German » Reading » Study Books

Books for learning grammer, vocabulary and sentence construction.

15 Minute German
15 Minute German by DK
This was recommended by my tutor as a good book for learning day-to-day vocabulary. The front and back covers fold out, and can be used to hide the answers as you test yourself. After the first couple of chapters the flaps don’t always cover the answers. And do I really need to know the German for hamster? Each page is a comfortable portion of learning, and it is published by DK so bright and colourful layouts.
All-in-One German for Dummies
All-in-One German for Dummies by Foster, Christensen and Fox
This book includes five books – German for Dummies, German for Dummies Audio Set, German Phrases for Dummies, Intermediate German for Dummies and German Essentials for Dummies. There is a companion CD for speaking and listening skills. It is a large, heavy book, comprehensive, thorough, a good reference, but not very colourful or encouraging. I don’t like buying books for “dummies” either, it is a self-derogating way to start learning.
Der Vorleser: Literature Study Guide for AS/A-level German
Der Vorleser: Literature Study Guide for AS/A-level German by Paul Elliot
This is an A and AS level study guide for the novel Der Vorleser (The Reader). It is clearly presented, but thin – 96 pages. I am not taking an A or AS level but very much enjoyed this book. It has introduced me to the novel without needing to have good enough German to read the novel, and the elements that make the novel interesting are dissected within the study guide, for example, obsession, guilt and post-war retribution. Some sections are in German, but mostly it is in English. There is a dictionary at the end of each chapter which I found quite useless - a bigger dictionary at the end of the book would have been better.
Easy Learning German Grammer & Practice
Easy Learning German Grammer & Practice by Collins Dictionaries
A typical Collins reference book - clear, nicely presented, not too dense. Lots of examples, lots of tips and back-references and lots of exercises. One problem – it does use a large vocabulary in the examples, if I don’t recognise a word or its gender, I have to break from reading to look it up before I can make sense of the example. Contains all the grammar I will ever need, and thin enough to pack into a suitcase.
German in three months
German in three months by DK
When I started learning German this was the first study book I bought, which was a mistake because it turns out Hugo’s “in three months” series are dull and unevenly paced. The vocabulary is limited and the book doesn’t dissect grammar the way that the Dummies or Collins books do. Neither a phrasebook nor grammar guide, the surprising thing is these books are published by DK, who are otherwise known for their bright and clear presentation.
Language Hacking German
Language Hacking German by Benny Lewis
This book goes at it from a different direction, preparing the reader to answer questions and talk about themselves in a new language with confidence and fluency. I particularly found the process of translating by filling in missing words in a sentence very helpful, and have not seen that before. The book is positive and not boring, although halfway through I stopped doing any of the exercises that didn't have the answers in the back. There are online resources that accompany the book (free!) for developing listening skills and these are accessible on a mobile phone's browser so you can use them out-and-about.
Living German (7th Edition)
Living German (7th Edition) by R W Buckley
A self-study course with CD, starts with the basics and over 43-ish chapters covers both beginner and intermediate aspects of German language. Most chapters start with a story about a German family, followed by the vocabulary for that story, and then some grammar lessons and exercises. The book is constantly assessing the student’s ability with exercises at the end of each chapter, and there are whole chapters devoted to self-assessment. At the end of the book there is a grammar summary, dictionary, and notes on German life and culture. A comprehensive tutorial written by an established educational author.