The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief - A powerful and moving story that helps you understand what it was like to be German under the Nazi Regime

A wonderful and very different perspective of Nazi Germany.

You won't be able to put this book down and you'll be hungry to find out the ending.

Don't be put off by the slightly depressing subject matter - The characters and stories will blow you away.


The Book Thief is set in a village just outside of Munich at the time of Nazi Germany.

It tells of a little girl called Leisal who lives with her adopted family in reasonable poverty.

She steals small things (fruit from the orchids) with her friends and then starts to steal books. She learns to read and adores her books and doesn't seem to care where she steals them from.

We get a real understanding of what life was like in Nazi Germany.

The book is also a little different because it is narrated by death. (More discussion on this later.)

For a full synopsis of the story go to

The Book Thief Summary


Living In Germany During Nazi Rule

I hadn't really thought about everyday life in Germany before & during W.W.2.

Now, in this book, we learn about their deprivations; their poverty levels; their fear of those in power ( worrying about not having a flag to celebrate Hitler's birthday); the lack of trust between each other, neighbours & friends; Hitler's manipulation of Germany's Youth to acheive his aims.

And even more importantly, we learn that there are those like Papa who don't like what was going on at that time especially the severe treatment of the Jews, well illustrated by hiding Max.

Those, like Papa, were too afraid to show their disapproval.


Inspite of the seriousness of the subject, there are some lovely bits of humour, often provided by Mama, though unintentionally. What super characters she & Papa are.

Mama's bark is certainly worse than her bite. She is strict, determined & quite frightening at times BUT she is a wonderful surrogate mother to Leisal. She berates her husband, "her favourite theme of abuse" & she's full of expletives for those she loves.

The Benefits Of Reading

Leisal's fascination of books is endearing. It reminds us just how good reading is for the soul. Her determination to read with the help of her step father


Did you find the characters believable?

How do you think you would have behaved if you were living in Germany under Nazi rule?

What are some of the benefits of reading? Does Leisal portray any of these in The Book Thief?

Discuss the narration by Death. What was the author trying to achieve? Did it work? Would it have been better written from a different person's perspective? If so Whom?

What do you think about the title of the book?


Another Book Club of The Year Award Winner, The Book Thief scored 8/10 at our book club.

Some gave this book 10/10, where as others gave it 7/10.

For those who gave it a lower score, their criticism was around the style.

The novelty of having the summaries at the beginning of each chapter wore off quickly for some & there was much debate as to whether they really added to the quality of the Book Thief.

The other criticism is that throughout the novel, the language structure is questionable. It is often incorrect, with far too many short sentences (many, many of only 2 words!!) & the imagery is frequently O.T.T. & often not understandable.

But these minor points merely improved our discussion of the book and overall the group loved it.

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