How To Steal Books

“Like most misery, it started with apparent happiness.”
― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

The Book Thief is a novel by Australian author Markus Zusak. It was first published in 2005 and it centers around the life of Liesel Meminger, a nine-year-old girl living in Germany during World War II. Liesel’s experiences are narrated by Death, who describes both the beauty and destruction of life. As this novel takes place during World War II, death and genocide are always present in the novel and it’s why I really liked that it was Death who was narrating the story. I think it was very fitting because especially during wars, many people are scared to die while for others it’s something they wait for, it’s a relief for them to die. And in ‘Book Thief’ he’s not distant or threatening because he explains how he feels about taking lives and how he has a heart and how he is at times even haunted by humans.

“It kills me sometimes, how people die.”
― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

“I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn’t already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race-that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant.”
― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

Very shortly about the plot, or the beginning of the book. Liesel Meminger  is nine years old in the beginning of this novel and suffering from the death of her brother and separation from her mother as she is sent to live with Hans and Rosa Hubermann. When Liesel arrives, she can’t read and is made fun of in school. She realizes how powerless she is without words, and so Hans teaches her how to read during midnight lessons in the basement, reading from the book Liesel took from her brother’s burial: The Grave Digger’s Handbook.

I think I re-read this book shortly before the movie adaptation came out. I learned to admire Liesel even more because when I first read this book (ten years ago?) I didn’t yet have history classes at school and I didn’t read that much nonfiction and I had little idea of all the unspeakable horrors of the The Second World War and the Nazi regime. And Liesel was great, she wanted to learn to read because she knew it would make her powerful and that in a way only the words could save her. Also, she was admirable because as the Nazi were burning books, she was saving them without making a distinction whether they were good or bad books. Very brave act. I also liked other characters. Rosa seemed a bit cold at first but then you realized how much she really cared about Liesel and Hans who taught Liesel to read and acted very brave during other plot twists. And of course I liked Rudy, Liesel’s best friend and neighbor who constantly asked Liesel for a kiss.

“The only thing worse than a boy who hates you: a boy that loves you.”
― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

Background of the author of this novel, Markus Zusak is interesting. He’s Australian, however his parents were German. 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. Of course, there are no these events in ‘The Book Thief’ but I think because of Zusak’s parents, he manages to deliver the story better, in a way you connect to the story more.

“Usually we walk around constantly believing ourselves. “I’m okay” we say. “I’m alright”. But sometimes the truth arrives on you and you can’t get it off. That’s when you realize that sometimes it isn’t even an answer–it’s a question. Even now, I wonder how much of my life is convinced.”
― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

This book is about the power of the written word. Men rise and fall because of it and you can be strengthened or weakened by it. I was somehow very inspired by this book. And it was fascinating how even if it was kind of clear how it would end, I was still curious to know what would happen next. Very touching and very beautiful book. 
4,5/5 stars

How To Read The Book Thief
1.  
This is not a fast-paced book and if you’re looking for action, you should look elsewhere. Also, if you don’t like experimental fiction, this book might not be for you.
2. I think you will like this if you love books in general and if you read a lot and if you like historical fiction and beautiful prose.
3.
I think Book Thief is lengthier than most historical fictions (or for Young Adult genre as some liked to call it), it’s about 552 pages long.
4.
If you liked this book, there’s a lovely film adaptation directed by Brian Percival. My favorite scene in the movie is when Liesel walks into class and is asked to write her own name and instead of her name, she writes X.
5.
Personally, I really like the covers of this particular edition and the symbolism in them, one domino falls and causes a chain reaction much like with different kind of events in our lives.

“A small fact:
You are going to die….does this worry you?”
― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

Have you read The Book Thief? What did you think of it?

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23 thoughts on “How To Steal Books

  1. QuirkyVictorian says:

    The Book Thief is one of my favourite books of all time. It’s so breathtaking; there are certain sentences that I just want to write in notebooks and on my hands and on my walls and just be surrounded by the beauty of Zusak’s words. Haha. I’m due for a re-read soon. It’s been a little while. The film was rather good too, but was missing some of the lighter moments from the book, and was therefore a bit more depressing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anastasia says:

      That’s so true! I noticed that on Goodreads I just kept scrolling and scrolling the quotes page :) astonishing amount of beautiful lines. Yeah you should re-read it when you have the time! Yeah it maybe was a bit depressing but I guess it worked better like that.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lectito says:

    I remember reading The Book Thief years ago. I’d studied Modern European History in year 12, so I already had a lot of historical background on the text. I thought it had a really unique and innovative perspective. I loved the narrator.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anastasia says:

      It’s nice to know the historical background, I guess it would have been better if I would have read this book later but then again how could I have not read it when I first saw it :D Agreed!

      Liked by 1 person

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