The Book Thief

The Book Thief

Book - 2013
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Death tells the story of a young German girl, Liesel, whose book-stealing and story-telling talents during World War II help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well as their neighbors.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, [2013]
Copyright Date: ©2013
ISBN: 9780375842207
Branch Call Number: ZUSAK M
Characteristics: 552 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Additional Contributors: White, Trudy - Illustrator


From Library Staff

Historical Fiction. In World War II Germany, a foster girl and thief finds a love of books with the help of her foster father.

Though he is not Liesel's true father, Hans Hubermann, her adoptive father, is a fantastic father figure. He teaches her to read, and fosters that love in her. Their relationship is truly special and a beacon of light in an otherwise dark novel.

1013 Circulations in 2014

From the critics

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Jul 18, 2017

This historical fiction, young adult fiction novel follows the life of a young German girl as tragedies are thrown at her, narrated by none other than Death himself. Liesel Merminger the girl has her world fall apart when her family is left behind, with her new foster parents she must cope in Nazi Germany. Death is surprisingly sympathetic towards the souls he delivers to the afterlife. This book is full of plot twists and surprises, Markus Zusak has incredible character building arcs making his work all the more sublime. Personally, I would recommend this book and his other novels to other avid readers because of the sheer uniqueness of it.
- @Florence of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library

Jul 17, 2017

This wonderfully written book is filled with action and amusement while being terribly tragic at the end.

While the Holocaust was indeed appalling, reading this book led me to realize the courage of many people as they hid Jews and were silently resisting the Nazis.

Jul 08, 2017

I love the book and the guy reading it breathed so much life into the characters!

Jun 30, 2017

An excellent novel. I read it as an e-book and then had to go and buy a print copy. This one needs to be read holding the book!

Jun 20, 2017

Beautifully written; I really enjoyed the poetically descriptive narration. The story skips around though, revealing future incidents before their time. I would have appreciated foreshadowing instead. Still, it was a thoroughly enjoyable read. I also recommend the movie.

While living in Nazi Germany, Liesel finds comfort in reading. But comfort doesn't last and times get rough, especially if you're hiding a Jewish man in your basement. This book leaves you emotionally heartbroken, but in a good way.


Chapel_Hill_KatieJ Apr 20, 2017

This is a unique and beautiful book. During World War II Liesel is taken in by the Hubermanns after she is separated from her communist mother. The book is narrated by Death, as he takes an interest in Liesel even amongst all of the loss of life he is witnessing during the brutal war. The Hubermanns are hiding Max, a Jewish man whose father once saved Hans Hubermann during the First World War. Wanting to give back to the Hubermanns, Max writes his own story for Liesel, literally painting over the pages of Mein Kampf in order to do so. The power of words and books is an overriding theme, as Liesel sees how subversive books and words can be when used for good, and how even one person’s life story can be immensely powerful.

Apr 18, 2017

Just beautiful.

Mar 26, 2017

This is a *big book*, captivating, complex and layered with evocative episodes that were either coloured with ironic humour or gruesome horror. I appreciated the rare perspective on German war-time citizens who stereotypically are villainized as Nazis because of demographics, but in this book are victims of Hitler and circumstance. I was perplexed that it was classified as YA fiction. (Was it due to the age of the protagonist?) Zusak’s prose is rich with figurative language: “I shoveled up his soul with the rest of them … the horizon was the color of milk. Cold and fresh. Poured out among the bodies.” (p.175). I'm impressed with Zusak’s ability to capture the ordinary German citizen’s ability to rise above loss, while caught in a war not of his choosing. Remarkable insight into the human psyche. It is filled with beauty and brutality and courageous love. I was grateful for the epilogue, for hope.

Mar 15, 2017

Saw the movie, rather than read the book. It was a good, solidly young adult story. Suitable for grandchildren.

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Add Age Suitability

Apr 04, 2017

Tawesome thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

RobertELPL Mar 05, 2017

RobertELPL thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over

Feb 22, 2017

Alanreviews thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

violet_dolphin_4305 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

Jul 17, 2016

white_wolf_540 thinks this title is suitable for 11 years and over

Captain_America_1907 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Apr 28, 2016

KonaKitsune thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

Sep 30, 2015

miraculous thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Jul 28, 2015

maaariiisol thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Jul 11, 2015

abigailk1 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

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Add a Quote

Oct 04, 2016

First the colors.
Then the humans.
That's usually how I see things.
Or at least, how I try.

Jan 05, 2016

"It was a Monday, and they walked on a tightrope to the sun."

Aug 05, 2015

Imagine smiling after a slap in the face. Then think of doing it twenty-four hours a day.

Jul 28, 2015

A small announcement about Rudy Steiner. He didn't deserve to die that way.

Jul 28, 2015

How about a kiss, Saumensch?

Jul 28, 2015

Even death has a heart.

Jul 03, 2015

" How about a kiss, saumensch ? "

Jun 28, 2015

“If only she could be so oblivious again, to feel such love without knowing it, mistaking it for laughter. ”
― Markus Zusak

Jun 16, 2015

“I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.”

SPL_STARR Jun 16, 2015

"First, the colors."

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Add Notices

Apr 04, 2017


Oct 04, 2016

Coarse Language: Some curse words

Jul 28, 2015

Violence: Some whipping.

Jul 28, 2015

Frightening or Intense Scenes: a few gruesome deaths, bombings, lifeless bodies.

Jul 28, 2015

Coarse Language: The bad language is in German, but Death translates it to English. Nothing serious, but certainly not for younger readers.

Jul 01, 2015

Frightening or Intense Scenes: The "parade" of Jews was a bit frightening, and the whipping and war.

Jul 01, 2015

Violence: Some whipping, fights, and other violence related to war.

