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Das Labyrinth der Wörter
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Das Labyrinth der Wörter

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  973 Ratings  ·  139 Reviews
Mit Mitte 40 und ohne festen Job haust Germain in einem alten Wohnwagen, schnitzt Holzfiguren, baut Gemüse an und trifft sich ab und zu mit Annette - ob es Liebe ist, kann er jedoch nicht sagen, denn die hat er im Leben noch nie erfahren. Bis er eines Tages im Park die zierliche Margueritte kennen lernt, die dort, genau wie er, die Tauben zählt. Obwohl sie unterschiedliche ...more
Paperback, 221 pages
Published April 2011 by Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag (first published 2008)
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This is the engaging story of two people who come together in friendship, kindness, affection, and appreciation. A remarkable and heart-rending novel that perfectly illustrates the quote:
“Friends are the family we choose for ourselves.”

The first lines of “Soft in the head” hooked me:

I’ve decided to adopt Margueritte. She’ll be eighty-six any day now so there seemed no point putting it off. Old people have a tendency to die."

and I loved every word and nuance that followed.

“When people are always
May 18, 2016 Toni rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such a beautiful and elegant story of a young man, middle-aged really, who's learning ability has always been below the norm, and an elderly woman, who meet in what I imagine to be a quaint, lovely park, both unaware that they each count the pigeons that land and run and peck for crumbs.
Marguerite is friendly and gentle to Germaine, and does not call attention to some of the mistakes he makes with words, or his confusion about many things he really doesn't understand.
She becomes his caring teach
Mar 17, 2011 Geologe rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ist leichte Debilität charmant?

Überall lese ich das Wort BEZAUBERND, wenn es um dieses Buch geht.
Nein, ich habe ungeduldig das Ende herbeigesehnt.

Wen haben wir?
Germain Chazes , Mitte 40, “ein Mann wie ein Bär“, recht schlicht gestrickt und euphemistisch als bildungsfern zu bezeichnen.
Margueritte Escoffier, Greisin, zarte Statur (schon recht “klapprig“) und gebildet.
So weit – so holzschnittartig.
Und was geschieht?
Surprise, surprise
Na sie freunden sich an und treten in eine Symbiose, die für mich
Penny Schmuecker
I loved this book! I wanted more!

Germain is a 45-year old man who meets Margueritte, 85, in the park as they sit to watch and feed the pigeons. There couldn't be a greater contrast between the two new friends. Germain has been told his whole life that he was "soft in the head" by his verbally abusive mother. He can't read, can't spell and has trouble expressing himself appropriately, yet he possesses an insight into his own behavior that many with education or intelligence do not. Margueritte is
Jun 14, 2016 Steffi rated it really liked it
Eine schöne, herzerwärmende Geschichte für zwischendurch. Über die Kraft von Wörtern und die Liebe zum Lesen. Über eine ungleiche Freundschaft und über die Entwicklung eines ganz besonderen, hinreißenden Charakters.
Girl with her Head in a Book
Review originally published here:

This has to be one of the sweetest books that I have read this year – Soft In The Head may be gruffly spoken but it has an undeniably warm heart. The protagonist introduces himself with the words ‘I’ve decided to adopt Margueritte. She’ll be eighty-six any day now so there seemed no point putting it off. Old people have a tendency to die.’ Germain Chazes is forty-five and is fairly at piece with being known in the neighbou
Jenny - Book Sojourner
This is one of those rare times that I will say that if this were made into a movie, I would probably like the movie more than the book. The blurb about this story - a 45 year old dim-witted man becoming friends with an 85 year old woman - sounded amazing. I couldn't wait to read it. While the concept is fabulous, the execution didn't quite meet my hopes and expectations.

This story is written from Germain's POV, but this writing style is primarily internal dialogue with frequent train of thought
Nov 25, 2016 Barbara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short
SOFT IN THE HEAD is as billed “Brilliant and uplifting”. It’s written by a French author, and MUST be translated by a British translator because of phraseology. At any rate, it’s about a forty-four-year-old man named Germain who has been told all his life that he’s slow, or soft in the head. The reader soon learns it’s because his unwed mother, who wasn’t pleased to be an unwed mother, treated him terribly. In fact, the kid was basically a street urchin. As such, he learned to speak based upon c ...more
Jul 12, 2016 Serena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was incredible!! I read it in one sitting. I laughed, I cried, I reevaluated my relationships. I already want to read it again.
Apr 23, 2016 dscheni rated it liked it
3,5 Sterne
This review previously published at If These Books Could Talk where you'll find more reviews, interviews and competitions.

