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The Book Thief
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Archive 08-19 BR & Challenges > Buddy Read: The Book Thief

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Kristina (klonk) So, Viola and I have been talking about starting a buddy read about The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, so here we go. Is anyone else interested in joining us?

We should also agree on a reading schedule. As the book seems to be divided in several parts, about 10 or so, maybe we could choose to read a few parts per week at least?

Christine | 1311 comments I would be interested. When will you start?

Kristina (klonk) Sometime during this week, possibly! Would that be too soon for you, Christine - or is it okay?

message 4: by Ana (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ana I read this and I LOVED it. It's definitely one of the best books I've read in my life! And I am not exaggerating really:) Hope you guys like it as much as I did, and looking forward to hearing what you think of it:)

Laura (apenandzen) | 1445 comments You will love it, this is a fabulous book.

Viola | 1014 comments Thanks for starting up this buddy read thread, Kristina! I'm looking forward to it. I'm not sure what kind of reading schedule you want to set up, but I will likely finish it before November 15th, because that is when I have to start reading another book for my in-person book club. But, I'll be okay discussing it based upon whatever reading schedule you decide on.

Kristina (klonk) I don't need a more specific reading schedule than that, Viola! :) Having a finish date should, hopefully, keep me focused. Now I just need to finish Jane Eyre first.

Catherine (catjackson) I read this book in the late summer and really loved it. So glad it's part of a buddy read. I'll participate when I can (and when I can remember what I read, although the book is really memorable.)

Christine | 1311 comments Kristina wrote: "Sometime during this week, possibly! Would that be too soon for you, Christine - or is it okay?"

This week is good. I ll order it today :)

Jasmine (enchantingdragon) | 110 comments I wouldnt mind joining you all on this since Im looking for a new book right now. When are you planning on doing this again?

Viola | 1014 comments I'm planning on starting this weekend.

Kristina (klonk) And I will start sometime this week as well. As soon as I'm done with my current read.

Sandra (sandee) | 328 comments I want to read this with you guys. I want and need to read this book. It sounds great! I trying to read some of the other books for November, but I can start this one's sitting on my bookshelf looking at me right

Kristina (klonk) I read the first part tonight, but I'll wait for everyone to get a chance to start before I start talking! I'm glad people wanted to join us. :)

Viola | 1014 comments Kristina -- So sorry! I started, but barely. I'm swamped with work, so I haven't had time to read. Hopefully, I'll get time to read very soon!

Kristina (klonk) You were the one with a time limit, Viola, so I just hope you manage to read it before you have to return it again. :) I am positively surprised by what I've read so far (just about to start reading the 4th part).

Christine, Jasmine and Sandra: Have you gotten a chance to start reading it yet?

Viola | 1014 comments Okay, I've started a little bit!

I'm 18% into the book. I've finished Part 1 and part way into Part 2.

So let's talk about first impressions!

I thought the book takes a little bit getting used to in the beginning with the narrator and way that the sections are broken up. It's not a standard straightforward storytelling style. Nothing wrong with it, but it took a little bit for me to get used to. I'm very curious about the circumstances of Liesel being dropped off with the foster parents. Why did she get dropped off? What happened to her mom? What sort of system is this that the foster parents get some money for taking her in? So many questions!

So far, I don't think there is anything in particular that is outstanding about the book. I'm curious, but I'm not immediately in love with anything. I'm also curious because so many other people seem to rate this book highly. So, I'm wondering, what's so great about it? So far, there's nothing wrong about the book. Nothing to complain about. The characters are just fine. So far, it's a good set up and I'm very interested, but nothing strikes me as outstanding.

What do you think?

Jasmine (enchantingdragon) | 110 comments So sorry I havent had time to start it even. I downloaded it today though and hope to start sometime today. Go ahead without me, I am a fast reader and I dont mind spoilers so its fine.

Christine | 1311 comments I am on page 16 just beginning Part One.
It is a different format but like Viola, I have heard nothing but rave reviews so I'm looking forward to what's to come.

Kristina (klonk) I understand what you mean, Viola. This book has, in a way, been pretty hyped and the question is: Does it live up to the hype? At one point, several months ago, I started to read the book, but gave up after only having read the prologue. Like you said, it wasn't something you're just thrown into and then get sucked in. I almost wish the prologue wasn't there - cause as soon as I kept reading (this time that is), the reading was so much easier for me.