Jul 01, 2015

Coarse Language: Quite a bit of German swearing and some English translations, too.

Jul 25, 2014

Other: Not enough violence to put under violence. But some.

Jul 25, 2014

Coarse Language: Sl*t, b*tch, sh*t

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Add a Summary

Jul 23, 2014

The story of a young girl under Nazi Germany. When her family hides a Jew in the basement, her life changes forever. Her thirst for books begins when she was illiterate. Slowly, books play an enormous part in her story.

Jul 14, 2014

About a Germany girl during WWII who is living with a foster family hiding a Jew.

Jun 29, 2014

Liesel Meminger, an illiterate girl in Nazi Germany loves books. At her brothers funeral she finds her first book, the Grave Diggers Handbook. With the help of her foster father, Hans Hubermann she learns to read and desires more books. However with World War 2 her family is sinking deeper into poverty and cannot afford to buy her books. So she resorts to stealing them. She takes them wherever she can find them, but only what she needs never more. But Liesel's life gets even more dangerous when her foster father repays a debt by taking in a Jew on the run. Liesel then realizes some unsettling facts about Nazi Germany and Hitler. This book is Liesel Meminger's story, told by Death.

Jun 25, 2014

In brief, I will say a few things about this book (I am on my mothers library page) 1. It is amazing
2. Always look at the pictures they feature very intensely in the story.
The Book Thief
the book thief is about young girl, living in Nazi Germany, who, as the title suggests, is a book thief. Or a collector of second hand books, however you wish to put it. Narrated by death, it will guide you through great joys and great sorrows. (A note, death loves colours, Also, I have noticed the colour patterns in a few other books) Liesel steals her first book at her brothers funeral. That was the last time she ever saw her mother. Along her "illustrious career" her foster parents take an old, dead, acordian playing, jewish friends son into the custody of their basement. A basement that will save her alone, well, along with a story. The basement doesn't save her best friend, Rudy Stiener. I'm not telling any more, otherwise I'll spoil it for you.

Jun 22, 2014

"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 Meminger's life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Grave Digger's Handbook, left there by accident, and it is her first act of 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 Jew in their basement, Liesel's world is both opened up and closed down.
In a superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time." -from the back cover

Jul 19, 2013

"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."

Jul 05, 2012

Introduction: During WWII in 1939, Liesel and her brother are being taken to Molching, Germany with her mother, to live with foster parents. Sadly, her little brother dies on the train and is buried along the way there. This is when Liesel steals her first book, (Gravedigger’s Handbook- marks brother’s death). Entering her new home, Liesel finds most comfort and love with her new father- Hans Hubermann. Stealing books becomes somewhat of a hobby now, as it motivates her to learn to read and write. An important aspect of the introduction is the hint at Liesel’s background. She learns more about why, how, and what actually happened to her real parents. As of right now, all we know is that Hans is gentle/welcoming, and that Rosa may need anger-management classes.
Rising Action: After the book-burning celebration for Hitler’s birthday, Liesel realizes that the Nazis are responsible for all of her losses. At this point, she steals another book (the Shoulder Shrug- marks hatred for Hitler). Along with her friendship with Rudy Steiner, good friend from school, she forms a relationship with the mayor’s wife, who lets Liesel in her library every time she comes by for laundry (as she saw Liesel’s interest in stealing the Shoulder Shrug). But when the wife, Ilsa, ends the laundry service, Liesel is infuriated and begins stealing her books. Eventually though, forgiveness awakes due to a complicated friendship that was always present. Back to Rudy, he’s a fearless boy with lemon hair, and he wants Liesel’s lips. Remember that. Meanwhile, there’s the story of Hans Hubermann and his great friend during WWI who saved Hans’s life and died in consequence. This friend happens to be a Jew, and his son is now seeking help with Hans, in hiding from the Nazis. Expectedly, the family is worried about the potential situation, since the act of housing a Jew in WWII was life-jeopardising. But they do, and Max turns out to be very friendly. So does Rosa. Especially Hans.
Climax: A series of little events tagged along for the journey to the climax. But, everything explodes when Max leaves for safety. Liesel is…she’s devastated. But, there is worse to come. He’s seen in a hoard of Jews on their way to Dachau, and this just tears the girl apart. Soon after, Ilsa gave Liesel a blank book. This saves the girl’s life, keeping her busy writing in the basement in an unexpected bombing. Sadly, all of Liesel’s loved ones die in their sleep. Death takes his time picking up Rosa, Hans, Kurt... Oh yeah, Rudy dies too, but at least he gets his long-awaited kiss from Liesel. Too bad it happens like this.
Falling Action: Well, the climax occurs late in the book, and in consequence, there’s not much to be said in this section. But, it is notable that Liesel drops her book in shock of everybody’s death (book = her life-story painted on the beloved blank pages from Ilsa). Death picks it up. The book is to be remembered. The mayor’s wife takes her in. Liesel talks with Alex Steiner. About Rudy. I’m sorry, am I being too specific?
It’s...well...just that......I love this part.
Resolution: In the epilogue, Liesel dies. But, she has lived a happy life with a husband and offspring. We also see Liesel being reunited with Max, having miraculously survived his sentence at Dachau. The book ends under a fulfilling atmosphere as Death gives back her book and takes her soul away. “I am haunted by humans.”

SharonWarren Jan 20, 2012

I started this book and it just didn't keep my attention, so gave it up, for a time. It had been so highly recommended I knew it would come back on my list. When next I picked it up I was ready for it and absolutely loved it. An engrossing, warm, and thoughtful read about a very difficult time.

Dec 15, 2009

An amazing story that takes place during World War II in Nazi Germany. Death narrates the story of a young girl named Liesel and her life living with her foster parents, the Hubermanns.

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