I finally read The Book Thief (and interviewed the author!) #Giveaway

the book thief

I attended a press trip to NYC for The Book Thief movie, paid for by Twentieth Century Fox.

The book

The Book Thief is one of those books about which people (book bloggers and booklovers in particular) gush. It was on my list to read, and that was confirmed each time someone else read and loved it. One of our former contributors Lisa reviewed The Book Thief almost 4 years ago here on the site, giving it 5-Stars, and always talked about it as one of her favorite books.

In my materials for the phone interview I got to do with the author, I read that it’s been on the NYT Bestseller list for 300 weeks. Years ago, I saw it sitting on a shelf at a discount, so I bought it. But bringing it home and putting it on my shelf did not equate to actually reading it. Yes, I read a lot, but books that I think I want to read are generally pushed aside for the new shiny books that come in to be reviewed.

When it was one of the choices in my daughter’s independent reading unit a couple of years ago, she read it, so buying it came in handy, and her enjoyment of it reminded me that I still wanted to read it. But it still sat there on the shelf. When I got an email inviting me to participate in a conference call with the author, which was held in conjunction with the upcoming release of The Book Thief movie, I picked it up and started it that day.

The writing. It’s all about the writing. The story is incredible, too. It’s original, a holocaust story, which is common, but this one has the unique twist of focusing more on those left behind, parents of those who have been sent to war, townspeople who are going hungry, Germans who don’t necessarily support Hitler.

But the words, they are amazing. I was sort of curious about what was going to happen next, but honestly I was more interested in how Markus Zusak was going to say it. He could write about paint drying, and I think I’d have continued turning the pages. In fact, I think he did write about paint drying a couple of times. And I kept reading.

The author, Markus Zusak

In my interview with Markus Zusak, someone asked him how this book has and how the movie will add to the canon of holocaust stories. I’ve thought of his answer a lot.

There weren’t a whole lot of books and documentaries and things like that that really focused on the everyday of certain German people or communities. Those are the stories I grew up on, where, for better or worse, too, that kids still had childhoods, that idea of just a childhood as well. Those were a lot of the stories my mom and dad told me.

Then the idea of the German people who didn’t want to fly the Nazi flag, which my mom’s foster father didn’t want to do or my dad himself when he was a kid. He was forced to go to the Hitler Youth, and he didn’t really want to because he thought it was boring, so he went to the river and threw rocks in the water just for the whole time that he should’ve been at Hitler Youth.

Maybe it’s just a few little pockets of things and those little stories that just show a slightly different side to things. Maybe that’s the best way to think of it contributing. But, in the end, I think the film has to speak for itself. And the book has to speak for itself. And hopefully, the book does, and the film will.

I will be posting much more here and at 5 Minutes for Mom in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 8 limited release, Nov. 15 wide. Please stay tuned for more from my phone interview with Markus Zusak, and roundtable interviews from a Twentieth-Century Fox sponsored trip where I was able to talk with: director Brian Percival and producer Karen Rosenthal, the actors who played Hans, Rosa and Liesel: Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, and Sophie Nélisse, as well as see an early full screening of the movie.

I can’t watch this preview with an introduction from the actress who plays Liesel, Sophie Nélisse, without getting a lump in my throat. I’ve actually seen the movie, and loved it. In fact, it was the movie, more than the book for some reason, that drove home the theme about the power of words.

I am usually a little annoyed by “movie tie in” books, but I decided to feature that image above because the movie resonated with me so much. The story is about Liesel, so it seems right to feature her on the cover. Actually, when we interviewed Sophie, she had read part of the book when she was auditioning, but when she got cast, she stopped reading (presumably wanting to be able to follow the director). But she did read it after she filmed, and said it was really strange reading about herself, picturing herself as Liesel. That’s not a problem most of us have.


I am happy to be able to offer one of you a copy of the book. If you’ve never read it, read it. If you just need your own copy, go ahead and enter. If you want to be able to put this amazing book in the hands of someone else, enter on their behalf. Just start off by entering your name and email address in the box below.

Check out our current giveaways. Subscribe to our feed. Follow us @5M4B on Twitter or on Facebook.

