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The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief (2005)

by Markus Zusak, Trudy White (Illustrator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
25,902157244 (4.37)4 / 1787
  1. 579
    Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (alalba, PghDragonMan, Anonymous user)
    PghDragonMan: Both side of hiding during the Holocaust
    Anonymous user: Both are about Holocaust. The Book Thief is from German girl's perspective whereas The Diary of a Young Girl is from a Jewish girl's perspective.
  2. 414
    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (paulkid, Anonymous user)
    paulkid: There are many similarities between these books. For example, a strong father-daughter relationship, where the father teaches by example by taking the moral high ground in protecting a persecuted minority - also kids that break down the barriers between secluded and socially awkward neighbors through books and sundry shenanigans.… (more)
  3. 331
    The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne (Booksloth, frsantos)
  4. 242
    Night by Elie Wiesel (Smellsbooks, Morteana)
  5. 170
    The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom (PghDragonMan, avidmom, rhshelver)
  6. 258
    Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (weener)
  7. 193
    I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak (whymaggiemay, rosylibrarian)
  8. 100
    Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer (TessaSlingerland)
  9. 100
    Maus II: A Survivor's Tale: And Here My Troubles Began by Art Spiegelman (kaipakartik)
  10. 90
    The Chosen by Chaim Potok (avidmom)
  11. 91
    Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene (bethielouwho)
  12. 81
    Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum (loriephillips)
  13. 71
    Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (sleepykid00)
    sleepykid00: Both taken place during WWII, but in different perspectives.
  14. 71
    The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen (whoot, booklove2)
  15. 61
    The history of love by Nicole Krauss (Ciruelo, heidialice)
  16. 73
    The Reader by Bernhard Schlink (lucyknows)
    lucyknows: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak may linked with The Reader by Bernhard Schlink using the themes of reading, Nazi Germany and death. You could also pair it with the graphic novel Maus by Art Spiegelman. Atonement by Ian McEwan could work as well because of the young protagonists, war, and reading.… (more)
  17. 40
    Edelweiss Pirates, Operation Einstein by Mark A. Cooper (davidparsons, jacobwilliams007)
  18. 41
    The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway (mrstreme)
  19. 20
    Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow by Susan Campbell Bartoletti (tiltheworldends)
    tiltheworldends: Nonfiction about BDM that Liesel was required to attend and Hitler Youth group that Rudy belonged to.
  20. 53
    Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself by Judy Blume (Runa)

(see all 45 recommendations)


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English (1,471)  Dutch (25)  Spanish (17)  German (9)  French (8)  Portuguese (6)  Portuguese (Brazil) (5)  Catalan (5)  Swedish (4)  Norwegian (3)  Portuguese (Portugal) (2)  Italian (2)  Danish (1)  Romanian (1)  Thingamabrarian (the ideal language) (1)  Slovak (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (1,562)
Showing 1-5 of 1471 (next | show all)
Oh man. It's been a while since I've read a book so good that I just feel at quite a loss for words.

Not entirely, because I can still think of a few things to say. But wow. I've been blown away like I haven't been in a long time.

This was a really, really ambitious book. And it absolutely hit the mark in every single way.

First, the premise immediately intrigued me. Death narrating World War II? I'm in. I'm not a big fan of unconventional narration, but Zusak does it so skillfully that I can't honestly imagine the book being written a different way. It was an honor to watch this story unfold.

Second--and because this is my first Zusak book, I can't say, but--as for Zusak's writing style in this book, I often wondered if it would work. It's very disjointed (at least in the strictest formatting sense of the word), with only a few short paragraphs between breaks, generally very short chapters, etc. It's a style I've tried before, and I've seen other writers try before. It often works to lend the writing some level of poesy, but sometimes it also takes away the feeling of continuity and coherence. Well, it totally worked here. I'll still admit that the pacing in the beginning was a little slow for me (though I don't always count that against a writer--sometimes I count slow pacing as the mark of writing that develops ideas, characters, and plot more subtly, and I love that, even if I'm not racing to get to the end), and my favorite chapters seemed to be the ones that were longer, that tied more things together. That was where I felt the momentum building to want to read more and more.

(Sidenote: this book really makes me want to check out Zusak's other books, to see how they compare to this one.)

But Zusak's writing is gorgeous. A less skilled writer than he, or one with a less ambitious project, might have made certain turns of phrase sound corny or pretentious. Somehow, his didn't. It was fresh, original prose whose words I genuinely relished. I didn't note a huge stylistic difference in the way Death, Liesel, and Max write (as an example)--but all of it was gorgeous.

