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The Book Thief

The Book Thief 5

by Markus Zusak

Paperback / softback Publication Date: 01/11/2013

5/5 Rating 5 Reviews
RRP  $19.99 $17.75

The extraordinary #1 New York Times bestseller. Over eight million copies sold.

Now a Major Motion Picture

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's life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger's Handbook, left there by accident, and it is her first act of book 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 Jewish fist-fighter in their basement, Liesel's world is both opened up, and closed down.

The Book Thief is a story about the power of words to make worlds. In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.

"Brilliant and hugely ambitious ... the kind of book that can be life changing" The New York Times

Contemporary fiction
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
Pan Macmillan Australia
Country of origin:
Dimensions (mm):
Markus Zusak

Australian author Markus Zusak grew up hearing stories about Nazi Germany, about the bombing of Munich and about Jews being marched through his mother’s small, German town.

He always knew it was a story he wanted to tell. At the age of 30, Zusak has already asserted himself as one of today’s most innovative and poetic novelists.

With the publication of The Book Thief, he has been dubbed a ‘literary phenomenon’ by Australian and US critics.

Zusak is the award-winning author of four previous books for young adults: The Underdog, Fighting Ruben Wolfe, Getting the Girl, and I Am the Messenger, recipient of a 2006 Printz Honor for excellence in young adult literature. He lives in Sydney.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating

5 / 5 (5 Ratings)
5 stars (7)
4 stars (1)
3 stars (1)
2 stars (0)
1 stars (0)
  • The Book Thief

    by on

    An incredible story mixing the innocence of youth with the horrors of war; the incredible bravery of ordinary people; the evil of Nazi Germany; the injustice of fate; one of the most moving books I've read fo ra long time

  • Worth the time you spend on it

    by on

    Let me open by saying that I’ve been reading this book for most of this year. I just kept chipping into it a few pages at a time to begin with because I’m very cautious of anything that has a lot of hype. To paraphrase John Green; I read ‘The Book Thief’ like you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.

    Most everyone by now will know what the story is about, I think it will be a bit of a waste of time summarising it here again.
    What I loved most about this book is how it was narrated by Death. What a twist! The story worked so beautifully being told from the outside looking in. The chapters were super short which is brilliant for slow readers, and it was broken up into about 10 parts, which was very helpful when the entire book was 584 pages long.

    Markus Zusak’s writing style is incredible. His attention to detail and his use of imagery: breathtaking. He really stands out to me as one of the most naturally talented writers I’ve read. Reading his story is just so easy, it flows effortlessly.

    I could rave on about this all night, but I won’t. Long story short, it’s an insta-favourite. I love any sort of period fiction, but The Book Thief just blew me away.

    If you read it, however, keep a box of tissues ready. You were warned.

  • My all-time favourite book

    by on

    The Book Thief is more than just a war story. Its a story about a girl and her words, those she reads and then those she later writes for herself. Liesel Meminger, the protagonist, is a character I can easily relate to for this reason. The characters are the heart of the story, as I felt so strongly attached to them for the entire duration of the novel that it was almost painful to say goodbye to them at the end. No character is the same and their relationships with Liesel differ, just as the reasons why I care for them differ. Hans Hubermann, the loving father that taught Liesel the words she loved so much; Rosa Hubermann, who had a bigger heart than people would have realised; Rudy Steiner, the saukerl who so badly wanted the book thiefs kiss; Max Vandenburg, who became the brother Liesel had lost; and so on.

    Any other writer would have written this book from Liesels perspective. Yet Markus Zusak considered the irony of having Death himself be the narrator. It is such an effective method of storytelling and makes it all the more poignant and dramatic. Death and war go so well together, after all. I honestly feel that the book wouldnt be the same without deaths commentary. The writing itself is simply beautiful. Markus Zusak uses plenty of metaphors and emotive language, creating powerful imagery and a vast collection of memorable quotes. Id go as far to say, regardless of my bias considering how much I adore this book, its a modern classic - Im pleased to hear some schools have it as part of their curriculum now. A negative in some eyes may be the books slow pace at times. The developing plot is a gradual thing but by the end, after a few hints from death along the way, it will all come together. Just keep on reading and youll be rewarded!

    The Book Thief is one of those books that I didnt just enjoy, but one I have such a strong connection with. I love everything about it, from the characters to the books within it that Liesel discovers, receives and steals. Whenever Markus Zusak speaks about the book, its clear how much it means to him. That to me is also important, as I love when an author is truly passionate about their work and has a personal connection to it. In this case, the story is based in part on stories told by his German parents about the war. As a history student, I find the historical aspect of the period in which the novel is set particularly interesting and can assure you that is accurate. Most importantly, not all Germans were Nazis willingly. A lot of people dont realise that and I love the books portrayal of characters like Alex Steiner who did what he had to for his family and the Hubermanns who harbored a Jew in their basement behind closed doors. The novel is made all the more emotional with the knowledge that it is a piece of fiction set amongst events in reality. There really were Jews who dreamed of fighting Hitler in basements, boys who wished they could be like Jesse Owens, men who risked their lives to save those who did not deserve persecution, and young girls who have hated and loved words.

    Its a pleasure reading Markus Zusaks books and I hope that one day you will have that pleasure, if you haven't already. If you were going to read any book that So please, read this book. It might wreck havoc on your emotions but youll love it all the same.

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