April Wilson's German Quickly is the best German grammar for reading available. Ms. Wilson brings nearly thirty years of experience preparing graduate students for the German exam at the University of Chicago to this marvellously concise and lively grammar, and her experience shows. German Quickly is designed, as its title indicates, to produce rapid progress in German through several weeks of intense study. Rapid comprehension of complex paradigms and irregularities is facilitated with very clear charts and lists of essential rules at the beginnings of each chapter. Since it is assumed that the owner of this book will use it primarily to improve reading skills, Ms. Wilson does not clutter the text with rarely-encountered exceptions and colloquialisms, or verb forms that tend to be absent in literature and academic prose. Instead she identifies those verbs, nouns, prepositions, and syntactical constructions that are most frequent and most troublesome, and returns to them often.
One of the most effective aspects of German Quickly is its repetition of "essential" vocabulary items throughout the chapters. The reader is spared the trouble of constantly flipping back through previous chapters to recall an important word, since the most important words are repeated in several lessons, marked with an asterix. Additionally the exercises provide constant review of the most important grammatical constructions, which the reader must learn both to recognize in readings and to produce in English-to-German composition.
German Quickly can be used as a handy reference grammar after the student has mastered the basics. The final chapters and extensive appendices present with characteristic clarity overviews of German grammar, useful phrases, and an eminently useful review of several German-English dictionaries. A partial answer key at the end of the book provides answers to the more difficult exercises, and a glossary provides quick definitions and surveys of usage for troublesome words, along with asterixes indicating which vocabulary items are most important to memorize.
German Quickly is a challenging book, but the exercises in each chapter are surprisingly enjoyable, drawn as they are from traditional (and some very strange) German proverbs, e.g., "Wenn der Teufel krank ist, will er Monch werden; wenn er gesund ist, bleibt er, wie er ist," "When the Devil is ill, he wishes to become a monk; when he is well, he believes he is"; or "Es hofft der Mensch, solong er lebt," "A man hopes, so long as he lives," (cp. the Latin proverb, "dum spiro, spero"). Selections from philosophical writings and literature, especially Nietzsche and Kafka, are also included. The student finishes German Quickly not only with the foundations of grammar and vocabulary, but also with a lively knowledge of German culture and popular values.