Disclaimer: I was sent a free review copy by one of the authors, however, I was not compensated in any other way for this review. Opinions are completely my own.
What’s it about?
German Men Sit Down To Pee & Other Insights Into German Culture is a humorous take on German culture by a German (Niklas Frank) and an Irishman living in Germany (James Cave). I feel that Cave must have had many experiences like mine, because I felt this book covered all the aspects of German culture that I find baffling.
The title provides a clue that this is not a serious dissertation on German cultural practices, but a lighthearted and fond look at the country’s eccentricities. While I’m sure many stereotypes formed a basis for these observations, I think Frank and Cave were careful to provide a little more depth where needed. They broke down stereotypes where they didn’t match with real life, and brought some insightful cultural context to other sections. I learned a few historical tidbits that I hadn’t known about in my two years living here.
There are also a few spot-on illustrations throughout the book, and I laughed several times while reading. As I read through the table of contents, I would stop at certain chapters and laugh a bit to myself because I could relate so well already. Mr. Faultier and I are in the middle of stocking up on insurance policies. This might be the most German thing I have ever done, according to the rules of this book. The humor is spot-on.I think pokes a bit of fun without being mean or rude. A true German might be able to give a better view on this than me, but I feel the jokes are more of the laughing-with variety than laughing-at. This can be a hard balance to maintain, but I think it was done quite well.
Who is this book for?
I think this would make a wonderful gift for a friend or family member who is planning on moving to Germany or has even lived there for a little while already. Or for a German friend who doesn’t quite realize how strange their culture is – assuming they have an appreciation for self-deprecating humor (most Germans I know do).
Or just buy it for yourself if you’re a fan of German culture, even though it doesn’t always make sense to you.
Just be aware that there are a few “adult” chapters. It’s nothing to really blush about, but it might be worth skipping if you’re sharing the book with young or sensitive readers. Perhaps this is just a very American opinion, though.