Book Review: Let’s Take Berlin by Jessica Guzik

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Have you ever been planning a trip, a short vacation or maybe even an entire move to another country for so and so many months or years? If you have, then you surely have at times wanted to know what may await you at your destination . What is life like outside the tourist bubble? What can I get at the supermarket? What do people eat after a hangover? etc.

I can certainly say about myself that I do at times look for experiences like that to get a better picture of the place I am going to, preferably written in a more vivid and entertaining narrative style than the average Lonely Planet guide. Although I have been calling myself a Berliner for almost 16 years now, I really enjoyed reading the book Let’s Take Berlin when no one other than the author herself, Jessica, offered me to write a review of her work in exchange for a free copy.

In short, charming vignettes, Jessica, who is from the United States describes the first six months of her experiences on coming to live in Berlin after she fell in love with the city during an earlier trip. The reader is taken on a humorous journey through the forming of new friendships in the unknown, the discovery of the Döner Kebap, the signature food of Berlin not to be missed and single moments of what I would call culture shock.

So far I have been lucky enough to receive books for review that I found particularly useful with a pinch of laughter and fun. I honestly enjoyed reading this book not because I got it for free as some might think but because I love the fact how newcomers and native Berliners alike can take away something from this book. While the benefit for newcomers of reading this consists in getting an image of Berlin that sums up the aspects of day-to-day life pretty well, I as a native, got to discover a whole new angle from which one can look at life in this city. This becomes especially interesting when looking at the parallels Jessica draws to her life in the United States. I never would have thought, for example how confusing the non-refrigerated display of eggs can be for someone so at the end of the day, I got to learn something new about another culture while reading about my own.  Even though  I already know about the existence of baggers who help pack the groceries in pretty much any country but Germany, watching as the author evolves through her adventures in Berlin made me smile every so often. It is always good to know that there are other people out there who miss the assistance at packing groceries.

So in short, if you want to have a look at what life in Berlin can be like on day-to-day basis, if you always wanted to know how Americans do things differently and if you want to have a good laugh while doing so, I highly recommend this short read. Short enough for me to say that I really hope to read more some time soon as there is definitely more to explore about Berlin.

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