Bookanista Rec – THE BOOK THIEF

summer reading. #books, #reading, #summer

Oh, my. I haven’t done a Book of the Month post since… FEBRUARY. Bad Katy! So, since yesterday was the first day of SUMMER, let’s play catch up, shall we?

I present:

The Books I Read This Spring (with a Bookanista rec at the end!)

Delirium by Lauren Oliver – Delirium sat on my nightstand for months. I passed it up time and again (I’d been underwhelmed by several dystopians of late), and honestly, I thought the idea of love-as-a-disease was a little hard to buy into . Turns out it wasn’t, not when written by the incredibly talented Lauren Oliver. Delirium was good. Quiet, but with lovely prose and characters I wanted to know. I recommend it!

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver – This book grabbed me and never let go. If you were disappointed by the slow pace and inherent quietness of Delirium (I, as I mentioned above, was not), you should know that Pandemonium is a turn around. While it’s similar to Delirium in its gorgeous writing and gripping characters, it’s also action-packed, with tension that made it utterly unputdownable. You can read my Bookanista recommendation HERE.

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard – I’m a sucker for beautifully written contemporary YA, especially when the story is set somewhere warm and beachy, and ESPECIALLY when there’s a slow-burn (read: realistic) romance involved. In these ways, Wanderlove is a triple threat. Oh, and Kirsten Hubbard’s writing is enviable. My Bookanista recommendation is HERE.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore – What I loved most about Graceling‘s Katsa is that her strength, while very much present, is not at all black and white. She’s layered, definitely not perfect and not always likable, but very real. And the Graced prince, Po? You will totally fall for him! More about why I adored Graceling HERE.

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi – Main character Aria’s steep, authentic arc transformed her from a character I felt eh about, into a character I wanted to befriend, a character whose story I can’t wait to continue reading. This book has it all: fantastic pacing, world building that blew my mind, and a romance that had me flipping pages late into the night. More on Under the Never Sky HERE.

Ten by Gretchen McNeil (available September 18th, 2012) – I found this book to be reminiscent of the movies Scream and The Ring. It’s a murder mystery, a big group of kids secluded during a storm, picked off by the unknown killer among them. Ten is packed with tension and twists right up to the very end. A scary but fun read.

Happy Families by Tanita S. Davis – A no-nonsense contemporary about a family going through a big change. It’s narrated by a brother-sister pair (good, smart kids with lofty goals), and while I liked the protagonists and their respective arcs, the tone of this book was a little on the young side for my taste. Still, if you love stories about complex family dynamics, Happy Families is one to check out.

This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers – Not regular Courtney Summers contemporary fare, but just as absorbing, just as unputdownable, as any of her other novels. Raw and unflinching, I suspect that even non-zombie-lovers will be captivated by this book! My YA Confidential review is HERE.

On Writing by Stephen King – The end-all-be-all of craft books! I was long overdue in giving this one a read, but I’m so glad I finally did. Stephen King writes with honestly and a touch of irony that made this book hard to step away from. It helped me reflect on my writing goals and writing practices in a way I haven’t before. I recommend this one to anyone who writes or wants to write, and to non-writers who simply enjoy Stephen King’s nonfiction articles (he’s had many pop culture bits published in Entertainment Weekly… they’re awesome!).

Insurgent by Veronica Roth – I had mixed feelings about this one right up until the big reveal at the end, which is when I fell in love. I enjoyed Tris and her narration throughout, but my thoughts during most of the book were this: Too much action (YES). Not enough Four. But, I have to see where this is going. I’m glad I did, because Veronica Roth made it all worthwhile at the end. I can’t wait to see what the final installment of this trilogy brings.

Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield (available July 5, 2012) – Kat Rosenfield holds nothing back in the weaving of Rebecca and Amelia’s parallel stories. Her prose is enchantingly gritty, and the relationships she fosters between her characters feel real and flawed and dangerously precarious. One part literary fiction, one part murder mystery… This book blew me away. My Bookanista recommendation is HERE.

And, finally(!), my favorite book of the season, one I highly recommend: The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak.

The Book ThiefFrom Goodreads: 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.

I’ve read quite a few books set during the Holocaust, stand-outs being Number the Stars, Night, Sarah’s Key, and The Diary of Anne Frank. The Book Thief has quite a bit in common with these stories, yet in many ways it isn’t like them it all. It focuses on blonde, German kids, “normal” kids who attend book burnings and Hitler Youth rallies. They’re kids who, as part of their everyday lives, deal with the Gestapo and food rationings and parades of emaciated Jews marching through their streets toward probable death. It’s rare to hear stories about these kids, kids caught between innocence and evil who, for the most part, lack the power to make real change in a world many of them recognize as incredibly unjust.

A few points about The Book Thief:

~ It was a slow read for me, but that was okay. The characters (even the lesser characters) were absolutely captivating. I didn’t want to hurry their story along.

