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4.6 out of 5 stars
17,583
The Book Thief
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on December 12, 2017
The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak has sold over ten million copies. In a perfect world, I would hope that this book is read by a billion people, starting with children in the sixth grade and working its way up to people of all ages. This is the best book I have read by an author over the last ten years, excluding non-fiction and historical biographies. It is by no means a piece of high literature, which one might associate with writers like Proust, D.H Lawrence, Conrad, or Dickens, but it is just as compelling and its creative force and greatness lies in an unbelievable cast of characters, an amazing story, and an honesty that rings out loudly and clearly. I've read many great books that have dealt with the second World War and the Holocaust, but I don't know any that have touched me quite like this book. This is a book that should be required reading. "Words" are very important and how they are used can make the difference between life and death, war and destruction, happiness and despair. I shed many tears while reading this book, and laughed many times, and the rollercoaster of emotions I experienced were well earned by the masterful storytelling and writing by its author. AMAZING!!!!
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on December 4, 2017
This was a really outstanding novel about a little German girl who manages to survive WWII. It gives an insight into the suffering she and her family go through during the war. As a fellow author I really appreciate the quality and humanity in this work. Slice of Life Stories
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on April 22, 2014
And there it was, as the Kindle told me I was passing 95%, a rare and welcome surge of sadness, not because the book is coming to a sad ending, but simply because it is coming to an ending. The author earns the tears with his characters and storytelling, but the tears are also from the ache of a beloved journey reaching its destination.

The lyricism of Markus Zusak’s words, and the turns of his remarkable story, are hard to let go. Zusak pulls us gently into the story of Liesel Meminger and makes us love her, along with her adopted and extended family. The Book Thief, I suspect, will be remembered as one of the greatest works of early 21st-century literature, but if my suspicions are wrong, it will still be a book that lingers with me personally until its narrator comes to visit me.

I watched the wonderful film that has been made of The Book Thief after I’d finished about a quarter of the novel, and I was struck by how well the movie honors the book while ably transforming the story from one medium to another. Inevitably, the book is a deeper and richer experience, but the film is worth the investment of time as well.

The decision to buy and read this book came after a reader I respect said she would rank it with To Kill A Mockingbird among the best she’d ever read – the highest of praise. I knew little more about the story, and for those who want to discover the book as I did, I’ll leave it at that. Highly, highly recommended.
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on July 13, 2017
I downloaded this book to challenge my stepdaughter with her summer reading. I can honestly say that I was the one challenged. It took some pushing to get me reading, yet when I started, I couldn't put it down. What an amazing read!!!
No words can express the surge of emotions that came with this book. I lived with these characters, survived the stories (and the war) and have found an honest love of words, and stories, again!
The way the story was relayed was brilliant and well done. I laughed, I held my breath and I cried when it was over. This is definitely a book I want to reread for the first time!
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on December 9, 2016
The Book Thief was written in a very new lliterary format but settled down into a great story that I could not put down. It was the best novel I have read that looks at Nazi Germany in an intimate way, from the viewpoint of those opposed to Hitler and who felt sympathy for the Jews.
I had followed that , somewhat , reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer , the theologian who attempted , with others , to kill Hitler. This was the best novel I have read that looks at a different Germany. It also presented a look at the rise of Hitler and why he rose so quickly with the power he had.
The story of the young girl and her adopted family and friends was a powerful one.
I look forward to reading more books by Zusak.
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on December 10, 2014
“First the colours.

Then the humans.

That’s usually how I see things.

Or at least, how I try.”

The Book Thief is narrated by Death, himself. Death—although portrayed as almost sympathetic—watches from afar the life of Liesel Meminger who is the thief herself. An adopted daughter to Hans and Rosa Hubermann, she finds her consolation in words.

Stolen words that start to give her a sense of camaraderie with her foster father.

Stolen words that comfort her neighbors in basements during bombing raids.

Stolen words that comfort a Jewish man in her basement.

Death has a personality. He warns you ahead of time when something bad is about to happen. He feels the same trepidation, the same sense of foreboding you will when you know something’s wrong. He’s trying to understand the human race as desperately as humans are.

Muskus Zusak accomplished a great feat – making me ache for the people and children of Nazi Germany, reminding me that people , whether good or bad, deserved to be loved because they are, after all, only human.

This book is an ode to the people who managed to keep their humanity in the midst of war, a tribute to the people who did not succumb to the evil around them and an acknowledgement of all those brave souls who were punished for doing what was right.

“So much good, so much evil. Just add water.”

Rudy Steiner, the boy with hair the color of lemons, capable of so much love, so much life whose death devastated me. A death that was so casually and off-handedly mentioned by Death. A wasted life with so much potential, so much capability for doing good.

“How about a kiss, Saumensch?”

He stood waist-deep in the water for a few moments longer before climbing out and handing her the book. His pants clung to him, and he did not stop walking. In truth, I think he was afraid. Rudy Steiner was scared of the book thief’s kiss. He must have longed for it so much. He must have loved her so incredibly hard. So hard that he would never ask for her lips again and would go to his grave without them.”

