I am looking for recommendations for novels and short stories (and to lesser degree plays and poems) that fit the following criteria:

  • they can be read at level B2 of the CEFR;
  • they were published after 1980;
  • they were not specifically written or simplified for learners of German.

Answers can point to web pages that list such literature, or based on recommendations by teachers. In both cases, the recommendations need to be explicitly for level B2 (not B1 or C1); the appropriate CEFR level should not be based on guess work.

My question targets level B2 since that is typically the highest level that my Chinese tandem partners have had so far. The goal is to support extensive reading. (1980 is a somewhat arbitrary cut-off date. I want to avoid recommendations such as Grimm's fairy tales; a German teacher once recommended this to one of my tandem partners. I thought it was a bad choice, and experience bore this out.)

Books written for learners of German are easy enough to find in good bookshops (and are also sold online) but these are outside the scope of my question.

  • Have you tried: google.com/… Commented May 16, 2017 at 16:35
  • @AnthonyPham As I said, I am not looking for abridged or simplified texts, which are easy enough to find with a normal search engine.
    – Tsundoku
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 17:08
  • Okay, that makes more sense Commented May 17, 2017 at 1:03
  • @AnthonyPham I have added a paragraph that points out that simplified texts specifically written for learners of German are outside the scope of my question.
    – Tsundoku
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 9:22

1 Answer 1


The page Deutsche Lektüre für unterschiedliche Niveaustufen by did deutsch-institut lists several books for level B2 that have been recommended by teachers. Almost half of them were published before 1980.

Here are those published after 1980 (listed in reverse chronological order):

  • Erebos by Ursula Poznanski (teenage fiction, 2011)
  • Tschick by Wolfgang Herrndorf (2010)
  • Die Nacht, die Lichter by Clemens Meyer (short stories, 2008)
  • Herr Lehmann by Sven Wegener (2003)
  • Tito ist tot by Maria Bodrozic (short stories, 2002)
  • Die 13 1/2 Leben des Käpt'n Blaubär by Walter Moers (children's book, 1999)
  • Am kürzeren Ende der Sonnenallee by Thomas Brussig (not Thorsten Brussig) (1999)

The others were published before 1980 (here listed in reverse chronological order):

  • Krabat by Ottfried Preußler (children's book, 1971)
  • Der Räuber Hotzenplotz by Ottfried Preußler (children's book, 1962)
  • Ende einer Dienstfahrt by Heinrich Böll (1966)
  • Draußen vor der Tür, a play by Wolfgang Borchert (1948)
  • Emil und die Detektive by Erich Kästner (children's book, 1929)
  • Der Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse (1927)

The FluentU article 4 Awesome Young Adult Books for Intermediate German Reading Practice lists four books, two of which are translations (Harry Potter, Das Schicksal ist ein mieser Verräter / The Fault in Our Stars by John Green). The two German titles are:

  • Crazy by Benjamin Lebert;
  • Tschick by Wolfgang Herrndorf (2010, winner of German Youth Literature Prize in 2011).

The article also recommends looking at winners of the German Youth Literature Prize.

The article Top 5 Novels for Learning German on the Germanica blog recommends the novels Rubinrot, Saphirblau and Smaragdgrün from the Liebe geht durch alle Zeiten trilogy by Kerstin Gier. The other recommendations are older (many of Kafka's short stories are quite readable at level B2 but were published long before 1980) or require a higher reading level (Das Parfum by Patrick Süsskind, Faust by Goethe).

  • 1
    One could read “Der Steppenwolf", but B2 is not enough to enjoy/understand it. It's deep.
    – c.p.
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 20:20
  • @c.p. I have heard that before. Siddhartha would probably a better suggestion but isn't listed on that website. Borchert's short stories and Brecht's Kalendergeschichten may also be readable at B2 but I don't have independent sources for this.
    – Tsundoku
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 9:14

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