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Book Discussions > The Book Thief discussion

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message 1: by Brianna (new)

Brianna Mcninch | 7 comments I realized that The Book Thief was our book we are reading this month, and I didn't see a discussion for it so I decided to start one if that's okay.


message 2: by Brianna (new)

Brianna Mcninch | 7 comments Guys, is anyone else finding the writing style a bit hard to read?


message 3: by Maaike (new)

Maaike I thought it was rather well written, actually. One of few books that made me a bit teary-eyed.


message 4: by Brianna (new)

Brianna Mcninch | 7 comments Well I'm barely to page 100 and the way it's written quite confuses me.


message 5: by Elsa (new)

Elsa (elsams) | 15 comments I love the style. Its extremely unique, I've never seen any other author write in that way before, so I can see how it would be confusing or hard to follow. But the fact it is so different is one of the best parts about it.


message 6: by Maaike (new)

Maaike I agree with Elsa. The way Zusak let's Death narrate is one of my favorite things about this book. I hope you'll be able to get through the book Brianna :-)!


message 7: by Karolina (new)

Karolina (mokkareads) | 3 comments I love this book.


message 8: by Reese (new)

Reese | 9 comments I've already read this book, but I'm glad to read it again!
I see some of you are having a hard time getting past the style, and I totally understand that. It's art, and it's a very abstract form, too. Don't let it confuse you. :) If nothing else, just try to get the basics of what Zusak's trying to get across.


message 9: by Rachel (new)

Rachel (qog314) | 25 comments Are there any other books where Death is a narrator?


message 10: by Monique (new)

Monique (MoniqueHerden) | 17 comments Mod
I haven't read another book that has death as the narrator, but I really enjoyed the way this book was done. Although it took me a while to get used to the style, it really grew on me. There need to be more books like this out there!


message 11: by Elsa (new)

Elsa (elsams) | 15 comments I definitely agree with Monique and Q. Zusak's writing style's individuality makes it hard to read at times, but it is precisely that that makes it so interesting to read. If there are any other books out there with narration similar to Death's in The Book Thief, I would definitely be interested in reading them! :) dftba


message 12: by Kat (new)

Kat (rajukumari) | 3 comments In a way, the narration is a lot like The Series of Unfortunate Events and also The Name of This Book is Secret. They're slightly less dark, but still a lot of 2nd person.


message 13: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Kendall (_pochemuchka_) I read this one a few months ago and I absolutely loved it. I thought it was 100% genius to have Death narrate. It kept the tone somber and slightly melancholy while being even and...I don't know what I'm looking for. Fair, maybe.

The other thing about this that I thought was very interesting is that it's a WWII-era story that's told "about" the average German citizen. I haven't seen many from that perspective and I found it kind of refreshing in its uniqueness.


message 14: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Schneider (madamemelli) I read it a few years ago (in about ten hours) and absolutely loved it. I still have to watch the movie though.

I really loved the style of the writing, it fits perfectly on the story. This year I already wanted to reread it but haven't had the chance.

@Amanda: Really? I stumble about hundreds of books about "the average German citizen" - possibly because I am German and many books are from German authors.


message 15: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Kendall (_pochemuchka_) Melanie wrote: "Really? I stumble about hundreds of books about "the average German citizen" - possibly because I am German and many books are from German authors."

That's really interesting. I wonder if that's due to availability on the American market or if it just happens to be that I never hear "Hey, you know what you should read! This book about German people." I wind up with some about French and British civilians, but mostly books that are that type of deep, poignant story about Jews, as you'd expect.

Will have to investigate. Do you have any favorites?


message 16: by Rachel (new)

Rachel (qog314) | 25 comments @Melanie, okay dumb question but do you find a lot of books about the average german citizen specifically during wwII? If so, what are some good ones?

I really enjoyed that perspective too as it's not one I can find too often either. I imagine @Amanda's right - it's not very huge in the american market. Might be a chicken & egg problem too; there's not many books about it here, so there's not a lot of interest, so there's not a lot of books marketed here.

@Tally-wa, that's a good point I completely forgot those two series have that similar 2nd person use. Personally, I really enjoy 2nd person used in that way. It hits you on the nose that a book really is a conversation between author(or "narrator") and reader


message 17: by Abbie (new)

Abbie (abbiemay) So far I am really enjoying the way the book is written, and how Markus gives little clues about the future of the book, keeping me hooked and wanting to read more.

