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The Reader

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  120,321 ratings  ·  7,364 reviews
"The Reader" is both a literary surprise and a moral challenge: a riveting, provocative, and deeply moving novel about a young boy's erotic awakening in a passionate, clandestine love affair with an older woman, and what happens to them both when the secrets in her past are revealed. Fifteen-year-old Michael Berg becomes ill on the way home from school. A woman takes care ...more
Hardcover, 218 pages
Published March 7th 1999 by Turtleback Books (first published 1995)
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Erin (Paperback stash) *is juggle-reading* I took it to mean there are situations you shouldn't involve yourself in, unless you are forced to (because of a hefty price like protecting your life…moreI took it to mean there are situations you shouldn't involve yourself in, unless you are forced to (because of a hefty price like protecting your life and self-defense.)(less)
Jeannine It seems to me that the book is more about Michael than Hanna. He is the one with the problem - understanding or condemnation - plus guilt on his part…moreIt seems to me that the book is more about Michael than Hanna. He is the one with the problem - understanding or condemnation - plus guilt on his part for ditching her.

But her illiteracy was unusual in a country with a 99% literacy rate. Can this be attributed to some childhood trauma that inured her to softness of heart? Her quickness to take offence? She was only sure of herself in the offensive mode.

Although some would say Hanna "corrupted" Michael, I submit that he was old enough to make a choice and lacked the moral fiber to let her go gently as he matured.(less)
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Steve Sckenda
Mar 19, 2015 Steve Sckenda rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those Interested in Law, Memory, Guilt and Illicit First Loves
“Desires, memories, fears, passions form labyrinths in which we lose and find and then lose ourselves again.” (18)

This book is an exercise in memory– that of the narrator, the German nation, the reader, and me (your humble reviewer who frequently inserts himself into his own reviews). The narrator, Michael Berg, is a German lawyer and legal historian who, from the perspective of adulthood, looks back on his postwar teenage relationship in Berlin with Hanna Schmitz. The book is also a reverie on
booring. is that a review?? this was just very flat to me. i wasn't offended by the subject matter - i could care less about the "scandalous" elements. but the writing was so clinical and thin. at one point, i blamed the translation, but c'mon - its not that hard to translate german to english (i can't do it, of course, but it's supposed to be one of the easiest translations) i have nothing helpful to say about this except i was bored bored bored. the characters were unappealing, the "twists" we ...more
I have the feeling there's more than one way of looking at this book. On one hand it can be viewed as a bildungsroman, it follows Michael Berg since the age of 15 till full maturity. On the other hand, it's the post-war German generation coming to terms with their past, the Nazi crimes and their parents' guilt. Guilt, actually, is a recurring theme in the novel: Hanna is guilty of war crimes, Michael is guilty for betrayal (plus he feels guilty for having loved Hanna and asks himself if that mak ...more
Emily May
I'm not really sure why this book is considered one of the best books of all time and managed to make into the big 1001 list. Most of the time, even if I don't like a book, I tend to understand why someone else picked it. In this case, I'm rather clueless. Is it, perhaps, that people see in it some message about humanity when Hanna won't purchase her freedom with the secret she has kept hidden for years? Is it the vivid sexual tale of a teenage boy with an older woman? Are we supposed to be shoc ...more
There are some books you know will stay with you forever, and Bernhard Schlink's The Reader is definitely one of them. It has been highly critically acclaimed, winning the Boston Book Review's Fisk Fiction Prize, and it deserves all the praise it has received.

The Holocaust is a difficult, though much covered, subject matter, and this novel has a sure touch and an appealing lack of judgment with it. The story begins in the world of almost-childhood of fifteen-year-old Michael Berg, recovering fr
This book just fell short with me, on oh so many levels. One thing that did intrigue me and that I have not yet seen much of is the perspective of Germans after the Holocaust and their views on the Third Reich and Hitler's agenda, especially of the younger generation of that time. That was really the only thing that struck me about this book. The rest was just not enough. For one, the affair between MIchael and Hanna was deplorable. Is it supposed to not be as bothersome because it is an older w ...more
An Intensely powerful story and I'm still thinking "What do I do with this one??"

