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It goes without saying that reading is a fantastic way to improve your German in an enjoyable way. Today I’d like to recommend a book I read recently. It was originally written in English, but there is a German translation available. Its subject matter is World War II, the Holocaust, and Nazi Germany.
Why am I recommending this book? Aside from the fact that it’s brilliantly written and presented, I believe that this book is suitable for all levels!
The book I am referring to a graphic novel called Maus, written by American cartoonist Art Spiegelman. It is a true, dialogue-centred story based on interviews with Art’s father, Wladek Spiegelman, a Polish Jew who survived the Holocaust. The book is famous for its depiction of the different races and nationalities as animals: Spiegelman draws the Jews as mice, the Germans as cats, the non-Jewish Poles as pigs, the Americans as dogs, the Swedes as reindeer and the French as frogs. Despite it being an American novel, its original title is actually the German word Maus instead of the English Mouse.
Its cover certainly attracts attention, too. In fact, Maus was banned from Russian bookshops in April 2015 because of the swastika on its cover, following a law banning any Nazi propoganda in the country. This is despite the fact that there is no Nazi propaganda in Maus whatsoever.
Although there are numerous textbooks written on this subject and this era of German history, it can make for rather heavy reading at times. Reading Maus is a great way to learn about German history in a different format to what you may be used to, and is a great way to complement your regular German lessons.
If this learning approach appeals to you, Transparent Language have developed a method of language learning called DABL – Declaratively Accelerated Blended Learning – which you may be interested in. This approach is based on the belief that, in their own words, ‘combining technology and human instruction is more powerful than either computer learning or human instruction alone.’ They liken effective language learning to exercise, wherein doing cardio (taking German lessons) is not enough. To achieve quicker results, you must do things like strength training, body conditioning and healthy eating, too (watching German TV shows, reading German books, and talking to native German speakers, amongst other things). Follow this link to read more about it!
I hope I have inspired you to read what has fast become one of my favourite books. If you have any suggestions for books (either in German or about aspects of German history/culture), or about ways to improve language ability through reading, do leave a comment and let us all know about it!