How to Be German in 50 Easy Steps started life as a blog post. Soon after it was published by C.H. Beck and was a hit that rode the Spiegel Bestseller list for 36 weeks. It turns out there are a lot of people who want to learn how to be German (and Germans amused by Fletcher’s simultaneously humorous and adoring take on their culture).
50 Easy Steps was followed by Denglisch for Better Knowers: Fun Birds, Smart Shitters, Hand Shoes in 2014 and co-authored by Paul Hawkins. In this book Fletcher and Hawkins focus on the German language and how it could improve the English language. Unlike Mark Twain, they do not think the German language is awful, just misrepresented.
“…we believe that the German language is badly in need of a re-brand to challenge these out-dated stereotypes. It’s about time that someone did something nice for it, and we want to be that someone(s). The fact that it’s not our native language is no disadvantage, since it makes it easier for us to find joy and awe in the simple things… This book is a love letter to the German language.”
Though much of the humor in Denglisch for Better Knowers requires pre-existing knowledge of the German language, if you know your hand shoes from your fun birds, you will get a laugh out of Fletcher and Hawkins’ love letter. You might even learn some new vocabulary along the way, and once you’ve finished practicing those new words, you can turn the book over and read it again in German—because both Denglisch for Betterknowers and Fletcher’s two other books are dual language. Read one side in English, flip them over, and read the other side in German.
In 2015's Make Me German, Fletcher is behind the pen alone once again, this time documenting his attempts to fully integrate into German culture. In order to do so he watches German television for a week, goes to Mallorca, attends a Schützenfest, takes a government integration course, and writes a Schlager song. Though there are plenty of jokes about German culture (and this book is just as funny as the previous two), they never come across as mean-spirited or ignorant because they are coming from a place of reverence and a genuine desire to fit into his adopted home.
Those who have made a similar move to Germany will recognize many of the experiences, and those from Germany will see their own culture anew. This, Fletcher tells us in the introduction to Make Me German, is the special perceptive magic of the expat:
“You see, expats get to experience a unique phenomenon, called Foreigner Vision. This is like a magic pair of glasses, which we wear every day of our foreign existence. Though its special lenses, we get to peer out at a more interesting, colourful and exotic world. A foreign world. That’s not a puddle, we think, it’s a foreign puddle. Full of special foreign water. Filling an exotic foreign crevice of an interesting foreign street. Stepping in it is not just a mild, soggy inconvenience—it’s an adventure!”
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Or watch a short video with Adam Fletcher on our youtube channel.