Max Vandenburg, a Jewish nobody but someone you’re going to cry for. He fist fights with the Fuhrer and somehow, he’s going to fight his way into your heart.

“THE LAST WORDS OF MAX VANDENBURG: You’ve done enough.”

Rosa Hubermann. She’s described as being the woman with a filthy mouth and a wardrobe figure. And yet you know. You just know that this woman has a heart of gold.

“Make no mistake, the woman had a heart. She had a bigger one that people would think. There was a lot in it, stored up, high in miles of hidden shelving. Remember that she was the woman with the instrument strapped to her body in the long, moon-slit night.”

But if there were a true “hero” of the story, so to speak, it would be Hans Hubermann. Death, in the earlier parts of the novel, describes Hans Hubermann as the type to slip by you unnoticed. The kind of gentle humility this man is capable of is astounding. And Hans’s ability to be “not noticeable” turned out to be his greatest asset. A flashier guy may have not been able to hide a Jew in his basement for almost two years during the Holocaust. Hans has true strength of character as shown by his acts of resistance against the Nazi’s and his willingness to risk everything for a Jew, which in those days could have only meant death.

“His soul sat up. It met me. Those kinds of souls always do – the best ones. The ones who rise up and say “I know who you are and I am ready.Not that I want to go, of course, but I will come.” Those souls are always light because more of them have been put out. More of them have already found their way to other places.”

I could keep quoting this book forever but at some point words are just words. What’s more important is that you remember and believe.

Remember that humanity is capable of good even in the worst situations.

Believe that amidst sorrow, there is joy. Amidst darkness, there is light. Amidst Death, there is always Life.
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on August 29, 2016
This book was incredible. The perspective was unique and interesting. I'm definitely curious to see the movie now. I highly recommend reading this first because the read was so great. It was quick to get through, but the story line was so in depth for being such a quick, short novel. The characters are well developed and the storyline, which takes place during WWII is so interesting. I've never read anything like it.

Overall, a great book. You will not regret purchasing and reading it yourself.
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on March 27, 2014
It is not a quick read, and certainly not a light one, but well worth the effort. I would not say I enjoyed this book because that verb is just not properly descriptive. This book is experienced or ruminated over or felt or something. The imagery is diverse and evocative, sometimes ethereal, and occasionally bizarre. The writing style is unique, infrequently downright odd, but always interesting and creative.

The interwoven lives of the characters are complex, amazing, and disturbing. Of course, how could a story set in World War II era Germany fail to be complex and disturbing.

The narrater is death. Yes, death. Not an unwise choice to narrate a war story. Death, as you may imagine, is rather busy in a time of war.

The main protagonist is a young girl, Liesel, the daughter of communists (hint: not a good thing to be in Nazi Germany). Her world is chock full of strange, interesting, and odd characters, from her foul mouthed foster mother and contrastingly gentle foster father, to various acquaintances on Himmel Street outside Munich. Although death tells the story, it is mostly presented as the story of Liesel and the people that were or are a part of her young life. Liesel, not surprisingly, experiences much death and loss, in general. However, the better side of humanity is illustrated in both large and small ways all around her.
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on December 16, 2014
I first saw the film based on this book with Geoffrey Rush as Hans, both film and book very good. Balanced approach and nuanced read on that time in history. A needed corrective to the view that all Germans supported Hitler and were actively involved in the Holocaust. The truth is both simpler and more complex than that. Using Death as a narrator was quite clever and the characterization of Death was very good, as well. A couple corrections to common mistakes about that period and German history, in general, perpetuated by this novel:
1."Deutschland Uber Alles", the german national anthem, sung in the story in a Nazi context, has never meant Germany over all other nations(a common misconception) but rather allegiance to the German national state rather than the particular region, duchy, principality, or free city which comprised Germany throughout most of her history prior to unification in the 19th century. This is a phenomenon known as eidgennosenschaft(sic) in German history.
2.Hitler and the Nazis never garnered near the 90% support alleged in the novel. The highest percentage of the popular vote the Nazis ever received, in the 1932 elections, was a little over 33%, the following year it fell back to around 32%, which was when they made their move, used the conservatives and aristocrats to secure the Chancellorship after which Hitler consolidated his power and abolished opposition. The point being that Naziism, extremism, anti-semitism is not particular to Germany or the Germans or, to paraphrase the American Thomas Sowell, the Third Reich should serve as a warning to anyone enamored of charismatic leaders and the power of rhetoric.
All of which is the point of the book, i.e. the power of words, both to seduce us to evil ends and to arm us in opposition. In Christian mythology, after all, Satan is the Master of Lies, the Deceiver who seduces us with his silver tongue to do evil. Which, in fact, in my opinion is as good an explanation as any, novels or history, as to how Hitler came to power and the horrors that followed.
Altogether, a very good read.
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on November 26, 2013
A refreshing account of similar stories we know and have read. A horrible part of history enlightened with happy tales told by a very unique narrator throughout. It's great to read about the love and hope intertwined with such a horrific part of history. My only wish would have been for a slightly mire developed ending. The story built up great all throughout but ending came on too suddenly. That is probably only because I became so attached to the characters. Job well done. I will definitely read more by this inspiring author.
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