Getting Ready for German Literature Month

November is not too far off, and that means that it will soon be time for what was my favourite blogging event last year, German Literature Month!  After toying with us all by thinking about giving it a miss this time around, Caroline and Lizzy have finally given in to public pressure (I’m sure I wasn’t the only one spamming them on Twitter…) and announced the details of this year’s fiesta – sorry, Fest 🙂

While last year’s event was mainly regionally based, this time around the month is organised into four genre-based weeks:
     Week One (1st-7th) is all about Novellas, Plays and Poems
     Week Two (8th-14th) is for Literary Novels
     Week Three (15th-21st) is devoted to Genre Fiction
     Week Four (22nd-30th) is where you can read anything you like 🙂
Hopefully, there’ll be something for everybody somewhere in there…

Before the action begins, watch out for a giveaway on my blog as part of Judith’s Literary Blog Hop.  The post will go up on the 27th of October, and (of course) I will be giving away a little slice of G-Lit perfection 😉  Hopefully the winners will get to read it before the end of November…

Of course, part of the fun of this kind of event is thinking about what you’re going to choose, and I’ve been doing an awful lot of (read ‘far too much’) thinking about my plans for the month already.  I know all about what happens to the best laid plans of mice and men, but I’m willing to give it a go anyway 🙂  Here then are a few preliminary ideas as to my reading plans for November…

For Week One, I’m determined to stick with the theme and cover all text types suggested.  My novella may well be Adalbert Stifter’s Brigitta, a mid-nineteenth-century work about an unfortunate young woman, a slim volume which has been on my shelves for far too long.  I’m also planning to tackle not one, but two plays, both by giants of German-language literature.  I was intending to tackle Schiller’s Kabale und Liebe (Love and Intrigues) last year, but I got a little side-tracked…  This year, there will be no excuses, and I’ll throw in Goethe’s pastoral piece, Hermann und Dorothea for good measure, with Heinrich Heine’s poem Deutschland. Ein Wintermärchen (Germany. A Winter’s Tale) being the poetic component 🙂

For Week Two, I’ll be trying to work my way around the German-speaking world a little.  My plans at the moment include Swiss writer Peter Stamm’s Ungefähre Landschaft (Unformed Landscape), Theodor Fontane’s L’Adultera and Romanian-born writer Hertha Müller’s Herztier (translated into English under the rather unusual title The Land of Green Plums).  As I’m unlikely to try any genre fiction, I’ll be carrying on with literary works into Week Three, with Austrian writer Joseph Roth’s Hotel Savoy and Judith Hermann’s collection of short stories, Sommerhaus, Später (Summer House, Later) likely to carry me up to the end of that week.

In Week Four, I’ll be reading a mixed bag of books.  I’ll definitely be trying to fit in a few of the Grimm BrothersKinder- und Hausmärchen (Grimm’s Tales) to participate in the readalong, and while Heinrich von Kleist has no part in my plans this year (those who read my blog last year will know why…), he will be popping up in East German writer Christa Wolf’s Kein Ort, Nirgends as a character 🙂  If we add works by former Peirene Press writer, Alois Hotschnig (Leonardos Hände / Leonardo’s Hands) and future Peirene Press writer, Birgit Vanderbeke (Ich sehe was, was du nicht siehst / I Spy, with my Little Eye), then the month should just about be complete!

Of course, I doubt that this is exactly how it will all go.  As last year’s plans (and the actual final list) show, I’m not too good at keeping my promises.  Nevertheless, one promise I will keep is that I will be reading, posting and commenting as often as possible in November…

…and (naturally) that the bus will be there for the whole journey 🙂

So, over to you!  Do you have any ideas about some Germanic reading for November?  Have you read any of my suggestions?  I’d love to know what you’re all planning, so please leave a comment 🙂


30 thoughts on “Getting Ready for German Literature Month

  1. Séamus – Not so much ambitious as fictitious. I'll definitely get through this much reading – the final list though is likely to be very different. I'm already eyeing up a few tempting books which didn't make this list 😉


  2. I love that Tour Bus! Wonderful!

    I also wondered about the doability of this list, but you can really read that much in one month? Well, I know that some German works are pretty low on page counts, but others… Anyway, good luck with your reading for November. Sounds like a lot of fun.

    I'm reading a German author this month, Jule Zeh (Corpus Delicti is the Dutch title), but I don't like the book much and took a reading break from it. I will try again later though, as Nadine (another blogger) did manage to finish it and enjoyed it. Have you read any books by Zeh?


  3. Judith – I'm confident I can get through the load; there's really nothing there that would take me more than, say, three days. The Herta Müller book is the only one that I might get bogged down with.

    I've heard of Julie Zeh, but I haven't read anything of hers. I think both Caroline and Lizzy have tried at least one of her books – she's certainly very high-profile for a German-language writer 🙂


  4. Gary – Just a little poetry; nothing too ambitious 😉

    I've thought about trying 'Corpus Delicti' ('The Method'), haven't heard much about 'Dark Matter' though. Still, two out of three have mentioned Zeh so far…


  5. Miguel – I'm not expecting everyone to follow my lead; a couple is more than enough 🙂 I just take this month *very* seriously 😉

    And with my books taking me all around Europe, I'm going to need the bus to get through the month…


  6. Glad to see that the tour bus has been lovingly maintained … I need to borrow it for our virtual tour of the Grimm-Maerchenstrasse. Please deliver it to the market square in Hanau on 22nd November and hopefully we'll drive and read our way up the 600 km to Bremen by the end of the month ….

