Books about your city

love_reading2The Rhineland is in lock-down and more and more people are staying at home to protect the elderly and vulnerable. It’s tough – but we all know the measures are necessary.

In the meantime – how can we cheer ourselves up while we’re stuck inside? What can we do to break the boredom and liven up the hours at home? Rhine-online will be posting a series of ‘things to love in the time of Corona.’

First up: books about your city. With time on your hands here are some books about – or set in – NRW’s three main cities, to help you while away the hours and maybe even learn a thing or two about your local area:

A little town in Germany

small townThis spy thriller is set in a Bonn that’s long gone. Where once there was espionage, cold war dirty dealings, embassies and consulates and spies lurking around every corner, there’s now a sleepy city of culture where the highlight of the year is the cherry blossom season. Back in the day, Bonn was a den of spies. At least that’s the Bonn depicted by John Le Carré. A little town in Germany is the story of Alan Turner, a British security officer, who is sent to Bonn to find a missing man and some important missing files. The timing couldn’t be worse as Germany’s past, present, and future threaten to collide in a nightmare of violence. There’s a lot that you won’t recognize in Le Carré’s description of Bonn – but some things remain. The fog on the Rhine in the morning, the lamplight along Poppelsdorf Allee and the endless wait as the barriers close on the train tracks. If you live or work in Bonn this is a great piece of nostalgia and a reminder that when Bonn was Germany’s ‘Bundersdorf’ (federal village as it was jokingly called) it was at the center of all the action.

Mysterious Cologne: Discover hidden spaces and mystical places


While we’re still allowed out – in small groups – we can make the most of this gem of a book by Gerti Keller. It’s only available in German, but you can still glean some useful information, even with the most basic Deutsch. I bought this for my parent’s in-law, who know Cologne inside out, and they were surprised at some of the secret places the author describes. From historical to religious as well as downright eerie, many of the places have stories that even the locals don’t know. Gerti takes you to underground tunnels, cozy little parks, and fascinating cemeteries in a journey that culminates in a picnic at the top of Cologne’s Trümmerberg – the city’s highest hill which is actually made of World War Two rubble. Worth a read and definitely worth making a trip.

The Düsseldorf School of Photography

The Düsseldorf School of Photography refers to a group of photographers who studied at the Kunstakademie Dusseldorf in the mid-1970s under the influential photographers Bernd and Hiller Becher. The Becher’s were devoted to the 1920s German tradition of Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity), and their photographs were clear, black and white pictures of industrial structures like mine-heads, water towers and coal pits.  Other photographers who emerged from the Düsseldorf School are Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer, Axel Hütte, Thomas Ruff and Thomas Struth who modified the approach of their teachers. This book chronicles the journey of the school from its conception in the 1970s to becoming a huge art movement.

Title photo: Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash


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