March 15, 2012

Books, books, books...

Monday is “Kinotag” in most of the cinemas in Munich, which means that the ticket costs 2€ or 3€ less than in a usual day. I was on my way back from seeing The Artist in the City Kino (Sonnenstarsse, 12), when I found this commemorative plaque in memory of the year that Heinrich Heine lived in Munich. And a year might be a very short time but it was enough to motivate me to feel that I needed to go to a bookstore and buy some of his poetry.

A few minutes later after this first excitement, I realized that my German is probably not good enough to understand the 19th century German poetry, so I decided that I was going to buy his poems in English and then maybe I will try in German.

I woke up on Tuesday with this idea and planned to go to Hugendubel in Marienplatz to search for a Heine book in English. Hugendubel is likely the most well-known bookstore in Munich and most people like me would go there, as a first choice to buy their books. 

Very few people know but Hugendubel started in Munich as a family business in the 19th century. Heinrich Hugendubel did such a great job in running the family business that today it has 54 stores all around Germany and more than 75.000m² in sales surface area in Germany. In the store in Marienplatz or in Stachus, Hugendubel have a small section for English books but the rest is all in German, so if you are, like me, looking for something very specific in English, you might not find it there.

Where do I go then? Where can I buy my Heine book or other books in English in Munich? 

One of my friends in Munich suggested that I try the Hugendubel store behind the Literaturhaus in Munich.

The Literaturhaus (Salvatorplatz, 1) is five minutes from Odeonsplatz. It is a cultural center in the heart of the city that is worth a visit. Its cultural program offers a wide choice of art and photo exhibitions, as well as music concerts and films. It has a library and a cute cafe with an outside area that is cosy and quiet enough to enjoy a coffee while reading the news of the day.

There used to be a  Hugendubel store across the street that was dedicated to English books. Unfortunately, it closed its doors before the summer and as far as I understand it has not reopened else where. 

I have also found the Club Bertelsmann, another bookstore chain that actually has more subsidiaries than Hugendubel and their mother company: Direct Group Germany has also stores in Austria and in Switzerland. Bertelsmann and its sister company: Zeilenreich have more than 230 stores and they also have a small choice of English books in every store, but again, the range is not wide enough to find my Heine book in English. If you want to try, there is one store in Sonnenstrasse, 17.

Jokers is another bookstore chain that was recommended to me and that it is worth a visit. Their key sales message is about their selected range and their price. There is one Jokers store in Rosental, 3, so two minutes from Viktualienmarkt.

I am still not sure about whether is cheaper to buy in Amazon or in Jokers or in one of the other stores. I have read some posts and articles in expat forums and sites, which claim that Hugendubel and other stores in Munich are cheaper than Amazon. I can only say that I have recently bought a book in Hugendubel for my new German class (das Oberstufenbuch, Schubert Verlag) and it was a euro cheaper than in Amazon. A euro does not create a rule and therefore, I guess you need to visit those bookstores, check their prices and then compare them with the prices in Amazon.

Heinrich Heine is one of the most famous German poets of all times. Schuman and Schubert used his poetry to give lyrics to some of their musical creations. But he is not the only German writer that should be considered or mentioned, if we talk about German literature. You and I have studied Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Marx and Immanuel Kannt in philosophy class. But they are not alone, Hermann Hesse is another one that I need to mention. Swiss or German, he is a poet that influenced the German literature history in the 20th century.

Also, we all know Johann Wolfang von Goethe. You may have not read anything from him but the man was relevant enough to give his name to the official German cultural institution: The Goethe Institut. He is considered a genius of the 19th century and if he does not say anything to you, then think of Faust… he wrote it!!!!

I am not going to find my Heine book in The Comic Company, five minutes from G√§rtnerplatz. But I like the store, Superwoman could live there and for those of you that like the Big Bang Theory, this store is the place to go to search for comics, new or old, but comics, it is all about comics…

The Munich Readery (Augustenstrasse, 104) is my favorite for shopping second-hand books in English, their range is the widest and most interesting in the whole Munich. Anything you can think of: they have it! 

I have still not found my Heine poetry book in English but I keep trying. In Schwabing, around the Uni, there are many bookstores, most of them selling second-hand books or specializing in specific areas: economy, law, etc. Still no Heine in English… but they have him in German, if you are brave…

The Words Worth in Schellingstrasse is my last visit. Next to the Uni, they have a wide range of English books, go there and check… I have found a few bargains … 

And to finish, if you like to read, my advice is that you walk around the city and pop in every small bookstore that you find in your way. There are many. There is one in Rindermarkt (2 minutes from Marienplatz) that is called Shakespeare and Company, go there and go through their section of books, I am sure you will have fun.

After this expedition, I have not yet found a book that is worth buying with the translations of Heinrich Heine poems in English. I should spend more time in the Munich Readery or I just need to go online. 

My father says: read Heine and Hermann Hesse, then don´t forget the Grimms Brothers and Schopenhauer and Gunter Grass. So many, too many.. I do not have the time... I only want to find a translation of Heine poetry in English...

Which are your favorite German writers?

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