EVERYONE Has Read This but Me - The Catch-Up Book Club discussion

The Book Thief
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message 1: by Kaseadillla (last edited Jun 01, 2017 05:00AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kaseadillla | 1437 comments Mod
Hello all - starting up discussions for the JUNE 2017 BOTMs. This discussion is for the group's poll selection for the MODERN CLASSICS/POPULAR READS category: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

This discussion will be FULL OF SPOILERS. If you have not read the book yet and don't want to ruin the ending, hop on over to the spoiler-free discussion HERE .

Happy reading!

Bookbabe (goodreadscombookbabe) | 6 comments This is definitely one of my favorites. Death's fatigue at the beginning of the book has always stuck with me. It's so human!

Tania (geoluhread) | 30 comments The best part of the book has to be the narration. Death "spoils" things for us, but in a way that makes reading everything leading up to the "spoiler" affect you so much more.
I have to admit that my eyes were not dry towards the end of the book, at least first time I read it. Let's see if it still has the same effect this time.

Fannie D'Ascola | 226 comments The 'spoiling' thing that Death does annoy me so much personally. I don't know why I felt that way, but I couldn't help but sigh everytime.

I like the book just ok, but at the end I was very happy to be alone for the last few pages.

Kandice I thought this was a good book, and I really like Zuzak's writing, but I thought I Am the Messenger was a better written book. It might have something to do with Death's spoilers, like Fannie said. I don't usually mind spoilers so much, but it was almost irritating here.

Bookbabe (goodreadscombookbabe) | 6 comments I remember the tears at the end, too. I finished my read on an airplane. I was so inconsolable that I worried the flight attendant! She was shocked anyone could be so affected by a book - I'm sure she went on to read it, herself!

Megan (lethargicpoison) | 3 comments I can't imagine having finished the read on a plane, Bookbabe! I was a mess at the end of this book. I hope your flight attendant did pick it up!

message 8: by Sam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sam (henry05) | 1 comments I love the Death as the narrator. His voice is melancholy and gentle in a time of chaos and work.

Death's narration is blunt, confronting, but he delivered that confronting truth as gentle as he could, and I really find that his delivering of the story makes it more than just a story of a book thief, but a universal story about time, peace, death, war, serenity and security, love and suffering.

"The Book Thief" is a masterpiece about the hope and tragedy of humanity.

J.P. Nicks | 5 comments Prologue and 3 Chapters in and I am STRUGGLING. I think I'll make it through, but the disjointed storytelling gives me a bit of a headache. Not a fan of the two main characters yet. But a couple of the side ones do have me interested.

Ranmali Kirinde | 7 comments I loved Death as the narrator in this book and the writing style. This is one of my all time favorites. The spoilers in the middle of the narration didn't bother me. I still wanted to keep reading. I felt that it made the story more haunting and beautiful.

Tania (geoluhread) | 30 comments It is amazing how many details I forgot about the story.
All I remember is how much I lived it, it's filled with narrator spoilers, and the ending. If someone asked me about this and that scene, I wouldn't have remembered!
This is my first reread since 2009 (or 2010). :|

Rebecca I agree with Ranmali. Death as the narrator was superbly done. I thought with spoilers I wouldn't be very emotional when the events occurred but I was. Possibly not as devastated because of the spoilers, but certainly continued to read!!

Lorilee (lthomas74) | 13 comments I did like this book very much and it was very emotional. I read it right after The Fall of Giants and Winter of the World by Ken Follett. I think I was overwhelmed reading these books back to back. They are both jarring and I think I was wrecked. I am going to read this one again to see if the affect is different this time. It was a brilliant book, being written from death's voice.

Jaron Does anybody have any comments on the what the significance of the three sky colors that death starts out with when describing how he interacted around Liesel? Is it just foreshadowing the outline of the book? Why did the Zusak include this?