Sometimes, it takes a special someone to help us discover our true selves. When it’s done through a love of knowledge, and books, it’s even better.

Soft in the head, but strong in the heart, Germain seems happy with his lot. His days are an endless array of drinking with his friends, casual sex with his (maybe) girlfriend, and daubing his name on the local war memorial in the
“I’ve decided to adopt Margueritte. She’ll be eighty-six any day now so there seemed no point putting it off. Old people have a tendency to die.”

So begins this lovely story of how a chance meeting can change your life for the better.

All his life Germain has been told he was a “half-wit” and a little “soft in the head”. Germain was handed a horrible set of circumstances from the get-go; a father who didn’t know he existed, a mother who was abusive and provided only the bare necessities of life –
Apr 30, 2011 Lisi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wörter und insbesondere Wörterbücher, sind ein Dschungel. Ein Dschungel von Wörtern und Phrasen, von Erklärungen und Formen. Das eine Wort führt zum Anderen und dieses wieder zu einem Weiteren. Es ist ein niemals endender Kreislauf. Es ist "Das Labyrinth der Wörter".

In „Das Labyrinth der Wörter“ trifft man auf Germain Chaze, der ein guter Kerl ist, allerdings ist er etwas ungebildet, er hat mit Wörtern absolut keine Freude und der Schlauste war er in der Schule auch noch nie gewesen, bis er eine
Neens Bea
A solid 4.5 stars, but I feel the need to reduce the score a tiny bit, as somehow - for once - the film is better than the book. However, this shortish novel is both moving and profound, despite (or perhaps precisely due to) the narrator's limited and at times rather crude vocabulary, and the second half especially is full of hilarious moments. I've been chuckling away on my flights today, and must admit I let out a moan of utter disappointment when I finished the book. Definitely one to recomme ...more
Jul 01, 2016 Dee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 Stars

This was a touching read though somewhat short. Germain is a 45 year old "halfwit" who leads a dull life, growing up with an abusive mother and being bullied in school by teachers as well as students. He is practically illiterate and has not given himself a chance to develop any skills or succeed in life. He's not stupid or naive, he realises that he is slower than others and doesn't get ideas or concepts that come easily to everyone else. The poor guy just had a shitty upbringing where
Mar 26, 2016 Mela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
O carte mai mult decât doar interesantă. E mai degrabă de utilitate, chiar motivațională. Un bărbat cu un trecut nu tocmai roz, care este semianalfabet și are obiceiuri și limbaj de cartier, întâlnește la un moment dat în parcul preferat, o bătrânică care hrănește porumbeii pe care el obișnuiește să ii numere.

Se formează o legătură între cei doi tocmai datorită porumbeilor. Bătrânica este uimită de acest bărbat care nu numai că numără porumbeii de acolo, ci le-a dat si nume. Curând Margueritte i
"Daydreaming helps me think."

This book has been such a delightful and sweet story, a great companion of mine for the past two weeks. It deals with Germain, a 45 year old man who one day meets, sat in his usual bench in the park, Margueritte, a very educated old woman who starts reading to him and who teaches him the value and the beauties of books and words. Germain is not sharp witted, his friends call him names and his mother has shamed him for it his entire life. He's reluctant when it comes
Ágnes Palásthy
May 03, 2016 Ágnes Palásthy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a heartwarming story of a gentle giant and a fragile old lady. They are a world apart and yet they have something common: they both like watching the pigeons in the park. Germain is a little slow ("soft in the head" as her mother used to say cruelly when he was a child). Margueritte is a retired researcher who has no family. She starts reading from books to Germain and it opens up the man's mind changing his whole perception of life and the world around him. I loved the gently pace of th ...more
Feb 22, 2013 Katia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
J'ai bien aimé, c'est un livre émouvant et simple. Les personnages sont attachants, ils ont chacun leur lot de malheurs. Margueritte est un personnage mystérieux, on ne sait rien d'elle. Germain quant à lui, est malheureux de paraître idiot, et n'a jamais reçu d'amour. Les deux personnages sont heureux ensemble, ils s'adoptent.
A la fin je me suis quand même posé des questions sur le devenir de ces deux personnages, mais en fait ce n'est pas très important.

Concernant l'adaptation cinématographiqu
Janet Joy
Apr 13, 2016 Janet Joy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You may think this is a small is not.
You may think this is a quick is not.
You may judge this book by its cover but you will change your mind.

