yourself in it, or even better: read it to someone.
place1: HERR LEHMANN (Sven Regener)
For years now Frank Lehmann has escaped the expectations of the world, untouchable and with the charm of a greasy leather sofa in a vacuous corner bar he lives his Kreuzberg-style aimlessness. It’s the year of the turnabout 1989 and Herr Lehmann (“Mr Lehmann”), how his friends call him, is threatened by his 30th birthday. He ponders and philosophizes, wins and loses love, sees truth and madness only to return to a pub again. Around him walls are coming down and the world changes while Herr Lehmann empties the content of life from a beer glass. Sven Regener, Berliner-by-choice and chief poet of the Band Element of Crime, has created the most likeable anti-hero of literary history, and he has written a Berlin-Book that really deserves the name. A novel like an afternoon in the late shop around the corner: bizarre, loveable and kaput – read it!
Don’t hesitate and see your book dealer, so you can start dreaming about Berlin. With our ten favorite books you will be prepared for the ultimate Berlin experience, and following the traces of the protagonists you can soon explore the city yourself. Make a reservation for your bed at Industriepalast Hostel and have your own Berlin adventure. And maybe afterward you’ll write the next bestseller about the city!?
Enjoy the books,
Blogger at Industriepalast Hostel
is Berliner by choice and a passionate backpacker himself. As a receptionist he knows the real hostel life; as a blogger he's been writing for Industriepalast Hostel's Berlin blog since 2014.