Tania (geoluhread) | 30 comments @Jaron, I understood it as a simple link to the Nazi flag and death. I think the author wanted to prepare us to the "This is a book about Nazi Germany, people are going to die"
I am not proficient in symbolism in general, and this was my own interpretation. Maybe the colors separately have a significance? I don't know.

message 16: by Mary (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mary Fisher | 1 comments I am so glad we're reading this book and I finally have a chance to talk about it! I read this book before it became really popular and never had the chance to really discuss it with anyone. I loved the narration of the book and felt that Death narrating a book written about Nazi Germany was a great choice made by the author.

message 17: by Matthew (last edited Jun 06, 2017 06:33AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Matthew (fogjuice) I didn't notice the red, white, and black was for the Nazi flag until it spelled it out for me on page 14. The red horizontal bar, the white circle, and the black Nazi symbol. I haven't gotten very far into the book, but I can see how the author could use it for an outline.

message 18: by Jaron (last edited Jun 06, 2017 11:44AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jaron You know, as I think more about it, the whole book is backwards in the way that it is told. Because the book is narrated by death, death is always at the forefront of the story. Normally death always seems to be the climax of an event. Some great sacrifice is made and the protagonist dies heroically... but usually death is added at the end to either romanticize or to catch the reader off guard by adding a different direction of excitement. In The Book Thief; however, anytime death happens, you know about it way before it happens. The narrator starts out by telling you, "On many accounts, taking a boy's life like Rudy was robbery..." (pg 240) or when death foreshadows the death of Hans. Every time it seems like the death of that person doesn't even happen in the same section of the book! Maybe the author is trying to describe the feeling of a typical person in World War I in these hard areas (perhaps even of soldiers) as not of wonder if they will survive or not, but rather wonder at how they will die. Or maybe no wonder about any of it. They start each event, each day, each decision with the idea that they will probably die at the end of it (just as death narrates each section with death at the beginning of it). While a normal person might despair and lose hope, struggling to find the purpose in life if death is so near, Zusak shows that these people did not struggle to find meaning in life. They lived on despite being followed by death in each moment of life. Life was... normal. Kids were... kids. Old men were... old men. Yet except, perhaps not entirely because at some points in life they were given the opportunity to fight for life as in the case of Max. And fighting for life changed life more than fighting against death.


edit: Death does explain himself a little bit in the beginning of "The Gamblers"

message 19: by Kyla (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kyla (kyl_aaaaaaa) | 7 comments Hi, I'm new to the group (I was kind of just wandering around on Goodreads), and I would love to put my two cents in.

I PERSONALLY did not like this book. I don't know what it was. The portrayal of WWII was accurate as far as I was concerned. The characters were pretty likeable; my favorite was Max, followed by Hans Hubermann. I don't know what it was that caused me to dislike it as much as I did (I rated it 2 stars) but something was just off. I liked that Liesel liked to steal books and that she and Max liked to read and write. I really enjoyed any scene involving the Jesse Owens Incident, however, I didn't feel any remorse over Rudy's death (probably because I had been spoiled). The worst scene for me had to have been when Liesel was crying over the accordion. Death as a narrator was pretty cool, though.

Amanda Just pulled myself back together after finishing this book...

I thought I would hate the whole Death-as-narrator device, but it was done so masterfully. For me, the spoilers made the book that much harder - Death tells us about someone's impending death and then backs up to happier times, and it caused me to feel a sense of dread reading through the good parts, especially near the end. Even basically knowing how it was going to end, I cried through the last 60 pages of the book.

Innastholiel I finished the book a couple of days ago, and now finally got around to re-watching the movie. I still love the book, but I understand why the writing style doesn't work for some people. The movie, however, just ... bothers me. I didn't like it on my first watch (way back in 2013, or whenever it came out in my country), and I really didn't like it on my second watch. Have any of you seen the movie? What did you think of it?

Innastholiel Jaron wrote: "You know, as I think more about it, the whole book is backwards in the way that it is told. Because the book is narrated by death, death is always at the forefront of the story. Normally death alwa..."

I agree with what you say about death usually being the end point of the story. I think having it so omnipresent in The Book Thief is part of what makes this story so unique.

As for Death spoiling the reader: I always thought that made sense in the narrative, because I saw Death as almost removed from time -- Death always happens, so Death is immortal, and time shouldn't matter. Besides, I didn't mind the spoilers much; it's part of what makes this story so exceptional to me. I also saw Death (as portrayed in The Book Thief) as a bit of a romantic, and perhaps taking away the "mystery element" (for lack of a better word) was a way to lessen the blow. (I think Death may have even said something along those lines.)

