The Book Thief

The Book Thief

Book - 2016
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Trying to make sense of the horrors of World War II, Death relates the story of Liesel--a young German girl whose book-stealing and story-telling talents help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well as their neighbors.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2016, ©2005.
Edition: Anniversary edition.
ISBN: 9780375842207
Characteristics: 552 pages :,illustrations ;,24 cm
Additional Contributors: White, Trudy - Illustrator


From the critics

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Nov 17, 2017

Overall I really loved this story and I am so glad I waited to read it until I was in the right mood.

Nov 01, 2017

Absolutely wonderful book!

Oct 24, 2017

A fabulous book. A wonderful narrative device, using Death to - sometimes - tell the story. I loved it. It had lots of sad stuff, but shows another twist on the usual story of the Holocaust and World War II in Germany. Highly recommended.

vpazreads Oct 05, 2017

Incredibly creative storytelling. Using Death as the narrator ironically helped mitigate the sadness of the WWII scene.

Sep 18, 2017

Great historical fiction. Seems very real and feels like you are there,

I read it last month, and strongly recommend it for anyone interested in the realities of
the second world war. Rate it a 9 out of 10.

Sep 07, 2017

I read this book years ago and it was deeply moving and memorable. I would say that listening to the audiobook was an enjoyable experience, but I was not as invested in the audiobook as I was reading the book. I think part of the reason is because this is a book about reading books and when you read this book your experience gets synced with the characters and it seems to intensify the reading experience. I still enjoyed the audiobook, but if you have the time I'd recommend reading the book.

Sep 01, 2017

Read this book earlier this year. Found it mesmerizing. This story will not fail your feel good parts. Wish I had seen the movie.

Aug 26, 2017

Wow. This book.
I have always had a strange obsession with world war 2. I've read books, movies, sat through long documentaries, anything. But this book is went above and beyond.
In this heart wrenching story, Death narrarates the story of Liesel Meminger , or as you may know her, The Book Thief. Liesels mother decides that she cannot provide proper care for her and her brother and takes them to a new home. But on the way Liesels brother dies of illness. At his burial she secures her first book. The Grave Diggers Handbook. At her new home with Rosa and Hans Huberman, she slowly and painstakingly learns to read. She falls in love with words and does whatever it takes to get more. All the while World War two begins and slowly the danger becomes more and more noticeable until Hans and Rosa take in a Jewish fist fighter by the name of Max. By the end of Liesels story, you will laugh,cry,and hopefully learn more about your narrator who is "haunted by humans."
I absolutely recommend this book to anyone and everyone.

Aug 03, 2017

The Book Thief has surpassed all of my limits as a reader because the perspective of the narrator and hidden messages between the backgrounds of World War II leaves me speechless and amazed. This is a book that makes you feel for each and every one of the characters, from Papa to Frau Diller down the street, a book that makes you laugh, cry and smile. Zusak uses the darkness of war to add a sad humor to this novel; he refuses to sugar-coat the endless suffering of Jews and the horror of the entire Holocaust situation. As I reader, after finishing this book many times, I am left with all the characters beside me and the powerful messages stamped onto me. Rating 5/5
- @jewelreader of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library

A young but tragic German girl is followed along by Death narrating her life. Leslie Merminger's younger brother died, her mom left her and now lives in the Hubermans' home, her foster parents. This experimental YA book perfectly captures the emotional pain that she is going through in a very unique way, it was also made into a movie. This is my favorite book considering how much I have a distaste in historical fiction.
- @Florence of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library

Aug 03, 2017


3/1 - What a hard book to review (and for my first of the year)! The Book Thief was interesting, heart breaking, weird, literary (which isn't usually a good thing, for me), and long (which isn't necessarily a bad thing). I'm sure nothing I say will be unique, others will have said it before me and probably expressed themselves better than I will ever manage.

I don't usually like books that use 'interesting' language because most of the time I just see it as the author trying too hard and don't see why should they be allowed to ignore the punctuation/grammar rules that the rest of us are expected to adhere to. I don't know if it was Zusak's use of Death as the narrator or he was just more skilful at manipulating the language in a pleasing way than other 'language manipulating' authors that I've come across, but I found his syntax less irritating than I would have expected to had I been aware of it going in. I couldn't finish Blood Meridian or Steppenwolf because of how much the writing styles annoyed me, but Zusak managed to successfully negotiate the thin line between interesting and annoying.

