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The Book Thief [Kindle Edition]

Markus Zusak
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10,374 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $12.99
Kindle Price: $6.96
You Save: $6.03 (46%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

The extraordinary #1 New York Times bestseller that is now a major motion picture, Markus Zusak's unforgettable story is about the ability of books to feed the soul.

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who 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.

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.


From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 9 Up–Zusak has created a work that deserves the attention of sophisticated teen and adult readers. Death himself narrates the World War II-era story of Liesel Meminger from the time she is taken, at age nine, to live in Molching, Germany, with a foster family in a working-class neighborhood of tough kids, acid-tongued mothers, and loving fathers who earn their living by the work of their hands. The child arrives having just stolen her first book–although she has not yet learned how to read–and her foster father uses it, The Gravediggers Handbook, to lull her to sleep when shes roused by regular nightmares about her younger brothers death. Across the ensuing years of the late 1930s and into the 1940s, Liesel collects more stolen books as well as a peculiar set of friends: the boy Rudy, the Jewish refugee Max, the mayors reclusive wife (who has a whole library from which she allows Liesel to steal), and especially her foster parents. Zusak not only creates a mesmerizing and original story but also writes with poetic syntax, causing readers to deliberate over phrases and lines, even as the action impels them forward. Death is not a sentimental storyteller, but he does attend to an array of satisfying details, giving Liesels story all the nuances of chance, folly, and fulfilled expectation that it deserves. An extraordinary narrative.–Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger,took a risk with his second book by making Death an omniscient narrator—and it largely paid off. Originally published in Australia and marketed for ages 12 and up, The Book Thief will appeal both to sophisticated teens and adults with its engaging characters and heartbreaking story. The Philadelphia Inquirer compared the book's power to that of a graphic novel, with its "bold blocks of action." If Zusak's postmodern insertions (Death's commentary, for example) didn't please everyone, the only serious criticism came from Janet Maslin, who faulted the book's "Vonnegut whimsy" and Lemony Snicket-like manipulation. Yet even she admitted that The Book Thief "will be widely read and admired because it tells a story in which books become treasures." And, as we all know, "there's no arguing with a sentiment like that."<BR>Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3446 KB
  • Print Length: 578 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (December 18, 2007)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000XUBFE2
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #62 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1,136 of 1,175 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent Story June 12, 2006
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Liesel Meminger is a Book Thief, living with a foster family in Germany during World War Two. Torn from everything she's known, her foster father shows her the power of words as the two of them share late night reading sessions of The Grave Digger's Handbook. Her love of books ties her to others, including the mayor's wife and Max, the Jew the family hides in the basement.

My own words escape me as I try to recount the beauty of this book in a short review. Rarely have I read a book as moving, as profound, as this one. Narrated by Death, this story is one that crawls under your skin and reverberates your soul with its images of Nazi Germany, friendship, and loss. The images stirred through Death's telling are so vivid, so wonderful, so tragic. Zusak has a masterful command of language and I was astounded by the way his words brought Liesel and her world to life. We follow Liesel over the years as she learns the true meaning of family through her caring new Papa and her friendships with Max and Rudy, the boy next door who idolizes Jesse Owens.

Just a small list of images that will stay with me forever:

+Liesel reading to the neighbors sitting terrified in a basement waiting for the bombs to fall around them

+A snowball fight in a basement

+Mama arriving at school to "yell" at Liesel

+A boy with candlelit hair standing up to a Nazi Youth Leader

+Death gathering up the souls of children softly

+The story of a Word Shaker

+An accordian player accepting a cigarette as payment

There are not enough words within me to express the beauty of this book. It will move you to laughter and tears, often at the same time. This one is a keeper that I will revisit frequently in the future. It has changed my soul. Highly, highly, highly recommended.
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1,146 of 1,206 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book deserves more than 5 March 23, 2006
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am not going to tell the plot of this book yet again, Amazon and some other reviewers have done it quite well...I will tell you that this is an astounding book, a beautiful book, and a book that I know I will read again and again......

