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The Book Thief | [Markus Zusak]

The Book Thief

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.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential - One of the best examples of young adult literature that adults will love (as well as more mature teens), The Book Thief alternates between heartwarming and heartbreaking, always packing an emotional punch with each of Markus Zusak’s carefully chosen words – as brilliantly conveyed by Allan Corduner, who takes on Death, and so much more, in this novel set in Nazi Germany. —Diana D.

Publisher's Summary

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.

©2006 Markus Zusak; (P)2006 Random House Inc. Listening Library, an imprint of the Random House Audio Publishing Group

What the Critics Say

  • Book Sense Book of the Year Award, Children's Literature, 2007

"The astonishing characters, drawn without sentimentality, will grab readers." (Booklist)
"Zusak has created a work that deserves the attention of sophisticated teen and adult readers....An extraordinary narrative." (School Library Journal)
"The Book Thief will appeal both to sophisticated teens and adults with its engaging characters and heartbreaking story." (Bookmarks Magazine)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (11178 )
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4.6 (9010 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Mark Raglan, New Zealand 11-25-13
    Mark Raglan, New Zealand 11-25-13 Member Since 2011

    I love listening to books when cycling, paddleboarding, etc but I press pause when I need to concentrate. Its safer & I don't lose the plot!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Hard Times"

    This book didn’t quite live up to its billing, but was a very good listen nevertheless. I always struggle to know where to look for fiction, and I chose one this on the back of its being a best seller.

    The character who narrates this book is death. He tells the story of a young girl orphaned by the political turmoil in Nazi Germany, who is then fostered by a Munich housepainter and his wife. They are simple, unsophisticated working class folk who swear at each other constantly, but underneath this rough exterior is a deep well of love and courage, the courage to risk their lives by sheltering a Jewish man in their basement.

    So why is it called the book thief? The heroine, Lisa (forgive the spelling, I didn’t see the written name), begins by being illiterate and gradually develops into an avid reader. But books are scarce in this time of immense upheaval, poverty and strife. Not just scarce but also dangerous to own, and she rescues them from the burning bonfires of books lit by the Nazis in their rampant, frenzied campaign to enforce their ideology onto their people.

    It’s a sad and moving story of a young girl trying to grow up in this bizarre and dangerous environment. Germany is locked into a war against the rest of the World, a war which they are starting to lose. All men, young and old, are susceptible to conscription to fight in Russia, the remaining civilians face the threat of increasingly frequent Allied bombing raids, and Jews are being transported to concentration camps. Against this background Lisa somehow enjoys some of the ordinary experiences of childhood and early adolescence, but you know all along that this small community, like the rest of Germany, is doomed and that there will be few survivors.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stevon Tempe, AZ, United States 03-26-13
    Stevon Tempe, AZ, United States 03-26-13 Member Since 2015

    I love books!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "excellent, haunting"

    Death says, "I am haunted by humans". First time author for me, this book was recommended by my wife whose book club read it. Both my kids have already read this one. This is a great story and really well written. Set near Munich, Germany during World War II, it's the story of a young German girl and how the war affected her. It's easy to forget that not all Germans supported Hitler and the Nazis but they still had to toe the line and support what was happening around them, if they didn't, they did so at their own peril. With destruction and death all around, you had to look for happiness as best you could. And, for those of us that love books, it's great the way the author weaves the love of books into this tale. A lot of this book is depressing but if you don't mind having your heart strings pulled a bit, you'll really enjoy this story.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dottie B. Washington DC 02-27-13
    Dottie B. Washington DC 02-27-13 Member Since 2006

    Dotdumdum

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    51
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    "Two months later I still hear this book in my head"

    There's a reason most reviewers are giving this book such high ratings. This book was so beautifully written, and so wonderfully narrated, it certainly ranks as one of my top five audio books. This book makes me marvel at the talent that some people have for writing.

    I did not want to stop listening to this book for one minute. When it was over I cried simply because it was over. I could go on and on about every wonderful aspect of this book. But in the end, I need only say that this is one to listen to and one to remember.

    When I think of Liesel saying the word "Papa"' I still feel a flood of emotions.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Colby Omaha, NE, United States 02-07-13
    Colby Omaha, NE, United States 02-07-13 Member Since 2014

    Married mother of three teenagers, back to work after 15 years at home - when I read a lot. Now I am the assistant to the Mayor of Omaha and work at least 60 hours a week, and on top of what I have to do at home - no more books. This lets me listen to the classics, the latest, whatever I want. I can learn or escape. I have always love audio books, but now I NEED them.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "LOVED THIS! Unique WWII Tale - Rare"

    I love WWII history and historical fiction, whether in books or movies because there is just SO MUCH emotional material to work with. This is no exception. This is not an extraordinary tale of heroics, or a romantic tidal wave, or even a great exploration of the war. It is the story of one girl, her family, friends, and experiences as told by the most present character of the era...Death. The Grim Reaper is our narrator, and all is told through his view. No spoilers, for there are times when you will gasp in surprise - for good and for bad. This is worth your time and credit.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew Northport, AL, United States 01-09-13
    Andrew Northport, AL, United States 01-09-13 Member Since 2014
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    "Good, but not as good as what I expected"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    Not really.Perhaps a bit more clarity at times. I had to backtracked to make sure the image in my head was the same was what was found in the text.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Something historical.


