Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Take Tuesday: The Book Thief

The Book Thief
Some books are just so good, you have to read them again. And some books deserve a second chance. And some books I think about and change my opinion or have more to say. Take Tuesday is a chance to do just that. 

Title: The Book Thief
Author: Markus Zusak
Publication Date: 3/14/06
Pages: 552
Previous Readings: October 2012
Date Completed This Time: 1/18/15

Summary: Liesel, a young German girl living at the peak of Nazi power, begins a pattern of stealing books while leaving her brother's burial. Each stolen book plays a role as she learns about life, relationships, and the unfairness of the world. 

What I Thought Before: I enjoyed it overall, but I do not think I fully appreciated Zusak's work or the depth he conveys in the book. Full thoughts here.

What I Think Now: I read this book again for my Family in Literature course. Reading for class, especially on the graduate level, really casts a different light onto what you are reading. Probing discussions and essay questions make you think much more deeply. While at first I thought re-reading this book would be an easy week, I ended up being so grateful for a second, more challenging look at Zusak's work.

This time around, I really focused on the relationships within the story. Granted, note the course name. It seems inevitable I was to do so. Inevitable or not, looking at the book through the lens of relationships rather than the lens of Liesel's stolen books gave the work much more depth for me. While I love the importance Zusak places on books and words (I'll never complain about that), I feel that layer is something of a trap door. Though you may not initially think to look beneath it, there is so much more to digest and discuss upon going deeper.

Also, my reading this time was influenced by the movie adaptation, which Kevin and I watched this past fall. Though I did not think the film version was perfect, I loved the actors chosen to portray each character and they really did masterful jobs bringing them to life. Having their images and expressions in my mind helped to add that second, deeper layer of emotion and love to the story.

There are parts of the book that I would have written differently, but overall, I really appreciate Zusak's ability to share a deep, meaningful, tragic story and still keep it on a level that most young adults can connect to and learn from.

Quote I Loved: "I'm spoiling the ending, not only of the entire book, but of this particular piece of it. I have given you two events in advance, because I don't have much interest in building mystery. Mystery bores me. It chores me. I know what happens and so do you. It's the machinations that wheel us there that aggravate, perplex, interest, and astound me. There are many things to think of. There is so much story." (268)

Rating: ★★★★☆
Will I Re-Read: Yes. I can see myself reading this with my kids someday.
If You Liked This Try: Year of Wonders / Life After Life / Speak

A Reduced Review: Liesel's connection to books really becomes more about the people with whom she can share them.


  1. Ooo I loved this book!! After reading it I went on Goodreads and read some of the reviews and some people really hate The Book Thief. I was surprised when I read the hateful reviews! And a little hurt. I thought I must've read it wrong if so many people thought it was so poorly done. But then I realized that a book only means what it means to be - that's all the value it can have to me. And this book has a lot of value to me. Liesel's relationship with her Papa reminded me a lot of my Dad and after finishing the book I wrote a tearful letter to him. That's what this book means to me - the relationship between a girl and her papa and the power of words.

    1. I love that mindset! I got back and forth with the struggle, too. While I love Goodreads, sometimes it just confusing me and confuses what I think of a book if I'm not careful. I also don't understand why this book has gotten so much hate. I think it's a lot deeper (and sadder) than most books directed toward its audience, so perhaps people just don't know how to deal with it.

    2. A lot of people complained about the narrator, the dictionary entries, and the fact that Liesel was labeled a Book Thief even though she only stole three books. All aspects which I loved. To each her own, I suppose!