The Book Thief – Discussion 1/3

We here at Doing Dewey are very anti-spoiler but for read-a-longs, there’s really no way to avoid them. So, if you haven’t read the first three parts of The Book Thief which are being discussed in the It’s All About Books read-a-long, this post is going to be COMPLETELY SPOILERY. You have been warned.

This read-a-long for The Book Thief is one of the first read-a-longs I’ve done, so first I’m going to tell you a bit about how I’m liking it. Then I’ll answer some of the discussion questions from our host, Suey. I don’t like to be reading multiple books at one time, so I was surprised at how easy it was to read this between two other books. It was very hard to stop reading because I was enjoying this book a lot, but it’s worth it to me to get to discuss the book with other bloggers. I can’t wait for the twitter chat tomorrow!

Discussion Questions

  1. What’s your first impression of Death as a character/narrator?
    • I really like the choice of death as the narrator! It’s a quirky, strange, literary choice. Death seems to have a particular personality which is great for telling the story. There are some happy bits and some sad bits and Death can tell all the emotional parts with dispassionate interest. Sometimes I feel like he’s wryly amused by people and I enjoy that. I also really liked the beautiful imagery when Zusak describes Death’s work.
  2. What’s your first impression of the unique writing style?
    • Oh wow! The writing style is amazing. Zusak misuses words and makes up words, especially when describing things. He makes nouns into adjectives in ways that bring such sharp, perfect images into view. I adore the writing style.
  3. Which character stands out to you the most so far and why?
    • The book thief of course! From the reviews I’ve read of this book, I imagined the book thief as an old man so I was very surprised to find she was a little girl. Like many readers, I have a soft spot for characters that love books and I also love precocious children, so the book thief was an inevitable favorite.
  4. How do you feel about all the foreshadowing that’s going on?
    • I’m surprised by how much I like it. In general, knowing something bad is going to happen, like the foreshadowed deaths, really stresses me out. In this case, I somehow am not worried about. Maybe this is the dispassion of our narrator coming into play or maybe I’m just loving the book so much so far, I trust the author not to make it so sad I won’t enjoy it. Either way, I’m liking all the literary pretensions of the novel, including the foretold deaths; the meaningful chapter names listed at the beginning of each section; and the fascinating description of the Jew in hiding
  5. Also, how do you feel about all that German swearing?!? 
    • I think it’s funny and kind of cute when characters are using it to disguise their affection.
  6. What are your feelings on the politics of the time that we’ve seen so far?
    • While thanks to public school systems, I’ve learned about WWII more times that could possibly be necessary, I don’t know much about that time period in Germany. I found it particularly fascinating to hear about that time period from the perspective of a child. It gave something of an unbiased, domestic view of the changes taking place in Germany. Very interesting!

There are some more questions in the discussion post, but those are all of the ones I have a good answer for 🙂 If you’ve read The Book Thief, I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of these questions too!


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11 responses to “The Book Thief – Discussion 1/3

  1. I too, love the way our author manipulates words. I’ve never seen anyone else do it like he does. It’s so cool! And as for Death, he (the author) says that this book did not come together until he figured that out. Death (as a narrator) was not how he wrote it first. It’s fascinating to hear him explain it all.

    So glad you are enjoying it ! It is an easy book to fit in between everything else because of those short chapters!

    • It’s easy to fit in, but so hard to put down 🙂 I’d love to hear more about how the author came up with the idea, so as soon as I finish the book and don’t have to worry about spoilers, I’ll be excited to find some interviews he’s done.

      • I filmed his entire speech when he came to our library. I plan to provide links to the bits I think you all should hear for my final post at the end of the month. Yay! (I think I have the highlight clips on youtube now,( but they made me take the others down. But, I can still make them work for you all… I think….)

      • Even if we just get the highlights, I’m excited to see that! It’s awesome you got to see him in person too! Very cool.

  2. I agree with all your answers! And I love that the book thief is a little girl! It’s wonderful!

    • I was pleasantly surprised 🙂 I don’t know how I’ve so completely managed to miss what this book was about in the reviews I’ve read but it’s been fun to read it without many preconceptions.

  3. “Dispassionate interest” is such a great way to put it! Death is such an interesting character. I thought he was weird at first but he’s grown on me. 🙂
    I’m starting to trust the author not to make it so overwhelmingly sad, too. We’ll see.

    • Thanks 🙂 I love death as the narrator and can’t wait to learn what made the author make that choice. This is such a beautiful book, I do hope it doesn’t all end in tears!

  4. I’m really enjoying this book so far. Two of my bookish blog friends who will remain nameless DNF’ed this one because they didn’t like Death as a narrator. Personally, I think it’s unique and love the idea!

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