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The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief (original 2005; edition 2007)

by Markus Zusak

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
28,839174332 (4.37)4 / 1869
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. 609
    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 Pajamas by John Boyne (Booksloth, frsantos)
  4. 272
    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. 93
    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: A Novel 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 1638 (next | show all)
During World War II a young Liesel Meminger is sent to live with foster parents in Molching, just outside of Munich. Settling into life with the big-hearted battle axe Rosa and gentle, perceptive Hans, Liesel is able to deal with the grief of losing her family. When Hans teaches Liesel to read she discovers a love of books and words that opens up her world.

But Liesel’s life, and her understanding of her foster parents, is again turned upside down when they begin sheltering Max, a Jewish man, in their basement.

From the first page Zusak’s deceptively simple but poetic style draws readers in. I loved Death’s perspective on life, this narration is unique and thought provoking with unexpected truths scattered throughout.

Zusak’s structure plays with our expectations, there is no foreshadowing, instead he ‘spoils’ his own plot because, for his narrator Death, death is inevitable. The interesting things are human foibles, the quirks of fate, the story of what people do with their lives and how they get to their end. This lack of emphasis on these major events, and the understated prose with which Zusak tells of horrific moments is completely disarming, but the story loses none of its power, instead the subtle writing and the knowledge of the fates of certain characters increases the poignancy of the moments in between.

This is a story that will stay with me for quite some time. ( )
  SouthernKiwi | May 23, 2017 |
I love the way Markus zusak writes!! I could almost feel and smell every detail of this book as i read it! A book so hautingly delicious that i continued to dream about it both while awake and asleep. I found myself crying, hoping, loving and wanting alongside of Liesle. I fell in love with her and her Papa. Two kindred spirits in a horrible time who made the best of what little they had. Every emotion you can feel is brought out in painful clarity in this book. It is not a book that you merely read, but a book where you almost become a character yourself. Watching everything happen as though you were a fly on the wall. I will cherish this book for many, many years. ( )
  roezbd26 | May 22, 2017 |
Typically I will wait a few days or even weeks before I review a book so I can properly digest what I read but thought I'd share my thoughts on this book while it's still fresh.

The Book Thief, was a quick and easy read with heavy meaty subjects. So here we are introduced to a young girl who at age nine has experienced more tragedy than most of us experience in a lifetime and it's only the start of the tragedies she'll endured because the setting is during Nazi Germany. She, Liesel, loses her brother and is removed from her mother but as luck would have it she lands in a loving home with loving foster parents. Liesel steals her first book on her way to her new foster home and a second one during a Nazi rally that included the burning of Jewish books. Liesel is fairly ignorant of the current political climate but when her parents start to hide a Jew (Max), she starts to learn how difficult her life and life for everyone living in her neighborhood is about to get. She starts to develop a deep bond with Max and through words, books, and reading they find a way to deal with the emotional pain and nightmares they each carry with them. She experiences joy, happiness, sadness, tragedies during her time in her new home but most importantly she experiences love.

I love how the narrator of the book is "Death" itself. It added an additional depth to the story through the elaboration of what each individual may have thought, looked, felt during their death or the kind of life they led prior to their death. It was a haunting story, with a very hopeful feel to it. I love the story that Max gave to Liesel and I love Liesel's character. When Death is the narrator, you can expect lots of deaths and there was no exceptions to this, the ending was sad especially with Rudy's death and the death of Liesel's foster parents but there was also room for hope for a better and brighter future with Liesel surviving the bombing, reuniting with Max, living until old age.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and I can't wait to watch the movie. I think this would be a great book to showcase along with The Diary of Anne Frank to young adults about this historical period, especially since it's a quick and easy read and there are sufficient Themes to discuss. ( )
  jthao_02 | May 18, 2017 |
I liked this book but it didn't put me under the spell that seemed to grab a lot of other readers. Don't know why. The characters didn't quite become real to me. ( )
  Eye_Gee | May 8, 2017 |
Our history is so dark, even the death is embarrassed....
This is a beautiful, hearthbreaking, original book that reflects life outside the camps during Nazi Germany in 1938 and narrated by the death itself. A German orphan girl who lost everyone she loved and adapted by which seems like a very rude woman with only a stolen book of a gravedigger might sound bad enough. But she finds comfort in the strangest places and people and sorrow at the most unexpected time... ( )
  soontobefree | May 1, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 1638 (next | show all)
The Australian writer Markus Zusak's brilliant and hugely ambitious new young-adult novel is startling in many ways, but the first thing many teenagers will notice is its length: 552 pages! It's one thing to write a long book about, say, a boy who happens across a dragon's egg; it's quite another to write a long, achingly sad, intricately structured book about Nazi Germany narrated by Death itself.
The book's length, subject matter and approach might give early teen readers pause, but those who can get beyond the rather confusing first pages will find an absorbing and searing narrative.
"The Book Thief" attempts and achieves great final moments of tear-jerking sentiment. And Liesel is a fine heroine, a memorably strong and dauntless girl. But for every startlingly rebellious episode... there are moments that are slack.
Writing fiction about the Holocaust is a risky endeavor. Most children learn about it in history class, or through nonfiction narratives like Eli Wiesel's "Night." Zusak has done a useful thing by hanging the story on the experience of a German civilian, not a camp survivor, and humanizing the choices that ordinary people had to make in the face of the Führer. It's unlikely young readers will forget what this atrocity looked like through the eyes of Death.
The Book Thief is unsettling and unsentimental, yet ultimately poetic. Its grimness and tragedy run through the reader's mind like a black-and-white movie, bereft of the colors of life. Zusak may not have lived under Nazi domination, but The Book Thief deserves a place on the same shelf with The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and Elie Wiesel's Night. It seems poised to become a classic.
added by stephmo | editUSA Today, Carol Memmott (Mar 20, 2006)

» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Zusak, Markusprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
White, TrudyIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Corduner, AllanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ernst, AlexandraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Giughese, Gian M.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lodewijk, AnnemarieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
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
Publisher's editors
Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Original language
Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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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