I'm not sure I agree with what you say about people going on living despite having death breathing down their necks, so to speak. The possibility of dying is present for all of us, every day. But I do think that people in wartime might have a heightened awareness of their mortality. Key word being might, as I didn't really get the impression that any of the characters did live that way.

Amanda Viser | 7 comments This was my second (or third, I can't remember it's been awhile) reading The Book Thief. Because of this, I wasn't as surprised and melancholy about the ending as it seems some of you were. I just really liked Death as a narrator, and I love how The Book Thief was brought full circle with Death showing Liesel her book.

Leesa I'm finally finished! I gave it four stars but really for me all four is for the story. For writing style I would be giving it three. Like I mentioned previously I'm not a fan of lots of paragraphs and chapters to a book, I think it makes me stop reading more so and takes me longer to finish. However the actual writing in the book was great and I really enjoyed some of the quotes from death throughout.
I loved how the story took you by surprise and gave away a spoiler every so often and I loved all of the Himmel street characters too, the detail in them was brilliant. As usual the end was missing a bit for me and I would have preferred to know a bit more, like what became of max in the end, for example. But an enjoyable read, even through the parts that made me tear up!
Now onto Wuthering Heights...

message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

I loved this book so much that, less than a week after finishing it, I read it out-loud in its entirety to my mum.

The audio-book is also great if anybody's interested :)

Leesa That sounds lovely Imogen, I would like to do that, except nobody would listen! :)

Sarah | 799 comments I think that Death's spoilers are a good reminder that it's not the end that's important... it's how we spend our time getting there.

Sarah | 799 comments Does anyone else Google like crazy while reading books? I think that's one reason it takes me so long to get through some books!

Anyway, my current Googling is saying that Hitler had blue eyes. I did some research after reading "Oh, the eyes, the Fuhrer's eyes. They were so deliciously brown- like Jews' eyes-...."

Plus I was curious as to why blonde hair, blue eyes was the ideal when black and white photos make Hitler look like he has dark colored eyes and hair. Apparently he had brown hair, blue eyes.

Leesa I don't actually Sarah but feel like I always should to get a better grasp of the situation. Sometimes comments on here have made me realise things I obviously glossed over when reading so maybe one day I'll start googling too!

message 30: by Zainab (last edited Jun 15, 2017 04:43AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Zainab Al Lawati (zainaballawati) | 234 comments As Leesa and J.P mentioned I struggled with the disjoint and really short chapters. It made it an extremely slow read for me as I started around early May! However, I thought the writing style was beautiful and emotional.

I am a fan of the death spoilers, it made everything more emotional, especially the sweet moments, or the unsaid words. Every now and then I get teary eyes, and oh my god I couldn't stop crying at the end until I got a headache.

To be fair, Max being alive was a pleasant surprise, I thought he will end with the concentration camp part. He didn't have any happiness for so long. His relationship with Liesel was the sweetest, the nights in front of the fire, the dreams exchange, the indescribable books he wrote to her, the hope she gave back to him. EVERYTHING was heart warming and sad at the same time.

At the end, all what I could think of is that humans can be the worst thing on Earth, I don't understand how cruel a one can be.

Bookbabe wrote: "I remember the tears at the end, too. I finished my read on an airplane. I was so inconsolable that I worried the flight attendant! She was shocked anyone could be so affected by a book - I'm sure she went on to read it, herself! "

Oh God, I can't imagine what must have that been like!

Neon's | 30 comments I'm into the 10% of the book. I like how the writing conveys emotions and has a sense of underlying innocence so far, as it's Liesel's story. It's also interesting that writer addresses the readers directly sometimes:

"A small question and its answer And who do you think was made to clean the spit off the door each night? Yes—you got it."

On another note, am I the only reader who thought of the Schindler's list when the three colors of black, white and red was mentioned? (colors of sky and flag)

Here's my personal opinions about the symbolism of colors although they may seem irrelevant. For me, white represents peace, safety and awareness of thoughts. Black represents darkness surrounded by ideas of war. Red represents blood, death and aftermath of war.

Neon's | 30 comments @Sarah I don't google them right away. I use different colors of highlights on ebooks and red is for anything that I want to look up on the internet. I write them down for later searching if I read physical version of books. Personally, I prefer reading books smoothly while the temptation of looking up words and ideas can be distracting.