So many incredible moments. Zusak knows how to let his characters get into scrapes and make you feel it, and also how to get them out of scrapes and not make it feel like a cop-out. There were so many moments in this book where I just sighed and smiled: Rosa's wordless approval when Max shows up, The Word Shaker, Rosa coming to get Liesel at school when Max wakes up, Hans's release from the LSE unit, Liesel, Max, and Rudy when Max was marching toward Stuttgart...

I don't know if I'll end up reading this book again. It hurt, but it was really good. Still, there were some things that were more difficult for me as a reader: for example, lots of swear words (though Zusak wasn't incorporating them in a vulgar way for no reason), a lot of using God's name in vain.

Overall: great premise, writing, and characterization. Even the romance (which I'm not sure many would qualify as romance) was so subtle, wonderful, and well-done. I haven't read a book that gripped me like this in a long time. Thank you, Zusak, for trusting your reader to follow along with you and just writing like you meant it. I'm not sure yet if I will reread this book, but I will certainly remember it. ( )
1 vote elephantine | Nov 27, 2015 |
I guess opinions all over the spectrum is what makes sharing a book experience interesting.

It's not often that I hate a book so much, I can find no reason to see it to the end. That was the case for this.

Dull, tries too hard, overwrought prose...a mess, but hardly a hot one. Pretty awful.

I'm not sure what the structure is even trying to do. Couldn't connect with it or a single character in it. Every page felt a slog and when I reached 30% on my Kindle, I just deleted it. Life's too short and there's so much great material out there that toughing out a stinker isn't worth the trouble. ( )
2 vote angiestahl | Nov 26, 2015 |
Mark Zusak's writing truly captures the essence of his residents of Himmel Street in Molching, Germany, during WWII. It is at times brilliant. Some passages will be permanently etched in my brain, such as Death's description of a slow-moving group of starving Jews being marched down a road towards a concentration camp: " ...for many of them would die. They would each greet me like their last true friend, with bones like smoke and their souls trailing behind."
Aimed at a Young Adult audience, this book transcends age-definition and is worthy of being read by everyone young or old. While not preachy or patronizing, it brings us closer to understanding the lives of Germans living in Germany at that brutal time of our history.
I loved this book because by the end I had come to care much more about the characters than I had anticipated. The ending was so moving I could not avoid tears, and I'm not one to shed them lightly! ( )
1 vote BooksOn23rd | Nov 25, 2015 |
Wow. Intense. And a gut-punch of an ending. ( )
1 vote jenfarley2001 | Nov 20, 2015 |
Beautifully written, engaging, heartbreaking and heartwarming! One of the best books I have read in years. ( )
1 vote AR_bookbird | Nov 20, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 1471 (next | show all)
Amazing the way something so beautiful can be written about such a dark period. Involving and completely addictive.
added by claudialima | editPortugal (Mar 30, 2012)
This over-praised, overlong novel is in trouble before it starts. The acknowledgments open with a tribute to someone “who is as warm as she is knowledgeable” and continue in the same saccharine manner.
Unsettling, thought-provoking, life-affirming, triumphant and tragic, this is a novel of breathtaking scope, masterfully told. It is an important piece of work, but also a wonderful page-turner. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
This is a moving work which will make many eyes brim. Zusak shows us how small defiances and unexpectedly courageous acts remind us of our humanity. It isn't only Death who is touched. Liesel steals our hearts too.
This is never an easy read, never a glide. But, in Zusak's ability to imagine and execute, he has achieved a very personal vision that grabs the reader and does not let go.

» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Zusak, Markusprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
White, TrudyIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Corduner, AllanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ernst, AlexandraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lodewijk, AnnemarieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Awards and honors
For Elisabeth and Helmut Zusak,
with love and admiration
First words
First the colors. Then the humans. That's how I see things. Or at least how I try.
Five hundred souls, I carried them in my fingers, like suitcases; or I'd throw them over my shoulder. It was only the children I carried in my arms. For some reason, dying men always ask questions they know the answer to. Perhaps it's so they can die being right.
In Liesel's mind, the moon was sewn into the sky that night. Clouds were stitched around it.
When the train pulled into the Bahnhof in Munich, the passengers slid out as if from a torn package.
A bathrobe answered the door. Inside it, a woman with startled eyes, hair like fluff and the posture of defeat stood in front of her.
The reply floated from his mouth, then moulded itself like a stain to the ceiling.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
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Book description
Unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul ... With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, Liesel learns to read ... Sharing her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids ... Plus, sharing with the Jewish a man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.
Haiku summary
Words become life to
girl in Nazi Germany -
Narrated by Death.
An accordion

There was once a strange, small man

Liesel Meminger

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375842209, Paperback)

It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:42 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Trying to make sense of the horrors of World War II, Death relates the story of Liesel--a young German girl whose book-stealing and story-telling talents help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well as their neighbors. Includes readers' guide.… (more)

» see all 18 descriptions

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