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The book thief by Markus Zusak

The book thief (original 2005; edition 2006)

by Markus Zusak

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
26,479161839 (4.37)4 / 1802
Title:The book thief
Authors:Markus Zusak
Info:New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2006.
Collections:Your library
Tags:Holocaust, Germany, 2010, Judaism

Work details

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (2005)

  1. 579
    Anne Frank: 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. 424
    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. 331
    The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne (Booksloth, frsantos)
  4. 242
    Night by Elie Wiesel (Smellsbooks, Morteana)
  5. 170
    The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom (PghDragonMan, avidmom, rhshelver)
  6. 258
    Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (weener)
  7. 193
    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. 100
    Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer (TessaSlingerland)
  10. 90
    The Chosen by Chaim Potok (avidmom)
  11. 91
    Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene (bethielouwho)
  12. 81
    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. 73
    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. 40
    Edelweiss Pirates, Operation Einstein by Mark A. Cooper (davidparsons, jacobwilliams007)
  18. 41
    The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway (mrstreme)
  19. 20
    The Girl in the Green Sweater: A Life in Holocaust's Shadow by Krystyna Chiger (elwren75)
  20. 53
    Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself by Judy Blume (Runa)

(see all 47 recommendations)


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English (1,517)  Dutch (27)  Spanish (17)  German (9)  French (8)  Portuguese (6)  Portuguese (Brazil) (5)  Catalan (5)  Swedish (4)  Norwegian (3)  Portuguese (Portugal) (2)  Italian (2)  Danish (1)  Romanian (1)  Thingamabrarian (the ideal language) (1)  Slovak (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (1,610)
Showing 1-5 of 1517 (next | show all)
4**** and a ❤

A very different take on WW II and Germany. Liesel Meminger is a foster child being raised by the very kind Hans Huberman and his verbally abrasive wife, Rosa. Liesel deals with her loss by stealing books; the first one before she can read. The allegorical story is narrated by Death.

I had heard a lot of buzz about this book when it first came out, but hadn’t gotten around to reading it yet. When a member recommended for book club, I waited to read it for the discussion.

It’s a long book (550 pgs) but the chapters are short and the layout makes it a fast read. It was originally marketed as a young adult book, and certainly I can see how it would fit that genre. But the themes are much grander and lend themselves well to discussion.

The entire story is narrated by Death.. Liesel is nearly 10 when the book opens, but she’s never been to school, so cannot read. Her mother is taking her and her younger brother to another city where they’ll live with a foster family. But Werner dies enroute (on the first page, practically) and her mother is devastated, as is Liesel. It is at her brother’s funeral that Death first takes notice of the girl. And it is here that Liesel begins her “career” as the book thief. She spies a slim volume, dropped by one of the grave diggers, and picks it up. When she arrives at the Huberman’s home she is still clutching this treasure, which she hides under her mattress.



Rosa Huberman is a gruff, German housewife, with nary a kind word for anyone (though she will prove herself to be a kind woman as the story progresses). Hans Huberman is a gentle man, exuding strength of character and a calmness that helps soothe Liesel’s damaged heart. It is Hans who coaxes Liesel to take her first bath, who calms her each night when she wakes from a nightmare, who teaches her to read (using the “Grave Diggers Handbook” as her first primer). It is Hans, also, who saves Max Vandenburg, by keeping a promise he made to Max’s father (who had saved Hans’ life in WW I). And it is Max who opens Liesel’s heart and mind to what is happening around her.

Of course there are many other memorable characters: Rudy Steiner (next-door-neighbor, best friend, star athlete), Frau Herman (the mayor’s wife, who cannot seem to recover from the loss of her son, but who allows Liesel to “steal” books from her library), Frau Holtzapfel (next door neighbor), and, of course, the Fuhrer himself. ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 11, 2016 |
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
552 pages

★★★★★ ♥

This is a book I’ve had for awhile and most of my friends have rated it quite highly and after reading it? I’m left to wonder why I waited so long to read this amazing novel! For starters this book finally got me out of my two month reading slump, so yay! Secondly, I found it to be on those books that once I was done with it, I just laid it down in front of me and took a bit to try to absorb it all. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started it (I try, under most circumstances, to stay away from too many reviews as it tends to taint my views before I even start), barely knew what it was about, but what an absolute treat. I feel like I can’t give it the proper review it deserves.

One thing that struck me first off? The narrator. The fact that Death was the narrator throughout was brilliant. The tone left by Death is haunting and beautiful. I highly doubt it would have been half as good told from a different vantage point. I thought the characters were really well done. There wasn’t a character I didn’t like, even the secondary seemed so real. I gobbled up this book, one of those stories that left me up well past my normal sleep time and me saying “just one more chapter…”

I know not everyone enjoyed it as much as I but I definitely think it is worth the read. If for some reason, like me, you haven’t gotten to this book sooner – do it…do it now.

*note: I saw the recently made movie on this book. Just…no. I think there was far too much in this book to encompass in the movie and in my opinion they butchered some vital parts and characters.*
( )
  UberButter | Feb 9, 2016 |
I've been reading a lot of duds lately, so I pulled out this book again, knowing that it, at least, would be a truly worthwhile read. My sister said something about how I was brave to put myself through this book again, which took me by surprise. Yeah, this book is sad, but it is so powerful. It's the most powerful story about the opposing sides of humanity I have ever read.

And Rudy. Death said it best: "He does something to me, that boy. Every time. . . . He steps on my heart. He makes me cry" (531).

But you can bet I'll be reading this book—with its beautiful words, beautiful people, and beautiful colors—again. ( )
  AngelClaw | Feb 8, 2016 |
Oh, wow. Markus Zusak is two for two with beautiful, beautiful books.
  mirikayla | Feb 8, 2016 |
Very unique narration, and of a time and circumstance not previously explored. ( )
  thukpa | Feb 5, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 1517 (next | show all)
Amazing the way something so beautiful can be written about such a dark period. Involving and completely addictive.
added by claudialima | editPortugal (Mar 30, 2012)
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.
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 (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Zusak, Markusprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
White, TrudyIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Corduner, AllanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ernst, AlexandraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lodewijk, AnnemarieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
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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 Catalan Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Original language
Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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
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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:42 -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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