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The Book Thief

Written by: Markus Zusak
Narrated by: Allan Corduner
Length: 13 hrs and 56 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (177 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Don’t miss Bridge of Clay, Markus Zusak’s first novel since The Book Thief.  

The extraordinary number-one New York Times best seller 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)

©2006 Markus Zusak (P)2006 Random House Inc. Listening Library, an imprint of the Random House Audio Publishing Group

What the critics say

  • Book Sense Book of the Year Award, Children's Literature, 2007

"The astonishing characters, drawn without sentimentality, will grab readers." (Booklist)
"Zusak has created a work that deserves the attention of sophisticated teen and adult readers....An extraordinary narrative." (School Library Journal)
"The Book Thief will appeal both to sophisticated teens and adults with its engaging characters and heartbreaking story." (Bookmarks Magazine)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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The Book Thief Stole My Heart

Have you ever come across book characters who thoroughly enchant you? In so many Markus Zusak’s characters in The Book Thief are the type of people you would meet in any small community. The story itself was one that made me laugh, made me angry, made me cry but most of all - made me love. I highly recommend this book to anyone with a heartbeat. It will change your perspective on so many things.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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beautiful

Beautiful story, beautifully told. Author captures the heart from the start and never lets go

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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The Perfect Novel for an Audiobook

In being narrated by Death, I thought that The Book Thief would be an excellent choice for an audiobook, and I was totally correct. The narrator is a man with a buttery voice and a British accent that makes you feel like you've been entangled in a conversation with Death himself, quite literally. He does adorable little voices with German accents for Liesel and Rudy (now, my one caveat of listening to a book rather than physically reading is that I subsequently have no idea how to spell the names, so, forgive me) and adds gravity for the voices of the adult characters. All in all, I'm so glad I decided to listen to The Book Thief on audio, because I felt that it added that much more to the experience of the novel.

The book itself is one whose style and story will appeal to readers of any age. It's a coming-of-age story, a war story, a hope story, a family story, even a bit of a love story. All of the inhabitants of Himmel Street come to feel like people you've known in your real life. The value of literacy, of books, and of reading is a major theme as we see Liesel go from illiterate to the resident master of words and all of the ways that this influences her life and connects her to the other characters. It's a war story, but not like Full Metal Jacket or Saving Private Ryan; it shows how the regular kids grew up in Hitler-era Germany, an interesting angle I can't recall seeing before. And, naturally, it is a sad story. I've never met a WWII story that was not sad. But worth the listen to be sure! #Audible1

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Good book and good movie

I saw the movie recently and liked it so much I decided to read/listen to the book. Highly recommend this novel. Sad, heartbreaking but funny and lovable at the same time. ❤️

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An exceptional book

The book is written in first person and the person speaking is the first unexpected factor.
the story itself takes you through all possible emotions...love, hate, frustration, sympathy, sorrow, happiness, hopelessness....
you can't anticipate what will happen and are drawn along by the need to find out.

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Rich storytelling

must read story and rich themes. Interesting narrative with multiple characters. Very easy to write an essay

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Five stars are not enough,

We need a sixth star to award to this book. I would in particular like to call attention to the building of tentiion in this book. As it is narrator is death and we find out in the first paragraph who dies and how you never know exactly when and there were so many moments that I was sad and afraid for the characters you grow to love 💔

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Truly an amazing story!

Beautifully written, beautifully narrated. The Book Thief truly is one of the greatest books I've ever read.

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Excellent narration and powerful story

This story had excellent narrating and a powerful story. The writing is creatively poetic and witty. I enjoyed this book immensely and finished it feeling satisfied that the book was well worth its time. I recommend this book for whoever wants a historical story that shows the beauty and damnation of humankind.

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Incredible!

I loved this book! The story and the narrator moved me to tears several times. Brilliantly written and performed.

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  • Robert
  • Yamhill, OR, United States
  • 2011-08-20

Glad I took a chance.