I read a lot, two to three books a week, my family makes fun that I "love" so many that I read...but in the past few years there have only been a handful of books that when I finish reading the book I sit and try to think of who I can send a copy to, who can I share this wonderful experience with. A book that when I finish, I want to go back to the beginning and start over.

I am a little sorry it is listed as a young adult book, I feel that if the bookstores put it in the young adult section, so many people will be missing out on a wonderful experience. Yet it is important that younger readers, high school readers, read this book too. When I was growing up, I remember reading Diary of Anne Frank, and the feelings I had when I read it...and understanding the importance of everyone reading that book. Well, this book is that important, this book is a must read.

I am going to go back and read this author's other book, I don't know how it can measure up to this one, but if it is half as good, I am in for a treat.
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928 of 993 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Different, entertaining and heart breaking February 16, 2006
Format:Library Binding
This is a story told by Death. An interesting point of view perhaps, but as it is set in Germany during World War II, perhaps it is entirely appropriate. It is also a story of a young girl, who in spite of having a life that no one would wish on anyone, still manages to have glimpses of pleasure through many small things, including the few books that she manages to acquire (or shall we say, steal).

It is interesting to see that it appears to be targeted to young adult readers - please don't be put off by this - it is very much an adult story about children who are doing their best to live a normal life in times of unspeakable horror. It would also be a good way to introduce more mature readers to the history of the times. But be warned, it is quite confrontational at times, and considering who the narrator is, very sad.

To add extra punch to the story, it appears that it is the true story of the author's grandmother. When you consider this, you realise how truly resilient we humans are, and how occasionally, and with a bit of luck, we can hold off death for a time.
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505 of 542 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astounding March 17, 2006
Format:Hardcover
Very rarely a book comes out that steals my breath away. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak is a revelation. Narrated by Death, this story follows Leisel as she steals books in Nazi Germany while she and her best friend Rudy discover the power of words, language and friendship. Zusak's writing is mesmerizing; it's sarcastic, emotional, sophisticated and wondrous.

If you only read one book this year, read this one. Share it with your friends and family. I don't expect to read anything better this year, or next year either.
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161 of 173 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, moving, and remarkable March 16, 2006
Format:Hardcover
"A human doesn't have a heart like mine. The human heart is a line, whereas my own is a circle, and I have the endless ability to be in the right place at the right time. The consequence of this is that I'm always finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both."

So muses the narrator of Markus Zusak's powerful and moving new novel, THE BOOK THIEF. As you might guess, this is no ordinary narrator. The contemplative first person guiding you through this book is Death, an at-once fitting and ironic vanguard for a tale that both celebrates the power of words and agonizes over the consequences of their use.

Set against the tragedy-stained canvas of World War II, Death tells the story of young Liesel Meminger (the eponymous book thief) growing up in Nazi Germany under the watchful eye of a staunch foster mother and kindly foster father who teaches her to read. She attends meetings of the BDM, a youth group aimed at indoctrinating young girls into Hitler's ideology. She plays soccer with the boys on her street, holding her own in any disputes that arise. And all the while, the dreams of her dead brother haunt and goad her into a fascination with reading and words that inevitably leads to her life of crime.

