The nature of my job at times requires minute amounts of brain power and I found that the best way to make it through was with audio books. Many, many audio books. Thank goodness our library has an extensive amount to choose from or I don’t know how I would have survived on some days. One of these days I’ll write about how amazing libraries are in general for so many reasons. But back to the audio books. Generally, I like to listen to books that I have already read. Why? Because then when my mind inevitable gets distracted, by a coworkers coming in or more interesting work that requires my full attention, I won’t be as miffed about missing parts of the book when I forget to pause it. Plus, there’s just something different about reading a new book versus listening to it and I prefer to discover new stories directly on paper. That being said, there are only so many audio books I can find of books that I have read. More recently I began to foray into audio books that were less familiar to me and I must say I have been enjoying it. Browsing the library online in their Available Now section, I lighted upon The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I remember my mom recommending it to me aaages ago and I definitely read it but at the time it must not have made too much of an impression because I only had faint memories of it. So, after browsing around and not finding much else available, I went for it. Oh boy, was it the right choice.
For anybody who has not read The Book Thief, I highly, highly recommend it, especially in this day and age. One of the most distinctive aspects, which is one of the one things I remember from the first time I read it, is that the entire book is narrated by Death. Based primarily in Berlin Germany during WWII, Death is busy but he is nevertheless intrigued by a single, young German girl name Liesel. From the get go, Liesel is a bit of an outcast. She is sent away from her mother, a communist, to live as a foster child in Berlin to keep her safe as Hitler and the Nazi party grow in strength. From there, she must figure out right from wrong in a society that was hell bent on eliminating people that did not conform to the status quo, like her mother. Through Death and Liesel, we see from inside Germany, the rise of the Nazi party and how everyday citizens, both Nazi sympathizers and not, dealt with it. It is a very candid view and re-reading it (okay listening, close enough) as an adult with a bit more world experience was eye-opening.
World War II history has always fascinated me and I watch or read as much as I can about the time period. The Book Thief, by following a young German girl at the heart of the Nazi regime, gives a wholly new perspective. It shows a glimpse into how an entire country can turn against so many people, even their own citizens. At the root of it all is fear and those in power take a hold of that fear and exaggerate it as much as possible. WWII was awful. Too how many innocent lives were taken just because they were deemed unworthy. As we get further and further away from the war though, the real horror of the atrocities fade as those who lived it grow old and pass on. Books like The Book Thief become more and more important for all generations to read. With so much unrest in the world, and so much controversy just here in the United States, its serves as a good reminder of where we don’t want to go. Regardless of race, religion, or sexual orientation, everybody is just human. I don’t want to get too political, but some days it just baffles me about how so many people forget this, how they can be so incredibly cruel to people who just want a chance to find their niche and be happy. What gives me hope though, is that there are always good people out there willing to fight the bigotry and general cruelness. Just look at The Book Thief. Hidden at the heart of one of the worse fascist regimes in history, is this young girl and her family who refuse to comply. They work secretly, covertly, and just generally share their kindness with all of those around them. At their heart, they are good people and whatever happens, there will always be those good people just around the corner.
My apologies for approaching politics here but thats what books are meant to do, get you thinking. Again, I would highly recommend reading The Book Thief. The narration by Death is fantastic and unique and Liesel is a well developed, thought provoking, spunky girl. I am always for bada** female characters and Liesel is just that. She’s not afraid of a fight but also loves to read and has a mind of her own. So, whether you want a book that will get you thinking or you just want a casual read, I would recommend The Book Thief. Since I technically did it as an audio-book, I’ll recommend that as well. It is narrated by Allan Corduner for those curious and his voice is perfect for the part. Now go forth and read! (or listen, whatever suits your fancy)
P.S. So I forgot to mention, The Book Thief is also a movie now. I’ve never seen it before but its going on my list. We shall see though. When I fall in love with a book so much, I get nervous about how the movie portrays my beloved characters and scenes, especially when it involves a female lead who is just plain awesome. Hollywood tends to distort cool women so fingers crossed they did alright with Liesel. I’ll keep you updated 🙂