The Book Thief

The Book Thief

Audiobook CD - 2006
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The extraordinary #1 New York Times bestseller that is now a major motion picture, Markus Zusak's unforgettable story is about the ability of books to feed the soul.

Nominated as one of America's best-loved novels by PBS's The Great American Read .

When Death has a story to tell, you listen.

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 living outside of Munich, who 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.

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.

"The kind of book that can be life-changing." -- The New York Times

"Deserves a place on the same shelf with The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank." -- USA Today
Publisher: New York : Listening Library, c2006.
ISBN: 9780739337271
Branch Call Number: BOOKCD FICTION ZUS
Characteristics: 11 sound discs (13 hrs., 50 mins.)
Additional Contributors: Corduner, Allan


From Library Staff

An unforgettable novel about the power of books, set in Nazi Germany.

An unforgettable novel about the power of books, set in Nazi Germany.

List - Who Told You This Story?
Jasna_T Sep 18, 2018

Death is not an unexpected narrator for this acclaimed novel set in the WWII Germany.

List - Famous Fictional Fathers
Alena_T Jun 02, 2017

Patient and gentle, Hans Hubermann is the first adult able to win his stepdaughter Liesel's trust. He's giving us all the feels.

No entity has ever been so feared, and so misunderstood, as Death. And none have narrated a better book.

From the critics

Community Activity


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May 13, 2021

“Book thief” follows a young girl in Germany during world war 2 who lives through a journey to learn to read. It is an emotional novel that makes readers ponder on how intense world war 2 was.
I hate to say that I was not a fan of this book. I love the idea and how it is told through the perspective of Death. I feel this had so much potential, yet was executed poorly. The novel and storyline felt bland to me. I was unable to finish the novel due to this. I felt as if it was going nowhere. The novel felt boring and too wordy.
Overall, I was very disappointed with the execution of this book that I was very excited to read. I truly wish the author would have opted for simplicity when writing the novel, as complexity, in my opinion, did not work out.

May 10, 2021

I was a little confused at the beginning, trying to figure out who the narrative is, but once I figured out it was Death, it made a LOT more sense. This book was great. I'm not normally a historical fiction fan, but this is a good book. Will definitely read again.

Feb 28, 2021

The Book Thief takes place in 1939 Nazi Germany and follows the story of Liesel, a young orphan girl. Liesel begins to have a special relationship with books and words, as Liesel, with the aid of her foster father, learns how to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi fires, the mayor's wife's library—essentially wherever there are books to be found. But these are also dangerous, tumultuous times. Will Liesel be able to utilize the power of words to stand up against the face of injustice?
I really loved this book and was blown away by how utterly amazing it was! The writing was eloquent and the story is so authentic and raw that it will surely resonate with and touch the hearts of whoever reads it. I really liked how it touched on important topics like anti-Semitism, racism, discrimination, and oppression. This book is a must-read and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about the Holocaust and the atmosphere of the Nazi Germany regime at the time.

Feb 22, 2021

In Germany 1938, a young orphan named Liesel comes to stay with her new parents. While still grieving the death of her brother, Liesel forms a bond with her foster father as he teaches her to read. As her love of books grows, so does the war that rages on around them. She begins to steal books, from houses to bonfire burnings. As the family’s situation grows dire from rations and war, Liesel must keep a secret- a Jewish boy secretly sheltered in her house. This book provides an interesting narration of war and the lives it affects. Fans of historical fiction should definitely read this book. From grief to humor to devastation, The Book Thief brings its readers on an unforgettable journey.

Feb 16, 2021

My absolute favorite book. I’ve never been able to say I have a favorite book very easily, but once I read this I never had trouble again. Don’t listen to the comments saying this book is hard to get into! Markus Zusak has such an interesting, beautiful, unique writing style that makes this book as pleasing to the eye as it is to the mind and heart. The story is touching and the characters are memorable. The Book Thief movie is also fabulous. Overall, this book is profound and beautiful, with new joys and heartaches on every page.