15 year old Michael Berg becomes sick and suddenly meets Hanna Schmitz, a much older woman who lives in his neighborhood. She helps him and they begin a relationship. He reads to her, and the intimacy is so strong that I'm not even sure how I should feel about it. It feels real and raw, and dripping in lust, while at the same time, it feels wrong, and I'm left feeling something hollow and wondering if the moral que
It's too simple to say I read any single book because I want to read it. There are dozens of reasons I'll pick up a particular title: I like the author; I like the subject matter; the book is an award winner; the book comes with many trusted recommendations; I was supposed to read the book in high school and I feel guilty because I played Goldeneye on my N64 instead. I will freely admit that I read War and Peace simply to say I read War and Peace. I'd take it to the cafeteria every day and let p ...more
Whenever a film is coming out that is based on an acclaimed book, I try to read the book first (knowing that the reverse order almost never happens for me). The Reader is the latest such circumstance, and I'm glad I made the time for this quick read. The book centers on the reflections of a man who, as a teenager in post WW-II Germany, had a passionate love affair with a reticent and mysterious older woman. Mere months later, she disappears from his life. The rest of the book explains why, and t ...more
Arun Divakar
The concept of love never ceases to amaze. From the cradle to the grave, a human being is guided,driven, motivated or annihilated because of it. Even when the presence of this feeling is what makes life tick for all humanity, we tend to call the romantic variant as 'falling in' love. This has always seemed ironical to me for if this feeling was as spiritually uplifting as it is believed to be, why don't we call it 'rising in' love ?

Ah ! But I digress from the point here ! This book is fuelled by
This is a curious book, curious in its effect on people. The large age difference between the lovers brings to mind Lolita; it's astonishing how much the choice of the genders of the old and the young affects the reputation of the two books. People are much more likely to forgive Hanna than Humbert, although Hanna's statutory rape receives much more (straightforward) description(view spoiler). Although it's true that Hanna didn't kidnap her youngling. B ...more
O romance libidinoso, lascivo e improvável entre Michael Berg, de 15 anos, e Hannah, de 36 anos, dá azo a uma tese e a uma reflexão intensa acerca da mentalidade alemã, estigmatizada pelo holocausto.

Em abono da verdade, o holocausto, nos dias que correm, é tão popularizado e vulgarizado que os traços trágicos e sinistros que o qualificam desagregam-se da verdade e instalam-se na imaginação. São tantos os livros que abordam o assunto que o clima da calamidade, intencionalmente provocada por xenóf
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
When I first saw this book at the thrift-store months ago, I thought to myself that it had to be amazing. The cover image intrigued me, I'm interested in reading books that pertain to the Holocaust, and at only 218 pages, it's short so I felt sure that it would pack a punch.

The first part interested me, due to the fact that I felt the book was leading up to something really dramatic and exciting, but I never felt that spark that makes a book great. Everything felt a bit rushed, and matter-of-fa
ETA: I am a bit of a perfectionist. I wanted to make sure I hadn't missed some detail, so I listened to parts two and three again. It was not boring listening a second time; the writing is beautiful and there is so much to ponder. It is about the holocaust so do not expect an easy, light read! It is about second generation Germans and how they view their parents and their actions during the war. This is done with both honesty and humility; it is an important issue to address. The central topic r ...more
Friederike Knabe
The topic of the Holocaust is raised almost every day in some manner. Many books have been written about the topic. Whether in studies, documentaries or fictional accounts, finger-pointing at the perpetrators of the crimes against millions has been part of the process of coming to terms with the Nazi atrocities. For Imre Kertesz, renowned author and Nobel laureate of 2002, there is no other topic. Yet, when he reflects on the traumatic impact of Auschwitz, "he dwells on the vitality and creativi ...more
Priscila Jordão
If Hanna’s illiteracy was used by the author as a metaphor to portray the ignorance that allowed an entire generation to perpetrate, or, at least, to comply with the crimes of WWII? I’m not so sure about it. After all, the germans were not more ignorant than other people at the time. Far from it.

My hypothesis is that Hanna’s illiteracy represents the inability of reading behind daily events and interpreting their possible consequences, which may sometimes be catastrophic.

For Hanna, there was n
This is not a book that I wanted to read. So many times while reading books about the Holocaust, I feel a disconnectedness from the events. It's a mixture of two things. The first is that the sheer scope of events is just too large, too horrific, for one person's words to do justice to it. The second, and this could partly be due to the first problem, is that I detest being manipulated by my books. With a lot of Holocaust literature the villains are stock characters; the malevolent Colonel with ...more
I'll start my review by telling you that I have not seen the movie based on this book - I thought I wanted to, but now I don't really see the appeal.