I had my doubts about reading this book. I have a hard time with books about WWII Germany. I knew this would probably be a heartbreaker too but for some reason I decided to take it on. Maybe because the book was about books, and I usually like that genre; maybe because the reviews were so good; certainly not because I read it was appropriate for "sophisticated teens and adults." For whatever reason, I am glad I selected The Book Thief. It was incredibly well-written. The characters completely came to life. While there certainly was heart-brake, the heart-warming more than made up for it. This is a book for all ages. The narrator was outstanding and all and all, it was a book I will not soon forget.

253 of 268 people found this review helpful

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  • Tabitha
  • WV, United States
  • 2012-07-21

Wow! Just Wow!

Any additional comments?

Honestly, I didn't want to read this book. Nazi Germany has never been a subject of great interest to me. However, It had been sitting around in my Audible app for about 6 months, and I'd listened to all of my other audiobooks, so I figured now was as good of a time as any to give it a shot.

Let me just say that The Book Thief broke my heart. It really did. The writing was beautiful and brilliant. Not long after starting it, I found myself absorbed by the story. I couldn't stop thinking about Liesel Meminger. I think the moment I knew I was going to love this book was when she described her new papa's eyes. Their relationship was by far my favorite aspect of the book.

The author actually gives the ending away before he describes the events leading up to it. At first, I thought that this was going to bother me, but It's just made the book more powerful. This book made me FEEL so much. I felt it when Liesel was scared, ecstatically happy, unbelievably sad, blazingly angry, and I felt it when she loved fiercely. It was definitely her love that broke my heart. I cried for the last 20 minutes of the audiobook. I'd fought tears a few times throughout the book, but there was no stopping them by the end. This was such a touching book that I would definitely recommend. (Also, I'm glad I listened to this book rather than read it because I wouldn't have known how to pronounce many of the words.)

178 of 191 people found this review helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • Cincinnati, OH, United States
  • 2012-04-19

Word Thief

I don’t know if I can compose something that accurately conveys my thoughts about this novel. I don't think there are accurate words.

Ultimately I thought this book was an emotional experience. I was moved at different points to tears---and yet I was comforted. And I saw life and more importantly death a little bit differently when the book was done.

Allan Corduner’s performance was nothing short of impressive---and I can not imagine experiencing this book without his voice. I think he elevated an already superb story…

This is nothing short of brilliant!

162 of 175 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Sandra
  • 2010-04-17

Will steal you!

Brilliant. Compelling. Categorized as "Young Adult" but perhaps more because the female protagonist is a child, this story will break your heart on one page and on the next give you comfort. You can't help but care about the characters.

The narrator, Allan Corduner, is truly amazing as he brings life to Death, the book's narrator. I took great pleasure in how his voice messaged the words and images. I've read reviews from those who read the written words and they all complain that it was slow getting into the story, but not true with Allan Corduner giving voice to Death.

79 of 85 people found this review helpful

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  • T. Oakley
  • San Diego, CA USA
  • 2010-06-07

Allan Corduner

I am not reviewing the book. If you want to know about that, read the reviews on Amazon, or Goodreads. I am writing about Allan Corduner. This was like listening to a Broadway play; amazing. Allan Corduner brought to life this poignant story. I could never have felt such joy and pain having read this myself. Oh, my heart still breaks when Liesel says "Papa!"

142 of 156 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2008-05-03

The Book Thief

I have been listening to Audiobooks for approximately 4 years, and this is only the second time that I have felt compelled to write a review. I don't think that I have ever been so touched by a story, nor will I ever forget this book or it's characters. The tale is heartbreaking, but at the same time hopeful for the human spirit, as "Death" (the storyteller) can attest to throughout the telling of the story of Liesel, the main character. She is but one of many (thousands, acutually) that, together, make this a story that will leave an imprint on your heart. I know it will stay with me forever. Don't pass this one up!

93 of 103 people found this review helpful

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  • Janice
  • Sugar Land, TX, United States
  • 2012-04-01

"I am haunted by humans"

Any additional comments?

