Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Der Deutsche Sommer by Arnab Chakraborty

Der Deutsche Sommer promises to transport you to Germany.

This premise, I admit, is very fascinating. I mean, who doesn't want to be a student on his first trip abroad alone - free, curious, full of life? I sure would love to do something similar. And the author does share a lot of his experiences that I did like a lot - his struggles of being able to live in a budget, his excitement at going to Germany, his time there, his experience with trying to find vegetarian food - I think every time the author started talking about his own experiences, the book started picking up. Because I really did enjoy the story of someone in a mysterious land, exploring it and understanding it piece by piece. I wish the book had been made up only of such moments (though honestly they were actually not even close to enough) - it would have put it in a higher league than it currently stands.

The problem with this book is that the author intersperses in the narrative to give you information that sounds like its from wikipedia - information about Germany's GDP, or about the football world cup, or things like that - chapters and chapters of this book are less about the author's own experiences and more like a factoid about Germany. If you want to enjoy this book, you need to go in expecting exactly that - loads of facts (important ones, though I fear the facts about the university he studied in will be important for only a very limited demographic) and loads of information. Now, of course, if you're planning to go to Germany all this information might actually be useful to you, but for someone looking for a travelogue, it might be a bit of a problem to go through the pages of information to the parts you're actually waiting for.

That is not to say that all the facts were dull and boring - I did enjoy learning more about Hitler than I'd known before in the chapters where he does talk about Hitler (in fact, I admit to skipping through the book to read those first) - though I suppose I enjoyed it slightly more because I read the book while I was studying World War II in history class. I can't guarantee everyone will feel the same, but still, its exciting to read about Hitler - more than the FIFA world cup, and certainly more than wikipedia-esque information about Germany that told me a lot about the country but failed to make me feel anything. I do wish I would've gotten more information on how the author reacted to the things he learned and saw, but instead I got the dry facts, which are personally not my favorite thing in the world.

Final thoughts: Its a factoid mixed with a travelogue - an interesting starting point if you want to visit Germany, as long as you know what you can expect from the book.

Other thoughts: You'll be able to see author Arnab Chakraborty on my blog soon for an interview. Stay tuned!

(Financial disclosure: Book source was the author.) 

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