15 year-old Michael Berg becomes ill on his way home from school one day and is rescued by Hanna Schmitz, a streetcar conductor more than twice his age. When he is well again, he seeks out Frau Schmitz and becomes her lover. Michael eventually spends more time with friends from school and feels as if he is betraying his relationship with Hanna, and
The Reader by Bernhard Schlink is a sparsely written novel that still has great storytelling power. I haven't read a lot of Holocaust fiction, although it is an area that I am (perhaps morbidly) interested in, so of course this book appealed. I had previously seen the film, but it was several years ago so my memory of certain plot points was a little fuzzy. However, this book is so brilliantly told and paced that I was immediately brought back into the world and time period.

The book is a parable
Erin (Paperback stash) *is juggle-reading*

“There's no need to talk about it, because the truth of what one says lies in what one does.”

Another excellent book from Oprah's Book Club!

What stands out the most about this book is the beautifully poetic, somewhat haunting, clearly passionately felt writing style. The writer uses short chapters and the tone never alters, following the reader through the pages, heavy on reminiscing about the past, memories, and sometimes veering off into an almost dreamy viewpoint as the scenes take place. A w
Moses Kilolo
Every book is different in its own way. Sometimes it depends on who is reading it, and to what extend they can identify with it. This is one of those books that spoke to me. It has a strange way of making me see a bit of myself, a past unspoken (and not really to be spoken of) experience.

A cheeky boy will read this for its eroticism, especially in the first third of the book. But it goes way beyond that to ask some fundamental moral questions.

The Reader is set in Post War German. A place and ti
The Reader tells the story of the teenage years of Michael Berg while recovering from hepatitis and his passionate affair with a mysterious woman twice his age. Later going on to study law and discovering that this woman was involved in the death march from Auschwitz. The book continues on through the war crimes trial and the relationship between the two after her imprisonment.

Bernhard Schlink was born in 1944 (one year before the war ending), studied law then became a professor of public law an
The premise of the book is quite good and seemed to hold so much promise. But the author fails to develop the characters or the core ideas beyond the superficial.

The main character raises a few questions about the generational guilt of Nazi collaboration, but never really moves past the question of "what would you have done?" - other than to state that it makes everyone uncomfortable. I also felt little for the characters of Hanna and Michael. It wasn't just the fact that I didn't like or disli
A fast read. Germany post-WWII when they are just coming to terms with their Nazi past, "the reader", a teenage boy of 15 is awakened sexually by a woman twice his age with a secret past. Besides sex, a large part of their time together is spent with him reading literature to her. After an intense affair she vanishes, leaving him devastated and emotionally numb as he moves through the next few years. In college, he encounters her again as a law student at her trial for war crimes as a Nazi guard ...more
This is a complex book which touches on many thought-provoking issues. It disturbed and moved me on many levels.

Betraying not to betray

In Germany, many years after the World War II, those who had been too young to take an active part in the Nazi period were called “the lucky-late born”. But what is it so lucky in suspecting, openly accusing or ashamedly hiding the crimes of your parents, relatives, older friends? How did an entire “late-born” generation deal with this feeling of shame and betrayal intertwined with love? How did they cope?

They did not, Bernard Schlink tells us in his novel The Reader, beca
Malak Alrashed
A story of forbidden love, of law, ignorance and there are Scandalous elements, as well.

The whole story in general isn't that bad although Schlink writing is thin and his idea of depth is to fill few pages with general questions which is, sorry, but cheap. However, when he writes about feelings, he can be nice:

“I'm not frightened. I'm not frightened of anything. The more I suffer, the more I love. Danger will only increase my love. It will sharpen it, forgive its vice. I will be the only angel
I read this book long, long ago and then it was chosen for my Movie/Book club at the local library. I had not seen the movie because I wasn't thrilled with the book. I realize this is a book review, but I feel it only fair to mention, and compare, the movie as well now that I have seen it. This is one of those rare instances that the movie was better.

The book is written in a very very linear way. For this particular subject, I feel the movie handled scenes better. By the end of the book we know
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Bernhard Schlink is a German jurist and writer. He became a judge at the Constitutional Court of the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia in 1988 and has been a professor of public law and the philosophy of law at Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany since January 2006.

His career as a writer began with several detective novels with a main character named Selb--a play on the German word for "sel
More about Bernhard Schlink...

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“There's no need to talk about it, because the truth of what one says lies in what one does.” 327 likes
“I'm not frightened. I'm not frightened of anything. The more I suffer, the more I love. Danger will only increase my love. It will sharpen it, forgive its vice. I will be the only angel you need. You will leave life even more beautiful than you entered it. Heaven will take you back and look at you and say: Only one thing can make a soul complete and that thing is love.” 231 likes
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