German non-fiction is of good quality and plentiful. It makes for hard reading though since both language and style are usually very dry. I personally much prefer to read books in English, which seem to be written with a greater concern on keeping the reader interested and making sure he understands. After English, German is the second language in which new books are published and German books benefit from fine publishing due to a long tradition and large print runs. My favorite source to buy books, DVDs and CDs in German is Amazon.de.
German litterature is amazing, with immense authors such as Hermann Hesse, Heinrich Schiller, Goethe and others stacked in the Belletristik section of German bookstores. They are not easy to read, but if you are serious about German you should at least once in your life read one cover to cover.
German history did not start in 1933. There are many interesting historical events, institutions and monuments you can visit in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, outside of World War II. But let’s face it – if given a choice many people will want to look backstage at what was the war on the German side. And there is much material, some of very high quality. Even if you are not a military buff, you can visit former bunkers, fortifications and remains of that era all over Germany. They make for a grisly but captivating visit. One such book, Hitler’s Ende, recently made into a film, gives a detailed account of the last days of the Third Reich, showing how it fell apart and its effect on the German Führer.
German cinema is nowhere near Hollywood in terms of size or budget, but there are enough good films in German available on DVD to keep you busy for a couple years. Most have subtitles in English, but the best is to get subtitles in German. Some great German directors to watch out for are Werner Herzog, who shot incredible movies with his nemesis, actor Klaus Kinski. For young people, a must-see movie is Lola rennt (Run, Lola, Run)