03 October, 2012

If there's one book you must read... Week #26

Book #26 -- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

This week I have suggested another book that I have read for my book club, I couldn't not suggest it as it's one of the best books I've read in a long time!

Why I think you should read it: So firstly a couple of facts about the book: It's set in Nazi Germany & it's narrated by Death. The Nazi Germany part is huge so I wanted to get that bit out of the way first. Whether it's a subject matter or a genre of literature that you're interested in or not, I defy you to read this & not be moved by it; whether that's emotionally or more contemplatively, the whole thing is incredibly thought provoking. The story follows a young girl called Liesel Meminger & the everyday struggles that she faces (left within the first few pages: orphaned, without siblings & in a new town -- she also cannot read as if things couldn't get any harder for her!) The story itself is so simple &, in my opinion believable, but it's Zusak's narrative voice, Death, that makes the novel really so special. The imagery that he creates through his evocative & totally unique vocabulary is what struck me most & really made the narrative stick with me long after finishing the book. I urge anyone who hasn't read this to buy a copy from Amazon, with used copies starting from 36p you'd be crazy not to.

Amazon blurb: ''It's just a small story, really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, a Jewish fist fighter, and quite a lot of thievery ...' Narrated in the all-knowing matter-of-fact voice of Death, witnessing the story of the citizens of Himmel Street: When nine-year-old Liesel arrives outside the boxlike house of her new foster parents, she refuses to get out of the car. Liesel has been separated from her parents - 'Kommunists' - forever, and at the burial of her little brother, she steals a gravedigger's instruction manual which she can't read. It is the beginning of her illustrious career. In the care of the Hubermans, Liesel befriends blond-haired Rudy Steiner, her neighbour obsessed with Jesse Owens. She also befriends the mayor's wife, who hides from despair in her library. Together Liesel and Rudy steal books - from Nazi book burning piles, from the mayor's library, from the richer people of Molching. In time, the family hide a Jewish boxer, Max, who reads with Liesel in the basement. By 1943, the Allied bombs are falling, and the sirens begin to wail. Liesel [begins to read aloud] her books in the air-raid shelters. But one day in the life of Himmel street, the wail of the sirens comes too late... A life-changing tale of the cruel twists of fate and the coincidences on which all our lives hinge, this is also a joyous look at the power of book to nourish the soul. Its uplifting ending will make all readers weep.'

I can genuinely say that this, perhaps with the exception of Star of the Sea, is the best book I've read all year (& I've read a fair few). I was so relieved to find out at our book club meeting that there wasn't one person who didn't enjoy it. I also found out that in some countries it has been marketed as a young adults' book, which I was unaware of when I was reading it. I can see how the immediate style of the narrative would appeal to a younger audience, but I think that the piece as a whole is appealing to a much wider readership.

Have you read this book? What did you think? If there's a brilliant book that you've read & think deserves a place on the 'one book you must read' list let me know in the comments below or on twitter :)


Buy The Book Thief from Amazon, go on ;)


  1. whoa, this seriously sounds like a good storyline.. i need a new book to read! :) x


    1. It's absolutely brilliant, definitely read it :) X


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