While you’re waiting on the movie

The Book Thief opens November 8 in selected markets, with a wide release on November 15.

Visit the official website
Like THE BOOK THIEF on Facebook
Follow @BookThiefMovie on Twitter



  1. Janet F says

    I want to read this book because I put it on my to read list but I have not gotten around to reading it. I would like to read it before I see the movie.

    janetfaye (at) gmail (dot) com

  2. anne says

    This novel would be a treasure which I would find captivating since it is profound and meaningful. I would read it before seeing the movie.

  3. says

    I read this book probably four years ago or so, and I honestly remember next to nothing about the plot or even the characters. But I remember loving and savoring every bit of the writing. Zusak has such a brilliant way with words!

    • says

      He told us he’s working on something else now — he has been for a long time, but it’s hard after writing THE novel. But he said he won’t give up until he finishes, so more good things to come from him, hopefully!

      The other post is up about re-reading. I’d love to hear your take.

  4. Sue says

    I’ve had the book for several years and have not read it. I did see the trailer for the movie recently and that reminded me that I should read it:)

    • says

      Yes, that was me for many years. Glad I finally made myself pick it up. I had started to feel like it was a book I “should” read, but I’m glad I really loved it when I finally did read it.

  5. says

    Like you, I’ve heard about this book at least a million times in the blogging community and always with gushing reviews. How can you not want to read a book with reviews like that? I was just telling my husband earlier today how I really should read this!

    • says

      Yes, you should! I was glad it didn’t disappoint after all that hype. It had started to feel like a book I “should” read, but I’m glad it was a book I loved reading.

  6. Cindy Brooks says

    I’m wondering why I haven’t heard about this book before now. Maybe I was just busy at the time it came out and wasn’t reading much. I’d love to read about this side of the Holocaust and I’m anxious to experience the writing you’ve discussed!

  7. says

    I haven’t read this yet, but I want to because I think it’s important to read books about historical events like this. The more informed we are, the more likely we are to learn and not repeat the same mistakes of the past.

  8. says

    The review sold me! And I loved the movie trailer. I love words. They are my love-language. Writing is my gift and calling. So, YES, words are alive.
    I want to see the movie and/or read the book!

    • says

      Thank you. Yes, either the book or movie tells the story well, and no matter what order you experience them in, you’ll probably end up doing both eventually.

  9. Stephanie says

    I have wanted to read this book for a long time! I am so excited to see the movie as well (after reading it, of course). It sounds like such a beautiful story!

  10. Liz says

    When did you first read the book, or if you haven’t, why do you want to?

    This is one of those occasions where I feel as if I’ve been visiting another planet. I’ve neither read, nor even remember hearing about, The Book Thief. So I want to read it now, to close the culture gap.

  11. Cynthia R says

    I read this book about 3 years ago and thought it was amazing. One of my favorites of all time. I also liked his other book I am Messenger.

  12. Ann B. says

    I want to read this because I saw the trailer and it looks awesome. I also think my teen daughter would love this to read also.

  13. says

    I’ve heard of it but somehow I didn’t quite grasp what it was about. This post make me want to read it NOW! I love to read, and read about those who love books and words, and this window into the life of “everyday people” during WWII sounds fascinating.

    • says

      I’m glad to hear that, because I felt like the review didn’t say much, other than “read it.” But yes, I guess the information I gleaned from Markus Zusak helped me flesh it out a bit.

  14. JenS says

    I haven’t read it, but the story definitely caught my attention. I enjoy reading books before seeing the movie – and wanting to see the move ensures I get the book read!

  15. Anita Yancey says

    I have not read the book. I would like to read it because I have been told it was a great read. Thanks for having this giveaway.

  16. Angela Ash says

    I’d like to read The Book Thief because it sounds very interesting. If it’s been on the NYT Bestseller list for 300 weeks then it’s got to be good. I enjoyed your review which adds to my interest.

  17. heather c says

    Haven’t read it. We have a rule in this house that you can’t see the movie until you’ve read the book. That’s my goal here. Thank you!

  18. Cordelia says

    I haven’t read it yet, but I’ve had it on my wishlist for the longest time.
    I’ve heard so many great reviews of the book!

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