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The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

The Reader (1995)

by Bernhard Schlink, Sascha Feuchert

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9,612308300 (3.71)337
Recently added byGeraldineFitz, goldenmoon, private library, KelseyJCrews, Arkanator, Marjan.Max.Maric, Galinao
Legacy LibrariesJuice Leskinen
  1. 82
    The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (bookcrazyblog, lucyknows)
    bookcrazyblog: Though book thief is understood to be Teen-read, it is deep and enthralling. If you liked The Reader for anything beyond its sensuality in the first part, you will love Book Thief
    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)
  2. 20
    In My Brother's Shadow: A Life and Death in the SS by Uwe Timm (Tinwara)
    Tinwara: Autobiographical account that also deals with the post war generation in Germany, trying to come to an understanding of how loved persons can make the wrong decisions.
  3. 10
    Without Blood by Alessandro Baricco (2810michael)
  4. 10
    Let Me Go by Helga Schneider (Booksloth)
  5. 00
    A Child of Hitler by Alfons Heck (AlisonY)
    AlisonY: Written by a German child who became a high-ranking leader of the Hitler Youth, this autobiography picks up on the theme from 'The Reader' about what made some people join the Nazi party
  6. 00
    Before I Knew Him by Anna Ralph (1Owlette)
  7. 00
    Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton (1Owlette)
  8. 00
    Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum (bnbookgirl)
    bnbookgirl: One of my top ten fav's.
  9. 01
    Berlin by Pierre Frei (Johanna11)
    Johanna11: Although the books are very different in many respects, both are about Berlin after WWII and about Germans during WWII and after.
  10. 12
    Close Range by Annie Proulx (1Owlette)
    1Owlette: Although very different in many ways, [The Reader] and [Brokeback Mountain] are both similarly devastating and concentrated in their impact.
  11. 01
    Enduring Love by Ian McEwan (lucyknows)
    lucyknows: The Reader could be successfully paired with Enduring Love for English Studies. In addition either book could also be be paired with the film The Talented Mr Ripley under the theme of obsession
  12. 01
    Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel (Cecilturtle)

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» See also 337 mentions

English (266)  Spanish (10)  Dutch (8)  German (5)  French (3)  Finnish (3)  Swedish (2)  Italian (2)  Catalan (2)  Norwegian (1)  Danish (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Hebrew (1)  Korean (1)  All languages (306)
Showing 1-5 of 266 (next | show all)
I found this to be a fascinating and thought-provoking read, particularly having recently read Night.

The book centres on the passionate affair between a 15 year old boy and a woman 21 years his senior, and then later his lover's trial for Nazi war crimes. It's the first book I've read that opens up questions about the mindset and character of those who worked as German officers in the concentration camps, and given that the author is a German lawyer and judge I found this was handled in a very interesting and balanced way.

We never really get any satisfactory answer to these questions with regards to Hanna, the narrator's lover, but the story raises very interesting psychological questions as it unfolds. If you love someone and then find out they are guilty of a heinous crime, do you have questionable character for having loved such a person? Was the person you were lovers with the same person or different to the person who carried out the crimes? Is there a black and white reason as to how they came to have carried out the crimes - can mitigating circumstances ever be considered when a crime is so horrendous? Can you still love someone knowing what they've done?

In the general post-war context, the book also opened up thoughts about how the next generation of Germans handled the guilt of what their parents had done, passively or impassively.

I really enjoyed Schlink's style of prose - I felt he kept the story moving at the right pace and kept my attention throughout.

4.5 stars for me - an enjoyable and thought-provoking read. ( )
2 vote AlisonY | Mar 12, 2015 |
I got to chapter 7 past part 2 and stopped. I felt no connection to the book as it had many holes in the story. I simply couldn't finish. The main characters were rushed and the plot for me was disappointing. The beginning seemed to draw me in but then I had to force myself to get as far as I did. Disturbing turned into a bland, unsatisfying read. The main character Michael I couldn't care less for. Hanna went from being a 36yr old seducer of a teenager(Michael) to being on trial for Nazi war crimes.
This review can also be found on Ahopkinsbibliomaniac.blogspot.com ( )
  Ahopkinsbibliomaniac | Mar 12, 2015 |
I started this book expecting something entirely different than what I got, while I didn't enjoy the first half as much, the book ended up being a good read.

The first half of the book was okay, it wasn't what I was expecting and I found the "relationship" between the two characters was rather forced and not what I expected it to be. In fact I found the first part of the book to be rather bland - and the characterization lacking in anything to push the book along. And the so called "eroticism" was very, bland - I wasn't expecting anything overly explicit, but the book is said to be erotic - and nothing like that was in this.

The second half of the book, during the trial was well done. While, I didn't care much about Michael, I found Hanna to be an endearing, character - I really enjoyed her story, and the history about her past, I loved the mystery side of things, not knowing for sure her actual actions - it was very well written in that aspect. Michael, just didn't work for me as a character, he was there, retold the story, but he just didn't work for me in any section.

I did enjoy the ending, bittersweet as it was, I think it was a very fitting ending for the book.