Example: "Mr Steiner decided to talk politics with the boy, as best he could. Only in the years ahead would Rudy understand it all - when it was too late to bother understanding anything."


message 18: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Schneider (madamemelli) Amanda, Q: I think it is possible that you don't have so many books on this subject due to the fact that you live in America.

In Germany everyone is a little bit ambivalent about it. On one hand: we want to forget. Somehow. But we often have the feeling that we have to defend ourselfs. Even me and I was born way after those events.
On the other hand we started over the years to try to cope with it. Or better said: to make some things clear so this shit will never happen again.

Right now I don't have so many titles in my mind. One book I really loved is "Adams Erbe" by Astrid Rosenfeld. It is about a boy named Adam who is a Jew. His family wants to escape from Nazi Germany and his grandmother had some family jewelery with which they wanted to pay their journey to England. He falls in love with another girl who is also a Jew and she is taken by the Nazis into a concentration camp. So his grandmother buys him a fake identidy that he can find his love. And he wrote a diary or more like a letter to this girl the grandchild of his brother (or sister I can't remember) finds and this boy tries to find out what happened back then.

There are a lot of other books but I would have to rethink a little bit. Like I said: many are from German authors and I looked Adams Erbe up. There is no english edition just french and dutch and italien :(


message 19: by Mara (new)

Mara I love that this book shows the other perspective. The "average German citizen." We always hear so much about what happened to the Jews (which was just awful), but it wasn't all peachy for Germans either.


message 20: by Rachel (last edited Aug 07, 2014 06:05AM) (new)

Rachel (qog314) | 25 comments Thanks @melanie. I'm learning French. Maybe I'll be able to read it soon!

I can see how it must be hard for Germans, having such a stain on their history. I think most of us (I think) understand that it's not *your* fault, it's not a "German" thing to hate Jews, it just happened to take place there. Not sure I'm explaining myself great but hopefully you know what I mean lol

I think it's good to realize like @mara said that it was pretty terrible for Germans too. I mean, they were basically told either do this or we'll kill you and your families.

Obviously many Germans hated Jews, but a good chunk of the population didn't and thought it was wrong. Some Germans even tried to assassinate him (I just watched valkyrie, it was really good), but for most of them, what could they do? I certainly would probably do anything to keep my family safe.


message 21: by Reese (new)

Reese | 9 comments I've finally started this book. The writing style is actually more bizarre than I remembered it being. But it's very unique, and I respect Zusak's imagination.


message 22: by Reese (new)

Reese | 9 comments Q wrote: "Thanks @melanie. I'm learning French. Maybe I'll be able to read it soon!

I can see how it must be hard for Germans, having such a stain on their history. I think most of us (I think) understand t..."


These are interesting thoughts. I agree, it's...insightful to read a book, even if it's fiction, about the Germans who didn't hate Jews and were only influenced by Hitler because they had to be. It's the sort of thing that reminds us how there are no 'good guys' and 'bad guys' in war.


message 23: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Schneider (madamemelli) If you want to know more about German resistance try researching about Sophie Scholl and the "Weiße Rose" (in English White Rose) or the "Edelweißpiraten" (Edelweiss pirates ? ). That is what crosses my mind. But I will rethink about books from this time where people just tried to survive. And maybe had to play along Hitlers propaganda.


message 24: by Andrzej (new)

Andrzej Tucholski (andtucholski) | 2 comments Umm, sorry for interrupting the bigger conversation here, but could you provide me your opinion if this book requires some special "setting" for a succesful read? Or will it defend itself even when read in daily subway/bus commuting? Some reviews I've seen suggested that it is waaay more enjoyable when consumed "the proper way", but I want to catch up with it before Christmas:-)


message 25: by Mara (new)

Mara I have never heard of a "proper way" to read. That just seems ludicrous to me. If you enjoy reading books on the subway then read the book on the subway.


message 26: by Mara (new)

Mara Melanie wrote: "If you want to know more about German resistance try researching about Sophie Scholl and the "Weiße Rose" (in English White Rose) or the "Edelweißpiraten" (Edelweiss pirates ? ). That is what cross..."