Micaela Rosario de Gomez (micamica) | 4 comments I was very skeptical about this book because I've seen the movie and it just didn't do it for me... But I loved the book... I immediately liked death as narrator and the spoilers just made me want to read faster so I could know the details of the event spoiled, also I feel that it makes death more accessible... less of an abstract.

message 34: by Pye (new) - rated it 4 stars

Pye (helenduvall) | 43 comments I thought having Death narrate the story was ingenious. His personality (strange that Death has a personality) was actually likable. He seemed to dislike his job but wearily trudged on.

I listened to the audiobook - the narrator was excellent in his portrayal of Death.

message 35: by Emma (new) - rated it 3 stars

Emma | 8 comments This book was a hard one for me to get through. I really didn't like how short each of the "chapters" were and how often it seemed the story changed direction. I think if the book were to have flown a little more smoothly, I would've loved it because the actual book content was amazing!!

Leesa That's exactly how I felt Emma. I've just got the movie so fingers crossed it's not that bad because I loved the content of the book too!

Morgan Lee | 16 comments Just finished this book and it was definitely one of the most intriguing books I have read lately. I love how Death was cast as the narrator and told the story by presenting the final outcomes before the details leading up to each. It really drew me in and made it hard to put down. After getting over the initial shock of finding out the fate of a character I just had to know "How? Why? What happened?" I also spend a lot of time reading about the events that transpired during Hitler's reign and WW II and it was nice to read from the perspective of poor lower class German citizens in Hitler's Nazi Germany. It was refreshing to see that as horrific and incomprehensible as life was for any groups that Hitler deemed undesirable, life was certainly far from sunshine and roses for a large population of German citizens as well.

JK I'm Exploring (jkimexploring) I just finished this one and I'm still trying to get my thoughts in order. I liked having Death as the narrator and the first time there was a spoiler I was thinking "no! It's so good, don't spoil it" but then there's an ominous feeling until that event happens.
I love the short chapters and paragraphs. It makes me read it so much faster because I keep thinking that one more chapter is only a couple minutes.
I was crying so much at the end. I am so glad I was in my room when I finished. This is definitely a new favorite.

Sarah | 799 comments Jenna, I felt the same way about the short chapters!

message 40: by J.P. (new) - rated it 2 stars

J.P. Nicks | 5 comments Did anyone else find this book incredibly boring? I made it all the way through, but like 60% of the way in I was asking myself... are any of these characters going to do anything of interest? All of the characters took little tiny insignificant actions. None of the characters seemed to be on hero's journey. There was no growth. It was just a bland retelling of a handful of years in a bunch of people's lives. I was definitely crying when they killed off my faves. But my god, Liesel was so uninteresting. Rudy, Hans, and Max were the only characters who had real goals or did things of interest. It's also a shame that Rosa was written so flatly. I don't know, I may have enjoyed this book more as a child, when I was young enough to relate Liesel or ignorant enough to be surprised by the realities of Nazi Germany and WWII. But as it were, I found this to be a pretty unenjoyable read.

message 41: by Kristin (last edited Jun 25, 2017 09:42AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kristin  Huff | 0 comments As a whole, by the time I finished and gave myself time to think about it, I thought this was very good. There are soooo many books on this time period (partly because it is a period of history that is eternally perplexing.) Having it narrated by Death was really a stroke of genius - even Death is trying to make sense of so much horror -- much of it under the direction of one man. So many people were victims of this regime - at varying levels - having the third-person narration of the characters with Death noting the larger events (WWII, the Holocaust) going on around it, was a great way to get it all in.

As I was reading, I couldn't help but have flashes floating around of "To Kill A Mockingbird" (w/o it taking over this separate story) - both set within societies of extreme oppression and discrimination; similarities between Liesel & Scout - they play and fight like boys, they get into mischief, their desire for reading (though different levels for their respective ages), their concern for ideas and concepts that are beyond their years; father-daughter relationships that develop, partially, around reading - which serves as a small light, of positiveness and enlightenment, within times of such darkness.

