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The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief (original 2005; edition 2007)

by Markus Zusak

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
27,071166937 (4.37)4 / 1818
Title:The Book Thief
Authors:Markus Zusak
Info:Alfred A. Knopf (2007), Paperback, 576 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (2005)

  1. 589
    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. 425
    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. 341
    The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne (Booksloth, frsantos)
  4. 252
    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
    Maus II: A Survivor's Tale: And Here My Troubles Began by Art Spiegelman (kaipakartik)
  9. 100
    Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer (TessaSlingerland)
  10. 90
    The Chosen by Chaim Potok (avidmom)
  11. 91
    Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene (bethielouwho)
  12. 91
    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. 83
    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)
  16. 61
    The history of love by Nicole Krauss (Ciruelo, heidialice)
  17. 40
    Edelweiss Pirates, Operation Einstein by Mark A. Cooper (davidparsons, jacobwilliams007)
  18. 41
    The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway (mrstreme)
  19. 20
    The Girl in the Green Sweater: A Life in Holocaust's Shadow by Krystyna Chiger (elwren75)
  20. 53
    Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself by Judy Blume (Runa)

(see all 48 recommendations)


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Showing 1-5 of 1560 (next | show all)
A chummy Death narrates the story of Liesal, a young girl getting to grips with the importance of stories and friendships in Nazi Germany.

The Book Thief throws light on how many Germans were coerced into a narrow conformity, but concentrates on the quiet humanities shown, whether it be Liesal spending time with Max, the Jew hiding in the cellar, or the bereaved Mayor' wife allowing the girl to steal from her library.

Slow-moving and sentimental, but at its core the life-affirming message that kindness and love can endure in the face of pointless cruelty. ( )
1 vote LARA335 | May 13, 2016 |
Although this book took me a long time to read I thought it was utterly enthralling. The imagery, the view point, the characters - all of it added up into something truly amazing!

"I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn't already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race - that rarely ever do I simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant."

This quote appears on the very last page of our story and it captures well the entire book. Death, fascinated and repelled by the people that he takes onto the next plane of existence. Tired, but curious. Exhausted, but understanding. Death is a compelling character. Although I do not find him as compelling as Liesel herself. There's just something about that young girl that pulls at all your heartstrings. I don't think its the fact that everything around her eventually dies or that danger always lurks around the corners of her words. I believe it is the freshness that she breathes into the air with her curiosity, an air of nobility surrounds her. She is someone I wish to know and befriend. Her foster father, is another such being. He may be quiet but he also has that air of nobility to him. Of kindness. He rebels against Nazi Germany so very well, bravely taking on something that would have killed lesser men. His daughter and wife bravely standing with him through thick and the very often thin. They share what little food they have, their constant meals of soup. Bad soup, according to Liesel. Yet they carry on with dignity and a strength that I wish I had in the face of adversity such as they have.

Rosa, Liesel's foster mother, is quite the character. She may seem abrasive and loud with her always arguing and yelling saumensch about, and saurkerl, but underneath that prickly exterior is a heart of gold. She would do anything for her family, you can feel that deep down. Even towards the middle of the book all her name calling will make you smile and wish she was calling you those swiny names. Rudy, now he is also quite a character, he lives and breathes to be a better man. He idolized Jesse Owens so much that he rubbed himself with charchol and ran around pretending he was him. No one would let him live it down but did he care? Not in the least. Although he did hide it better as time went on. He did things that most people would shake their fingers, and maybe a stick, at - like stealing with Liesel. But did he care? No, he moved on, only wanting his kisses from his very favorite saumensch.

I could not believe how incredibly good this novel was. It felt truly real. As if I were really there. I wish there was more to the story because I just didn't want it to end. Alas, all good stories must come to an end, but they live on in your heart. They live on in your heart. ( )
1 vote mariahsidhe | May 12, 2016 |
For some reason I have put off reading this book. For no true reason, but I am glad my book group read it recently. Set in Nazi Germany over a span of a few years, this is the story of young Liesel, a girl essentially sold to a German couple living outside Munich. In her short life Liesel had experienced tremendous loss, but when Papa and Mama take her in her life changes. Things do not get easier, but she is offered a glimmer of hope. She discovers books and words, and although she is slow at learning, words become her life. What is unique about this story is that is being told by Death - the Grim Reaper himself. Death becomes humanly personified as he relays the story of Liesel's life and how he encountered her several times, but not while taking her soul.

I learned much of Germany during the war years from this novel. The thing conveyed the most was that not all Germans were heartless and not all Nazi's were heartless monsters. Many had to make horrible decisions and sacrifices in order to survive a terrible war and a terrible situation. It was not as easy as simply refusing to join the party or to follow orders. In fact, it probably as much courage to stay and to try to protect one's family as it did to fight or to leave for safer haven's. This was a truly unique, special book. ( )
  Dmtcer | May 4, 2016 |
What a wonderful book. Narrated by Death, we read the story of a young girl in wartime Germany. The setting really does make the story. There is rather a lot of death in it which could make uncomfortable reading for some but I found it enjoyable and really quite helpfully sombre. The audiobook version I listened to was excellently read by Allan Corduner. ( )
  eclecticdodo | May 3, 2016 |
This story is all the more heart-wrenching because it is so ordinary. Liesel Meminger is not heroic, or especially talented, or beautiful, she is just an ordinary good German girl trying to survive the horrors of World War II. It will stay with you long after the last page is turned.

The author was clever to make death the narrator of her tale, and he used interjections that reminded me of Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut. My only quibble is that it seemed overly long, I thought the middle could have used some editing.
( )
  memccauley6 | May 3, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 1560 (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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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
Publisher's editors
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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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 18 descriptions

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