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The Book Thief (2005)

by Markus Zusak

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
36,668199338 (4.36)4 / 1988
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.
  1. 619
    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. 321
    The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne (Booksloth, frsantos)
  4. 262
    Night by Elie Wiesel (Smellsbooks, Morteana)
  5. 258
    Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (weener)
  6. 181
    The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom (PghDragonMan, avidmom, rhshelver)
  7. 194
    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. 90
    The Chosen by Chaim Potok (avidmom)
  10. 90
    Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer (TessaSlingerland)
  11. 81
    The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen (whoot, booklove2)
  12. 81
    Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (sleepykid00)
    sleepykid00: Both taken place during WWII, but in different perspectives.
  13. 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)
  14. 61
    The History of Love by Nicole Krauss (Ciruelo, heidialice)
  15. 40
    Edelweiss Pirates: Operation Einstein by Mark A. Cooper (davidparsons, jacobwilliams007)
  16. 41
    The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway (mrstreme)
  17. 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.
  18. 20
    The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe (_eskarina)
    _eskarina: Similar setting (WWII), similar emphasis on the power of the books.
  19. 20
    The Girl in the Green Sweater: A Life in Holocaust's Shadow by Krystyna Chiger (elwren75)
  20. 42
    Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada (meggyweg)
    meggyweg: Ordinary Germans during the Holocaust and World War II.

(see all 46 recommendations)

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Showing 1-5 of 1867 (next | show all)
First thing, this is a very personal rant and should not be taken as a review of an unbiased reader.

This book will always be a guilt read for me . Not because I loved it but because I so wanted to love this book. Yes , by the end, it did manage to jerk out some tears but I think I have become desensitized of the entire "holocaust" scenario and I am ashamed of it . I am not supposed to be so insensitive of the tragedy that people lived through just a couple of decades ago but strangely I am and at moments, while reading the book, it felt like a song that has been on loop for years and is causing an ache in my ears. I am ashamed of the feeling that I felt through out the book . The feeling of forced tragedy that I felt for more than two third of the novel . I believe this book is comparable to A God Of Small things in the way it was always foreboding of the impeding tragedy . I think if I have read this book first it would have moved me just like the god of small things did. But I will never know and I will remain with the guilt of not loving or feeling for a book that I am supposed to.

If I think solely about what defined this book for me .It will be in the order of the quirkiness of death , the anticlimactic way of its narration , the blanket of innocence and normalcy that the book managed to pull over the chaos and dystopia the period was going through. Yes ,though through the cracks and crevices the sadness did seep in but the cute banter of Rudy and Liesel , she should have kissed him , I could almost feel the romance blossoming, the good heartedness of Rosa and the support of Papa actually actually made it a little less intense. Max was an intense character and for me he is the star of this book . He and his books.

For me the beauty of this book is it managed to show the German side and did not completely "NAZIFIED" it as was expected of a "holocaust" novel.

Yes , I didn't love this book in its tiny bits and pieces; but as a whole it was a good read. ( )
  __echo__ | May 11, 2021 |
Great book written during the days of the Nazi occupation in Germany in a small town just trying to get by.. written in the eyes of death, who crosses path numerous times with a young girl. She steals books... great read! ( )
  sjh4255 | May 4, 2021 |
A book about a young German girl during WWII, narrated by Death, wherein everything from dust to tears to thoughts to books to breathing is personified--that is, in a sense, given life. Savor the delicious irony in that for a moment. In the midst of the contrast of the emerging eugenics of the Germans and the fabricated mythology of the Jewish race, and the story of Hans, Rosa, Liesel, and Max, the entire emotional spectrum shines like the different colors of sky presented throughout the book.

Markus Zusak proves himself not only a more than competent storyteller--he also happens to be quite an artistically-minded fellow and a prose stylist. His Death character perfectly pulls the reader's strings from the devastating truth of war--"I've seen many young men over the years who think they're running at other young men. They are not. They're running at me [Death]" (174-175)--to a keen sense of humor--"Their plan was perfect but for one thing: They had no idea where to start" (284) and--my favorite tongue-in-cheek comment--"It kills me sometimes, how people die" (464). And through use of figurative language and personification, Death employs lustrous images such as:
There were no people on the street anymore. They were rumors carrying bags (383).
Her hand was sore by page three. Words are so heavy, she thought... (383).
And within The Book Thief proper, there is an absolutely brilliant piece of illustrated prose. Max Vandenburg writes and leaves behind a "small collection of thoughts" called The Word Shaker. We get treated to 6 pages of this remarkable (though fictitious) little compendium of Max's reflections, and in my opinion this has to be up for an award for best fiction within a fiction.

To be honest, I didn't want to read this book. First, it's marketed as YA fiction. Second, it was massively popular. These two attributes do not describe my typical fare. Plus, it had to do with WWII, which is always depressing and I feel as though I've had all I can handle on that front. But I must admit that Zusak has my attention. This was a wonderful book with a great story, great characters, and a creative imagination on full display. ( )
  chrisvia | Apr 29, 2021 |
This book was very boring, I am very unsure as to how it became a New York Times bestseller. It also annoyed me because the author was lazy and decided to write a "historical" fiction book that takes place in a town that never existed during WWII. Zusak, research is not hard stop being lazy! ( )
  nagshead2112 | Apr 27, 2021 |
This book was very boring, I am very unsure as to how it became a New York Times bestseller. It also annoyed me because the author was lazy and decided to write a "historical" fiction book that takes place in a town that never existed during WWII. Zusak, research is not hard stop being lazy! ( )
1 vote nagshead2112 | Apr 27, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 1867 (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 (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Markus Zusakprimary authorall editionscalculated
Corduner, AllanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ernst, AlexandraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Girod, Marie-FranceTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Giughese, Gian M.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lodewijk, AnnemarieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
White, TrudyIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
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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.
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
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.

No library descriptions found.

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
An accordion
There was once a strange, small man
Liesel Meminger

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