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German for Travelers: A Novel in 95 Lessons
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German for Travelers: A Novel in 95 Lessons

3.37  ·  Rating Details ·  59 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
In search of the key to unlock a great family mystery, Lemon Leopold, a Hollywood starlet, and her cousin Eliza, a romance writer, go to Berlin. Soon they are on a trail that leads back to their great-grandfather, Jozef Apfel, a Jewish pioneer of psychoanalysis in early twentieth-century Germany.

Alternating between the great doctor’s household, the mysterious case of his p
Paperback, 252 pages
Published May 1st 2009 by Coffee House Press
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Nov 16, 2010 Jasmine rated it really liked it
Shelves: american
This is a book about the stories we tell ourselves, it is a book about living in a world, interacting with a world, going back to a world where terrible things happened.

This book reminded me of a story:

Years ago in college, I had a thing with a guy, he was the sort of smart, completely socially inept, adorable type. We did a lot of weird things together. On our first date date, he wanted to take me to the neighbor his mom grew up in, in the bronx. But the location isn't horribly relevant. We h
Erika Dreifus
I reviewed this book for Jewish Book World last year. Here is my review:

"In ninety-five brief chapters, this novel acquaints us with an extended family and its secrets, past and present. In 2005, a letter from a woman claiming to be their great-aunt prompts Jewish-American cousins Eliza Berlin and Louisa 'Lemon' Leopold to travel to Germany. There, at the beginning of the previous century, their great-grandfather, Dr. Jozef Apfel, was a prominent psychoanalyst. The novel reveals secrets and trau
Jul 09, 2010 Harkinna rated it liked it
German for Travelers, a book about Germany, Berlin no less. Was I going to read it? Yes. What were the odds that I would love the book? 20 to 1. Then why didn’t I?

The story, told via various German lessons follows the tale of one family, from the point of view of two spoiled brats/great grandchildren living in LA. We walk down the streets of Berlin today and yesterday. We learn about living in Germany during the war and before the war. We learn all of the family secrets. But we just don’t care.
Aug 03, 2009 Jodi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2009-read
This might be stating the obvious, but I love reading. It’s my favorite pastime and something I do every single day. That being said, not many books are fun to read. It’s not like reading is a buzzkill or painful, it’s just not, you know, fun. It’s kind of hard to explain. Norah Labiner’s German for Traveler’s was a lot of fun to read. The way Labiner plays with language and storytelling, made me smile in the middle of a page. It’s as though I could tell she had fun writing that sentence or para ...more
May 29, 2009 Stephanie rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nicole Wolverton
Nov 15, 2011 Nicole Wolverton rated it really liked it
German for Travelers weaves past and present together in a unique way that I ended up really loving. There are so many good things about the novel -- interesting use of language, the way the mystery of the family connections are revealed. The concept of German travel dovetails nicely with the deeper storyline. My only complaint is that I got lost a little in all the characters; there are quite a few, and it's a little difficult to follow all the lines. In that respect, though, I suppose it works ...more
Jun 19, 2011 Stephanie rated it really liked it
This book combines many of my favorite things: character studies, German, Germany, and playing with language. The author has a lot of fun with language in this book, and though I'll probably have to re-read the book to understand a lot of the connections, I liked how it jumped through time and space. It wasn't about a plot but about a family discovering itself. It might have done a better job of showing the family understand and absorb what it discovers, but then, who really understands and abso ...more
Anne Sanow
Jun 10, 2009 Anne Sanow rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this: it seemed like it had everything going for it subject- and history-wise that I'd be into. And while I can appreciate the author's innovative approach, the execution just didn't work for me. The prose drove me nuts--it's larded with cutesy alliterations and repetitions; the running refrain of jokes didn't help either. As another reviewer here pointed out, the "mystery" at the heart of the thing is a Freudian riff that doesn't spin into anything very original. I do se ...more
Ann Vallimaa
Jul 30, 2015 Ann Vallimaa rated it really liked it
Learn enough for the basics and to write a thank you note on some kind of oven manuel.
Oct 16, 2009 Sarenkeifert rated it it was ok
I have mixed feelings about this book. I liked the format and the silly expressions at the beginning of each chapter.
There are many jokes throughout, which make the heavy topics more bearable. All in all it requires the reader to slow down, and to keep track of a great amount of characters. But, I did not like the use of ghosts, hauntings, and premonitions. Almost every character in this book is suffering, and I found it a heavy read.
Curious Squid
Jan 11, 2010 Curious Squid rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Unusual set up and sentence structure for a novel. I don't know if it was just a bad time to read this book, but I kept putting it down and coming back to it much later. This, coupled with the disjointed sentences made the book or hard to follow.

Interesting read. The sentences could be taken out of story and just pondered, like little quotes of wisdom or a type of philosophy.
Sep 12, 2012 Olena rated it it was ok
Another one of those times where I wish I had a half star. Overall, a good concept for a story and I enjoyed the story once I figured out what it actually was. However, I found the format very difficult to follow and had a hard time keeping track of characters and trying to figure out who was related to whom and what was the sequence of the events.
Thoreau Lovell
Apr 17, 2010 Thoreau Lovell rated it it was ok
I had the nagging feeling reading German for Travelers that I wasn't quite getting it. But that maybe after the next chapter, or the next, it would all click and what seemed superficial and shrill would suddenly seem "wildly lush, intelligent and fiercely funny, an exuberant dance of the English language." That never happened and I gave up after 100 pages.
Aug 31, 2009 Becky rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club
I didn't like it in the beginning, but stuck with it. The writing was interesting, but the story never really came together for me. I feel like there must be more to it than the obvious, which leads me to believe maybe I'll re-read to see if I missed something.
Claire S
Minneapolis writer! Looks fascinating, might have to send a copy to our relatives in Germany after reading also!
'Boutique' printing - only 5000 copies! Yikes! Ok, that's way too many exclamation points..
Sep 01, 2012 Marlo rated it it was ok
The style of writing was quite unique. The story was a bit disjointed and initially hard to follow. Otherwise an interesting book.
Sep 15, 2009 Jess rated it really liked it
Shelves: jewish-lit
Quick read, beautifully written. Probably one of those that I need to reread in the future since I'm sure I missed some subtleties.
Dec 02, 2009 Erin rated it it was ok
I'm not sure I "got" this book. Didn't understand how all the stories blended together and so did not enjoy.
Sarahc Caflisch
May 13, 2009 Sarahc Caflisch rated it it was amazing
I have just started this book and I am loving it ever so much.
Hanna Herbst
Hanna Herbst marked it as to-read
Sep 17, 2016
Vivienne Strauss
Vivienne Strauss marked it as to-read
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James marked it as to-read
Feb 13, 2016
Amy Quinn
Amy Quinn rated it it was ok
Feb 14, 2016
Brynn marked it as to-read
Jan 06, 2016
Kara Johnson
Kara Johnson marked it as to-read
Dec 31, 2015
Beth rated it really liked it
Dec 26, 2015
Zanne marked it as to-read
Jun 15, 2016
Chris Ciolli
Chris Ciolli rated it it was amazing
Jun 10, 2015
Gillian rated it it was ok
May 09, 2015
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Acclaimed for her ability to write "heartbreaking and vastly original tale[s] of literary intrigue." (Time Out New York), Norah Labiner's debut novel, Our Sometime Sister, was a finalist for the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award. Her second novel, Miniatures, was an American Library Association Notable Book, a Minnesota Book Award winner, and a selection for both the Minnesota Mo ...more
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