    Have you listened to any of Allan Corduner’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No, but he was outstanding in this performance.


    Do you think The Book Thief needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    No. Perhaps a prequel. Perhaps the same story from another perspective. Not that I didn't like the idea as Death as the narrator, just that perhaps I'd like to hear the story from another's point of view too. A contrast would be interesting.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hollace Newark, OH, United States 10-06-11
    Hollace Newark, OH, United States 10-06-11 Member Since 2000

    book worm

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Beyond Excellent"

    I have been an avid Audible listener since the company started. I long ago lost track of my number of listens. Some have been dismal,some just OK and many excellent and entertaining. I must say this one goes beyond my expectations! I owned it for several years and just did not get into listening. Then recently I started to listen again and was thrilled. This book made me laugh and cry and really care about the characters. The narration is more than awesome. Give yourself an hour of time into this and you will be so pleased!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott Culver City, CA, United States 01-19-11
    Scott Culver City, CA, United States 01-19-11 Member Since 2013

    loves books. writes music. writes stories. loves movies, and talks aloud to his dog.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "not just for kids"

    well written and full of great quotes - "There's only one thing worse than a boy who hates a girl...A boy who loves a girl" Read by Allan Corduner in a most playful, dramatic, and entertaining tone the listener will not be disappointed. This Markus Zusak can write.... This reviewer only wishes for more.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bexlyn Wright Kentucky 10-18-10
    Bexlyn Wright Kentucky 10-18-10 Member Since 2015

    I'm a grad student with very little time to edit reviews because I'm editing research papers. Forgive the typos. They're made with love.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Amazing story about a German girl in war"

    This book blew me away. As a thirty-year-old researching young adult novels, I can not believe I stumbled across this treasure. It makes the other writers seem amateur. The combination of POV, the wonderful narration by Allan Corduner, and the journey this young girl takes... the result is stunning. I read that it was originally an adult book in Australia, but I think teens that are well read can benefit from reading (listening to) this.

    Much of this novel is taken from stories Zuzak's mother told him. Random House has a page where Zuzak retells a story about his mother running up the street to see Jewish people being marched to Dachau and how a boy offered an old man some bread. The man was whipped then so was the boy. This of course made it into the book as well as a number of other instances and the way they are interwoven throughout Leisel's life as told by Death himself is very well done.

    A young girl lives with her foster family in Nazi Germany. She befriends another troublemaker and together, furing the span of the war, they deal with hunger, being forced into Nazi service, hiding a Jew, and the usual torments of transitioning into a teenager, all while bombs drop around them. When the book starts, Leisel doesn't know how to read, but books become treasures to her, and when she reads in the designated basement while bombs drop around their town, its the equivalent of listening to a good narrator on an audio book. She has a way with words.

    I like that Death told this story. It gave it the perfect feel. And I don't mind the length - I became so engrossed that by the end I actually cried while on a road trip. Not many books can do that to me. I'd recommend this to anyone, but tho Leisel is a girl, I would recommend parents read and decided if their children can handle this. Maybe 13 and up... mature 13 and up.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DENNIS Adelphi, MD, United States 02-06-14
    DENNIS Adelphi, MD, United States 02-06-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Pretty depressing"

    This book proves that it is difficult to write a good book about a halfwit orphan growing up in NAZI Germany. It has the flavor and starkness of depression-era and post-war German fiction. I gave up half-way through -- perhaps it got better.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DIANE Thornhill,, Ontario, Canada 06-23-13
    DIANE Thornhill,, Ontario, Canada 06-23-13 Member Since 2015

    I am an avid "reader"- I prefer to listen to books rather than read them due to the added dimension added by the narrator.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Haunting"
    What made the experience of listening to The Book Thief the most enjoyable?

    The use of "The angel of death" as the narrator of the story was very unique and interesting. The characters were all wonderful, but above all, Liesel and Max were my favourites.


    What other book might you compare The Book Thief to and why?

    The only other book that seemed a bit similar in feel to The book Thief was The Night Circus. It had a slightly surreal feel to it at times.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    This was not the type of book that would lead one to pick a favourite scene.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I found at times I needed a break from the disturbing events being recounted in the book. I found it interesting to view the events in Nazi Germany from a different perspective... from that of the Germans who lived through the war. However, I did want to keep reading because the author beautifully wove the events and characters into an irresistible read.


    Any additional comments?

    This is not your typical Word War II novel and I highly recommend the listening of this book. It will not disappoint.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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