Friday, October 16, 2009

Fabulous Fridays: A Rainy Weekend For A Good Book

The weekend is here! YAH! But the weather looks darn right frightful. Cold and rainy. It’s a great time to curl up with a good book. There is much to be said for fuzzy slippers, a nice, hot cup of soup and spending the day lounging on the couch with a great read. I found an amazing one. It’s not an Oprah book, but one I found when reading an interview with the queen of pop Madonna in Elle magazine. Drum roll please. I’m highly recommending The Book Thief. I promise you this book will stay with you for a long time after you put it down. I couldn’t even think of my next book after I finished, it had that kind of effect on me.

This absorbing, heart-wrenching and award-winning book was written by Australian-born Markus Zusak and published in 2005 when he was just 30 years old. The book can be found in the young adult section of the book store, but it really toes the line for adult readers due to its length (550 pages) and heavy subject matter.

The book is set in Nazi Germany just before World War II and its narrator represents Death. Death expresses its (his) difficulties with the gruesome nature of his job. Sounds morbid, right? Well, read on my friend. The bright spot of the book is from the book thief herself, Liesel Meminger, a 9-year old tomboyish girl. Her story begins when she is sent to live in a foster home (her parents are carted off because they are Communists) with Rosa and Hans Hubermann. Liesel’s foster family lives on Himmel Street, a poor area on the outskirts of Munich. (Himmel means heaven in German)

On her way to her foster home, Liesel’s brother dies and at his funeral she meets Death. It is also here that she steals her first book: The Gravedigger’s Handbook. Stolen books become the backbone of the story. Life for Liesel in her new home is very difficult, filled with daily horrors of the times and nightmares about losing her brother and missing her mother. But her foster father comforts her by reading strangely enough The Gravediggers Handbook. Though not an ideal first book, it opens the door for Liesel’s passion for words and books and ultimately encourages her to steal some more.

Death follows Liesel around, telling the tales of her unusual vice and her relationships with the other characters in the book. A budding friendship between Liesel and her neighbor Rudy Steiner, who likes Liesel and is always asking for a kiss. They form a close friendship and go on stealing sprees together. A close bond between Liesel and the mayor's wife, who hides from the despair in the library and provides Liesel with books. Her friendship with Max Vandenburg, a Jew her foster parents are hiding in their basement. Liesel steals newspapers for Max to read and to do crossword puzzles together.

This book is so riveting and despite its horrific background, there is as much love as there is dispair. A copy of Mein Kampf is transformed into a picture book. A snowman is built in a basement that hides a Jew. The mayor’s library window is left open so the young girl can continue to steal books.

The Book Thief is a book about ordinary people doing extraordinary acts of kindness in the face of a world that's crumbling.

There are few books I have read that has moved me to this extreme and have literally taken my breath away. The language is poetic, filled with both horror and beauty. This book is that rare treasure you pick up and want everyone to read as well. The other books that could be added to that list are To Kill A Mockingbird and Sophie’s Choice.


  1. I don't want a book...I want summer back. Let mek now if you can do anything about that.

  2. I need some good reads. Thanks, my friend!