I'm on the 4th part right now and I have to say that I am pretty drawn into the story by now. It's not very dramatic and full of non-stop action, but it's kept me reading and I still want to continue and see where the story leads. It seems as the further you get into the story, the more complex it gets - and I like where the story is right now.

Viola | 1014 comments I just finished Part 3. My thoughts are the same as before.

One thing, though, Kristina (or others who've read Part 3), that I didn't understand and maybe you can help me with --
(view spoiler)

Jasmine (enchantingdragon) | 110 comments Im a 10th in now and have to admit the prologue confused me and kind of got me off to a bad start. Now that Im in the actual book part Im getting more into the rhythm and am more curious now about Liesel.

Sandra (sandee) | 328 comments I'm about 14% into the book and I am enjoying it. I had a copy for years and I must have read the prologue about 6 or 8 times and put the book back on the shelf. I am glad to really be "into it" now.

message 24: by Christine (last edited Nov 08, 2011 01:11PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Christine | 1311 comments Viola wrote: "Okay, I've started a little bit!

I'm 18% into the book. I've finished Part 1 and part way into Part 2.

So let's talk about first impressions!

I thought the book takes a little bit getting ..."

I just finished Part one. So far I love Papa! What a gift he is to this poor girl who lost her family in the same day.
To answer your question Viola, I understood that her mother was too sick to provide for the children so apparently foster care was set up. Even in today's society, while the state usually provides medical and dental insurance for foster children, the foster parents are paid a certain amount each month to take care of them and I believe can claim them on their taxes every year.

onto Part 2 :)

Viola | 1014 comments I'm up to 52% in Part 5. And I've another question for anyone who has gotten through "The Gamblers" sub-part within Part 5.

(view spoiler)

Jennifer W | 2175 comments Viola,
(view spoiler)

Ellen Yoho | 7 comments When reading this book , you have to remember that this was happening during WW11, and all people were trying to do was to survive. Her mother left her in hope that she would live-and the people who took her in made sure of that. Pay attention to the narrator of the story -the grim reaper-he is the one who really tells you what this story is all about. I thought this was a great book ,that showed how terrible it was to live under the Nazi regime-thank goodness ,they lost.

Christine | 1311 comments Ellen, you are correct. I was wrong when I assumed the mother was sick. Im just starting Part 5, I am intrigued. I am really liking the story moreso than at the beginning

Viola | 1014 comments @Christine -- Thanks for your response. It makes sense. I guess for me, when I started the book, I didn't immediately get that Liesel was German. At first I thought she and her family were Jewish. Given that I knew it was a WWII story, I just assumed that the main character would be Jewish. But, seriously nothing made sense with this notion in my head that she was Jewish. Like, why would they bother to stop and bury her brother if they were Jewish? Why would a foster family take in Jewish kids and then get paid for it? Nothing made sense on that premise.

@Jennifer -- Yeah, you are right. Thanks for responding.

How far along is everyone? I'd like to expand on my thoughts on the mayor's wife, but I don't want to get ahead of others. Though, I guess I'm not sure if anything more happens with the mayor's wife beyond where I am right now (which is 60%).

Kristina (klonk) I'm on part 8, I believe - about 75% into the book.
And Viola, I understand that Liesel being Jewish must have made things a bit strange for the story for you. Especially when Max entered the story.

Christine | 1311 comments I am in the middle of Part 5.
The mayor's wife is a pitiful soul in my eyes.

Viola | 1014 comments Kristina wrote: "I'm on part 8, I believe - about 75% into the book.
And Viola, I understand that Liesel being Jewish must have made things a bit strange for the story for you. Especially when Max entered the story."

LOL, no, I realized that she was German well before Max entered the story.

Irene | 4086 comments I was not going to join this discussion because I read this book in July and know that I can't remember names and details. But, as I look at all of your posts, I want to talk. It is bringing back so many wonderful memories from this book. I loved it.

