Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Whatever Wednesday - The Book Thief

I'm going to admit it.  Some of you, maybe all of you, will be upset with me, but I'm going to admit it.

Since the release of Traces of Grey I've been focusing on the holidays, birthdays (my family has four in December), and doing some reading.  Of course I've been doing a little writing here and there, but I've not slotted all my time for that yet.

I've posted about the hats, mittens and scarves I've crocheted and have done a few more since that post and am working on some afghans now, too.  I don't know if I'll get enough done to offer them up as gifts for Christmas or not, but I'm going to try.

But, I'd mostly like to talk about what I've been reading lately.

Before I talk about the actual book, I'd like to talk about how I read.

I have an eclectic taste when it comes to books.  I read almost any genre and find I enjoy almost every book I read.

A lot of people I know finish every single book they pick up.  I don't.  Maybe one third of the books I actually pick up are read to completion, unless I can read them in one sitting or they completely draw me in.

Something that has become one of my fall backs are audio books.  They have become cheap enough that I can listen while I do other things, like STUPID dishes, or STUPID laundry, or any other STUPID housework that I'm supposed to do.  If I don't have an audio I will opt for Text-to-Speech on my Kindle - if that's not available, the book will probably get pushed down the line for a time when I have nothing else to do.

This gives me mixed reactions.  It makes me feel like I'm slacking off by not actually doing the work of reading the words, yet I love that I'm free to do other things that need to get done AND get to learn a new story at the same time.  Besides, I read all day long, every single day.  I have emails, Facebook posts, research, marketing, I also do some reading for other authors I know, and numerous other things I am constantly reading.  I'm not really slacking on the reading, I'm just trying to make sure I'm not slacking in other areas of my life.  (Thankfully, my husband almost never reads my blog posts or he might have a comment or two to make.  Honey - if you read this and decide to make a comment or two - make them privately.)

Since I'm giving my reading and writing habits, I may as well tell you about how I choose to read what I do.  Most of what I read any more are books by authors I know personally or authors I've read in the past and enjoyed.  I do pick up books by authors I don't know for research purposes, such as The Warded Man.  (Yes, I read that as research.)  I also read new authors who have been recommended to me by friends, such as Iris Johansen.  Sometimes I find books on my own.  When it comes to buying books by authors I've never read, I am first a cover shopper, and then a title shopper, and then a back blurb shopper.  The Hunger Games are an exception to my normal mode of operation.  I'd heard talk about them all over the place.  The covers didn't appeal to me, the back blurb didn't appeal to me, but my daughter wanted to read them, so I bought them and figured I better make sure they were appropriate for her.  I was hooked instantly.

Then there are cases such as The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  I'd never heard of the book, I had no idea what the cover looked like, I had never read the back blurb.  Then I saw a commercial for the movie and was interested by the title.  I had no idea what the story was about.  I thought it might be a fantasy.  It certainly looked magical.  So, I found it at Audible, downloaded it, and started listening.  I did not stop until the book was finished (except to break for bedtime.)

I've read several books about World War II - most of them while I was in high school.  As far as I can remember, they were all from the point of view of a holocaust victim or survivor.  It was an interesting change to read a story about a young German girl during the war and with death as the narrator.

It seems every generation has a "bad guy" that they hate.  For my parents and for a lot of my life the bad guys were Germans and Japanese and then the Russians.  Now, it's the radicals who had anything to do with the attacks of 9/11.  A lot of the time the hatred and disgust for what some people do filters into the entire population that we perceive as connected.  All Germans were horrible, evil, mean people because of what Hitler and his followers did.  Though most of us know that not all of the German population worked to gas the poor people in the concentration camps, we can't get past the idea that they seemed to do nothing to help those poor people.  However, what we don't know is what they did deal with day to day and the fear they lived under and exactly why they either turned a blind eye or didn't pry enough to know what was truly going on.

I can not excuse the behavior of Nazi Germany or excuse the population for not rebelling against Hitler to save all those people who were tortured and killed, but I can say that I don't know how I would have behaved had I lived there and in that time.  I can hope I'd do what I think people should have done, but I have a family I need to protect and can relate to being cowed by the threat of death, or worse, if it might be visited upon my family.  And, if we have no way to protect ourselves against the evil, or no way to know if we stand alone, (HEIL HITLER! or die), how do we stand up?

I'd love to look at the world in black and white, but it's just not that way most of the time - especially in hind sight.

The Book Thief doesn't delve deeply into these thoughts, but it certainly made me think them.  It's simply a beautifully written book about a young girl growing up in wartime Germany as told by Death. It's poignant and sad and uplifting all at the same time.  I definitely recommend this book to anyone and hope the movie does the book justice.


It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl who scratches out a meager existence 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.

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.

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