#28 The Book Thief – Marcus Zusak

9 Jan
The Book Thief - Marcus Zusak

The Book Thief – Marcus Zusak

Goodreads rating: 4.36/5 (414K+ ratings)
My rating: 9/10
First Published: 14th March 2006
Genre: Historical Fiction

When I put on Facebook that I was about to read this book I got loads of responses like ‘One of my favourite books, it really is beautiful’, and ‘this is my favourite book – it’s amazing’, and I thought ‘yeah, yeah okay so it’s a good book – probably really overrated.’

But I was so wrong. This is a beautiful, thoughtful, interesting, well written story – especially for a book lover. It’s about a young girl, Liesel Meminger whose younger brother dies, and whose mother gives her away to the Hubermann’s – a German family living in Molching – just out of Munich. They have two older children in their 20s and take on Liesel as one of their own. When her little brother dies on their way to the Hubermann’s, she finds a book buried in the snow near his grave. She steals it. This is the start of her book thievery career.

Narrated by Death, The Book Thief follows Liesel in her quest to learn how to read, and her journey on understanding the world during Nazi Germany – at the height of Hitler’s reign. She’s a really likeable character, and the majority of the characters are relatable and likeable.

The movie came out in Australia today and I’m looking forward to seeing it this weekend, although I doubt it will do the book justice. Obviously I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I highly recommend reading the book before watching the movie as the books are always better than the movies.

Bits & pieces

  • Was listed on the New York Times Best Seller list for 230 weeks
  • Zusak took 3 years to complete the book and even went to Munich, Germany to research some of the finer points
  • Zusak said that writing the book was inspired by two real-life events related to him by his German parents: the bombing of Munich, and a teenage boy offering bread to an emaciated Jew being marched through the streets, ending with both boy and Jewish prisoner being whipped by a soldier.
  • He rewrote the first 90 pages of The Book Thief 150-200 times

Sources: The Guardian; The Book Thief Fan Page; Shmoop;

Notable quotes

He must have loved her so incredibly hard. So hard that he would never ask for her lips again and would go to his grave without them.

The words. Why did they have to exist? Without them, there wouldn’t be any of this. Without words, the Führerwas nothing.

The last time I saw her was red. The sky was like soup, boiling and stirring. In some places it was burned. There were black crumbs and pepper, streaked across the redness. 

In fact, on April 20 – the Führer’s birthday – when she snatched a book from beneath a steaming pile of ashes, Liesel was a girl made of darkness. 

For me, the sky was the color of Jews.

In front of him, he read from the copy of Mein Kampf. His savior. Sweat was swimming out of his hands. Fingermarks clutched the book.

She was a Jew feeder without a question in the world on that man’s first night in Molching. She was an arm reacher, deep into a mattress, to deliver a sketchbook to a teenage girl.

“When a Jew shows up at your place of residence in the early hours of the morning, in the very birthplace of Nazism, you’re likely to experience extreme levels of discomfort. Anxiety, disbelief, paranoia” 


If you’ve read this, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts or reading your reviews so please share any links!


4 Responses to “#28 The Book Thief – Marcus Zusak”

  1. Ness January 11, 2014 at 12:57 pm #

    I loved this book. I remember reading it on the tube in London on my way home from work, tears streaming down my face, but I couldn’t stop reading. It drew me in and broke my heart. I’m quietly hopeful for the film-it has an amazing cast.

    • hms1990 January 11, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

      It’s definitely a heartbreaker! Thanks for commenting 🙂 I’m hoping to see the movie this weekend but although the cast looks good, I don’t know how they’ll match the book.

    • hms1990 February 10, 2014 at 8:20 pm #

      Ness – what did you end up thinking of the film?


  1. WWW Wednesday | books are the best - January 22, 2014

    […] finished three books since my last WWW Wednesday – And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini; The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak; and Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant by […]

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