I was hooked from the very beginning. Having the narrator be the Grim Reaper sparked my imagination. I thought that was so clever. I also fell in love with Leisel immediately, she caught my heart with her vulnerability, left absolutely alone in such a hostile world. Here is where my memory will fail, but I think I recall that Leisel's father was arrested/disappeared because he was accused of being a Communist. I figured that the mother knew that her future was very doubtful because of the same association. I can forget that the Nazi regime went after more than just Jews; they committed genicide on Communists, homosexuals, the disabled, those with mental illnesses, etc. I loved the way this book reminded me that even the German population suffered under Hitler.

I also was amazed at Papa's compassion and tenderness. But, I also loved Mama and her strength. She reminded me of my maternal grandmother. But, I really was captured by the relationship between Leisel and her best friend whose name is escaping me at the moment. Even now, as I write my impressions, I can feel emotions rising from some deep place, and I am the least likely person to get choked up at a movie or book. But, this one choaked me up.

Sorry, hope you don't mind my barging into this conversation.

Viola | 1014 comments @Irene -- I'm so glad to see you join in on our conversation! And I'm especially glad to hear the point of view of someone who really loved this book.

I'm at 69% now.

Thanks for reminding me about the Communist thing. Yes, I do recall that there was the mention of Liesel's parents being accused to being a Communist. But then I'm still puzzled by why the German government would pay foster parents to care for children of Communists. Unless, that those children are viewed as being "curable" or "reformable" (I can't think of a better word), as opposed to the Jews, whose children can't be "cured" of being Jewish.

Anyways, that's kind of a minor quibble, and I don't really want the conversation to get side tracked into that.

I think overall, my impression of the book has largely remained the same as my first impression, which is: I find the story interesting enough to hold my attention, it is not dull, it is not boring, but at the same time, I'm still trying to figure out why it is so highly regarded. Perhaps the problem is that I went into the book with high expectations, as it seems like everyone loves it. And well, at least for me so far, it's not living up to the hype. I don't have any problems with it, but I'm not finding anything outstanding either. The only thing is that I'm hopeful that perhaps its the ending that will make it spectacular.

I like all the characters well enough, but I can't say that I'm in love with any of them. Of course, Papa, Liesel, Mama, and Max are all very likeable characters. But I don't find myself attached to any of them. I'd say my favorite character so far is Rudy. The characters are all very one-dimensional to me, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I think a great story can have all one-dimensional characters, but there has to then be something else to make it great. And, so far, I am not seeing what makes this book so great.

There are tons and tons of books on WWII and WWII suffering, so there needs to be something special to make a WWII book stand out. And while I guess having death as the narrator might be a unique feature, I personally found death as the narrator a little weird and off putting. He (I assume it's a he, though I don't remember if there is any gender reference) puts distance between the characters and the reader. He makes it seem like you are viewing their lives from above. And this distance translates to the reader, i.e., me. So, I feel distant from the characters and not as if I am in their shoes, which is where I prefer to be.

Kristina (klonk) My computer died (my hard-drive, I believe) on me tonight, so I am making an attempt to write something from my phone.

The thing about reading a book that has been hyped has always been weird for me. To read books recommended to me by a friend, colleague or family member can be strange too - since the one recommending it most likely wants to share a wonderful reading experience with someone. So if, after having read the book in question, you're not wowed by it... High expectations can ruin even the best of books, in my opinion.

I finished the book tonight and I think I quite liked it, even though having Death telling the story made me feeel just like Viola mentioned.. a bit distanced from the scenes. The story and the people grew on me more and more though, and towards the end I felt quite attached to some of the characters despite the distance.

I do like that the World War II story is told from a perspective that shows German people as real people, and not just a people of hateful nazi's. If there had been more stories like this told years and years ago, I am positive more old people (70+) in my society would have a better viiew on people from Germany.

Irene | 4086 comments I found the characters to be multi-diminsional. But,I thought the layers emerged as the story went on. So, Viola, I don't want to say more because I don't know what percentage in the book various elements were revealed.

Viola | 1014 comments I just got to 90% during my commute home. My train was running late, so well, that just means more reading time for me!

I think that as the story progresses, it gets much more engaging and intense. I don't know how to say this without being a real downer, but when everything was just happy and normal in the story, I kept saying to myself, "so what?" But when things become darker and more ominous things begin happening, then the book became more interesting to me. Does that make me a sort of novel masochist? Bad things had to happen for this book to be interesting. I feel awful saying it.