Thank you for these suggestions...I look forward to learning more about the German resistance. It's always good to have both sides of the story.


message 27: by Rachel (new)

Rachel (qog314) | 25 comments Thanks for the suggestions Melanie! I have added them to my goodreads list :)

@Andrzej, I have never heard of a "proper" way either. I usually read books between commercials, when I'm waiting for class, etc. and I enjoyed this book so I think you're good


message 28: by Callie (new)

Callie Pickering | 6 comments Hey, so I just joined this group and luckily for me I just finished reading The Book Thief. These were my thoughts.

This book, for me, has fairly significant pro’s and cons. The Book Thief is beautifully written and has moments of poignant insights. The narrator, Death, is a unique and witty character and you in no way dislike him (despite his occupation). The main characters are loveable and well built.

Here’s my problem though: I feel like the author tried too hard. The old adage ‘less is more’ comes to mind. Markus Zusak, while writing a beautiful book, tried too hard to make it beautiful to the point where it felt forced. Death, while being an interesting way of telling the story, acted as a middle man to the narration and I feel like I didn’t get the opportunity I should have had to bond with the actual characters. He also spoiled the ending several times throughout the book and I felt deprived of mourning the characters.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I read it, I just don’t think I’ll read it again.


message 29: by Monique (new)

Monique (MoniqueHerden) | 17 comments Mod
@Callie: I see where you're coming from with death being the middle man and often telling readers of what is to come in the following chapter/s. And you're right, you just can't hate Death!

However, for myself personally, that's what I loved most about it :). With Death being this outside narrator, it built for me, the main characters differently than it would have if it didn't have that element. I found it enticing this outside view of the characters and their story; it was like you were both inside the room with Liesel and outside, looking in through the window. (Through Death's eyes). So for me at least, I found Death to be my favourite aspect of the book. :) The 'middle man' he plays holds back that usual bond you form with characters, instead creating this unique relationship with them throughout the book.

What are your thoughts about it nerdfighters?


message 30: by Suzan (new)

Suzan Eaton | 7 comments This is the fourth book club that I belong to that has read this book. Even my coworker's neighborhood-ladies-who-only-read-really-depressing-books read this book.

It is interesting that Death is portrayed so sympathetically -- reminds me of Death in "Meet Joe Black" and in the "Deathly Hallows".

And if you want a recommendation for another German writer, Cornelia Funke, who wrote the Inkheart series.


message 31: by Bianca (new)

Bianca | 22 comments I am on page 120 of this book, but only because I am a conscientious reader and dislike abandoning something I started. Also, I like to know something thoroughly before discrediting it. But I do not think I can read further. It could be the heatwave that makes it harder to concentrate or the fact that I am reading the book in Romanian, or maybe I am just not in the mood for it (there have been some few times when something I put aside for a while turned out to be great works at a later time), but this novel does not speak to me. Except the fact that Death is telling the story, there is almost nothing keeping me interested. The style is not hard to follow, it just masks the lack of plot and deep characters (except maybe for the blond boy).
If I read further, I will amend this review.
Hope everyone else is enjoying it! :)


message 32: by Sara (new)

Sara Poarch (geeksalot) | 2 comments I did find the book very hard to wrap my head around at first. The writing style is quite unique; however, when I did wrap my head around it, I was astonished. To tell a story like this from the point of view of Death is utter genius. That level of creativity blows my mind. It just added so much depth to the book and raised so many more questions. What if Death is a being with some humanity? What must he think of us looking at our atrocious acts such as the Holocaust? The book makes you think about the world outside of yourself, which in my opinion, marks a great novel.


message 33: by Aileen (new)

Aileen Kemp | 1 comments I feel like it's one of those books that has it's ups and downs. The first hundred pages are great, and then it loses the plot a little bit, but in the end it's a great book. I feel like a lot of books sometimes lack completely interesting yet somewhat normal characters, The Book Thief, however, has some of the best characters I've ever read.