~ The language… Oh, my gosh. So gorgeous. The imagery and the personification and the metaphors. This novel is a study in weaving beautiful prose.

~ The narrator of the story is Death. I was weirded out by this initially, but I got used to it quickly. In my opinion, Death’s perspective was the only one from which to tell this story.

~ The only (tiny) thing I didn’t like about Death’s narration was that he wasn’t one for foreshadowing. He gave away big plot points seemingly willy-nilly, which I could have done without.

~ Rudy Steiner. *sigh* I absolutely adore that kid. He is by far my favorite character. Such a little shit, but with the world’s biggest heart. He alone is worth picking up The Book Thief for.

So, that’s that. The Book Thief: If it’s one of your gap books, please, please please run to your local bookseller or library to pick it up!

Don’t forget to check out what my fellow Bookanistas are up to: 

Elana Johnson can’t get enough of See You At Harry’s

Shannon Messenger shares some YA cover lust

Shelli Johannes-Wells talks about the cover for The 13th Sign–with a contest!

Stasia Ward Kehoe and Nikki Katz gush about Surrender

Jessica Love has feelings for The List

Tell me, have you read The Book Thief? If so, what did you love about it? If not… WHY?!


40 thoughts on “Bookanista Rec – THE BOOK THIEF

  1. katharineowens says:

    Rudy! Rudy! Rudy! I love all these insights– several of these books I have not read, but not because I don’t want to. It’s great to be reminded of books that are worth checking out. :0) And, as you can see, I also love Rudy. That book was a heartbreaker in the best possible sense.

    • katyupperman says:

      It really was. The end made me thankful for Death’s lack of foreshadowing. I don’t know that I could have handled all that heartbreak without a the warnings!

  2. Erin Bowman (@erin_bowman) says:

    Oh my goodness, you have been a little bookworm!! I’m about 150 pages into TBT right now and I’m already dying over the gorgeous prose and head-over-heels in love with Rudy. This book is just stunning so far. Can’t wait to finish 🙂

    • katyupperman says:

      Stunning is the perfect word for it. It wasn’t one of those books I wanted to rush through… I found myself savoring each and every page. Can’t wait to hear what you think of the end, Erin!

  3. Meredith says:

    The Book Thief is, hands down, my favorite book of all time. Period. YA/adult/whatever. This book takes it. I’m glad you loved it as much as I did. I’ve bought so many copies of that book because I lend it out to people who don’t give it back (and this happens repeatedly)! I need to buy another copy again, actually. 😀

    • katyupperman says:

      I’m hesitant to lend out my copy too, and that’s a rarity! It’s become this acclaimed classic in my head. Such a moving story, and such gorgeous prose!

  4. kford2007 says:

    I’m in the middle of Insurgent now and I want to get to the end. I love the way it picked up exactly where Divergent left off.

    Graceling in the next on my list. I’m glad to hear you liked it. There are several more that are on your list that are on my TBR. Now I have to add TBT to it as well. Thanks, Katy. 🙂 It’s not like I didn’t have enough to read or write. LOL! Hope Cali is treating you well. Take care.

    • katyupperman says:

      California is treating us well… It’s beautiful here! I’m interested to hear your thoughts on INSURGENT. I had a little trouble with it right up until the end, which was a total payoff. And GRACELING… Love! I just started its follow-up, BITTERBLUE, and I’m so happy to be back in Kristin Cashore’s world!

  5. Rebecca B says:

    The Book Thief is fantastic–I am so glad I finally read it this spring. Great point about the narration and lack of foreshadowing; that was a little jarring.

    • katyupperman says:

      It was jarring, but at the same time I was sort of thankful for it when the end came. I’m not sure I could have handled the climax and conclusion without Death’s warnings.

  6. Jaime Morrow says:

    This post is just so full of awesome stuff, Katy! I think I’m going to walk to the shelf behind me, pick up my dusty copy of THE BOOK THIEF, and finally get around to reading it. Or at the very least, give it a more prominent place on my TBR shelf. Thanks for the recommendation. 🙂

  7. Tracey Neithercott (@T_Neithercott) says:

    My love for The Book Thief knows no bounds. That book—ah, killed me. I was just so perfect.

    I haven’t read Pandemonium yet because I really liked how Delirium ended and I’m kind of sad there’s a second book. It felt like with what happend at the end of Delirium that should be it. I’m not sure I want a new love interest.

    Thanks for the reviews. There are some I haven’t read yet but have been meaning to. And I can’t wait for Ten!

    • katyupperman says:

      Okay, I had similar thoughts about DELIRIUM and its ending, but I have to say, I like the new love interest a *tiny* bit better than Alex. He seems better suited to the protagonist, and the conflict he brings certainly illustrates the book’s themes of how troublesome love can be. If you decide to give PANDEMONIUM a read, definitely let me know what you think!

  8. Crystal says:

    THE BOOK THIEF was so beautiful and heartbreaking. It’s easily one of my favorites.

