2017 Bestselling Books in Germany: Translations Top the Fiction List

In News by Hannah Johnson

In Germany, translations dominated the 2017 fiction bestseller list, while domestic authors took the top spots in nonfiction.

By Hannah Johnson | @hannahsjohnson

German readers embraced translated fiction in 2017, sending a number of international authors to the bestseller lists, according an annual bestseller report by trade magazine, the Boersenblatt.

Tracking book sales for January-December, 2017, the German bestseller lists of hardcover fiction and nonfiction show six of top ten titles in fiction were translations. On the nonfiction side, German-language authors dominated, taking nine of the top ten spots.

The Boersenblatt‘s bestseller charts track more than 84% of book sales in the German market and include sales data from some 4,200 stores and points of sale.

Fiction Bestsellers of 2017

The top-selling fiction title in Germany in 2017 was The History of Bees by Norwegian author Maja Lunde. Falling under the emerging category of climate fiction—or cli-fi—this literary novel follows the lives of three generations of bee-keepers and the impact of climate change on society. Published in March 2017 in Germany, the book hit the top of the bestseller lists by summer, the Boersenblatt reported.

Thrillers were popular, taking second, sixth and seventh places. Origin by Dan Brown came out in German in October 2017 (just in time for the Frankfurter Buchmesse). Danish author Jussi-Adler Olsen published the seventh book in his Department Q series, Selfies, to take sixth place. And German thriller writer Sebastian Fitzek, a familiar name on the country’s bestseller lists, came in seventh with Flugangst 7A.

In third place is Daniel Kehlmann, who is best known for his 2005 novel Measuring the World. Kehlmann’s latest novel Tyll follows a trickster through the Thirty Years’ War in the 17th century.

Also on the fiction list are two titles by Elena Ferrante and A Column of Fire by Ken Follett.

Top Ten Fiction Bestsellers in Germany, 2017

  1. The History of Bees (Die Geschichte der Bienen) by Maja Lunde (btb / Random House Germany)
  2. Origin by Dan Brown (Lübbe)
  3. Tyll by Daniell Kehlmann (Rowohlt)
  4. My Brilliant Friend (Meine geniale Freundin) by Elena Ferrante (Suhrkamp)
  5. A Column of Fire (Das Fundament der Ewigkeit) by Ken Follett (Lübbe)
  6. Selfies by Jussi Adler-Olsen (dtv)
  7. Fear of Flying 7A (Flugangst 7A) by Sebastian Fitzek (Droemer)
  8. The Capital (Die Hauptstadt) by Robert Menasse (Suhrkamp)
  9. The Story of a New Name (Die Geschichte eines neuen Namens) by Elena Ferrante (Suhrkamp)
  10. Elephant (Elefant) by Martin Suter (Diogenes)
Nonfiction Bestsellers of 2017

Taking the top spot in nonfiction is Miracles Making Miracles by Eckart von Hirschhausen, which the Boersenblatt reports had had sold 500,000 German-language copies by the end of 2017. The book explores the “ongoing struggle between science-based medicine and supporters of alternative therapies.” According to Rowohlt, rights have been sold into 12 countries, and Hirschhausen’s previous books have sold a total 5 million copies.

Two translated titles appear on the nonfiction list: Homo Deus by Israeli author Yuval Noah Harari, and Penguin Bloom by Cameron Bloom and Bradley Trevor. Homo Deus, a look at the future of humanity, became a bestseller in many countries. It follow’s Harari’s mega-success, Sapiens, which sold a reported 1.2 million copies worldwide.

Another familiar name in Germany and around the world, Peter Wohlleben continues his bestselling streak, taking second and fourth places on the nonfiction list.

Top Ten Nonfiction Bestsellers in Germany, 2017

  1. Miracles Making Miracles (Wunder wirken Wunder) by Eckart von Hirschhausen (Rowohlt)
  2. The Hidden Life of Trees (Das geheime Leben der Bäume) by Peter Wohlleben (Ludwig)
  3. Healing Through the Power of Nature (Heilen mit der Kraft der Natur) by Prof. Dr. Andreas Michalsen (Insel)
  4. The Secret Network of Nature (Das geheime Netzwerk der Natur) by Peter Wohlleben (Ludwig)
  5. Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari (C.H. Beck)
  6. The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World (Alexander von Humboldt und die Erfindung der Natur) by Andrea Wulf (C. Bertelsmann)
  7. On Decency in Trying Times and the Question of How We Can All Get Along (Über den Anstand in schwierigen Zeiten und die Frage, wie wir miteinander umgehen) by Axel Hacke (Kunstmann)
  8. Who We Were (Wer wir waren) by Roger Willemsen (S. Fischer)
  9. Penguin Bloom by Cameron Bloom and Bradley Trevor Greive (Knaus)
  10. Next Stop Future (Nächste Ausfahrt Zukunft) by Ranga Yogeshwar (Kiepenheuer & Witsch)
About the Author

Hannah Johnson


Hannah Johnson is the publisher of international book industry magazine Publishing Perspectives, which provides daily information and news about book markets around the world. In addition to building partnerships with international cultural and trade organizations, she works with the Frankfurt Book Fair to organize and support a number of its overseas initiatives. Hannah has also worked as the managing editor for an online media company, The Hooch Life, focused on craft distillers and cocktail experts. Prior to that, she worked as a project manager for the Frankfurt Book Fair’s New York office, managing various business and marketing activities.