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The Book Thief

Written by: Markus Zusak
Narrated by: Allan Corduner
Length: 13 hrs and 56 mins
4.7 out of 5 stars (301 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 listeners say about The Book Thief

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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 people found this 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

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beautiful

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

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Very likely the most touching and gently loving wartime book ever written.

The best book I've read since "A Gentleman in "Moscow" - this too tells a story with grace and tenderness about survival in dangerous times. The narrator of "The Book Theif" is a sad, compassionate, and overworked personification of Death. He takes people in his arms and carries them out of this life. He has taken special notice of a young girl in a German town at the height of WWll who loves books, a survivor, and those around her who do not survive. This book is like no other - it's impossible to describe it in a few words, so I won't try. I'll just say that not only does it have a shockingly original narrative voice (Death) but this book is about growing up in Hitler's Germany as a non-Jew, when there was punishment and death for hiding or helping a Jew. Lisle was adopted by a sharp-tongued laundress and a gentle carpenter... and I'm not telling you any more. you'll have to listen to the book yourself

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A Perspective Needed with Execution Flaws

In school, you learn about the holocaust.  But, you leave the lessons believing that all German are closeted Nazis.  This book is a work of fiction with insight into the mindset of how German civilians reacted to Hilter's Germany - some agreed, some followed out of fear, and others refused to conform.  This book is not a downer; on the contrary, I found it to be a delightful read.   This book got bonus points straight out the gate for merely being narrated by Death, the noun, the Grim Reaper himself.  His manner of narrating had me hooting and hollering, falling dead out my chair with uncontrolled laughter at times.  However, as terrific as Death was, he was also the worst.  He would often pop up without warning and explain what's going to happen next before you've had the chance to read it, essentially acting like a know-it-all spoiler who can't shut up.  He would also dictate how you should feel about certain events before they've transpired.  First, I hate spoilers; I avoid them like the plague.  I hate it more when they're within the book I'm currently reading.  It takes from the suspense, the mystery, the discovery of it all.  Death, the narrator, is the death of this book.  I couldn't forgive him when he told me how it was all going to end, with several chapters still left. Besides, Death, the best and worst element of this book, it was a very good read.

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  • tox
  • 2020-02-28

One of the better stories

This book, this story, is a masters work, designed to pull you in, make you trust and love it, want to share a dinner with it, reminisce and laugh into the evening with drinks and an evening stroll in the park. Then after you have said goodbye and settled; while you are still warmed by the days events as you close your eyes to dream of love and peaceful soothing memories, it is outside pouring the gasoline so that your house will burn faster What a story I am strongly recommending it

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the book that stole my mind

The book thief is my first audible. I listened while driving and work-out, keeps my mind running. The narrator is engaging. The story is unique. Great book!

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Beautiful

Absolutely LOVED this book and the narration. Perfect in every way. The subject, setting and narrator are all tragic yet this book had me laughing often also.

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Oh my heart!

This book gripped my heart and wiggled in deep and then ripped it apart and mended it again. The simplicity of some parts, the simple childlike innocence was endearing and inviting. The choice to make the narrator death was not as morbid and creepy as one would think. In fact, I found myself quite fond of the narrator often. The story of World War II, writing in this way, made the war come to life and I felt like I was there. I could appreciate the different experiences presented and feel like I was with each character as they experienced Germany at that time. I would highly recommend this audible edition to others.

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A Narrator worth listening too!

After quite a few audiobooks with accented characters this narrator was the best. Often I get irritated by the distracting accents. The story is quite good but I did have a hard time keeping in check which character was present at certain points. But it was good and the narrator had me at the end, really great at exhibiting emotions.

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  • Robert
  • 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.

270 people found this helpful

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  • Tabitha
  • 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.)

191 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 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!

175 people found this 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.

83 people found this helpful

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  • T. Oakley
  • 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!"

151 people found this 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!

100 people found this 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.

46 people found this helpful

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  • Janice
  • 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.

90 people found this helpful

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  • THoward
  • 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 people found this helpful

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  • Angie
  • 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.

59 people found this 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 :)

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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% .