Non-fiction books of the month: WELT best list for April 2023

Non-fiction books of the month: WELT best list for April 2023

AThe list of recommendations with the greatest distribution in the German-speaking area is published here every month. Media partners are “Literarische Welt”, RBB Kultur, “NZZ” and Radio Österreich 1. Experts choose ten non-fiction books of the month from the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and economics. In April it’s worth:

1. Valentin Groebner:

Lift. Throw away. Dealing with beautiful things. Konstanz University Press, 171 pages, 20 euros

Groebner traces the history of our lucky charms and souvenirs from the living room of the 21st century back to the material culture of the Middle Ages with its magic stones, pictures and rosaries. A new pearl among the essay books by the Lucerne historian that are always worth reading.

2. Janina Ramirez:

Femina. A new history of the Middle Ages from the women’s point of view. Translated by Karin Schuler. Structure, 517 pages, 28 euros

Expressive fits of crying, visions of male genitals, holistic nutritional teachings: Oxford historian Janina Ramirez explains why we have so far completely underestimated the female Middle Ages. And why it was even emancipated to let yourself be walled in.

3. Michael Thumann:

revenge. How Putin created the most menacing regime in the world. CH Beck, 287 pages, 25 euros

Among the many books that now recapitulate how Russia’s war against Ukraine came about, this one is one of the most reliable: the author has been reporting for Die Zeit as the Eastern Europe correspondent for 25 years.

4. Hanjo Casting:

Thomas Mann. Glory and agony. Wallstein, 378 pages, 28 euros

Not the only Thomas Mann explanatory book of the hour. But unlike the 1,000-page opus magnum by literature professor Dieter Borchmeyer, Kesting’s approach is limited to just 400 pages.

5. Stephan Oswald:

In the shadow of the father. August von Goethe. A biography. CHBeck, 424 pages, 32 euros

One can see from the tombstone in Rome that and how Goethe’s son still stands in his father’s shadow. His name isn’t even there, just “Goethe Filius”. His biographer Oswald knows: August von Goethe was quite a capable man – but he had an unsolvable problem.

6. Ella Al-Shamahi:

The handshake. The new story of a grand gesture. Translated by Violeta Topalova. HarperCollins, 207 pages, 20 euros

From the origins of the handshake seven million years ago to its sudden disappearance in March 2020: This cultural history of shaking hands is very entertaining and funny to read. The author is an anthropologist and science presenter on the BBC.

7. Jan Philipp Reemtsma:

Christoph Martin Wieland. The invention of modern German literature. CH Beck, 704 pages, 38 euros

Reemtsma is one of the best Wieland connoisseurs ever. His biography of the classic that is now overshadowed by Goethe and Schiller has what it takes to become a standard work for a long time. It explains how Wieland made the Weimar of Goethe and Schiller possible in the first place.

8. Thomas Hertog:

The Origin of Time. My way with Stephen Hawking to a new theory of the universe. Translated by Martina Wiese and Monika Niehaus. S. Fischer, 411 pages, 26 euros

Belgian physicist Thomas Hertog explains Hawking’s scientific legacy and talks about the work and friendship with the famous physicist. A new and fascinating theory of the Big Bang, time and the origin of our universe has emerged.

9. Axel Honneth:

The Working Sovereign. A normative theory of work. Suhrkamp, ​​397 pages, 30 euros

What role does the organization of employment relationships play in safeguarding the existence of a democratic community? In his new monograph, the Frankfurt social philosopher Axel Honneth examines a central topic of modernity.

10. Bettina Stangneth:

overload. Putin and the Germans. Rowohlt, 144 pages, 16 euros

The Germans are simply not what others would like them to be. Despite their tendency to self-reflection, they don’t even manage to look honestly in the mirror, says the philosopher Bettina Stangneth in her current essay on Germany’s search for its new role in the “turn of the era”.

The extra recommendation

It comes from a guest every month, this time from writer and former Hanser publisher Michael Krüger. He recommends:

Peter von Matt: Evildoers, dry sneaks, figures of light. The possibilities of literature. Hanser, 240 pages, 26 euros

“When one reads the new collection of essays and speeches by Peter von Matt, one wonders how one could endure it for so long without a book by him: no one can use literary examples to answer the great questions of the explain life.

Whether he writes about the connection between art and festival, about love and death or the dramaturgy of stupidity, about the shadow of Peter Schlemihl or about Struwwelpeter, he always uses literary testimonies from all times as evidence of what literature achieves and moves can. Anyone who has ever dealt with this friendly interpreter of the world can no longer claim that literature no longer concerns him.” (Michael Krüger)

The jury of non-fiction books of the month

Tobias Becker, “Spiegel”; Manon Bischoff, “Spectrum of Science”; Natascha Freundel, RBB Culture; Eike Gebhardt, Berlin; Daniel Haufler, Berlin; Knud von Harbou, publicist, Feldafing; Prof. Jochen Hörisch, University of Mannheim; Günter Kaindlstorfer, Vienna; Otto Kallscheuer, Sassari, Italy; Petra Kammann, “Feuilleton Frankfurt”; Jörg-Dieter Kogel, Bremen; Wilhelm Krull, The New Institute, Hamburg; Marianna Lieder, freelance critic, Berlin; Lukas Meyer-Blankenburg, SWR 2 Knowledge; Prof. Herfried Münkler, Humboldt University; Gerlinde Pölsler, “Moth”; Marc Reichwein, WORLD; Thomas Ribi, “Neue Zürcher Zeitung”; Prof. Sandra Richter, German Literature Archive Marbach; Wolfgang Ritschl, ORF; Florian Rötzer, “Krass & Concrete”; Norbert Seitz, Berlin; Anne-Catherine Simon, “Die Presse”, Vienna; Prof. Philipp Theisohn, University of Zurich; Andreas Wang, Berlin; Harro Zimmermann, Bremen; Stefan Zweifel, Switzerland.


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