A Literary Guide to Berlin

Team MP! took a trip to Berlin last week. We worked hard, and treated ourselves to some serious fun and excellent food too. It’s a city full of history, culture, coffee shops and night life that doesn’t quite stop at night…

We obviously opted for the literary side of things and we’ve uncovered THE best spots for a bookish trip to Germany’s capital.

Books Set in Berlin

We don’t know about you guys, but as soon as we plan a trip somewhere new, we NEED to know all about it, and what better way than through the eyes of a character in the city! Reading is actual, proper, essential research.

‘Goodbye to Berlin’ by Christopher Isherwood

This novella is often seen as Isherwood’s masterpiece along with its counterpart ‘Mr Norris Changes Trains’. Set in the early 1930s, the novellas follow Hitler’s rise to power and the change it causes to spread across the city.

‘The Cruelty’ by Scott Bergstrom

As Gwendolyn traces her missing father across the dark underbelly of Europe’s criminals, she passes through Berlin. It’s one of the places where she has to shed her schoolgirl past and embrace her new cruelty.

‘Going Over’ by Beth Kephart

It is February 1983, and Berlin is east from west. Ada lives among the rebels, punkers, and immigrants of West Berlin. Stefan lives in a faceless apartment bunker in East Berlin. Their only chance for a life together lies in a high-risk escape.

Authors That Live in Berlin

Whether you want to soak up the history of the famous faces of the past while you’re visiting or make sure you’re always on the lookout for a writerly hero, you HAVE to know which authors live in the place you’re visiting.

The Brothers Grimm

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm wrote some of the most famous stories to exist, stories retold and reimagined since they were written. ‘The Little Mermaid’, ‘Cinderella’, and ‘Sleeping Beauty’ weren’t Disney creations you know!

Vladimir Nabokov

Though Nabokov is actually Russian and wasn’t born in Berlin, he spent a life-changing 15 years in the city. It was there that Nabokov became established as a writer and a poet and married.

Bertold Brect

If you’re studying Drama at school, you’ll be familiar with this name. He was a poet, playwright and theatrical director who lived through the Second World War and the split between East and West Berlin. His methods, plays and stage set ups transformed theatre.

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Awesome Berlin Bookshops

It’s a bookworm thing. It doesn’t matter whether we visit a new city or an entirely country – we MUST investigate the bookshops. And these three are spectacular.

Mundo Azul

Specialising children’s literature, Mundo Azul caters to English, German, French, Spanish and even more languages. It’s a beautiful little shop that regularly houses lots of events and workshops.

Saint Georges English Bookshop

If you’re looking for a big bookshop, this is the one. It’s the largest English bookshop in Berlin and get loads of books directly from the UK, mostly secondhand. They also accept pounds so there’s no need to worry about a spending limit in here!

Another Country

This secondhand bookshop in Kreuxberg is more like a library than a bookshop. After buying, reading and loving a book, you can bring it back and get your money back. Except for a €1.50 charge. How cool is that?!

Great Places to Read in Berlin

Once you’ve done your ‘Yay, I’m somewhere new – let’s explore the bookstores’ book haul, you need somewhere good to chill out and read.

The Grimm Zentrum Library

Though the library is technically for the use of the Humbolt University students, the public can visit the vast collection of over 2 million volumes. It’s the biggest library in the German-speaking world. SOLD. Oh, and it’s also named after the Brothers Grimm so…

Coffee Shops

Berlin is bursting with amazing indie coffee shops, bakeries and places to grab a quick bite. Breakfast, brunch, lunch or even just a snack, whatever you’re looking for, you’re drowning in choices after only a few minutes of walking the city centre. And if none of them tickle your fancy? There’s always Starbucks.

Britzer Garten

A gorgeous park is always a win. Whether on a brisk, chilly day or a steaming, hot afternoon, you really can’t beat sitting out with a brilliant read. There are lakes, a rose garden, restaurants and even a witch garden. What more could you need?

Have you ever been to Berlin? Share your favourite spots with us in the comments below. 

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Written by Sophie Waters

Sophie is the Head of Commercial at Maximum Pop! Having studied English Lit and Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, she came to MP! to satisfy her passion for books. Sophie is a diehard Hufflepuff and feminist. She's also a huge cat lover, and can often be found rocking her socks off at a gig.

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