In 50 Easy Steps. A Guide from Apfelsaftschorle to Tschüss
Adam Fletcher’s How to be German had me in stitches. Written out of the perspective of an Englishman who started out in Leipzig and now lives in Berlin, he certainly did his homework. Equipped with an Ossi Girlfriend from the former East, he had the best starting position to really turn into a proper German citizen. Of course, he didn’t get around discussing the topic of German bread and sausages, but he was really trying to not just beat on stereotypes.
I also chose it because Adam’s book goes back to his blog posts about the experiences being a foreigner in Germany. His comment section went nuts and he ended up not just writing a little book but eventually became a full-time author.
(Dear blogging friends, there is hope.)
Germany according to Fletcher
All of those 50 facts probably deserve to have been listed here but in that case you would have no reason to buy this book.
Out of my German perspective it is rather interesting which topics he actually did chose to discuss. His girlfriend for instance used to hate the German TV license people GEZ with a passion but she was also afraid of them. Turns out, my better half and I used to have pretty much the same conversations. Don’t open the door, if you are not waiting for someone, it must certainly be the GEZ trying to get you. These days this epic panic is over, as every single household gets to subsidize retirement TV.
In How to be German you will learn about the art of airing out your apartment properly, the beauty of house shoes, bureaucracy or eating long breakfasts. Why is it that Germans hate Schlager but are able to sing along to most of them?
Adam Fletcher observed that German people can open a bottle of beer with pretty much anything. While I never really though about this, one of the first things hubby learned from me was indeed how to open a beer with a lighter. Street smarts. For some reason, Fletcher also seems to be terribly in love with German blandness. Just when you think you understood those punctual, efficient and over-insured Germans, they just throw it all over board come New Year’s Eve and they finally let it all out with those fireworks.
With every little observation one also learns quite a bit about the British. It seems on New Years Eve, when German people just go mental, his English self would rather hide under the bed.
What I really do like about How to be German is that Adam Fletcher is proof that one can learn German and really learn it well. His book is full of little colloquial quirks, which makes it fun reading.
See? Life is not too short too learn German!
It doubles up as a book for German as a Second Language (DaF) or English as a Second Language (ESL). Clever genius that Fletcher is, How to Be German includes a German and an English version. This is cultural studies, that you can just take to the classroom.
Anybody studying German, loving fun with words or coming to terms with living in the country of the Dichter und Denker. Being an expat is often not easy, but the reader really leaves with the impression, he honestly fell in love with this crazy country.
In the meantime, Fletcher completed a sequel with 50 brand new steps, a few other works as well as a book about British quirks. So everyone get’s a fair share here. He’s a good chap like that.
Check out his web presence here, maybe buy a book or two.
How to be German in 50 Easy Steps. A Guide from Apfelsaftschorle to Tschüss. Written by Adam Fletcher with illustrations by Robert M.
Schöne, C.H. Beck 2013
If you would like to learn about the UK in the meantime, check out Ellen Hawley at the very splendid blog Notes from the UK.