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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 (102 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

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.

©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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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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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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

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amazing!

This is one of the best audiobooks/books I have read in a long time . The books is beautifully written and the story is captivating. #Audible1

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A Must Read for All

I cannot praise this book enough. The performance was stunning and this book is timeless. It is moving, jarring and poignant. This is not an unknown setting or an unknown premise, but the delivery of the story is remarkable and it has no equal. A must read for all.

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Stunning

There are no words to describe this incredibly well written and performed book. She stole them all.

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Great listen!

I believe that this is one of the times where listening to the audiobook versus reading the book actually enhanced story because of the accent and such. A sad but great listen!

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Beautifully Written & Brilliantly Narrated!

This is, as described, "just a small story really"... But one with both cleverness and heart. The author's tone is beautifully understated throughout and the narrator, Allan Corduner, captures and carries this brilliantly! 'A challenging narration as the story is told from Death's perspective, but Corduner hits it perfectly. A really enjoyable listen, despite the (necessarily) dark content.

A quick add: this isn't a tale for times when the kids are within earshot.

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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.

234 of 248 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.)

153 of 165 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!

159 of 172 people found this review helpful

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  • 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.

78 of 84 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!"

138 of 152 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!

89 of 99 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.

83 of 93 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.

42 of 47 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
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  • 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.

55 of 63 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.

4 of 4 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