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The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
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The Reader (original 1995; edition 1999)

by Bernhard Schlink

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
10,090324282 (3.7)352
Member:ashbrau
Title:The Reader
Authors:Bernhard Schlink
Info:Pantheon (1999), Hardcover, 218 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

Work details

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink (1995)

  1. 102
    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
    Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum (bnbookgirl)
    bnbookgirl: One of my top ten fav's.
  5. 10
    Let Me Go by Helga Schneider (Booksloth)
  6. 00
    Julia by Otto de Kat (charl08)
    charl08: Both novels deal with the after effects of Nazism, felt many years after the war ends.
  7. 00
    The Travels of Daniel Ascher by Déborah Lévy-Bertherat (OneOfDem)
  8. 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
  9. 11
    Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton (1Owlette)
  10. 00
    Before I Knew Him by Anna Ralph (1Owlette)
  11. 11
    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. 23
    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.
  13. 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.
  14. 01
    Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel (Cecilturtle)
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» See also 352 mentions

English (282)  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 (322)
Showing 1-5 of 282 (next | show all)
It seems like there's a lot packed into this short novel. It raises very important philosophical questions that Schlink's generation -- children of Nazis, Nazi sympathizers, and compatriots who looked the other way -- in Germany had to grapple with. What do they owe the outside world? What responsibility do they bear? How do they reconcile the parents they love with the crimes they committed? What reckoning is required in the courts and just as importantly in the cultural consciousness?

But the novel doesn't answer any. If this had been a novel about emotional conflict, it would have been effective: here are these questions, here are the reasons I'm conflicted. But instead it's just ambivalent. It raises the questions only to give them little consideration and certainly no resolution or meaningful thought. It doesn't say anything.

Or at least I could not determine what Schlink meant to say. There's one throwaway line about Hanna being "brutal" that you might think means something, but there are also numerous instances of him wanting to wipe away her crimes and culpability because she was illiterate (which is so dumb I can't even interact with that idea, honestly).

You could see what you want to see in this novel (for instance, pedophiles who think Lolita glorifies the crime or teenagers who admire Patrick Bateman) but I could not see what Schlink meant except for ambivalence. It's an interesting book for readers to consider, but it isn't a meeting of the minds with the author, and that disappointed me. ( )
  sparemethecensor | Apr 11, 2016 |
******* Contains spoilers*****
This story if full of controversial if not disturbing topics. I tried to look at it in the literary form despite this. I felt the writing was simplistic and sometimes repetitive, but also gave good imagery.

What bothered me about the 15 year old relationship with the 36 year old besides the obvious facts of morals is that Schlink never really gives the narrator a self realization on how wrong it was of her to seduce him as a child. I know he viewed himself not as such, but maybe the authors way of getting this across is his life long struggle with his relationship, but I wanted him to realize how wrong it was and him to be angry with her for her part with the holocaust. ( )
  brandymuss | Mar 15, 2016 |
The worst book I have ever read. ( )
  umbiela | Feb 16, 2016 |
Extraordinary. A 15 year old falls for an older woman, and gets his heart broken. Years later he learns she was a Nazi prison guard when he's assigned to cover her trial. Too late to help her, he discerns her secret. A tragic ending. ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 3, 2016 |
This book truly polarized me, opinion-wise. I absolutely despised the writing, especially for the content/story. It was written almost like a textbook, incredibly dry and with little to no emotion. The few flickers of genuine emotion was felt, however, when it was written. For how deep this story was and the intent of why it was written (stated in the end), the writing does it absolutely no justice. The descriptions and story itself was bare-bones and removed all emotion from the story. I'm sure that there was a point to this, as it was written from a first person POV. I understand the intent, but it did nothing to make me enjoy this novel, truly. If the story was expanded and written more like a novel, I would have most likely loved it. ( )
  uhohxkate | Jan 31, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 282 (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

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bernhard Schlinkprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Janeway, Carol BrownTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kirchner, Ernst LudwigCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lien, ToroddTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
When I was fifteen, I got hepatitis.
Quotations
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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
A parable of German guilt and atonement and a love story of stunning power.
Haiku summary

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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:10 -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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 14 descriptions

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