I will admit that for some people it may not be an easy read, it's hard to get your head around the story at first. Although, once your into the slightly more dramatic and parts where are completely terrified for the characters, it's an amazing read.


message 34: by Isabelle Jade (new)

Isabelle Jade (isabellejade) | 1 comments I love this book so much. Read it multiple times before, but I'm not reading it with this group cuz I lent out my only copy. Love the style and the characters and the topic. It's wonderfully written. Hope everyone is enjoying!!!


message 35: by Reese (new)

Reese | 9 comments One thing that surprises me about this book is how much we can connect to the characters (namely, Liesel), even through Death's narration.


message 36: by Aileen (new)

Aileen I just started and I'm struggling to read it because of the writing style. I'll try and finish it, but I might not be able to, because the writing style makes me read really slowly.


message 37: by Rachel (new)

Rachel (qog314) | 25 comments Yeah, at some points of the story, I'm wondering where we're going and what the point of telling this or that is...But I really love the characters and thats what sticks.


message 38: by Soham (new)

Soham Mehta | 17 comments Tears filled my eyes faster than I could wipe them off at least for the last 50 pages-or-so.
It was an amazing read. Took a while for its pace to build up but the characters were so well fleshed out that you couldn't help but fall in love with them.
Liesel, Rudy, Papa, Max..


message 39: by Alex (new)

Alex | 2 comments I enjoyed every aspect of this book. Even when the story was fast, slow, easy or difficult, to read; I think it really adds complexity and deeper layers to the book. The story is focused on the lives of those on Himmel Street, but more than that, it is about LIFE and DEATH. Life is fast, slow, scary, adventuresome, easy, hard, and so full that it doesn't always make sense, like words and especially people. Death is a complete mystery to us as humans, but humans are also a mystery to death. In a way both death and humans are haunting each other, passing through time, going about our business. Occasionally the paths are separate... occasionally the paths are entwined but do not touch... but always in the end death and humans will meet each other.


message 40: by Ella (new)

Ella (Ellllaaaa) | 3 comments Alex wrote: "I enjoyed every aspect of this book. Even when the story was fast, slow, easy or difficult, to read; I think it really adds complexity and deeper layers to the book. The story is focused on the liv..." I totally agree with you! This book is completely about life and death itself. it really is a mystery to us humans. I like you enjoyed every aspect of this book. it was easy to get lost in and block out the surrounding world. I liked how it was narrated by death and sometimes I didn't. The book itself was amazing.


message 41: by Ella (new)

Ella (Ellllaaaa) | 3 comments Soham wrote: "Tears filled my eyes faster than I could wipe them off at least for the last 50 pages-or-so.
It was an amazing read. Took a while for its pace to build up but the characters were so well fleshed o..."
Exactly! I cried for a whilewhen Mama, Papa,and Rudy died. Liesel really did love that boy. "The boy with the hair of lemons will live forever" I cant remember the actual words but you get the point.


message 42: by Ella (new)

Ella (Ellllaaaa) | 3 comments Aileen wrote: "I just started and I'm struggling to read it because of the writing style. I'll try and finish it, but I might not be able to, because the writing style makes me read really slowly." That happened to me at first but then I really got into the book and it was amazing. Keep Reading!


message 43: by [deleted user] (new)

I personally loved the way death narrated and the wording. The book brought me to tears towards the end I must admit. Loved it in total.


message 44: by Rachel (new)

Rachel (qog314) | 25 comments @Alex I wish I could +1 your comment or something. That was beautiful.


message 45: by Alex (new)

Alex | 2 comments @Q Thanks so much! Glad we are all able to share in this wonderful book


message 46: by Mercedes (new)

Mercedes Lucero The part where Liesel reads to the crowd in the bomb shelter reminds me a lot of how people who have faith or religion can fill the void you get when you start thinking about life and death. Even though death is right upstairs and it might be a matter of luck, you can calm yourself by thinking about something else, like Liesel's voice reading (i don't believe the people concentrated on the story, but more on her voice).


message 47: by Cassidy (new)

Cassidy Stephenson | 8 comments I absolutely loved it. I was so heartbroken at the end. Especially because Rudy never got his kiss.


message 48: by Brooke (new)

Brooke This is one of my favourite books. I saw the movie last night and I thought it was done really well! The voice of Death was great. What do you guys think of the movie?


message 49: by Monique (new)

Monique (MoniqueHerden) | 17 comments Mod
Wish I could say, but somehow I still haven't seen it! I have no idea why, just never got around to it! How terrible, I'll be sure to see it before this week is through.


message 50: by Reese (new)

Reese | 9 comments I quite enjoyed the movie. Everything they left out seemed slightly unnecessary anyway (Liesel and Rudy's stealing, the boxing match, Trudy and Hans Jr., etc.). I really liked the actress for Liesel, and Hans/Papa was great too. They made me like Max even more in the movie than in the book, as well. :)


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