Also found on my book review blog Jules' Book Reviews - The Reader ( )
  bookwormjules | Feb 28, 2015 |
You might say “Why bother re-hashing the Nazi atrocities and ‘the final solution’ of World War II?”
Here’s one reason: it’s not satisfactory to say, simply, “Never again.”
Another reason: Bernhard Schlink has created a noble and compelling illumination of one aspect of the horrific, barely imaginable realities of the second great war: the mindset of the good people of Germany who allowed Hitler and the Nazis to take power and do their evil, and the confusion of younger Germans who came of age afterward.
The Reader offers some insight into a tiny slice of the German mindset, with an abbreviated biography of Hanna Schmitz. Her life is the personification of pathos. She is fiercely self-sufficient, but she is a puppet of the Nazi regime. She passionately savors literature, but she is illiterate. She is instinctively kind and generous, but she can admit without remorse that, as an SS concentration camp guard, she allowed several hundred women to burn to death in a church.
Michael Berg, an unworldly teenager, is the reader. Hanna entices him to read good books to her, long before he realizes that she cannot read or write. Michael’s relationship with Hanna metamorphoses in fantastic and soul-destroying ways. He struggles with his growing awareness that he has been seared, tainted and transformed by his consuming involvement with her.
At Hanna’s war crimes trial, Michael stares into the abyss: he explores her guilt, his feelings about intervening to mitigate her sentence, the ineffable mystery of who should share guilt for the war horrors: “…that some few would be convicted and punished while we of the second generation were silenced by revulsion, shame, and guilt—was that all there was to it now?”
Michael reflects on his irresolvable dilemma: “When I tried to understand [Hanna’s crime], I had the feeling I was failing to condemn it as it must be condemned. When I condemned it as it must be condemned, there was no room for understanding.”
Michael works at expiation. He sends recorded books on tape to Hanna while she is in prison. Finally, he learns that his effort was too self-protective, too little, too late to do the right thing.
I think that’s the reality that Schlink had in mind.
More on my blogs:
http://historybottomlines.blogspot.com/ ( )
  rsubber | Jan 29, 2015 |
I really love Schlink's short stories and was expecting to love this, since everyone else seemed to. It was good enough, I guess. But a little thin somehow. A one-day book that is oddly hesitant in its prose style. A rare case where I liked the movie better (also true for me of Schindler's List, and Empire of the Sun). ( )
  poingu | Jan 29, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 266 (next | show all)
What starts out as a story of sexual awakening, something that Colette might have written, a ''Cherie and the Last of Cherie'' set in Germany after the war, is suddenly darkened by history and tragic secrets. In the end, one is both moved and disturbed, saddened and confused, and, above all, powerfully affected by a tale that seems to bear with it the weight of truth.
Schlink's daring fusion of 19th-century post-romantic, post-fairy-tale models with the awful history of the 20th century makes for a moving, suggestive and ultimately hopeful work, an original contribution to the impossible genre with the questionable name of Vergangenheitsbewaltigung, ''coming to terms with the past.''

» Add other authors (33 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bernhard Schlinkprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Feuchert, Saschamain authorall editionsconfirmed
Janeway, Carol BrownTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kirchner, Ernst LudwigCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lien, ToroddTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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When I was fifteen, I got hepatitis.
Being ill when you are a child or growing up is such an enchanted interlude!
When rescue came, it was almost an assault. The woman seized my arm and pulled me through the dark entryway into the courtyard.
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A parable of German guilt and atonement and a love story of stunning power.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375707972, Paperback)

Oprah Book Club® Selection, February 1999: Originally published in Switzerland, and gracefully translated into English by Carol Brown Janeway, The Reader is a brief tale about sex, love, reading, and shame in postwar Germany. Michael Berg is 15 when he begins a long, obsessive affair with Hanna, an enigmatic older woman. He never learns very much about her, and when she disappears one day, he expects never to see her again. But, to his horror, he does. Hanna is a defendant in a trial related to Germany's Nazi past, and it soon becomes clear that she is guilty of an unspeakable crime. As Michael follows the trial, he struggles with an overwhelming question: What should his generation do with its knowledge of the Holocaust? "We should not believe we can comprehend the incomprehensible, we may not compare the incomparable.... Should we only fall silent in revulsion, shame, and guilt? To what purpose?"

The Reader, which won the Boston Book Review's Fisk Fiction Prize, wrestles with many more demons in its few, remarkably lucid pages. What does it mean to love those people--parents, grandparents, even lovers--who committed the worst atrocities the world has ever known? And is any atonement possible through literature? Schlink's prose is clean and pared down, stripped of unnecessary imagery, dialogue, and excess in any form. What remains is an austerely beautiful narrative of the attempt to breach the gap between Germany's pre- and postwar generations, between the guilty and the innocent, and between words and silence. --R. Ellis

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:42:56 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Schoolboy Michael Berg, 15, meets an older woman and they have an affair, which she breaks off and disappears. Seven years later Berg, now a law student attending a trial, sees her in the dock, accused in a crime dating back to World War II and the death camp at Auschwitz.… (more)

» see all 14 descriptions

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