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The Reader (1995)

by Bernhard Schlink

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
12,524384413 (3.7)465
Hailed for its coiled eroticism and the moral claims it makes upon the reader, this mesmerizing novel is a story of love and secrets, horror and compassion, unfolding against the haunted landscape of postwar Germany. When he falls ill on his way home from school, fifteen-year-old Michael Berg is rescued by Hanna, a woman twice his age. In time she becomes his lover--then she inexplicably disappears. When Michael next sees her, he is a young law student, and she is on trial for a hideous crime. As he watches her refuse to defend her innocence, Michael gradually realizes that Hanna may be guarding a secret she considers more shameful than murder.… (more)
  1. 112
    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
    Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum (bnbookgirl)
    bnbookgirl: One of my top ten fav's.
  4. 10
    Without Blood by Alessandro Baricco (2810michael)
  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 Girl at the Lion d'Or by Sebastian Faulks (MissBrangwen)
  8. 00
    Innocence by Pierre Magnan (bluepiano)
    bluepiano: Shortly after WWII a teenager falls with gusto of course into an affair with an older woman who also played a part in the war. She too is a criminal. Richer & more re-readable.
  9. 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
  10. 00
    Before I Knew Him by Anna Ralph (1Owlette)
  11. 12
    Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton (1Owlette)
  12. 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.
  13. 12
    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
  14. 24
    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.
  15. 02
    Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel (Cecilturtle)
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» See also 465 mentions

English (335)  Spanish (14)  Dutch (9)  German (6)  French (4)  Finnish (3)  Swedish (3)  Catalan (2)  Norwegian (1)  Danish (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Italian (1)  Korean (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (382)
Showing 1-5 of 335 (next | show all)
I could tell that this book was meant to make me feel very emotional, but something about the writing style just left me cold. ( )
  SarahMac314 | Aug 12, 2022 |
The Reader is the story of Michael Berg, starting when he is 15 years old and following him through different points in his life as he faces the reality of his relationship with a much older woman. He meets Hanna Schmitz one afternoon when he gets sick, and after a battle with hepatitis goes to find her again to thank her for her kindness. The two begin a passionate affair that lasts several months. One day Hanna leaves without any word, and Michael wonders what he did wrong. His relationship with her overshadows his future relationships with women.

A few years later, his relationship with Hanna comes back to haunt him. While in law school, Michael is required to attend a court case for a trial of SS guards. Hanna is among one of the defendants. During the trial Michael is faced with a whirlwind of emotions. Yet Michael still doesn’t get his closure. That doesn’t come until he is an adult and he is attempting to fulfill what were her last wishes.

I fell in love with this story, I couldn’t put the book down when I read it and it has found a place among my favorite books. The struggle of feelings – emotions – that Michael constantly faces throughout his lifetime is so easy to relate to. He built something of an attachment to this woman, and when she leaves, he is faced with a torment he didn’t expect. I love how human and fragile he is, and how much he needs to experience in order to come to terms with his past. Overall, an awesome read. ( )
  amongstories | May 15, 2022 |
A beautiful short novel that tells about a time when terrible crimes were done in the name of the State and people had to decide how to respond to what can only be called evil. It is also a story of love and the development of understanding - all done in a beautiful way that entrances the reader. Few books can do what Bernard Schlink has done in this fine novel. ( )
  jwhenderson | Apr 7, 2022 |
Poignant ( )
  iamkbee | Apr 7, 2022 |
I had seen the movie previous to reading the novel. If you haven't seen it, I urge you to do so, as it is incredibly well acted.

For those who don't know, the story is narrated by a man named Michael Berg. It is separated into three different sections. The first describing a fifteen year old Michael's relationship with a thirty-six year old woman named Hanna. The second, is the trial for Nazi war crimes where Michael is a law student observing. He realizes that Hanna is on trial for being a guard at a camp where women burned to death in a fire. The third, is his life after and dealing with the effect Hanna had on him. I don't want to say too much more and give anything away.

I like the way this author writes. It is simple, yet profound. He draws you in and makes you care about the characters and what is happening to them.

I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone. Its though provoking, well written, full of interesting characters, and tells an important story. ( )
  banrions | Dec 7, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 335 (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 editionscalculated
Janeway, Carol BrownTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kirchner, Ernst LudwigCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lien, ToroddTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Meijerink, GerdaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Suominen, OiliTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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When I was fifteen, I got hepatitis.
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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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Wikipedia in English (3)

Hailed for its coiled eroticism and the moral claims it makes upon the reader, this mesmerizing novel is a story of love and secrets, horror and compassion, unfolding against the haunted landscape of postwar Germany. When he falls ill on his way home from school, fifteen-year-old Michael Berg is rescued by Hanna, a woman twice his age. In time she becomes his lover--then she inexplicably disappears. When Michael next sees her, he is a young law student, and she is on trial for a hideous crime. As he watches her refuse to defend her innocence, Michael gradually realizes that Hanna may be guarding a secret she considers more shameful than murder.

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Book description
A parable of German guilt and atonement and a love story of stunning power.
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Average: (3.7)
0.5 6
1 83
1.5 11
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