From Pushkin Press: "His mother called him a worthless halfwit while his fellow drunks at the local bar ensure he's the butt of all their jokes. He spends his days whittling wood, counting pigeons and adding his own name to the bottom of the list on the town war memorial. So how could Germain possibly understand what a casual encounter
Feb 25, 2012 Phoebe rated it really liked it
Recommended to Phoebe by: Petram
Shelves: german, novel
Was das Buch betrifft, kann ich die bisherigen positiven, aber auch negativen, Kritiken nachvollziehen. In jedem Fall ist es angenehm und schnell zu lesen. Es ist eine Art Entwicklungsroman, auch ein durchaus poetischer. Was aber am Wichtigsten ist, meiner Meinung nach: Es ist ein Roman über Bücher, über das Lesen und über die Kraft von Wörtern, wobei klar gestellt wird, dass Lesen und Literatur für Jede/n ist und es nie zu spät ist mit dem Lesen anzufangen. Aus pädagogischer Sicht sagt die Gesc ...more
Lara Maynard
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 06, 2016 Perihan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
"Bir yaşlı vefat ettiğinde, bir kütüphane yok olur."

Ben bu duygu yüklü , buram buram kitap kokulu kitap için ne söylesem boş...
Kitabı filminden, filmi kitabından güzel.
Hikayenin baş karakteri Germain, sesli kitap okurken ,okulda öğretmeni tarafından küçümsendiği günden beri , kitaplardan uzak kalmıştır. Bir gün parkta güvercinlere yem verirken çok şirin , kafasının içi raf raf kitaplarla dolu yaşlı bir hanım teyze ile karşılaşır ve sonra...
Sonrasını kitaptan okuyun ...
Ben çok ama çok sevdim. Kit
Aug 29, 2016 Ester rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This story is so sweet. It's definitely character driven and emotionally uplifting. I think I smiled through most of it.

Absolutely loved it!
Feb 18, 2016 Janet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I very much enjoyed this tale of a self-described half-wit and how his new friendship with an elderly woman changed his way of looking at life.
Sep 24, 2013 Toby rated it really liked it
Tolle Geschichte! =) Bin begeistert. Videorezi kommt sehr bald, yay! x)
Jul 27, 2012 Biblionomicon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Wie schön ist es doch, ein Buch persönlich empfohlen zu bekommen, spart es einem doch oftmals viel Zeit und birgt so manche ungeahnte Überraschung. Daher vielen lieben Dank an unsere Freundin und passionierte Vielleserin Claudia, die mir dieses unauffällige kleine Büchlein unversehens in die Hand gedrückt hat. "Das hast Du in Null-komma-nichts durch und es wird Dir gefallen." Recht hat sie gehabt, und zwar mit beidem.

"Ein Wörterbuch ist nicht einfach nur ein Buch, Germain. Es ist viel mehr a
Jan 27, 2017 Sharon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Originally published in French back in 2008, Frank Wynne’s translation is very readable. Germain is 45 and at peace with being ‘soft in the head’; the butt of his mates’ jokes that he sometimes still doesn’t understand. Fatherless with a mother who verbally abused him his entire life, he has had a very difficult childhood.
In an easy conversational style, littered with his life philosophy, humour and how he’s arrived at this point, Germain tells how he regularly goes to the park to count pigeons
Susanna Farré
M'ha agradat, però potser li trobo a faltar una mica de força. No he pogut evitar recordar-me del meravellós "Kafka y la muñeca viajera" de Jordi Sierra i Fabra, i encara que només coincideixen en la "línia base" de l'argument (trobades entre dos desconeguts en un parc), m'ha mancat precisament la força narrativa que va saber imprimir Sierra i Fabra en la seva preciosa història de Kafka i la nina Elsie, la manera com amb molta senzillesa aconsegueix transmetre tant!
Feb 08, 2017 Annika rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2,5 Sterne für diese kurze Lektüre. Es war recht einfach dem Hörbuch zu folgen, es gab auch recht herzige Passagen. Aber ich sehe auch einige Probleme in dem Roman. Der debile Erwachsene, der von einer schrulligen Rentnerin das Lesen beigebracht bekommt. Besagte Rentnerin erscheint sowohl herzensgut als auch gehässig überheblich sowie ironisch.
Ich bereue nicht das Buch gelesen zu haben, allerdings werde ich es definitiv nicht noch einmal lesen.
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“Wenn man jemanden liebt, der unglücklich ist, dann macht der allein einem mehr Kummer, als wenn alle zusammen, die man nicht leiden kann, einem das Leben schwer machen.” 2 likes
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