Book: The Book Thief

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The Book Thief

Author: Markus Zusak
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers

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.


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As one of our Discover readers said recently, “A good book is a good book,” regardless of the audience for which it was written. In the spirit of that comment, we heartily recommend The Book Thief for readers of both the adult and teen persuasions.

Australian-born Markus Zusak grew up sitting at the kitchen table, glued to his chair, listening to his mother’s tales of her childhood in Nazi Germany. Such tales would later serve as a springboard for his unusual novel about the power of words to both destroy and comfort. A daring work in the adventurous spirit of The Shadow of the Wind, this novel has a bizarre narrator: Death. Drawn into a tense and dangerous historical era, readers discover how Liesel Meminger first learns to read and is transformed into the “book thief,” stealing books before they can be burned by the Nazis or confiscated from personal libraries. When her family decides to hide a Jew in the basement, Liesel holds out hope to him in the form of her two most precious commodities: words and stories.

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