Die Verwandlung (in English, The Metamorphosis) by Franz Kafka, while an easy read in English, was very, very difficult for me in German. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm not fluent in German, but am trying to improve my reading.
The story is one that probably most of us are familiar with from high school. Gregor Samsa wakes up one morning to find that he has changed overnight into a giant cockroach. I've always enjoyed this book, because of its deadpan approach to a bizarre situation. Kafka wrote that he wanted it to have the quality of a dream, and that's precisely what it has. In dreams, the bizarre is calmly accepted, and its ramifications play out in silly ways. In the book, neither Gregor nor his family is remotely surprised that he is now a giant insect, but they all make adjustments, small and large, to deal with the new situation. Gregor learns to get all of his many tiny legs under control and going in the same direction. The loss of Gregor's income is dealt with, as is the rearrangement of his room to make crawling and hiding easier. His sister, through trial and error, figures out what he now prefers to eat (spoiled food and wilted vegetables, in case you're wondering), and puts it on a tray on his floor every day.
As with other readings in German, the problem for me with this one boils down to vocabulary. Last summer I did some intensive vocabulary work with index cards, and it was really helpful. I'm thinking I should do that again--we'll be finished schooling at the end of this week, so maybe it's a good time.