Book Club July: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

With my recent book review and giveaways, and my new sponsors from Greatbooks.me, I decided to add a new focus to my blog, a monthly book club. I love to read, it is a daily past time for me, and love any opportunity to discuss a good book. I have tried to join book clubs here and there, but the impossible scheduling conflicts when trying to get more than two people together have prevented me from sticking to it long term. It then dawned on me that I should start an online book club. People can comment as they see fit, share ideas, and start discussions, all from the comfort of your home and according to your schedule.

The_Book_Thief_by_MukachishisanFor the very first book club book I decided to choose my all time favorite, The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak. Although typically assigned for middle school and high school summer reading, this amazingly well written book is enjoyable at any age.

The Book Thief follows the story of WWII Germany, a foster child, and the family that takes her in. It’s a story of heartache and survival, during a time when survival was no guarantee. I loved the perspective of a non-Jewish family, trying to cope during the Nazi regime, who didn’t agree with Hitler’s principles, but for fear of their lives couldn’t go against them.

As Zusak puts it: “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”.

Zusak has an undeniable talent in painting vibrant imagery through black and white pages. Immediately after cracking open the first page I knew this book was going to land in my top ten, after reading a few more it had already moved to my top five, and by the end it became my absolute favorite. In addition to the amazing story, his unusual writing style, interrupting standard paragraphs with single sentence statements, has since inspired a drastic shift in my own writing style.

I love how his one-liners grab your attention.

The first few sentences of the book:

“First the colors.

Then the humans.

That’s how I see things.

Or at least, how I try.


You are going to die”

Book Thief

If that doesn’t pique your curiosity and set your fingers twitching to speed through the pages, I don’t know what will. The next hook came when I discovered the book was narrated by  death. This intrigued me, the idea of a typically sinister, “bad guy” turned story teller was a unique interpretation. As I read on it was apparent Zusak’s “Death” was no bad guy, but simply a necessity of the end, the collector of souls, the last glimpse of this life, and careful transporter into the next. Rather than presenting death as something to fear, seemingly innate to the living, Zusak presents him as a curious, gentle soul.

This book was the type of book whose end I dreaded. The end meant the story was over, and the characters I had come to love and view as living would cease to exist. This was the type of book where every now and then I would look to the page number to see how much longer until the end, so I could slow down and take it all in.

While reading I even found myself highlighting a handful of sections, which is something I never do. I was so touched by these sections and so loved the imagery I had to make a notation, a reminder to return and re-examine. One such highlighted sentence described the book thief herself, Liesel, reading to a scared group taking shelter from the threat of dropping bombs, attempting to distract them from the impending doom: “She didn’t dare to look up, but she could feel their frightened eyes hanging on to her as she hauled the words in and breathed them out”.

I hope you decide to pick this book up give it a read, and I hope you love it as much as I do. I hope when you get to the end you go back and re-read the last chapter because you aren’t ready for it to be over as I did. If you don’t have a copy of this book yet you should check out Greatbooks.me, if you sign up for their silver plan you get 20 books of your choice for $1.99 each. I wouldn’t push it if I didn’t think it was a great program for avid readers like myself! And remember by supporting Greatbooks.me you are also supporting my blog!

Thanks for reading about my very first book club suggestion! I will have another synopsis up for my August book selection at the end of July. Feel free to post questions, discussion, topics, or your favorite quotes as you run across them. Thanks for stopping by!



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