@Kristina -- I think you bring an interesting perspective in terms of the old people of your society who dislike Germans. I don't have that perspective at all. I think Americans were much more shielded and protected from the real horrors of WWII. I don't have the perception that anyone here immediately associates anyone German with the Nazis.

I guess to me, and maybe this is just me, a story of WWII through the eyes of the Germans, who also suffered doesn't strike me as all that eye-opening or as a unique perspective. I just assume that they too suffered, because everyone suffers in a war.

@Irene -- I've come to find Papa to be a very rich character. I like him quite a lot as a character that is nicely developed. And I've come to like Liesel more and think that her character does develop as the story progresses, although not in the way that I expected her to develop.

Lastly, I've figured out why I like Rudy. Haha. In some ways, he reminds me of my husband. There was a line I highlighted towards the beginning of the book about Rudy:
"The only thing worse than
A boy who hates you
A boy who loves you."
This is completely my husband. He is still that sort of boy.

Viola | 1014 comments @Kristina -- What else did you think about the book? How would you rate it overall? Who were your favorite characters?

Sandra (sandee) | 328 comments oh goodness, I really need to catch up...I should be there by I will be back then

Viola | 1014 comments Okay, I just finished it. I ended up really liking it. It was a really good ending. And unfortunately, like I had previously mentioned, I felt like it got good when bad things started happening.

Kristina (klonk) Viola: I just marked it as "read" and gave it four stars. I like it when the author, somehow, makes me want to keep reading and not even look at another book while reading it. And I liked the perspective on the book, and the fact that it showed how important the little things can be in life.

My favorite characters were the foster father, Papa (Is that what he was called? I had a Swedish copy). I liked his mentality and way of life. And if the foster mother hadn´'t been all bad mouth all the time, I would've liked her better as well, I believe. And of course, Liesel - I think I could see my early childhood self in her quite a lot, in both good and bad ways. What were your favorite characters, Viola?

Christine | 1311 comments Kristina wrote: "My computer died (my hard-drive, I believe) on me tonight, so I am making an attempt to write something from my phone.

The thing about reading a book that has been hyped has always been weird for ..."

Have you ever read
Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum. That too is written from German perspective and it is a GREAT book.

Irene | 4086 comments How far are the rest of those in this group? I don't want to give anything away. I loved the way we got to glimpse some of Mama's tender side late in the book. I loved the bond between Leisel and Rudy. I loved the way we came to see the conflicted layers in the mayer's wife. I loved the way we are given hints about the moral struggle that everyone in the town has to grapple with being German, fearing their enemy who is bombing them, uncomfortable with the growing awareness of the genicide their own country is committing, not knowing who to trust. And, I love the power of books most of all.

Jennifer W | 2175 comments I think the thing I loved most was all the foreshadowing. I could get through the "ho hum, everything's OK" parts because I knew from the very beginning of the book that a plane was going to crash in town and that (view spoiler). There was a lot of other places of foreshadowing, too, and I tried to keep track of them as I was reading so I could look out for what was coming.

I think the hardest part when I reread this book earlier this year was that I noticed an awfully long time passes between Leisel stealing her earliest books. Later she gets much faster about it, but she has an easier supply.

Kristina (klonk) Christine: Thanks for the recommendation. I've never read it nor have I heard of it. I'll check it out!

Viola | 1014 comments I think my favorite character was Rudy, though, it's hard to say with Papa. I can easily see how Papa could be everyone's favorite character.

I actually didn't care for Liesel too much. I didn't really relate to her. She was okay. No reason to dislike her. But I just never felt a strong connection with her.

Sandra (sandee) | 328 comments I am beginning part 5 and my favorite character by far is Papa. I like how you see glimpses of Mama's soft side...she is really a rather caring person.

Christine | 1311 comments I finished last night. I really liked this book but omg what an emotional rollercoaster. AND I have a major question.
I don't want to ruin it for anyone else so I ll wait.

Kristina (klonk) Ooh! That comment made me quite curious, Christine!
How's the reading coming along for everyone?

Viola | 1014 comments So, the interesting thing about how GoodReads works is that when you have rated the book, it'll post what you rated it. Hence, it's easy to scroll down our discussion thread and see who has rated it and what they rated it. Fun!

Looks like we have mostly 4 and 5 stars.

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