    And I totally have ON WRITING by my bed in anticipation of reading it, but I keep picking up fiction instead. I need to get on that one 🙂

    • katyupperman says:

      Crystal, I have a problem making nonfiction a priority too… There are just so many awesome stories available! That said, ON WRITING is definitely entertaining. Hope you get to it, and enjoy it!

  9. Matthew MacNish says:

    Man I love The Book Thief (and the book thief) so much! For me, Rudy is just barely eclipsed by Hans Huberman, but he is still such an amazing character. I only wish he could’ve got his kiss.

  10. Carrie-Anne says:

    I should probably read The Book Thief, since I’ve read and written so much about the Shoah/WWII era. It annoys me when people complain that it’s the same story over and over again, or “too depressing.” There’s always a new story to be told, and if you find certain eras in history depressing, you can choose not to read them but let those of us who appreciate such stories read them in peace.

    • katyupperman says:

      It’s hard to read about WWII without feeling sad, but there are so many stories of hope and the enduring human spirit that shouldn’t be overlooked just because that period of history is difficult. Definitely give TBT a read, Carrie-Anne. I bet you’ll love it!

  11. Rachel says:

    i loved The Book Thief and Sarah’s Key, Diary of Anne Frank, etc. As I come from a family who experience the Holocaust, I feel like it is a way to get to know the history I never learned from my grandparents. (They didn’t like to talk about it with me) I only learned after my grandpa’s death of actually what he went through. I’m so glad you enjoyed TBT! 🙂 Thanks for this wonderful post about lots of books you enjoyed.!!

    • katyupperman says:

      Wow, Rachel… I bet TBT and other WWII stories are especially impactful for you, considering your family’s history. Now that I’ve read it, TBT is one of those stories I want to recommend to everyone. It’s just so perfect!

  12. Stasia says:

    I loved The Book Thief, especially the structure–the lists, the art of the language. And thanks for the fantastic wrap-up. So many great reads! Pandemonium and This Is Not a Test are definitely high on my tbr list!

  13. Krispy says:

    I’ve read a couple of the books you’ve mentioned, and Pandemonium is sitting on my coffee table at home. I’ve been reluctant to pick it up because I had mixed feelings about Delirium (minus the amazing, breathtaking end) and because it was slow and a long book! I’ve been working myself up to tackling Pandemonium, so it’s good to hear it moves at a faster clip.

    As for The Book Thief, I bought it a long while ago, having heard so many good things and loving the idea of Death as the narrator. On top of that my sister is fascinated by books set during this time period, so it was a no-brainer to buy. But I still haven’t read it yet and I know I need to. Your review has definitely given me a big push towards picking it up sooner rather than later! Thanks! 🙂

    • katyupperman says:

      You know, I had THE BOOK THIEF for nearly a year before I finally cracked it open. Too many people kept telling me it was amazing and life-changing and a must-read. It really was! PANDEMONIUM, too, is a fantastic story (though maybe not life-changing :)).

  14. Tameka says:

    The Book Thief literally had me curled into the fetal position sobbing under a blanket for the last 100 or so pages. It is probably the most emotionally staggering book I have ever read and I feel like it changed me forever once I read it. I love when books can do that!

    I’ve been on the fence about reading Delirium even though I love Lauren Oliver’s writing to death. I just didn’t want to get caught up in another unfinished dystopian series but your review has me SO CURIOUS…I might have to add it to my TBR’s in July!

    • katyupperman says:

      Maybe wait to pick up DELIRIUM and PANDEMONIUM until right before the final book comes out because both stories have killer cliffhanger endings. I love Lauren Oliver’s writing too, and was NOT disappointed in either of these stories.

      And yeah… I’m not a book-crier, but THE BOOK THIEF shook me up pretty badly.

  15. Elodie says:

    I have a lot of these books on my TBR list 😀 And I look forward to dive into them. I think I will follow the advice you gave to Tamecka about waiting for the last installment of DELIRIUM to come out before starting to read them…
    ON WRITING is simply amazing, it took my writer´s breath away 😀
    I read THE BOOK THIEF a few years back and I was blown away by it, the writing, the characters…pretty much everything…
    Right around the same time I read The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and this book broke my heart…innocence of children in the madness of adults.

    • katyupperman says:

      I haven’t read THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS yet, but I’d love to. I’ve heard wonderful things about it and honestly, I’ve yet to read a book set during the WWII era that didn’t significantly move me. Thanks for the rec, Elodie!

  16. Sophia Richardson says:

    I have similar ambivalent feelings to Tracey about reading Pandemonium. I didn’t love the book, but the ending really kicked ass, and then it was like oh, there’s a sequel… Oh. And The Book Thief has been on my TBR list for a while, there was a flurry of recommendations at some point and then I just forgot about it while reading other things. I swear, I will get to it eventually!

    • katyupperman says:

      When you do get to TBT, I think you’ll fall in love. It was a fantastically moving book, and the writing… I cannot rave about its gorgeousness enough!

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