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The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief (original 2005; edition 2006)

by Markus Zusak

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
24,712148644 ()4 / 1753
Title:The Book Thief
Authors:Markus Zusak
Info:Knopf Books for Young Readers (2006), Edition: First, Hardcover, 560 pages
Collections:Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Tags:death, holocaust, books, thief, historical fiction, history, germany, coming of age

Work details

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (2005)

  1. 558
    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. 393
    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. 257
    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 1393 (next | show all)
I actually saw the movie before I read the book on this one. The movie was quite good, and I realize that a movie can never do justice to a book, but the movie but scratched the surface of the book.

The Book Thief is a story told from the viewpoint of Death as he follows her through her life from where she loses her brother in a train accident when they were on the way to live with foster parents till their mother could get on her feet. At her brother's funeral, she steals her first book, The Gravedigger's Manual and keeps it hidden. Liesel can't read or write, but she holds the book as a thing of value, a connection to her brother.

Her new foster parents, Hans and Rosa Hubermann, are an odd pair. Rosa is loud, harsh and often vulgar with her tongue, admonishing as swiftly with her words as she is with her wooden spoon. Hans is gentle and quiet, sitting by Liesel's bed till she falls to sleep at night.

Hans discovers Liesel's book and so begins her journey to learn to read under his gentle tutelage. Chapter by chapter, they work their way slowly through the pages of the book and day by day, their life becomes more strained as the war begins to take more and more from them.

Hans brings in his friend Max one night, a Jewish man, half starved and looking as if he won't make it through the night. He is moved to the cellar where they make a room for him. At first, Liesel is afraid of this strange man, but in time they begin to talk and form a friendship.

All the while, you listen to the voice of Death as he speaks of what he sees, the people he takes in his arms. He speaks of his life and what he has seen. Though he gives special notice to what he sees in this war where there are days when he takes hundreds of souls into his arms. Most, he is relatively disinterested in. Its just what he does, what he has always done. But, there are a few people he has come across that have left a mark. And Liesel is one of them.

I have read a few of the reviews on this book. One said that not enough horror was given to what was done at this time. I will disagree with that. I don't think all books about Nazi occupied Europe need to be filled with all those horrors. There are enough books already that have more than covered it. The horrors are covered just enough so that you don't forget what was going on while the story of the lives of these people unfolds. So, you realize how people made do with less and still found ways to make life.

How sometimes the horror was forgotten for a brief few moments while a young girl named Liesel read to you the pages from a book while the bombs were exploding overhead. How a simple gesture like that distracted you till the shelling stopped and took you to another place where there were no bombs and life had normal desires and fears. Where starving Jews weren't marched down your main street on the way to their death.

It's a brilliant, wonderful, heartbreaking and uplifting story. It tears your heart out of you and then hands it back to you with a smile again and again. The lyrical prose of it will tickle you memory for a very long time after you close the book.

February 2015 ( )
  sephibitchwitch | Feb 25, 2015 |
Markus Zusak’s historical novel, The Book Thief, is a heart-wrenching rendition of a sad and shameful era in human history. It’s the story a young German girl, Liesel, who discovers the power of the written word. She first becomes a book thief on the same day her brother dies and her mother hands her over to foster care. While her mother desperately searches for help to bury her child, Liesel discovers a book hidden in the snow: The Grave Digger’s Handbook. She can’t read yet, but she picks it up, and her journey as a book thief begins. This book will shape her destiny. The imagery used to depict the pain and degradation experienced by the Jewish people in wartime Germany is so vivid and stark it will leave you shaken. The discovery of the power of the written word brings joy and a sense of purpose to Liesel’s impoverished world, but she will soon be slapped with the flip side, where words have the power to bring only pain and destruction. Highly recommended. This book cannot leave you untouched. ( )
  Murielle_Cyr | Feb 23, 2015 |
A book to wake up the the slumbering love of reading! The narrative perspective is amazingly unique and one that brings a distinct voice to the reader. The characters are both believable, lovable and hate-able. A new, fresh approach to a topic that is both compelling and difficult to read. Labeled as a young adult book, The Book Thief can be appreciated throughout the generations. ( )
  Deb_Hendry | Feb 21, 2015 |
I read this based on the recommendation by my wife. I thought so much of the book that I looked at the reviews to see how well it fared. I was struck that 8% of the Amazon reviewers actually rated this masterpiece below 4 stars. That just shows that there are a lot of people that just don't get it when faced with literary greatness!

There are thousands of reviews that explain the story and go into lengths about the magnificent characters. I will not rehash other than to say that I agree completely.

In truth, I had a bit of a difficult time with the beginning of the book. I was confused by the narrator and the short kind of cryptic paragraphs. So, persevere and you will figure out and come to embrace them. As you are probably aware, Death is the narrator and came close to being my favorite character in the book. The short cryptic paragraphs give some great insights into the "bones" of the story.

Since it has been almost 10 years since this book was first published, my review is not going to generate much in the way of sales. I just wanted to take the opportunity to praise the quality of work by this talented author. I will have to search out his other works. ( )
  honoliipali | Feb 19, 2015 |
I wanted to read the book before I saw the movie, because books are usually better and I was right. The language of the narrative is so poetic and colorful, you think you are reading poetry even when it's prose. Liesel is dear to my heart as an avid reader, though I did not take so long to start. There is more I could say, but I think everyone else has covered it. ( )
  eliorajoy | Feb 12, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 1393 (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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For Elisabeth and Helmut Zusak,
with love and admiration
First words
First the colors.
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.
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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