ChinesaR_KCMO Feb 06, 2021

Set in Germany during the second World War, The Book Thief tells the story of Liesel, who is effectively living as an orphan in a new home. She never knew her father, her mother disappears after delivering her to her new foster parents in Molching, just outside of Munich. While the story is all about Liesel, it is told from the perspective of a different character- Death. The story begins when Death first encounters nine-year-old Liesel after she steals her first book from a gravedigger.
The book offers an interesting insight to what most Germans lives were really like during World War 2. Although Liesel and her foster parents, Mr. and Mrs. Herbermann, are German citizens, they do not buy into the propaganda that Jews are evil and should be exterminated. This is further illustrated when Max, the son of an old friend of Mr. Herbermann, comes to them for help. They do not hesitate to shelter him despite the risks they too would face. This leads to a friendship between Max and Liesel, who bond over their shared love of storytelling.
Liesel is very real, a child living a child's life of soccer in the street, stolen pleasures, and childhood crushes. Even though she is living amid one of the worsts genocides in human history, she still finds a way to continue being a child and not be consumed by the evil that surrounds her on all sides.
This book will make you cry – there is no way around that. But there are things that prevent this book from being all-out depressing. It is never morbid. Despite the darkness, humor dances across the pages, and the rich descriptions as well as the purity of the characters' hearts will not fail to lift you up. Also, it is refreshing to read a balanced story, where ordinary Germans are as much at risk of losing their lives as their Jewish neighbors.
Be prepared, this book is long. But every word of the story matters, and every moment it will stick with you for a long time. Whether you choose to read the words or listen to the audio. The Book Thief is a modern classic that should definitely be on your to-read list.

Jan 26, 2021

I’m sorry, but I just could NOT get into this book. I got half-way through and stopped. I found the story very boring, and I couldn’t get myself to care about the characters. I found the author’s writing too flowery maybe? Im trying to pinpoint what I didn’t like about this book. I’m trying to get back into the habit of reading again and thought I’d try this one since it’s so popular. I don’t think it’s horrible by any means, but I kept having to force myself to pick the book up and it felt more like a chore to read it rather than out of enjoyment, which is why I threw in the towel. Maybe the last half is AMAZING and I’ve missed out, I’ll never know lol.

Jan 21, 2021

In this heart-wrenching tale about a young German girl who just wants to be loved, Markus Zusak hits the nail on the head with his introspective first-person account of Death. Set in the middle of World War Two, young Liesel Meminger is sent to the small German town of Molching with just her small suitcase and thin coat. She's taken in by two foster parents, Rosa and Hans Hubermann, whom she learns to love with each passing day. Her beloved Hans teaches her how to read and write, opening the floodgates for her glorious book-stealing career. Braving the terrors of a hidden Jew and her father's descent into darkness, Liesel learns about the power of words and how they have the ability to save and destroy lives.

Jan 06, 2021

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is set in the town of Munich Germany, 1939, during the Holocaust. It follows the tale of Liesel Meminger, the protagonist who is given up for adoption. She is brave and fierce, and stands up for what she believes in, displaying the charctertistics of a strong female character. Liesel lives in a community where Adolf Hitler is hailed, and children without blond hair and blue eyes are looked down upon. She is unaware of the true origins of her family, however the book pieces it together for the reader. In addition, the unique perspective from Death, the narrator, adds an entire level of depth to the story. This book is filled with tragedy and sadness, but also speaks the truth of a horrible time and shares a story that must never become forgotten. If you enjoy the historical fiction genre, or even enjoy literature at all, this is a solid read.

Dec 22, 2020

I read this book on a whim, thinking it can't be all that bad, I'll give it a try. I was immediately completely submerged in this amazing book. By the end, I was sobbing. This book broke me in to the tiniest pieces, then put me back together. It's one of those books where once you're done you want to start it again immediately. I would give this more stars than just five if I could, because it deserves so much more than just five.

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May 13, 2021

nathaliecorrea1220 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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Add a Quote
Jun 14, 2018

"I carried them in my fingers, like suitcases. Or I'd throw them over my shoulder. It was only the children I carried in my arms."

Aug 26, 2017

I am haunted by humans.

susanbayridge69 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

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Add Notices
Feb 16, 2021

Sexual Content: One chapter talks about young boys’ genitals, but not in a sexual way. It just mentions it briefly

Jul 25, 2020

Other: Your life and heart will change especially your innocense about history in general.

Feb 01, 2020

Frightening or Intense Scenes: Nazis Germany

Feb 01, 2020

Violence: Nazis Germany

Apr 04, 2017


susanbayridge69 Oct 04, 2016

Coarse Language: Some curse words

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 28, 2015

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

Jul 28, 2015

Violence: Some whipping.

Jul 01, 2015

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

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Add a Summary
Jan 03, 2018

Liesel Meminger is only nine years old when she is taken to live with the Hubermanns, a foster family, on Himmel Street in Molching, Germany, in the late 1930s. She arrives with few possessions, but among them is The /Grave Digger's Handbook/, a book she stole from her brother's burial place. During the years that Liesel lives with the Hubermanns, Hitler becomes more powerful, life on Himmel Street becomes more fearful, and Liesel becomes a full-fledged book thief. She rescues books from Nazie book-burnings and steals from the library of the mayor. Liesel is illiterate when she steals her first book, but Hans Hubermann uses her prized books to teach her to read. This is a story of courage, friendship, love, survival, death, and grief. This is Liesel's life on Himmel Street, told from Death's point of view.
(Summary in back of book.)

geniusgirl613 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.

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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