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The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
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The Book Thief (original 2005; edition 2006)

by Markus Zusak

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
24,595148144 (4.38)4 / 1748
Member:SaaraFae
Title:The Book Thief
Authors:Markus Zusak
Info:Knopf Books for Young Readers (2006), Edition: First, Hardcover, 560 pages
Collections:Your library, Favorites
Rating:*****
Tags:read in 2012, fiction, historical fiction

Work details

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (2005)

  1. 559
    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. 402
    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. 311
    The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne (Booksloth, frsantos)
  4. 241
    Night by Elie Wiesel (Smellsbooks)
  5. 247
    Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (weener)
  6. 160
    The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom (PghDragonMan, avidmom, rhshelver)
  7. 183
    I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak (whymaggiemay, rosylibrarian)
  8. 100
    Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer (TessaSlingerland)
  9. 90
    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. 71
    Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum (loriephillips)
  13. 71
    The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen (whoot, booklove2)
  14. 71
    Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (sleepykid00)
    sleepykid00: Both taken place during WWII, but in different perspectives.
  15. 61
    The History of Love by Nicole Krauss (Ciruelo, heidialice)
  16. 63
    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. 31
    The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway (mrstreme)
  18. 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.
  19. 42
    Jacob the Liar by Jurek Becker (the_awesome_opossum)
  20. 20
    The Girl in the Green Sweater: A Life in Holocaust's Shadow by Krystyna Chiger (elwren75)

(see all 43 recommendations)

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Showing 1-5 of 1385 (next | show all)


There are a number of reasons as to why I love this book.

1. It's wonderfully written, from a POV that hasn't been used before.
2. Death is actually a wonderful, soulful character. He's witty and, by the end, you can feel his exhaustion.
3. It's plot driven. The only purpose of this book was to show the reader the crudeness, rawness and reality of war.
4. We're shown life in Nazi Germany.

Watch me talk about these points in detail. WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

1. It's wonderfully written, from a POV that hasn't been used before.

Because let's be honest, how many books have YOU read that are narrated by Death himself?
He's a very matter-of-fact, yet deeply related character. He is rooted to The Book Thief (Liesel Meminger) and her life.

The narration at times is slow and jumpy. If you aren't paying attention to what you're reading, you're easily lost and may have to start the paragraph/page/chapter again, so I advise anyone who has yet to read this to pay attention at all times else you'll class this as a silly book without actually getting anything from it, when it's anything BUT a silly book.

However, if you follow the narration carefully, you'll notice how, after a while, everything Death says falls into place. I felt like I'd been given a 2,000 piece puzzle and had been asked to complete it without a picture to help, but only with a slow, careful narration.

2. Death is actually a wonderful, soulful character. He's witty and, by the end, you can feel his exhaustion.

Thanks to much literature since the beginning of time, Death has been classified as the enemy: someone to fear, someone to avoid and someone to curse at.

We were told Death looks like this:



Fun Fact: Zusak sees him like this:



We were told Death is spiteful and has no mercy.

The Book Thief's Death, however, is the opposite. He admires and envies us humans, is compassionate and sympathetic and has a body built and bent with sorrow. He truly is a lovely, lovely character and a briliant, intelligent narrator.

3. It's plot driven. The only purpose of this book was to show the reader the crudeness, rawness and reality of war.

It's not a book about a character. It's not a book about the life and purpose of said character.

It's a book illustrating exactly what life was like during the war. All its curses and sorrow and the lives that continued even whilst families and lives were wiped out by bombs and fighting. Children handed to foster families; parents losing their children; the famine and poverty; the pure, unedited reality.

It's not a book about a girl trying to survive the war. It's a book about a girl trying to survive the war like everyone else.

It's not a book about thievery. It's a book showing us the exact lengths people would go to to get what they needed. In this case, it was a girl and her books, but in many, many cases it was a father and bread, a mother and milk, a couple of thieving gangs stealing from farms.

Thousands of people died from hunger. Thousands of people died from disease. Thousands of people killed themselves because they just couldn't see a silver lining.

The crudeness, rawness and reality of war.


4. We're shown life in Nazi Germany.

I have read many a book based during the Second World War. Many of them were written from all around the world. [b:Under a War-Torn Sky|875411|Under a War-Torn Sky|Laura Malone Elliott|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1387651956s/875411.jpg|2870993] and [b:Tamar: A Novel of Espionage, Passion, and Betrayal|357160|Tamar A Novel of Espionage, Passion, and Betrayal|Mal Peet|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1320558676s/357160.jpg|347323] are two of my favourites, but neither of those books showed me exactly what I wanted to see: Nazi Germany.