It is a meeting with Max Vandenburg, a 24-year-old Jewish man being hidden in Liesel's basement by her compassionate foster parents, that alters the course of Liesel's life. Max, too, is haunted by nightmares of a family he lost in the harrowing aftermath of Kristallnacht. Together, Max and Liesel discover a shared love of words that leads to a decisive understanding about the role words play in both bravery and cowardice.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars it's a must read!
I thought it was an exceptional read! Highly recommend!! My advise is to listen to it on tape to hear the German dialect!
Published 5 hours ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome book
Friends at work told me about this book and I was not disappointed. It was slow in the beginning, but I had difficulty putting the book down after I got started. Read more
Published 6 hours ago by speekeazy
5.0 out of 5 stars the book thief
I am proud to be a be able to say that I loved this book.with all the humour and the pathos and tragedy it was a life affirming experience for me. Read more
Published 6 hours ago by lucy little
1.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
This book was joyful, sad, inspiring and satisfying all at the same time ... holds your attention on every page.
Published 6 hours ago by Maria Lynn Coyle
5.0 out of 5 stars a fantastic read
I loved the characters because they kept me coming back to the story. Very moving I loved the death teller
Published 7 hours ago by Jennifer Utley
5.0 out of 5 stars loved the book
Several friends mentioned that this book was worth the read. After reading sci-fi over the past few months, I thought I would give it a try. Truly enjoyed it. Read more
Published 7 hours ago by Rita A. Verespy
5.0 out of 5 stars AMAZING!
A trip back in time......to Hitlers war-torn Germany. Reading The Book Thief places you inside the devastating time; when hope and goodness were only words.... Read more
Published 7 hours ago by Kathleen
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!
A dreadful tale of unspeakable suffering told with lightness and clarity that is absolutely riveting. Read more
Published 8 hours ago by Thomas E. Wilson
3.0 out of 5 stars Not What Expected, Though Not Bad
For a book that got at least one major award, and a lot of accolades, I expected a much better read. Read more
Published 8 hours ago by Marie Ashton
5.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting and memorable
I picked up this book after being enticed by its name. I usually only read books which I expect to be able to leave a mark on me, and The Book Thief certainly achieved that and... Read more
Published 8 hours ago by Lara Zuberi
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More About the Author

Markus Zusak was born in 1975 and is the author of five books, including the international bestseller, The Book Thief, which is translated into more than forty languages. First released in 2005, The Book Thief has spent a total of 400 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and still remains there eight years after it first came out.

His first three books, The Underdog, Fighting Ruben Wolfe and When Dogs Cry (also known as Getting the Girl), released between 1999 and 2001, were all published internationally and garnered a number of awards and honours in his native Australia, and the USA.

The Messenger (or I am the Messenger), published in 2002, won the 2003 Australian Children's Book Council Book of the Year Award (Older Readers) and the 2003 NSW Premier's Literary Award (Ethel Turner Prize), as well as receiving a Printz Honour in America. It also won numerous national readers choice awards across Europe, including the highly regarded Deutscher Jugendliteratur prize in Germany.

It is The Book Thief, however, that has established Markus Zusak as one of the most successful authors to come out of Australia. To date, The Book Thief has held the number one position at Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, the New York Times bestseller list, as well as in countries across South America, Europe and Asia. It has also been in the top five bestsellers in the UK and several other territories. It has amassed many and varied awards, ranging from literary prizes to readers choice awards to prizes voted on by booksellers. It was the only book to feature on both the USA and UK World Book Night Lists in 2012, and has now been adapted into a major motion picture.

The Book Thief (the film adaptation) is directed by Emmy Award-winning Brian Percival (Downton Abbey) and was shot in Berlin by Twentieth Century Fox. The cast is headlined by Academy Award winner Geoffrey Rush (Shine, The King's Speech) and Academy Award nominee Emily Watson (Breaking the Waves, Anna Karenina). It also includes exciting new talents Ben Schnetzer, Nico Liersch, and Sophie Nelisse (Monsieur Lazhar), with Nelisse cast as The Book Thief, Liesel Meminger.

The Guardian calls The Book Thief "a novel of breathtaking scope, masterfully told." The New York Times: "Brilliant and hugely ambitious...the kind of book that can be life-changing." The Age: "an original, moving, beautifully written book."
Markus Zusak grew up in Sydney, Australia, and still lives there with his wife and two children.

Amazon Author Rankbeta 

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#49 Overall (See top 100 authors)

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"one of the most enduring stories of our time". Really?
Oh, well I suppose Harper Lee's book better deserves "literary classic". It does speak to the social structure of a southern berg a long time ago, and the highest ideal in fatherly love. Amelia, being a woman pilot left us in the lurch with an unsolved mystery. The Wizard of Oz teaches... Read more
Jan 6, 2014 by RocketDog2 |  See all 5 posts
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