The final words of the book, spoken by Death who has been the storyteller, sums up my feelings about this reading experience. The story is so much about the power of words, and the author uses his words so eloquently, visually descriptive in their ability to evoke sensory understanding of the characters' experiences. But beyond the words, the true story is about the souls of the characters - both good and bad. The very best is of course Hans, the father whose kindness, generosity and deep understanding of what is right becomes the guiding star to the devestated orphan who comes to his home. Liesel's life is saved and formed through his influence and she becomes extraordinary as a result. Rosa, Rudy and the others living in this wartorn village become our literary neighbors. I will be haunted by these humans for some time to come.

A comment - other reviewers have stated their inability to get into the story. It took 3 tries for me to get past the beginning also. The prologue is confusing and the writing style unique, requiring some patience and concentration. Please don't give up. By the first hour when the Storyteller begins the real narrative, you will understand and begin a transforming journey. The narrator is superb, bringing all of these characters to life.

85 of 95 people found this review helpful

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  • Kathy
  • 2008-11-06

A must read

The Book Thief is a beautifully narrated and superbly told novel. It is impossible not to be drawn into the story and feel like you are living on the streets of Munich during World War II. My only complaint is that this book is listed in the Audible Kids category, where I believe it truly does not belong. Like To Kill a Mockingbird, the main characters are children, but the subject is mature. Few children under high school age will appreciate this book.

43 of 48 people found this review helpful

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  • THoward
  • Anywhere USA
  • 2015-04-28

Moving and thought provoking

What made the experience of listening to The Book Thief the most enjoyable?

This book is narrated from the viewpoint of Death. Capturing souls of those who pass. This wasn't demonic or anything like that, it was Death the facilitator between this world and the next. Interesting.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Book Thief?

I love Liesel's books, the books she steals and the one she writes.

What does Allan Corduner bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

WOW! Such a voice for the perspective of Death.

Any additional comments?

This topic of WWII is difficult at best to write a novel about with compassion to people. During my reading I did some research on WWII and found it is estimated that over 40 million people died in this world war. I can't even imagine this number. This book contained descriptions of how people lived in fear during this time. The book is likely on a reading list for young readers due to the age of the main character but I sure think this book would benefit from co-reading with a young person and an older person to describe more of the details.

There are a number of deaths and while they are not graphic in detail they are described. Even a suicide is described briefly. If this bothers the reader it is best to skip this book.

The people who lived through WWII have my complete respect. They saw and lived through the worst time in history. It want to keep living is an amazing feat considering the horrible things that must have crossed the news and been reality for those in fighting zones.

I really enjoyed this book. It wasn't too depressing and it was enlightening and even fun. I was sad when the book ended. I wanted to know more of the lives of the survivors of WWII and Liesel's family/friends.

A very good book.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Angie
  • Kansas City, MO, United States
  • 2007-01-06

Amazing

I can't say enough good things about this book. It was one of the best books I have ever read/listened to. So true and so sad and heart warming, bitter sweet. It will break your heart, I promise.I made the mistake of listening to the end at a restaurant while eating lunch one day at work and cried my eyes out in public over my philly cheese steak. It is about love and hope and family and friendship and loss and the power of words and books. It is beautiful and everyone should listen to it.

The narrator is positively brillant as well. He does the German accents and the characters of both male and female young and old superbly. I can't wait to hear more from him.

Listen to it, really.

56 of 64 people found this review helpful

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  • Claudine
  • 2015-10-13

Very good story and reader

Very good narrator!
The story is poetic and moving, and also very entertaining.
I listen to audio books while driving and this was a good audio book. I even cried in the end :)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Zineb Bouzaaboun
  • 2019-02-25

Perfect book, perfect performance

This is the best book i've read in my life. I've laughed and cried as the story progressed and I am so grateful to Allan Corduner for his overwhelming performance that gave life to every character and made this experience even more enjoyable. I recommand 900% .