If you discover interesting German books or blog posts, your motivation to read them will come from your interest in the story rather than improving your German. Paradoxically learning as a by-product is exactly the feature that makes reading such a great learning strategy.
It is something you can start doing even if you are quite early in your language learning journey. You’re able to figure out the meaning from the context rather than simply knowing every single word by heart.
Reading also has another benefit — you reinforce the things you already learned by doing other things. If you learned something by speaking to your German colleague or in your German class, coming across this word in a book or newspaper will help you reinforce the memory.
That said, it is not easy to figure out where to start. There are free German books scattered across the Internet, but most of them are quite old children books and fairy tales that aren’t likely to catch your fancy. Here is a list of 5 resources that you might find more entertaining.
Stories for improving vocabulary for German learners
These books with short stories are written especially for German language learners and come in different flavors and difficulty. They are a great way to get started with reading in German without too much stress.
Short stories in German for Beginners.An unmissable collection of eight unconventional and captivating short stories for young and adult learners.
100 German short stories for beginners. In this book, you will find 100 daily life short stories in the German language on different topics. Each section takes 1–2 minutes. Important words and phrases relevant to each topic were selected carefully. The aim of this book is to teach different topics, words, and phrases associated with them in a short period of time.
Adapted fiction German books
Another great way to get started. These books have been adapted from the real bestsellers. The language, storytelling, details have been simplified for you to be able to follow the stories in German without going too much into sophisticated detail. Here are my 4 favorite ones:
Online news websites
Reading news in German is another great way to expand your vocabulary. It improves your understanding of specialized vocabulary such as economic or political terms. Here are 5 news websites that you might want to start following:
Die Zeit — an authoritative news portal that reports on global and local topics.
Deutsche Welle— along with daily news, you can also read simplified news.
Spiegel — another heavy-weight news authority on the German news space that puts an emphasis on complex political, economic and social analysis
Die Welt — It is one of the oldest news agencies that has been around since the 1940s with a focus on global news.
Focus — in addition to political reporting, focus also caters to topics of everyday relevance from the realms of family, health, finances, and career.
Thematic blogs and online magazines
Purpose: Learn more casual German vocabulary compared to news websites. Helps to stay engaged as you can follow blogs with topics that interest you such as cooking or crypto. Here are 5 leading German blogs across topics for you to start with:
- Planet Backpack is a fascinating and one of Germany’s top visited travel blogs.
- My Monk is a blog about meditation, self-awareness, and peace. It has hundreds of thousands of readers and is known for profound, deep, and diverse content.
- Have Fun At Work is a blog that hails from Austria and is known for practical content on professional growth and self-development. In their own words, you will find the best articles, reports, quotations, tips and information for a self-determined and meaningful way of working and living, business management and entrepreneurship.
- Marathon Fitness provides you with step-by-step strategies for your dream body, which you can start applying immediately.
Non-fiction German books about topics that interest you and you already know about
Reading non-fiction books on the topics that you are familiar with can help in 2 ways. First, it expands your general vocabulary as your familiarity with the topic will make it easier for you to understand what the book is about. Also, it helps to learn vocabulary related to a specific topic. You will be able to hold meaningful conversations on those particular topics with more confidence!
Here you go — now you have a few free or some very cheap reading resources that can help you improve your German. Reading on its own will not make you fluent, but it does help you improve your vocabulary and German when combined with other learning strategies such as listening to German music or watching exciting movies.