A few examples of what I'm talking about

'It was right about then that she saw the first body. The accordion case fell from her grip. The sound of an explosion.
Frau Holtzapfel was scissored on the ground.'

'"Come on, Rudy, come on, Jesse Owens, don't you know I love you, wake up, wake up, wake up..."
But nothing cared.
The rubble just climbed higher. Concrete hills with caps of red. A beautiful, tear-stomped girl, shaking the dead.'

'The bodies of Mama and Papa,
both lying tangled in the gravel
bed sheet of Himmel Street.'

This is the first book with atypical writing that I've enjoyed and this might be the only time it ever happens, so I'm going to savour the experience and try to remember this feeling when I next come across a book whose author has not negotiated that fine line successfully (not in my opinion, anyway).

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Age Suitability

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Nov 14, 2017

blue_dove_464 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Apr 04, 2017

Tawesome thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

RobertELPL Mar 05, 2017

RobertELPL thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over

Feb 22, 2017

Alanreviews thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Jul 17, 2016

white_wolf_540 thinks this title is suitable for 11 years and over

Captain_America_1907 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Apr 28, 2016

KonaKitsune thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

Sep 30, 2015

miraculous thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Jul 28, 2015

maaariiisol thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Jul 11, 2015

abigailk1 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

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Add a Quote

Aug 26, 2017

I am haunted by humans.

susanbayridge69 Oct 04, 2016

First the colors.
Then the humans.
That's usually how I see things.
Or at least, how I try.

Jan 05, 2016

"It was a Monday, and they walked on a tightrope to the sun."

Aug 05, 2015

Imagine smiling after a slap in the face. Then think of doing it twenty-four hours a day.

Jul 28, 2015

A small announcement about Rudy Steiner. He didn't deserve to die that way.

Jul 28, 2015

How about a kiss, Saumensch?

Jul 28, 2015

Even death has a heart.

Jul 03, 2015

" How about a kiss, saumensch ? "

Jun 28, 2015

“If only she could be so oblivious again, to feel such love without knowing it, mistaking it for laughter. ”
― Markus Zusak

Jun 16, 2015

“I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.”

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Add Notices

Apr 04, 2017


susanbayridge69 Oct 04, 2016

Coarse Language: Some curse words

Jul 28, 2015

Violence: Some whipping.

Jul 28, 2015

Frightening or Intense Scenes: a few gruesome deaths, bombings, lifeless bodies.

Jul 28, 2015

Coarse Language: The bad language is in German, but Death translates it to English. Nothing serious, but certainly not for younger readers.

Jul 01, 2015

Frightening or Intense Scenes: The "parade" of Jews was a bit frightening, and the whipping and war.

Jul 01, 2015

Violence: Some whipping, fights, and other violence related to war.

Jul 01, 2015

Coarse Language: Quite a bit of German swearing and some English translations, too.

Jul 25, 2014

Other: Not enough violence to put under violence. But some.

Jul 25, 2014

Coarse Language: Sl*t, b*tch, sh*t

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Add a Summary

geniusgirl613 Jul 23, 2014

The story of a young girl under Nazi Germany. When her family hides a Jew in the basement, her life changes forever. Her thirst for books begins when she was illiterate. Slowly, books play an enormous part in her story.

Jul 14, 2014

About a Germany girl during WWII who is living with a foster family hiding a Jew.

Jun 29, 2014

Liesel Meminger, an illiterate girl in Nazi Germany loves books. At her brothers funeral she finds her first book, the Grave Diggers Handbook. With the help of her foster father, Hans Hubermann she learns to read and desires more books. However with World War 2 her family is sinking deeper into poverty and cannot afford to buy her books. So she resorts to stealing them. She takes them wherever she can find them, but only what she needs never more. But Liesel's life gets even more dangerous when her foster father repays a debt by taking in a Jew on the run. Liesel then realizes some unsettling facts about Nazi Germany and Hitler. This book is Liesel Meminger's story, told by Death.