Sure, they mentioned them -- the enemy, the Nazis killing and destroying everything and everyone in their way -- but [b:The Book Thief|19063|The Book Thief|Markus Zusak|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1390053681s/19063.jpg|878368] is based in Nazi Germany and here, as a reader, I finally understand that they lived and died and tried to survive just like the rest of the world. There were children there, too, forced to undertake a stricter regime than the rest of Europe, and the abduction and murdering of Jews was shown ten times as stronger and harsher.

As a reader as well as your every day human being, I never quite got attached to the population of Nazi Germany at the time. Being quarter Jewish, my family and I have a lot of history with Nazi Germany and its concentration camps, but for the first time, as I read [b:The Book Thief|19063|The Book Thief|Markus Zusak|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1390053681s/19063.jpg|878368] I felt and understood and finally came to terms with the fact that there were families and children and innocent souls taken away from Germany as there were from around the world.

I think this is what hit me the most about this particular book. In Death's eyes, we are all the same, and it doesn't matter where we come from or what we have done, because in the end we all die.

And in the end, you must feel sorry for Death, for he is forever haunted by us humans.

All in all, I give this book a glorious five-star rating. It was wonderfully written and perfectly executed.

Well done, [a:Markus Zusak|11466|Markus Zusak|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1376268260p2/11466.jpg], you took my heart and smashed it to pieces.
( )
  Aly_Locatelli | Jan 26, 2015 |
Markus Zusak's _The Book Thief_ remains among the most recommended Young Adult novels following its relatively recent adaptation as a motion picture. Narrated by Death, the book is a coming-of-age story of Liesal Meminger in Nazi Germany during WWII. The book focuses on her relationships with her foster parents (particularly Papa), her best friend Rudy Steiner, Max (a Jewish man temporarily sheltered in her foster parents' basement, the mayor's wife from whom Liesal stole books, and other characters on her street.

Zusak does a good job exploring the layers of relationships that form and break during troubled times and utilizes Death to show aspects of life that a pre-teen girl would not be able to witness first hand. The concept of death and destruction overshadow the plot, though it does not take away from the personal triumphs of our heroine. The importance of knowledge, a love of reading, and the value of books become a focal point of the novel with Leisal using books to remember key events in her life.

_The Book Thief_ is a poignant story of love and loss in the times of war and, I predict, will become a modern classic. ( )
  ShieldmaidenOfRohan | Jan 24, 2015 |
My daughter (13 years old) recommended I read this book, which she read over a year ago. I liked it well enough, it keeps your interest, the characters are individualized, and it reads very quickly. Overall, it is an ok introduction to Nazi Germany for 10-12 year old kids without it going into too much history or too much detail about what went on in the death camps, though it does contain some disturbing events. This would contrast well with "Diary of Anne Frank" (a real diary of a real girl vs. a fictional story). The narration, for me anyway, got a little irritating. Death is the narrator and while, at first, this is an interesting novelty, after a while, it became cloying and irritating. ( )
  Marse | Jan 22, 2015 |
This was a great read. I really did not want to put it down to do all the housework, etc. I just wanted to gobble up the words on the pages. I truly loved that the narrator is Death. I read this after seeing the movie, have to say, I much prefer the book. Descriptive, simply elegant writing style. I have marked passages, phrases and single words in my copy, I don't do this often, only in books that strike a chord in me, this one managed to do several times over. Impressive.
( )
  bb007rn | Jan 19, 2015 |
What a wonderful book! I wanted to read it as it had good reviews. I was not disappointed. It tells a great story filled with joy and sadness and kept me interested until the end. ( )
  Nataliec7 | Jan 17, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 1385 (next | show all)
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.
 
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.
 
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 (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Zusak, Markusprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
White, TrudyIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Corduner, AllanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lodewijk, AnnemarieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
For Elisabeth and Helmut Zusak,
with love and admiration
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First the colors.
Quotations
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.
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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

(Charles Duff description below)
This terrifically engaging book takes place during World War II in Nazi Germany.  An angel of sorts who collects souls once they die, narrates this story in which the angel talks about the book thief herself, young Liesel Meminger.  After losing her brother on the train to their foster home, Liesel comes across a book dropped by one of the grave diggers, The Grave Diggers Handbook.  She becomes immersed in books from there on out, but has to steal to get them because they are banned.  This is a great independent reading book for those in high school.  It has many direct elements associated with the Holocaust and Nazi Germany.  Here is a link to the authors wonderfully interactive website: http://www.randomhouse.com/features/m...
Haiku summary
Words become life to
girl in Nazi Germany -
Narrated by Death.
(elbakerone)
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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:53:44 -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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