Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Book Thief

There are two kinds of good books. The first is the kind where you read, remember for a while and then slowly forget...There comes a stage when all that you remember about the book was that it was good and you enjoyed reading it. And then, there's the other kind. The kind that becomes a part of you. When you think of these books, there is a sense of familiarity and more than that - a sense of belonging/ownership. And when you read a good book, you never know which category it is going to fall under. I hope the Book Thief falls under the latter. I wish there was a way to capture emotions and feeling and store them coz I like the way I am feeling right now and i want to remember this feeling when i think about this book later in my life.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak was my final destination in the Orbis Terrarum Challenge. With this, I finish the 9 books by 9 different authors from 9 different countries. I don't think I will stop the challenge with this. I have loved reading books by authors from different countries and I think I am going to go on and add to my OT books.

This book is set in Germany around World War II - the second that I have read that is told from the non-jewish side (The first being "The Zookeeper's Wife (another fascinating book)). Germany is too wide an area to mention - the story is set in House number 33 on Himmel Street (Himmel = Heaven) in a town called Molching on the outskirts of Munich.But the street didn't quite live up to its name, considering it was one of the poor neighborhoods. But this house was to be the destination of 9 year old Liesel and her older brother. They were to be adopted by Rosa and Hans. The brother dies on the way, and at that moment Liesel becomes the "book thief" in an attempt to 'steal something back' and having the life of her brother stolen from her. This book describes the next 4 to 5 years of Liesel's life in 33, Himmel Street.

When I look back at my life to the stage when I was 9 till about I was 14, there's hardly anything that stands out. I guess my life could be described in less than a paragraph. The only emotion I remember knowing is Happiness. Well, I did have my ups and downs (like the time I didnt get the candy of my choice to distribute in school for my birthday)..but you get the idea pretty much. In contrast, Liesel saw more in those 4 years than most people expect to see in a lifetime. When the world around her was immersed in war..she was blissfully happy in her little cocoon - her papa, Rosa, Rudy (her BEST friend) and Max. She had everyone she wanted and her little world was complete.

Well, happiness doesn't last forever, especially during world war II in Germany.. more so because one of the components leading to the happiness is a Jew hiding in your basement.

If you haven't already figured it out by now.. I LOVED the book. The horrors of World War II with a touch of innonence and a lot of Charm. My favorite character - the narrator. The novelty of this book is that the narrator is Death himself - the soul collector. But not the grim, eerie, evil one..but one with a human touch! Sometimes sensitive, sometimes funny, always sincere to his work.. I am sure he has a little heart hidden somewhere.. How else could he be the most charming character in the book? He is Death, after all..
but he as this way of gives us information in those little notes in bold throughout the book and some of them are so endearing..(when you read the book you'll know what I mean!). And it is nice to know that Death doesn't enjoy his profession. It is a much better feeling to think of "him" as a charming man who is just doing his duty..but not really liking it. I particularly enjoyed the way he associated deaths with colors - his way of dealing with the monotony and sadness of his profession I guess..
I am so enthralled with the narrator that I could go on and on about it. I have this habit of making little notes of things I want to mention in the blog when I write about the book.. but this time, midway through the book, I had to stop myself from writing more about Death..coz that was turning into a mini-book by itself!

I would definitely think that this is a must-read for everyone out there!


bethany said...

incredible! I have not heard a bad review about this book, it seems people always say that type of thing: it is one that I will always remember.

I can't wait to read it, I have been wanting to for a while, and it is on the list for my book club, but I still have not gotten my copy...I am so excited to read your review though, and see that it will be great.

The speed at which you are blazing through these astounds me!! hooray for you!!! so cool.

Ramya said...

you know what this means, right? I am done with the 9 books for your challenge!:) It was a super-amazing experience (for lack of a better word to say).. and I totally enjoyed myself!:) Will be reading more books to add to the list..but i guess my days of fast-reading are over with today.. am going for a vacation to India and i know i wont get any reading done there!:)

bethany said...

oh, no....you can't be done~! It only took you one month!!!!! Well, that is some great reading you have done there, and reviewing too, but I will be sad to not have you posting links to reviews ): but happy that you are going on vacation, and to India...I would love to visit. It looks beautiful.

Ramya said...

well.. i am still going to be reading books as part of the challenge.. its too interesting to let go this early!:) will post links to other books as well!
You must visit India sometime.. i'm sure you'll like it!:)

Karen said...

I completely loved "The Book Thief" too Ramya! I am raving about it to all of my friends and telling them they have to read it!

Ramya said...

oh yeah.. that's my current mission as well..getting everyone to read the book thief!:)

Pratima said...

now i guess i HAVE to read this book...doesnt matter if it is so huge and fat! :) I was planning to replace it with something else in my list, but after your review, i am really motivated to pick it up!!

Nice to know u are coming to India, have fun!

Laxmi Karumbu said...

Ramya have a great time in India.
I have a lot of summer reading to do :)
I wish the sun would come out so I couls sit outdoors and do it.

Ramya said...

@pratima - yup! you HAVE to read this book right away.. it is really good! let me know what you think about it once you read it!:)

@laxmi - thanks! i am really looking forward to the trip..its been 3 years since i last was in india!

Bellezza said...

You have written a lovely review; I very much like your definition of a good book as one that stays with you. I can't say Death was my favorite character in this book. I'm leaning more toward Papa (Hans) or Rudy. But certainly Death was admirable; he seemed to have a heart somehow. Thanks for visiting me today. It's nice to meet you!

Mortal said...

Another great review from you! I can't wait to get my hands on this book now.

Keep reading and writing reviews!!

PS: I recently bumped into your blog through a friend's friend's blog and since that day I have been visiting regularly to read your reviews. The pace at which you read books amazes me (and I wonder if you do anything else than reading :) )

Ramya said...

@bellezza: Nice to meet you too!:) Hans is definitely a very admirable character.. i liked him a lot too..:)

@Mortal: Thanks.. well, actually, reading is the only thing i have been doing this past month.. just finished my masters and suddenly had all the time in the world.. book sure did help!:))

bethany said...

I know you are probably having a lot of fun in India...but I really miss reading what you have to say, and getting your sweet comments. ):

Tricia said...

I totally agree with your comments about this book. I loved it! I read it earlier this year and it is still with me. It is definitely a book you carry with you.

softdrink said...

I really want to read this book, as I keep reading great things about it. And I swear I bought it, but I can't seem to find it.

I love your blogs, I'm so glad you stopped by mine.

S. Krishna said...

I've been wanting to read this one - everyone has given it such positive reviews!

Ramya said...

@tricia - yep.. yet to hear from someone who didnt like this book!:)

@softdrink, krishna - you guys have to read this book.. it is an awesome book!:)