Jun 25, 2014

In brief, I will say a few things about this book (I am on my mothers library page) 1. It is amazing
2. Always look at the pictures they feature very intensely in the story.
The Book Thief
the book thief is about young girl, living in Nazi Germany, who, as the title suggests, is a book thief. Or a collector of second hand books, however you wish to put it. Narrated by death, it will guide you through great joys and great sorrows. (A note, death loves colours, Also, I have noticed the colour patterns in a few other books) Liesel steals her first book at her brothers funeral. That was the last time she ever saw her mother. Along her "illustrious career" her foster parents take an old, dead, acordian playing, jewish friends son into the custody of their basement. A basement that will save her alone, well, along with a story. The basement doesn't save her best friend, Rudy Stiener. I'm not telling any more, otherwise I'll spoil it for you.

Jun 22, 2014

"It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

By her brother's graveside, Liesel Meminger's life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Grave Digger's Handbook, left there by accident, and it is her first act of thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordion-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor's wife's library, wherever there are books to be found.
But these are dangerous times. When Liesel's foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel's world is both opened up and closed down.
In a superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time." -from the back cover

Jul 19, 2013

"It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul."

Jul 05, 2012

Introduction: During WWII in 1939, Liesel and her brother are being taken to Molching, Germany with her mother, to live with foster parents. Sadly, her little brother dies on the train and is buried along the way there. This is when Liesel steals her first book, (Gravedigger’s Handbook- marks brother’s death). Entering her new home, Liesel finds most comfort and love with her new father- Hans Hubermann. Stealing books becomes somewhat of a hobby now, as it motivates her to learn to read and write. An important aspect of the introduction is the hint at Liesel’s background. She learns more about why, how, and what actually happened to her real parents. As of right now, all we know is that Hans is gentle/welcoming, and that Rosa may need anger-management classes.
Rising Action: After the book-burning celebration for Hitler’s birthday, Liesel realizes that the Nazis are responsible for all of her losses. At this point, she steals another book (the Shoulder Shrug- marks hatred for Hitler). Along with her friendship with Rudy Steiner, good friend from school, she forms a relationship with the mayor’s wife, who lets Liesel in her library every time she comes by for laundry (as she saw Liesel’s interest in stealing the Shoulder Shrug). But when the wife, Ilsa, ends the laundry service, Liesel is infuriated and begins stealing her books. Eventually though, forgiveness awakes due to a complicated friendship that was always present. Back to Rudy, he’s a fearless boy with lemon hair, and he wants Liesel’s lips. Remember that. Meanwhile, there’s the story of Hans Hubermann and his great friend during WWI who saved Hans’s life and died in consequence. This friend happens to be a Jew, and his son is now seeking help with Hans, in hiding from the Nazis. Expectedly, the family is worried about the potential situation, since the act of housing a Jew in WWII was life-jeopardising. But they do, and Max turns out to be very friendly. So does Rosa. Especially Hans.
Climax: A series of little events tagged along for the journey to the climax. But, everything explodes when Max leaves for safety. Liesel is…she’s devastated. But, there is worse to come. He’s seen in a hoard of Jews on their way to Dachau, and this just tears the girl apart. Soon after, Ilsa gave Liesel a blank book. This saves the girl’s life, keeping her busy writing in the basement in an unexpected bombing. Sadly, all of Liesel’s loved ones die in their sleep. Death takes his time picking up Rosa, Hans, Kurt... Oh yeah, Rudy dies too, but at least he gets his long-awaited kiss from Liesel. Too bad it happens like this.
Falling Action: Well, the climax occurs late in the book, and in consequence, there’s not much to be said in this section. But, it is notable that Liesel drops her book in shock of everybody’s death (book = her life-story painted on the beloved blank pages from Ilsa). Death picks it up. The book is to be remembered. The mayor’s wife takes her in. Liesel talks with Alex Steiner. About Rudy. I’m sorry, am I being too specific?
It’s...well...just that......I love this part.
Resolution: In the epilogue, Liesel dies. But, she has lived a happy life with a husband and offspring. We also see Liesel being reunited with Max, having miraculously survived his sentence at Dachau. The book ends under a fulfilling atmosphere as Death gives back her book and takes her soul away. “I am haunted by humans.”

SharonWarren Jan 20, 2012

I started this book and it just didn't keep my attention, so gave it up, for a time. It had been so highly recommended I knew it would come back on my list. When next I picked it up I was ready for it and absolutely loved it. An engrossing, warm, and thoughtful read about a very difficult time.

Dec 15, 2009

An amazing story that takes place during World War II in Nazi Germany. Death narrates the story of a young girl named Liesel and her life living with her foster parents, the Hubermanns.

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