The Book Thief

I had some spare time in the middle of my procrastination and I thought I would share the new book I am currently reading:

THE BOOK THIEF, by Markus Zusak

He was the crazy one who had painted himself black and defeated the world. She was the book thief without the words. Trust me, though, the words were on their way, and when they arrived, Liesel would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like rain.

Why this book? Initially, it was the title that caught my eye. I love the word “thief.” There is a hint of adventure, intriguing and encapsulated in this one little word. Thief. And to be a thief of books! Well, that was even better!

The first time I saw this book was in a sales rack a few years ago. I seriously thought of buying it (and looking back, I really should have), but it seemed so thick–550 pages– and I was so poor. So I left it there, having no idea what I was leaving behind.

Fast-forward to the present. The Book Thief has gotten a lot attention since it was published in 2005, which is great considering all the other crap that gets published (and popular) for adolescents nowadays. It was one of the Children’s Best Sellers of 2009!

I was still skeptical about the length. Let’s not even mention the fact that it’s written by a modern author and, for the most part, those have failed to really really impress me. But I surrendered, once again, to the lure of all those outstanding reviews and shining literary awards. And I am so unbelievably glad I did because I am loving this book. Why? I shall try to make it brief.

Things to know about The Book Thief:

  1. It is praised as one of the best new novels in the Historical Fiction genre. I loved historical fiction as a kid (the Dear America series, American girls, The Royal Diaries series, etc) and this book reminded me that I still do. The setting? Nazi Germany.
  2. Technically it falls under YA, but I don’t think it should at all be limited to adolescents. Genres are deceiving and this book can transcend arbitrary categories. Good stories are universal regardless of how old the protagonist happens to be. It starts when she’s nine.
  3. Five hundred fifty pages. 550 full, juicy pages. Not the Stephanie Meyer margins or large Twilight fonts that cheat in order to add to the page count either. This is not a short book, but so far, it’s been some of the quickest 500 or so pages I’ve ever read.
  4. Markus Zusak does a wonderful job as a writer in committing to powerful images and patterns, threading them through the entire novel. He uses them beautifully, in ways that are subtle enough to maintain the quality, but strong enough to make their point. I think sometimes modern writers try so hard to muster up great depth and showcase their individual styles that the story gets lost in the dramatics. Minus the somewhat vague, poetic beginning (which, a chapter into the book, is completely clarified), Zusak simply lets the story speak for itself. And it just goes. It can stand completely on its own and his writing is the perfect complement.
  5. Did I mention it is narrated by Death?

Such praise surely must be an exaggeration, right? There are few modern fiction books that I will compliment to this extent. I haven’t even finished, but I like it so much that I’m annoyingly eager to share. I have so much more to say and I would go on, but that will be even more boring than this post might already be. Plus, I really shouldn’t let procrastination dominate my life.

And so, I will end with this. In a time of great stress, The Book Thief called out to me and I broke open its pages after years of neglect. I am reading like a maniac once more. The dry lull of stagnant reading is finally behind me! Hoorah!

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About Booki
"Somewhere man must know that self-perception is the most frightening of all human observations. He must know that when a man faces himself, he is looking into an abyss."

2 Responses to The Book Thief

  1. Lauren says:

    Booki. I read your blog. And I think you’re legit, which I don’t say very often. Not that my approval is worth all that much. Ha. But since you’re also a lit major (this triples your legitmacy), I’m curious what a list of your all-time top ten books would look like. I’m on the hunt for some solid new reading material. Any recommendations?

    P.S. I TOTALLY devoured historical fiction like a hungry beast as a child. Dear America series for sure.

  2. Booki says:

    =) Favorite books? Ahhh, I don’t even know. It’s too hard to keep track of a favorite list because I think it always changes depending on my mood. And there are so many good ones out there!

    I always recommend A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY because I always find that not enough people have read it.

    I will think about it more. That is a hard question. =P

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