One aspect that detracts from this story - which really has more to due with my preconceived notions of the book - is that I always thought "The Book Thief" was going to be stealing books to save them from their destruction by Nazis (as in the book-burning.) Other than that one, one was saved from the river (by Rudy) and another haphazardly dropped by a gravedigger, but the others she stole from a library of a mayor's wife - who kept all these books safe and LET her steal the others. If all those books were to be sent to their destruction and she had been stealing them from that fate, that might have been more compelling with respect to the title.

Laura H (laurah30) | 501 comments Just finished the book today and I really enjoyed it. It's interesting reading everyone's comments - I agree that Death as the narrator was an inventive feature. I also have read a number of books set in this time period - The Nightingale, All the Light You Cannot See, Sarah's Key, etc. Reading it from a German's point of view, the devastation of German land, was a key difference. A terrible time of our collective history - we should all reflect on the horrors of WW2.

Shaneka Knight | 102 comments My first book with this book club, I finished yesterday on the plane and loved it! I did cry a few times, but I liked death as the narrator. The one thing that irritated me was that death was a bit too human, but other than that it was a good read.

MissLemon  (misslemon) | 298 comments For those interested in Death as a protagonist or featured character I recommend Terry Pratchett's Death series (part of the wider Discworld series) https://www.goodreads.com/series/1095..., especially
Reaper Man (Discworld, #11) by Terry Pratchett Reaper Man.
Very different from this book of course but interesting to compare ( and Sir Terry's books always worth a read in my opinion )

message 45: by Nico (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nico (nikla88) | 15 comments I just finished this book and I loved every bit of it. At the beginning, I felt a bit lost and couldn't understand who was narrating the book but then I understood it might be the "death" I thought it was actually an original thing. Apart from the story itself, I liked the way the book is written and how things get developed, it's totally unexpected.
I will definitively recommend it to friends and family.

message 46: by Syeda (last edited Jun 28, 2017 09:05PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Syeda | 7 comments I finished reading the book today and I am at a loss of words. It surprises me how much of an effect a book can have on me. It was an amazing read and I loved every bit of it. I loved the characters, how they were portrayed, and their interactions with Liesel. I am sad that my journey with Liesel ended. My favorite characters were Hans and Rudy. Oh how much I cried when Death came for "Papa." I loved this book so much that I can go on and on talking about it.

I agree with everyone that Death as a narrator was pretty interesting. Death's spoilers helped me to cope with the ending slightly better. Even though Death spoiled some things, I didn't want to believe it until it actually happened and moved on reading about the happy times.

Like Laura mentioned, reading it from a German's point of view was different and showed a different perspective of that time. It was such an emotional read that I have to read something happy now to feel better.

Kristin B. Bodreau (krissy22247) | 0 comments I am generally a fairly stoic reader, but I'm pretty sure I was in tears for the last 25% of this book.

I loved Death's narration. I think he was my favorite characters. I wasn't annoyed by the spoilers really. It added to the tension of "when." I didn't cry any less when she kissed Rudy or sobbed over Papa just because I knew it was coming.

This book took me longer to read than it should have. Partially because I was busy, but also because I never wanted to to be over. I'm a sucker for interesting and witty writing. I just wanted to wrap myself up in the words of this book. This will definitely be something I reread.

I have to say, I have no intention of watching the movie. The copy of the book I had was an enhanced version on my tablet with clips from the movie. I was not a fan of the few clips I saw.

Has anyone who has seen the movie and read the book felt like the movie was done well?

Matthew (fogjuice) All these reviews make the book sound good. But I just couldn't get into it. I don't know if the start was too slow, or what. But I couldn't get more than a couple of pages without having to put it down. Had to make a special Did-Not-Finish bookshelf for it. :(

message 49: by Kris (new) - added it

Kris Williams | 22 comments Hi Matthew,
Just wondering what kind of book grips you from the beginning?

message 50: by Lisa (new)

Lisa | 2 comments This book has left a lasting impression on me. It was the first "big" book I have finished in a long time and that was only yesterday! Late, I know, but hey, that's why I'm here. I thought it was so creatively written and was beside myself at times about it. For example, when the author writes, "The sky was the color of Jews." That was hard. But I know from other "small" Holocaust survivor books, "Night" and "Man's Search for Meaning" that death was in overdrive. So having Death be the narrator adds truth
and a unique and interesting take on the story. I was sad at the end too but I loved the twist where Death becomes a Book Thief too! That was a suprise and I loved it!

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