    I highly recommend Juli Zeh. Loved, loved, loved Dark Matter and found much to mull about in The Method (which I will review sometime in November).

    I have to say my German-lit TBR is mountainous and my choices for the month have changed about 6 times already – usually because I find something else that has been translated. It's been a good year for German-lit enthusiasts and I'm pretty sure that November will be the perfect crown.


  7. Well, this is meticulous! I suppose I could theoretically make a point of reading a German book or two in November, but given my world renowned inability to stick to any reading plan, I highly doubt I'll actually be able to “participate” in the event… I must commend you, though, for your ability to tackle so many books (and so many different books) at once! Of the bunch, I've only read Herztier (the English title makes some sense given how difficult it would be to translate the original, but it's still a bizarre choice) – it's a strange book, but I'm rather glad I read it. I'm really curious to see what you think of it.


  8. I'm excited for Germ Lit Month II also, Tony, but that hasn't translated over into planning yet. Would like to read one shorter work + one longer work, but I'm still debating which ones. Too many outstanding choices!


  9. Oops… has the comment been swallowed?
    Here goes again…
    Thanks a lot of participating and your plans are really ambitious. Wonderful choices.
    I'm so thrilled to hear that one of my favourite authors will be translated – Birgit Vanderbeke. She is one of the best examples of what great German literature does.
    I hope you will try her. For yu who read German – Undine Gruenter is amazing as well.


  10. I have bad news for you that will scramble your plans: Hermann and Dorothea is a poem, a “domestic epic.”

    I guess this fact does not do so much damage. The pairing with the Heine is interesting.

    At first I had an ambitious Stifterian plan for the month, but I believe it will be postponed and replaced by short texts. Trakl, Schnitzler, maybe Rilke, I don't know. All Austrian.


  11. Ambitious plans indeed – I wish you well with them! I think I will stick to perhaps 2-3 books and a book of poetry, as it's been ages since I've read German literature and I do really enjoy it. However, I depend on either ordering from or on what my local libraries here in France can offer (and I cannot bear the thought of reading German books translated in French).
    I have read Julie Zeh's 'Dark Matter', because it is about physicists and my life seems to be filled iwht physicists, but I wasn't that impressed with it. Interesting but a bit dull in places.


  12. I am planning on taking part in German Lit Month for the first time, but my plans are nowhere near as ambitious as yours – how do you manage to read so quickly?!! I will be lucky to read one book per week of the the event, but I will be following your progress with real interest. Viel Spass, as they say!!


  13. Really lokking forward to this event. I made some good choices last year and am still arguing with myself over next month's picks. I have the Stifter here (unread) so I'm interested in your opinion.


  14. The Tour Bus would be great for Finnish literature month, thinking of Charming Mass Suicide by Arto Paasilina.

    Great list, ambitious.

    I have Concrete by T. Bernhard and Berlin Alexanderplatz by Döblin.
    I'll never manage to post in the right weeks, supposing I manage to read the books at all.

    I'm curious to see what everyone's going to read.


  15. Lizzy – Well, I do have an idea for a Grimm post which may well feature the bus – and a stop for a bite to eat…

    Biblibio – I've been saving them up in expectation. And if I don't read my German-language books, how will I justify buying new ones? 😉

    Richard – Certainly a lot out there, and there are a lot of short works to choose from – and a couple of *very* long ones…


  16. Caroline – Well, I'm hoping she's good as I'm keen to get on to 'Das Muschelessen' next – and get in in front of the Peirene subscribers for once 😉

    Tom – I did realise that once I'd had a look – luckily I still have the Schiller 🙂

    And be careful – how Austrian are all those 'Austrians'? As Austrian as the Ukrainian-born Joseph Roth? (I've been on Wikipedia research duties again!).

    Marina – If you have a Kindle, you can get a lot of classics for free – a few of my choices will be E-copies 🙂


  17. Sarah – A lot of them are very short (I couldn't get through that many long novels in German in a month!). Good luck with whatever you choose 🙂

    Guy – I've heard good things about Stifter (mainly from Tom!), so I'm looking forward to it. I may even try more Stifter if 'Brigitte' is any good.

    Emma – Well, I'm hoping to avoid mass suicide, but my post plan is not a million miles away from this…

    I've had 'Berlin Alexanderplatz' on my shelf for ages, but I'm not sure I have time for it this month – I want to spread myself around as much as possible, and that one book would probably take me about a week to finish 😦


  18. She has written a lot, and fairly regularly won prizes, that's why I never understood why she wasn't translated. “Ich will meinen Mord”was the only one I really didn't like. I think I've still got one I haven't read yet… Temptation… She really is good. I'm sure you will like her.


  19. Wonderful reading list, Tony! I have read short stories by a few of the writers that you have mentioned – Schiller, Goethe, Heinrich Heine – but most of the other writers are new to me. It is nice that you are planning to read in the same way that the event is organized. I don't think I will be reading any plays or poems. I would like to read Schiller's 'The Robbers' and one of Dürrenmatt's plays sometime. Happy reading! Will look forward to reading your reviews this month. And thanks for spamming Caroline and Lizzy and making them bow to public pressure 🙂


  20. Vishy – Thanks 🙂 I didn't really stick to the themes last year (apart from the readalongs), but I'm determined to try most of it this year – no gnre fiction, but some non-fiction and short stories instead. And yes, I take great pride in the fact that I leant very hevaily on caroline to do it all again 😉

    Lindsay – I've already started, and there are a lot more to come 🙂


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